Disclaimers: This story belongs to me so I don't give permission for it to be posted somewhere else under a different title, change in names or storyline.
Sex: But of course! J
Note: There will likely be somewhat graphic violence in this story, as part of it takes place during war times.
If you'd like to tell me what a wonderful writer I am or that I royally suck, feel free at: XenaNut@hotmail.com .
"Megan! Lunch!" Kate called out for a third time. She had just finished making a pot of stew. Danni was helping by setting the table for three. "Have you see her yet today?"
Danni shook her head. "I've been in my workshop all morning."
Kate sighed, concerned with hand on hip. "I think she's depressed."
"Well, she's been in that room every day, all day for the past two weeks. I'd say it's a pretty safe bet."
Kate turned back to her stew. "I don't know what to do. I'm really worried about her, Danni."
"Make her come out, Kate. Make her rejoin life."
Kate turned incredulous eyes on her. "Don't you have a heart? Can't you see that she's in pain?"
Danni sighed, crossing her arms over her chest in irritation. "I can see that she's letting life pass her by. I can see that her husband is off fighting in a war that no one in this country wants, and there's not a goddamn thing she can do about it. I can see that you are letting her slip away." Danni tried to keep her voice low, but was failing. "Go in there, Kate and get her ass out of that bed, make her take a shower and eat something!"
"How dare you!" Kate stormed, her frustration and worry for her daughter spilling over. "You don't know what it's like to lose everything you had in the blink of an eye," Kate snapped her fingers, "and to not know if you'll ever get it back or if it's gone for good. To be left behind."
"Oh don't I?" Danni asked, her voice low and angry. "If you think that then you're a fool."
Megan stepped up towards the kitchen, shocked at what she was hearing.
"That girl is dying inside, Danni!" Kate shouted, choosing to ignore Danni's words, knowing full well she was right. "How can I be so heartless as to just drag her out of bed and say, 'Get up kid and get over it. It's a new day.'"
"That is not what I said and you know it," Danni accused. "All I said was-"
"What do you know about being a parent, Danni?"
"Hey!" Megan exclaimed, entering into the kitchen, looking from one to the other of the women. "What the hell?!"
Kate turned away, ashamed that Megan had overheard them fighting, considering it was about her.
"I'm not hungry," Danni muttered, turning and slamming out of the house and back to her workshop.
Dead silence permeated the kitchen for a long moment until finally Megan broke the chiseled silence. "What the hell just happened here?"
Kate slopped some stew into a bowl, her back to Megan. "How much do you want, Megan?"
"Mom, stop." Megan walked over to her mother's side and stopped her dishing out food. "Stop." She waited until her mother spared a glance at her, though she quickly looked away. "What happened? There for a minute it felt like we were back in San Jose and it was three years ago." Seeing that her attempt at humor had failed miserably, Megan tried a new tactic. "Should I go? I mean, am I causing a problem by being here?"
Kate let out a heavy sigh, her heart even heavier. "No," she finally said, meeting her daughter's concerned gaze. "No, you're not a problem here at all, Megan. I just need Danni to understand how hard it is what you're going through. I don't think she gets it, and it just got out of hand."
"Because of me," Megan reiterated.
"Honey, it's not that simple. It's just two different perspectives that don't necessarily meet in the middle." She handed Megan a bowl of stew. "Eat while it's still hot."
Megan took the bowl and spoon and sat, watching as her mother scooped her own bowl and joined her. Kate had no interest in eating, but had the feeling that Megan wouldn't touch hers unless she did. She used her spoon to absently mix the veggies and meat together, her stomach reeling at what just happened.
Megan studied her mother for a long moment, able to see that she was about ready to break down and cry. "I'm not worth a fight, Mom."
Kate didn't look at her daughter. "Yes you are."
"You're not going to like what I have to say, but I need you to hear me."
Kate did meet Megan's tired gaze at that point. "What?"
"I heard a lot of that fight, and you owe Danni an apology."
Kate's eyes got huge. "I mostly certainly do not!"
"You most certainly do. Mom, how can you say she doesn't know about loss? She knows as much about loss as you do, remember? You may disagree with her stance, but everything she said today was said out of love, not malice. You were really unfair."
