Disclaimer: I don’t own the characters or MSW, just borrowing them for my enjoyment. And if I were making money…I wouldn’t be posting on a free website.
Author’s note: This story plays a bit with Jessica and George’s ages.
George watched Jessica as she tenderly cradled the baby in her arms, setting the rocking chair in motion to soothe the child to sleep. Watching the woman he loved taking care of a baby, seeing the old pain and sadness in her eyes from those bygone years of wanting a child that still haunted her, made him ache for Jessica. While he and his wife had never had children, it had been a choice they’d made together because of his job. Jessica and Frank hadn’t been given the choice, it had been taken from them by nature itself.
“She’s so tiny, George.” Jessica whispered interrupting his thoughts.
Sitting on the ottoman near Jessica’s feet, he smiled at her as he reached out to caress the soft fuzz that covered the baby’s tiny head. “That she is, Lass. We really should call the authorities.”
“They will only turn her over to a home, George.” Jessica looked up at him. “The mother asked me to take care of her baby. How can I not do that? What if she comes back and I’ve let her baby be lost in the system?”
George sighed, “We don’t have anything to take care of a baby, Jess.”
“We can go shopping,” she countered.
“And what if the mother never comes back? What then?” Gently cupping her cheek, George held her gaze. “How long do we wait for the mother to come back?”
“You keep saying we.”
“Because whatever decision you make, I’ll stand beside you.” George smiled at her. “If you keep this baby, you’re going to need some help.”
“You’re really going to help me? Even though I’m being a foolish old woman.”
“Not foolish,” he told her gently. “While the wee one sleeps, I’ll go out and buy the things we’ll need for a few days. You must promise to contact whoever you need to that can set up temporary custody.”
Turning her face in his hand, Jessica kissed the palm. “I promise. And George,” she whispered, stopping him from leaving the room. “Thank you.”
“No need for thanks, Lass.”
Jessica smiled and watched him go then turned her attention back to the baby in her arms. Shaking her head when two bright blue eyes stared up at her, she sighed, “You’re supposed to be asleep,” earning her a gurgle and a tiny smile. “Oh no you don’t. I’ll not be charmed, Miss Iris. It’s much past your bed time. Besides that, if you’re still awake when George returns, he’ll know I gave in to that sweet smile.”
Iris gurgled again and reached out, her little fingers brushing against Jessica’s nose. Squealing in delight, she did it again, a babyish giggle following Jessica’s hand grabbing the tiny one currently waving about.
“Now see here, Miss Iris. It’s bed time not play time.” Jessica admonished with a chuckle, shaking her head when the baby squealed. Watching the baby play to keep from going to sleep, she thought about the baby’s mother. She knew who the mother was, something she hadn’t told George. She also knew that the mother wouldn’t be coming back for the baby. At least, not for a while. “I promised your mama before you were born that I would take care of you. And that is precisely what I’m going to do, Iris. I promise.”
“Jessie?” George asked, having come into the room at the tail end of her confession.
Jessica sighed, “I’m sorry, George. I should have told you everything earlier.”
“It’s alright, Lass. Just tell me now.”
“The mother was diagnosed with cancer shortly before Iris was born. Her parents and I were friends for years and I was her teacher in school, so she came to me and asked me to take care of her baby while she had treatments. She had no one else. The baby’s father was killed in Iraq before he even knew about her, and both sets of parents died years ago.” Looking up at George, Jessica took his hand. “I’m all she has, George. I made a promise. I must keep it.”
“I understand, Jessie. But,” he bit his lip as he pondered his next question. “What happens if the mother isn’t cured?”
“Then I find a good home for Jessica Iris.”
George smiled. “She named her after you.”
Jessica nodded. “I’m her godmother.”
“So it should be easy for you to legally take care of her.”
Jessica nodded. “I don’t have to call anyone but Seth. It’s all been set up.”
“Do you want me to call him?”
Jessica shook her head. “No. I’ll call him once this little lady goes to sleep.”
George laughed when Iris’ hand batted Jessica’s nose. “I don’t think the wee one is going to be sleeping any time soon.”
“No.” Jessica laughed as she caught Iris’ hand before it could catch her nose again. “I don’t suppose she will be.”
“Let me take her and you go make that call to Seth.” George held out his arms. “It’s been a while since I’ve held a babe, but I was fairly good with them when my sister’s children were little.”
Jessica placed Iris in George’s arms and shook her head. “She looks so tiny with you holding her.”
George smiled. “Because I’m so much bigger than she is.” He winked at Jessica then made a honking sound when Iris’ fingers grabbed his nose.
