Alrighty, this is the last chapter. The fluff continues. Hope you all enjoy.
Nadia and Chloe put the finishing touches on the nursery as Jack and Milo carried down the last of the boxes. The younger woman waited until the men had left the room before she turned to very-pregnant Chloe with a mysterious smile on her face.
"You never told me who you picked," she said.
Chloe turned to look at her in confusion. "Picked for what?"
"To be the donor. For your baby. You never told me who you ended up picking."
Chloe shrugged, keeping her face turned away from Nadia's as she busied herself with folding a blanket that had already been folded. "Doesn't matter."
Nadia laughed. "How can you say that, Chloe? He's the father of your baby! Of course it matters!"
"Yeah, well…it doesn't matter anymore, because I already chose him and I'm pregnant and it's too late to change anything."
"Come on, Chloe…tell me who it is."
"It's none of your business," she snapped, desperate for any way to get the other woman off her back.
A hurt look came over Nadia's face. "Chloe…you came to me because you wanted help making such an important decision. And I'm glad you made it…but…why are you so afraid to tell me?"
Chloe turned around, pursing her lips and fidgeting nervously. "I don’t want you to laugh at me."
Nadia walked over and placed her hands reassuringly on Chloe's shoulders. "I won't, Chloe. Whoever you chose is going to be fine."
The older woman looked down at the ground, focusing on her feet. "Jack," she mumbled.
Chloe looked up again, putting on a brave face. "It's Jack, okay?"
She sighed. "Yes, Jack Bauer."
Nadia smiled at her. "Good."
Chloe did a double-take. "That's it? You're not surprised?"
Nadia shrugged. "I already knew."
She just stared at her. "How?" she managed to choke out.
"I had Milo tap into the security feeds that day you told Jack about the baby. I just wanted to hear you say it."
Chloe frowned, but her heart wasn't really in it. "Bitch," she muttered.
Nadia smiled as she straightened some of the stuffed animals. "Jack's gonna make a great dad."
"I know," Chloe said with a gentle smile.
"Want a beer?" Jack asked as he and Milo came back in from dropping the boxes off at the curb for the garbage man.
"Yeah, thanks," Milo said, taking a seat on the couch in the living room.
Jack came back out to join him, and the two sat next to each other, enjoying the break from hauling things upstairs and putting together furniture. Over the past few months, the men had become friends – at first out of necessity because of how close Nadia and Chloe were, but then eventually they found out that they genuinely liked each other. When the women went out shopping for baby clothes or started in on wedding plans for Nadia, Jack and Milo would have a couple beers and watch TV, perfectly comfortable with not talking for hours at a time.
"You're excited aren't you?" Milo finally asked.
Jack took another sip of his beer. "About what?"
The older man looked over at him with a thoughtful gaze before nodding. "Yeah. Yeah I am," he said quietly with a grin.
Milo looked around the room, trying to gather his thoughts and figure how to say what was on his mind. He thought now was the best time to bring it up, when Jack was busy thinking happy thoughts about the baby.
"I think it's great that you moved in here to help Chloe out," he began slowly.
Jack shrugged. "She needed a friend. And her place is much nicer than my tiny apartment."
Milo nodded. "You guys seem to get along really well."
"She's my best friend," the older man said quietly.
Still struggling with what he really wanted to say, Milo sighed, throwing caution to the wind. "Look, Jack, I know."
Jack looked at him in confusion. "You know what?"
"That you're the father."
He spluttered and started coughing as he choked on his beer. When his throat finally cleared, he looked at Milo in shock. "How?"
Milo winced. "Nadia made me help her eavesdrop on you and Chloe that night she told you she wanted a baby."
Jack's face grew hard. "You were listening?"
"She made me, Jack. She said I owed her for kissing Chloe and helping you try to break into her desk. I didn't have a choice. She's my fiancé."
Jack just glared at him.
"Plus…you can just tell, Jack. The look on your face every time you see Chloe. You practically glow whenever the baby's even mentioned. That's the pride and love of a father."
The grim look faded as a smile took over his face. Jack knew that Milo was right, and he couldn’t hide how excited he was for the baby to be born. Whenever he saw Chloe, he pictured her holding the baby – their son – and an irrepressible grin would just sprout on his face. Milo saw his features soften and he smiled back at him.
"You guys are gonna be great parents together."
"Now if only you two had gone about this the natural way…" Milo mused as he ducked to avoid the pillow thrown at his head.
