Pairing: Jack/Kate, mostly gen-ish
Summary: Kate feels more like Aaron's guardian than his mother. (Post-island AU.)
Note: This idea came to me during the luau when a few people asked for "Jack and Kate and babies." This is as baby-centric as I get! So this is for all the Jate fans, for all the fans of Jack and Kate, separately, but especially for isis2015, who had a bad day. :)
Jack is better with Aaron than she is, Kate realizes, watching Jack zip up Aaron’s coat, a tough job as the boy squirms, anxious to pet the dog passing by.
She’s standing a few yards away, half listening to one of the other moms here at the park. She still doesn’t feel like a mother herself. Even though the adoption went through long ago, she still thinks of herself as Aaron’s guardian. She likes the word better. She doesn’t have the first clue about being a mother, but she is here to protect Aaron, to keep him safe from any harm.
Jack can be so serious with Aaron, listening intently to his rambling 3-year-old prattle as if it were a speech by a Nobel Prize winner. And then, just when she thinks Jack is too serious, there comes his smile, rare on the island, more frequent now, as Aaron laughs. Kate beams at them both. It’s catching, the uncomplicated happiness of a little boy, sharing his joy at being with the only father he’s ever known.
Kate’s smile fades as she thinks of Claire and Charlie. Aaron won’t remember either of them. He wouldn’t remember Sawyer either, but that’s who Kate thinks of when she looks at his white-blond hair. Her breath catches in her throat at the memory of Sawyer. She doesn’t know if that’s part of why she’s so protective of Aaron, only that she’s determined to do everything in the world she can to prevent any heartbreak coming to that blond-haired little boy. The world is full of hurt, but she wants to make sure Aaron never knows anything like what she’s known, that he never has his world yanked out from under him like Sawyer did.That he never learns to hate, or fear, or lie or cheat.
She twists the ring on her finger. It still feels strange. Jack hadn’t insisted on it. He’d been surprised, but clearly pleased, when she’d wanted matching bands. She’s not used to the word “wife” either, even the second time around, but it’s just a word. It made Jack happy and so she was happy to do it.
Jack is so good with Aaron. He would die for the boy, Kate knows. He would die for her, and that’s what makes them a family. But if Jack ever lays a hand on Aaron, if he ever ... Kate allows herself to picture it, to let that sick feeling wash over her at the thought.
She’ll take Aaron, in the middle of the night, take him far away, where Jack will never find them. There’s a tightness in her chest when she thinks of leaving Jack, when she watches and waits for him to make that one wrong step that will send her out of his life forever.
But she won’t ever need to leave him, she reminds herself. Jack is a good man, the kindest she’s ever known. He’s a better father than she is a mother. She knows this. But it doesn’t stop her from making these silent, solemn promises to Aaron. I will never let you down. I will never let anyone hurt you.
Jack looks her way, a broad grin lighting up his face, and she waves. He has no idea that she plots her exit every day. He never will. Nothing bad will ever happen. She takes a deep breath, lets it out. Then another.
“Your husband is so good with your son,” the woman is saying and Kate nods.
“Thank you,” she says. “He’s ....” She thinks she needs to explain that Aaron’s not hers, not really, that Jack’s not his father. Instead she smiles and answers, “He is, isn’t he?”