“It would seem she has a fascination with noses.”
George laughed and nodded then gently nipped at the baby’s fingers with his lips. “I believe so. Go on now. We still need to get things for her from the store.”
Jessica frowned. “Why did you come back to begin with?”
“I forgot to ask if the note told how old she is. I’ll need to know that when I ask for help finding clothes and nappies.”
Jessica chuckled, “Diapers. Nappies, or naps, are rest periods.”
George grinned at her and shrugged. “Diapers it is then.”
“Will her mother be alright, Seth?” Jessica asked her friend as he looked down into the playpen holding the sleeping Iris.
“She’s a fighter, Jess. The doctors will do all they can to make sure she survives. As for this little miss,” he pointed at the bear in the corner of the bed. “I think she’s wrapped someone around her little finger.”
Jessica laughed, “Well, she’s such a sweet baby and we had to buy things for her that she’ll need while she’s staying with us.”
“So you bought her a big teddy bear?”
“I bought the bear.” George quietly informed Seth as he came into the room. He shrugged, “She saw it and giggled. What was I supposed to do?”
Seth shook his head. “You two are going to spoil this baby.” He smiled. “But it’ll be good for her. She’s had a rough first few months.”
“Well, she’s going to have it easy from now on.”
“What are you going to do about your book tour, Jess?” Seth asked as they moved back into the kitchen.
“I’ve already called and explained the situation to Ted.” She rolled her eyes. “He finds this all highly amusing, but he assured me everything would be taken care of. Told me to take as much time as needed.”
“And you, George? Are you going to stay here?” Seth asked, turning to the tall Scot who sat nibbling on a piece of Jessica’s apple pie.
“I am. I promised Jessie I’d stay and help. I have months of vacation built up. It will be good for us.”
Seth shook his head. “The two of you don’t know what you’re getting yourselves into. You do realize you won’t be getting any sleep, right?”
Jessica chuckled, “We’ll be fine, Seth. She’s old enough she should be sleeping most of the night.”
“A’yuh, except she’s at the age that she could start teething, if she hasn’t already.”
“Loss of sleep is nothing new, Seth.” George smiled at his friend. “I’ve spent many a night with little to no sleep. I think losing sleep because of a wee babe is more favorable than what usually is the cause.”
Reaching over, Jessica rested her hand over Seth’s, squeezing it slightly. “We know what we’re getting into, Seth.” Her eyes sparkled with unshed tears. “I never got the chance to be a mother, Seth. Let me at least keep the promise I made the day I was asked to be Iris’ godmother.”
Reaching up to wipe away a tear that escaped, Seth placed his free hand over Jessica’s. “Alright, Jessie. I’ll help all that I can.”
George reached out and took Jessica’s other hand. “We’re all in this together. We’re going to give that little girl all she needs until her mother comes back.”
Eighteen years later…
Jessica clasped George’s hand as they watched Iris making her way up to the stage, her gown billowing in the breeze. “I can’t believe she’s graduating, George.”
Pressing a kiss to her temple, George squeezed the hand that held his. “Neither can I, Lass. It’s been an amazing journey from that night she appeared on your doorstep.”
Jessica smiled as she turned to her husband. “Yes, it has been. I hated when we received word that Lilly didn’t win her battle with cancer, but I’ve loved every minute we’ve had with Iris.” Cupping his cheek, she pressed a quick kiss to his lips. “She brought us clarity in our lives that we’d been struggling to find.”
George nodded as they turned their gazes back to watch as Iris received her diploma, turning to look at her adoptive parents as she moved her tassel from one side to the other, signifying the completion of this phase of her educational journey. Winking at the strawberry blonde with green eyes that called him dad, he squeezed Jessica’s hand when he heard her sniff. “Now, Mither,” he soothed as he handed her his handkerchief.
Jessica chuckled at the use of the name he’d taught Iris when she was first learning to talk. “She never could get that right when she was little.”
“No, she couldn’t. I’ve heard her slip back to it a few times over the years as she’s gotten older.” He smiled. “Like the first time she did something that upset us.”
“The first time her heart was broken.” Jessica whispered as she remembered the heart break she’d felt right along with Iris. “She gave us both so much, George.”
“Yes, she did, Jessie. She gave us the chance to be parents.”
“She gave us a life together.”
“And she’s going to keep giving us so much more.” George tugged at her hand as they stood. “I love you, Jessie.”
Staring up at her husband, Jessica gave him a soft smile. “I love you, too, George. Thank you for taking this journey with me.”
“I wouldn’t have been anywhere else, Lass.”