He stared down at Chloe in wonder as she held their baby boy in her arms. The labor had been long and painful, but finally it was over and the nurse handed their son to Chloe. Holding the baby close to her, she ran her fingers over his face as though trying to memorize his features. She smiled down at him, the tears falling from her eyes unabashedly. Jack leaned over and brushed her hair out of her eyes, planting a soft kiss on her brow. Chloe looked up at him with a smile.
"Do you want to hold him?"
He nodded and reached his arms out as Chloe gently handed him over. The baby was crying, but Jack just smiled at him, running his index finger along his tiny forehead and down the bridge of his nose. He could feel his own tears falling now, but he didn't care.
"Hi Ian," he whispered, his smile growing. "We've been waiting for you."
The sight of Jack holding their son in his arms was too much for Chloe. She laid back against her pillows, watching them, her heart nearly bursting with joy. The look of intense love on his face as he looked down at Ian made her tears flow even faster as she realized that she now had a family.
Jack's right hand dropped down to the bed and he grabbed Chloe's hand, squeezing it. She looked up to see him smiling at her with no trace of worry or fear. He was finally happy.
A month later, Chloe woke suddenly. She looked around, wondering what had shaken her out of her sleep. Deciding that it was nothing, she pulled herself out of bed, wanting to check on Ian. She tiptoed out of the room and headed down the hall, stopping at the door to the spare room, where Jack had been staying since he moved in. She pushed the door open slowly, wanting to check on him like she did every night. As the door opened, she frowned. Jack wasn't in bed. Looking around in confusion, she jumped at a noise coming from Ian's room. Her curiosity piqued, she continued down the hall and pushed open the door to the baby's room.
She stopped short at the sight before her. Jack was sitting in the rocking chair, just watching Ian as he slept. The look of wonderment on his face made Chloe's breath catch. At the slight sound, Jack turned his head to look at her, a peaceful smile on his face.
"Hi," he whispered.
"Hey," she replied. "What are you doing?"
He turned back to the crib. "Watching him sleep."
Chloe walked over to him slowly, placing her hand on his head and running her fingers through his hair. Jack sighed and leaned his head against her stomach. "You need to sleep," she reminded him.
"I will. I just…I never get tired of watching him."
Jack looked up at her as she watched Ian sleep. Wrapping his arm around her waist, he pulled her down gently to sit on his lap. She sighed and leaned against him, and they watched their son as he slept.
"He's going to be fine, Chloe," Jack assured her as she packed up Ian's things. He could tell by the set of her shoulders that she was tense, that she thought she wasn't ready for her baby to spend his first night away from her.
"I know," she snapped back, instantly sorry for her harsh tone.
Jack took her by the shoulders and turned her to face him. One hand lifted to rest against her cheek, his thumb caressing her face. "He's going to be fine," he repeated.
Chloe bit her lip and nodded, giving him a small smile. She turned back to the diaper bag, zipping it closed, and then went over to Ian's crib.
"Hey sweetie," she whispered as she picked him up and held him close.
Jack picked up the bag and they headed downstairs to where Milo and Nadia were waiting.
"Hey Ian," Milo greeted him as soon as they cleared the last step. He looked at Chloe seriously. "Don't worry, Chloe. We're gonna take good care of him. It's just for the weekend. You two need a little vacation."
Chloe took a deep breath and nodded. "I know." Looking back at Ian, she kissed his nose and then his forehead. "I love you," she whispered.
Jack ran his hand over Ian's head and placed a gentle kiss on his temple. "You be good, buddy. We'll see you on Sunday."
Chloe hugged Ian close one more time before handing him over to Milo. She smiled as he took the baby. He was such a natural with children, and she knew that he was ecstatic about Nadia finally being pregnant.
"Call us if you need anything," Jack told them as they walked out to their car.
Nadia looked over at him with a smile. "You know we will, Jack."
He nodded. Walking over to stand next to Chloe, they waved goodbye as the car pulled out of the driveway and went down the street. Jack looked over at her, noticing the worry in her eyes. He reached his arm around her waist, tugging her into his side.
"You okay?" he asked quietly.
She pursed her lips, but nodded. "Yeah. It's just…I almost don't know what to do without him here, you know?"
Jack nodded. "Let's go inside and make some dinner."
Chloe smiled at him. "Okay."
Chloe hummed softly to herself as she put away the laundry. Jack was downstairs cooking, and the smells of dinner were slowly wafting up to her. Walking down the hall, she headed to Jack's room, a load of his laundry piled up in her arms. She rolled her eyes as she stepped into the room – it was so neat it made her want to gag. She never understood how the man could keep it constantly clean.