"She can't have a kid in her life for six months and suddenly decide she's parent of the year.; it doesn't work that way," Kate said stubbornly, shoving a spoonful of stew into her mouth.
Megan could only stare for a long moment, stunned. "That's so not right. You know that's not what she was trying to do." She shrugged as she looked down into her bowl of stew. "And who knows, maybe she's right. Maybe my pity party has lasted long enough."
Kate slammed her spoon down. "Oh, so now you're taking Danni's side?"
Megan rolled her eyes with a growl. "This isn't about sides, this is about a fight that never should have happened, and now you're being stubborn about it. I feel like shit because all this is because of me." Her mother opened her mouth to speak but Megan continued on, wanting an end to all this. "That's fine, so I'll tell you what's going to happen. We're both going to finish this incredible-smelling stew you made, then I'm going to shower and you and I are going to go look at furniture for the nursery. This kid is coming in two and a half months whether I like it or not, so I may as well get ready."
Kate could only stare, recognizing her own stubbornness in the set of Megan's jaw, and knew better than to argue.
Danni hammered the nails into the bottom of the table a bit harder than was necessary, but she got the job done. She turned the end table over, looking at her handiwork and deciding where she wanted to go next with it. She had an overflow of backorders for the store that needed to be created, and she'd already been able to get three chairs and now this table started and near completion.
She heard the door to her workshop open and glanced up to see, to her surprise, that it was Megan. She was freshly-showered and carried a steaming hot bowl of stew on a tray with a bottle of Coke and a stack of Saltine crackers on the side.
"Thank you, Megan, that was sweet of you," Danni said softly, figuring Megan would turn and leave as quickly as she'd come in.
"My mom's an ass," the girl said, nabbing Danni's attention. "She's an ass and acted totally out of line."
"Megan, your mom loves you and is just worried about you," Danni defended.
"Of course she does and of course she is, but that didn't give her the right to say those things to you or treat you that way. I can't apologize for her, but I can be embarrassed for her."
Danni studied Megan's face for a long moment then a soft smile spread on her lips. "You're a sweetheart. I'm sorry about the things I said. Like your mom, I'm worried about you, too."
"I know that, Danni," Megan said softly, walking up to Danni and placing a hand on her arm. "I love you for it. And, you were right, and Mom doesn't want to see that." She took Danni in a lingering hug. "She will, though," she said into it. "She'll come around."
Danni smiled weakly, not sure how she felt about what had happened hours before. "Yeah."
"Listen, Mom and I are going to head into town to look at some baby furniture for the nursery. I can see that you're busy, but two things: a. will you go with us? And, b. if I get pictures of what I like, would you be willing to build them specially for our baby? We'll pay you, of course-"
"A. I really don't think it's a good idea if I go, and b., it would be my honor and you will not give me a dime." Danni found herself engulfed in an enthusiastic hug, which she readily returned.
"Thank you so much, Danni." She held her at arm's length. "For everything." Megan leaned up and gave Danni a kiss on the cheek, grinning when she saw the happy blush that stained her cheeks. "You are so damn adorable. I have to go, but I just wanted you to know all that."
Danni nodded. "Duly noted." She gave Megan a winning smile and returned Megan's departing wave.
Left alone again, Danni felt some of her anger leave her body, feeling somewhat vindicated by Megan's visit. She also realized just how hungry she was as she again spied the tray of lunch.
Kate stood back as Megan took another shot with her Polaroid camera. They had been to three different stores in as many hours, and frankly, Kate was getting tired! She saw the non-too happy sales clerk before the old woman opened her mouth as she rushed over to where Megan snapped another picture.
"Can I help you, young lady?"
Kate watched wide-eyed, not sure what to say in explanation: well you see, my female partner at home is going to create handmade furniture using this style as a guide, so wanted to steal images of your expensive furniture for her to follow. Kate brought a hand up to cover her mouth at the ludicrous situation.
"Hello," Megan greeted, all smiled. "You see, my husband - you know how men are - had no inclination whatsoever to come furniture shopping with me today, yet wants a say in what we get." Megan rolled her eyes. "Men. Anyway, so I'm snapping pictures of what I like so I can show him." She leaned in towards the old lady, lowering her voice. "That way I can get his credit card to come back and purchase an entire nursery, and he won't even know what hit him."
