Characters: Jack, Kim, Teri
Summary: Jack comes home early for Mother's Day.
A/N: I don't own anything from 24. Please don't sue. This is dedicated to Cpl. Michael Starker and all the others who won't be coming home for any more Mother's Days. I appreciate your sacrifice. Rest in peace.
Jack got home just as the sun was coming up. He eased the back door open and shut it quietly behind him. He stopped and unlaced his boots, placing them neatly against the wall. He dropped a paper bag on the counter before tiptoeing down the hall in his stocking feet. As he passed the open door of the bathroom he got a glimpse of himself in the bathroom mirror and paused. Grabbing the box of wipes off the counter, he smeared the black from his face as best he could and continued down the hall. Kim’s door was ajar and he slipped into her room silently.
She was tucked under her pink comforter, her blond tousled hair splayed out on the pillow and her small fingers gripping Bunny, a worn and greying stuffed rabbit that had been a gift from Teri’s mom when Kim was born six years ago. Kim stirred as he lay down beside her, snuggling into his chest and putting one little hand on his cheek, rubbing the stubble.
Jack kissed the top of her head, inhaling her scent. “Hi, Sweetheart. Go back to sleep. It’s not time to get up yet.” He figured he could snag half an hour if he was lucky.
Twenty-five minutes later he was woken by her small body leaping on top of him.
“Daddy! Wake up! It’s seven!”
Jack opened one eye, smiling. “Seven? Are you sure?”
“Yup. The clock says seven-zero-one! We can get up now!”
He hugged her tightly to him. “Okay,” he whispered. “Do you know what day it is?”
Kim nodded solemnly, her big blue eyes shining. “Mother’s Day. I made a candle holder at school.” She slid down off of him and dug around beneath her bed. She pulled out a baby-food jar decorated with pieces of pink and purple tissue paper. “See?”
Jack held it up to the light coming in through the bedroom window. “Wow, Kim. You made this yourself?”
“Yup! Well, Mrs. Blair told us how.” Her forehead wrinkled. “Do you think she’ll like it?”
“Absolutely. It’s beautiful.” He handed it back to her and swung his legs over the edge of the bed as he sat up. “Shall we go make Mom some breakfast in bed?”
“Yeah!” She did a little dance and grabbed his hand, pulling him up. Together they snuck back into the kitchen, where Jack showed her the contents of the paper bag.
“Croissants!” She gasped, breaking into a big grin. “Can I have the chocolate one?”
“Yup. I got that one just for you. Let’s give Mom the almond one.”
He got out a plate and a tray and handed them to Kim. She carefully put the pastry on the plate and went to the fridge for the juice while Jack made coffee. When the tray was ready, Kim put the candle holder on it and Jack added a card. He followed Kim down the hall to the bedroom.
Teri laughed when Kim jumped on her. “Is it seven already?”
“It’s after seven, Mommy. We made you breakfast!”
“We?” Teri rolled over and saw Jack holding the tray in the doorway, smiling. Traces of combat paint clung to his eyebrows.
“Jack! I wasn’t expecting you until tomorrow!”
“We were done so the C.O. let me off early. Happy Mother’s Day.” He brought the tray in and settled it on her lap, then sat down next to her.
“Ew! Kissing!” Kim squealed. She ran back down the hall for her croissant, leaving Jack and Teri to say hello properly. As Jack gathered his wife into his arms, he decided not to tell her how close he had come to not coming home at all this time. He was just grateful to be here.