Walking over to the dresser, she opened his sock drawer and began putting things away, her mind lost in thought. She frowned in consternation as the last pair of socks had trouble fitting in the drawer. She knew that everything should fit – it did every other time she put the laundry away. Taking a couple pairs back out, Chloe reached her hand into the back to see if there was anything taking up the extra room. Her hand closed around a small box, and she pulled it out to give it a closer look.
As she opened the box slowly, her face fell and tears escaped her eyes.
Jack turned his head at the sound of someone coming down the stairs. "Is that you, Chloe?" he called out from the kitchen. "I hope you're hungry. I think I cooked too much." When she didn’t answer, he turned the stove down a little and wiped his hands on a towel. "Chloe?" He moved toward the door going into the living room when Chloe walked in. He took in her pale face and shaking hands. "Chloe, what's wrong?" he asked, suddenly worried. He went to step closer to her, but she held out her left hand.
"I found this," she mumbled.
Jack looked down at her hand, taking in a sharp breath when he saw the little black box sitting in the middle of her palm. He mentally cursed himself for not thinking of it when she said she was going to put the laundry away. He fought back the tears that threatened to overtake him, upset at her pained reaction. "Chloe-"
"I didn't know you were seeing anybody," she whispered, trying to give him a small smile. "Who is she?"
Jack looked at her in confusion – her response wasn't what he had been expecting. His mind struggled to catch up, and then he suddenly realized it. "Chloe-"
"It's okay, Jack. You don't have to explain. I won't try to keep you here. You've been a great help around here, and it was good that Ian got to know you. But I know you want a real life."
"Just…you know, it would be nice if you could stop by and see him once in a while. He'll miss you. But I'll help you pack and everything…"
She looked at him, her eyes wide and brimming with tears. Nodding, she took a step closer, still holding the box. "Here. Take it," she whispered.
Sighing sadly, he took the box from her hand, staring down at it. Then he took a few steps, backing Chloe up against the wall. She looked at him in confusion, opening her mouth to speak. Before she could get any words out, Jack knelt down in front of her. He opened the box and held it out to her.
"Chloe, will you marry me?"
She looked at him in shock, the tears running down her face freely now. She glanced back and forth between his face and the box, her mind not fully comprehending.
"It was for me?" she whispered.
"It's for you," he confirmed, giving her a small smile.
"You want to marry me?"
Laughing quietly, Jack stood back up and placed the ring on the table next to them before cradling her face in his hands.
"Of course I want to marry you, Chloe. How could you think I wanted to leave you? That I would want anything but our family?"
Her lower lip trembled. "I know you just offered to be his father because you wanted to help me out…" She trailed off as she watched him slowly shake his head.
"That's not the only reason I offered, Chloe."
"No. When you told me you wanted a baby…Chloe, I didn't want you to have a family with anyone but me. That's why I offered. I wanted to be a part of your life. I wanted a baby with you. I thought…I hoped I'd be able to make you love me after a while."
It was Chloe's turn to laugh. "I've always loved you, Jack."
He smiled and leaned his forehead against hers. "Marry me."
She nodded. "Yes."
Reaching over, he pulled the ring out of the box and slipped it gently onto her left hand. Chloe smiled up at him, but then suddenly frowned.
"You planned this whole thing, didn't you?"
Jack laughed. "Yeah. I asked Milo if he would take Ian for the weekend. I was planning on proposing after dinner."
"I'm sorry. I ruined your plans."
"No, no, no. This is perfect, Chloe. Now I can actually eat dinner instead of my stomach being tied in knots like it has been all week."
Swallowing hard, he leaned forward, lightly brushing his lips against hers. Chloe closed her eyes at the contact, the tension finally falling away. She turned her head to deepen the kiss, wrapping her arms around his neck and pulling him up against her.
Jack groaned as she ran her fingers through his hair and their tongues met for the first time. He tightened his grip on her, lifting her slightly off the ground and pushing her up against the wall.
When they finally pulled back, both were breathing heavily. "I love you," Jack whispered, his breath tickling her skin.
"I love you, too," Chloe replied
He pulled back, taking her hand in his. "Come on, I promised you dinner."
Chloe stood still, tugging his hand and forcing him to look back at her. "And then?" she asked with a small seductive smile.
Jack pushed her up against the wall again, this time kissing her hard and fast, letting his hands wander over her body. As she moaned lustily into his mouth he pulled back, tapping her lightly on the nose. "Then I'm taking you upstairs," he answered, his voice so low that she shivered with anticipation.
"I'll hold you to that," she said with a smile, letting him lead her to the table.