The old woman smiled and nodded in understanding. "A fine idea, Miss."
"Thank you. I was rather pleased when it occurred to me as well." Megan smiled at the old lady until she walked away, then snickered to her mother. "Sucker."
"My daughter is a scam artist," Kate muttered, following Megan to yet another part of the store.
Walking through the empty space that was the three-bedroom house that Megan, Rob and the baby would live in, Megan looked at everything, not having been there since she and Rob picked it out over Christmas, more than a month before.
"I think this place is going to look amazing," she said, her voice filled wonder and hope.
"I think so, too. We can get all your stuff moved in and out of storage," Kate agreed, bending down and looking up into the fireplace. "This needs to be cleaned out, it looks like, but I really don't think there will need to be a whole lot of work done."
"I want to paint," Megan said, walking into the spacious kitchen. "Do you think Danni will mind that? If we paint?"
"Honey, this is your house," Kate said, following her daughter. She peeked out the window above the sink, which looked out into the snow-covered backyard. She could easily imagine a dog back there, chasing her little grandbaby around. She smiled as she could almost hear the playful squeals of delight.
"I can't believe it." Megan leaned against the counter, hands on the edge on either side of her. She smiled when her mother met her gaze. "Are you going to talk to her?"
Kate sighed, nodding. She knew this was going to eventually come up again. "Yes, I'll talk to her. Honey, people get into arguments, you know that. I've heard you and Rob have a few."
"I know," Megan admitted, absently rubbing her protruding belly. "I just hate to see you guys not getting alone; it bothers me."
"Everything will be fine, Megan. It'll all be just fine."
Danni pulled the Jeep up to the mailbox, intending to gather the mail and leave it in the Jeep until she finished her errands around town, then bring it in once she returned. However, when she saw the third piece of mail, she knew she had to turn around and leave this letter on the table for a woman who would be beyond thrilled to find it.
Back jogging from the house back to her Jeep, Danni put the still-running vehicle in gear and headed out into town. Yes, she did have some things that she needed to do, but yes, she wanted to get away and not be home when Kate and Megan returned, which she figured should be soon, as it was already early evening.
She knew she and Kate's argument was borne of frustration and concern on both their parts, but Kate had really hurt her with her barbed words and accusations. Never in her wildest dreams would Danni have guessed that Kate could be so cruel. She wasn't sure what to do with that or how to fight back against that. Fighting wasn't her style, and the fight earlier had really shaken her up.
Kate's words kept haunting her: What do you know about being a parent, Danni? Absolutely nothing, and she knew it. Had she overstepped her bounds? Had she been thinking the wrong things for Megan? Was she wrong? Megan had said no, but what did Kate, Megan's mother think?
Danni stopped by Scoops Ice Cream Store to literally lick her wounds with bubble gum ice cream in a waffle cone. She sat by herself in the booth, wishing for anything that Allison could be sitting there with her, telling her what to do.
To say that Kate was disappointed that Danni wasn't there when they got back was an understatement. She managed to be excited for Megan when they saw Rob's letter on the table, though. It was late and Megan was tired, so she headed off to bed, leaving Kate alone to ponder her day.
She built a fire, glad to have the company of Healy and Anicka, the latter of which followed her around the cabin as Kate performed her nightly rituals before sitting in front a warm fire. She wished they had a fireplace in their bedroom, as it would be amazing to cuddle up with Danni in bed and watch the flames.
Kate sighed, a hand coming to her face when she remembered Danni wasn't there. She'd had all day to think about what had happened and ultimately, plenty of time to beat herself up. She was wrong and she knew she was wrong, and now Danni wasn't there to apologize to!
Anicka jumped up onto the couch and plopped down next to Kate as Healy settled on the floor at her feet. "At least you guys still love me," she murmured, running her fingers through Amicka's thick fur. "Can't say much for your other mommy, though."
Kate lay back on the couch, her gaze wondering to the flames as her hand continued to absently stroke Anicka. This was the first real fight the two had since Kate had been living with Danni. She wasn't sure what had set her off so badly, other than the plain and simple fact that she was truly frightened for her daughter. Kate knew how hard it was to pull out of that nasty darkness that can consume if it's allowed. She had faced the same thing when Danni had left, and selfishly, had assumed Danni would have no idea what that was like.
Selfish, indeed. Danni had told Kate all about the days when she'd been on a road of self-destruction after their encounter in the motel when Megan was 2 years old. Danni knew all too well about loss and about what it can do, but she also knew a great deal about pulling up from the bootstraps and making a new life. Danni had done far more for herself than Kate had; Kate had taken the easy way out by marrying George, and thus sentencing both of them to twenty plus years of misery, ending in George's death by his own hand. George certainly had his own demons, but had Kate's weakness added to them?
Kate's self-recriminations were interrupted by the sound of Danni's Jeep pulling up to the house. Kate's heart fluttered as nervous excitement kicked in. She took several deep breaths, repositioning herself on the couch a few times, trying to decide the best way to look when Danni entered the house. How could she best catch her eye?
After long moments with no Danni, Kate's heart fell as she realized that Danni had gone to her workshop. "Damn," she whispered. She sat there for a long moment, trying to decide what to do.
Danni unwrapped her new hammer, looking the tool over before she lightly pounded it into her hand, getting an idea of the weight and balance. She hadn't necessarily needed a new hammer, but had bought one anyway, a way to bring herself a bit of comfort. She set the hammer on the workbench and reached into the hardware store bag to bring out the small containers of various kinds of screws, nuts and bolts and nails of all sizes.
Giddy at her new purchases, Danni walked over to her rolling toolbox, rolling it over to the workbench and began to sort out the new hardware into the drawers where they belonged. She removed the lid off the largest sized nails, about to dump them in the corresponding drawer when the door to her workshop was opened. She glanced over her shoulder to see who it was; when she saw Kate enter, she turned back to her task, her heart beginning to pound and stomach roil with nerves.
Kate walked over to where Danni was messing with her toolbox, stopping just short of what her goal was, and that was Danni. She wasn't sure what to do or say. "You made Megan really happy by leaving that letter for her to find," she said lamely, knowing full well that wasn't what needed to be said, but the best opener she could think of.
"I figured she'd be thrilled," Danni said quietly, her back still to Kate as she continued sorting and organizing. She was hurt, dammit.
Kate chewed on her bottom lip, uncertain what to do or say after that. With a deep breath and shot of courage, she bridged the few feet between them and wrapped her arms around Danni's waist, hugging her from behind. She closed her eyes as she rested her head against Danni's shoulder. "I'm sorry," she whispered.
Danni closed her eyes in relief at the physical contact and the words. Even so, she needed more than that. She remained silent, cueing Kate that she needed to hear more.
"I had no right to say those things to you this afternoon, Danni. I was wrong and I admit it. Please forgive me."
Danni let out a heavy breath then nodded, covering Kate's hands with her own. "I'm sorry, too. I shouldn't have butted in."
"No." Kate turned Danni around to face her, her hands once again finding a trim waist. "No. You didn't butt in. You care about Megan and were trying to tell me that." She reached up to cup Danni's face, able to feel the working jaw muscles, as though Danni were trying to keep some emotion under wraps. "Please, baby. Don't take any of today on your shoulders; it was all me, and I can guarantee you that she lit into me pretty good."
Danni gave her a half smile but then it was gone. "I need to know what you expect from me, where Megan is concerned. I know she's not a child, but if I have an opinion or a concern, am I allowed to speak freely?"
Kate hated herself for ever making Danni doubt her place. "I want you to. Absolutely, I want you to. You have wonderful insight and a beautiful heart."
Danni let out a heavy sigh. She forgave Kate, but she was still hurt. She pushed it aside, knowing it would fade and wrapped her arms around Kate, holding her close. She could feel the tension drain from Kate's body, and by proxy, her own.
"Come inside with me?" Kate asked softly, rubbing soothing circles on Danni's back.
Danni nodded. "Okay."
Danni awoke to the wonderful feeling of fingers running through her hair. She lay on her side, and when she opened her eyes, she found herself looking into beautiful green eyes, as Kate mirrored her position, facing her.
"Good morning," Kate whispered when she saw that Danni was awake.
"'Morning," Danni responded, sighing into the soft touches.
Kate gazed into Danni's eyes, her own scanning over the beautiful face and soft, relaxed smile on Danni's lips. "I missed you yesterday. It really was a sucky day."
Danni's smile grew. "It definitely was a sucky day. I got a lot done, though."
Kate chuckled softly. "Gee, maybe I should make you mad at me more often."
Danni grabbed Kate and rolled to her back, pulling Kate with her until Kate was situated on top of her. "No, I don't think that's a good idea." She leaned up and placed a soft kiss on Kate's lips before resting her head on the pillow once more, her hands stroking Kate's back through her t-shirt.
Kate kissed Danni, lingering but not deep. She rested her elbow on the pillow next to Danni's head and rested her head in an upturned palm, looking down at Danni. "I wish we could spend the day in bed; just being lazy and cuddle." She kissed her again. "Maybe more," she murmured against Danni's lips.
Danni hummed into the kiss. "That would be nice baby, but we can't. Remember, today is the doctor's appointment for Megan with that new OBGYN. She asked you to go with her."
"Ohhhhh, that's right!" Kate remembered, caressing the side of Danni's face, looking at her with unabashed adoration. "You should come with us; Megan wants to see if we can see the sex of the baby."
"I thought it was a girl?" Danni asked, brows drawn.
Kate smiled. "That's what Megan feels it is. No concrete proof."
"Do women know?" Danni asked, bringing up a hand and running it through Kate's hair, feeling the silky strands stroke her skin. "When they're pregnant?"
Kate shrugged. "Not always. You can get a feeling, but it doesn't necessarily mean you're right. I'm not sure what's actually feeling and what's actually hope."
"Did you know? When you were pregnant with Megan?"
Kate nodded. "I did. It was just this deep down in your gut knowing."
"Would you have preferred a boy, or were you glad to have a girl?" Danni asked softly, her other hand coming to rest just under Kate's shirt at the dip of her lower back.
"I would have loved a son, of course, but I really wanted a daughter." As if on cue, there was a knock at the bedroom door.
Danni grinned. "Looks like you got one. Yeah?" Danni called out. Kate began to move off Danni, but Danni held her fast. "Let her see that everything is okay," Danni said softly, kissing the tip of Kate's nose.
"Can I come in?" Megan called back, her voice muffled from the other side of the door.
"Sure, honey," Kate responded. She felt a bit nervous about Megan coming in and seeing her and Danni in such an intimate position, though it wasn't sexual. Even still, she knew that Danni was right, as well as Megan needed to fully understand and see the extent of the love and affection between them.
It took a moment but finally the bedroom door was butted open but a backwards walking Megan and two excited dogs. Once she was through the door, she turned around to reveal of tray laden with freshly-made waffles, eggs and bacon, as well as two giant glasses of orange juice and all the trappings of a good breakfast.
"Oh my god!" Kate moved to get up to help.
"No!" Megan barked. "You stay there, other than get your butt ready to accept this heavy tray."
Kate moved off Danni and sat with her back to the headboard, as Danni did. Both looked on with shocked, ravenous expressions. "What have you done?" Kate asked, deeply touched.
"I've brought you make-up food," Megan said simply, setting the tray on Kate's lap. She grabbed the two napkins with a flourish and tucked one on each of their laps.
"Is that kinda like make-up sex?" Danni asked.
"Danni!" Kate swatted at a grinning Danni.
"Kind of," Megan laughed. "Now, it looks as though the two of you were comfy cozy when I walked in, so that's awesome." She stood next to the bed, waggling a finger at the two. "I want you two to eat every damn bite of this food."
"How long have you been up cooking?" Danni asked, snagging a piece of bacon.
"Since the little one here wouldn't let me sleep," she said, rubbing her belly.
Kate grinned. "I remember those days all too well." She patted the mattress. "Join us."
Megan sat on the edge of the bed, stealing the piece of waffle her mother had just cut and liberally jellied. She grinned at the surprised look.
"Okay, you can go now," Kate waved her off playfully.
Danni stood as close behind Kate as she could without actually touching her. The doctor had already looked at them funny since they'd been in his office. Kate stood by the table where Megan lay, holding her daughter's hand and watching as the doctor moved the large instrument around Megan's swollen belly.
Danni's eyes were riveted to the screen of the monitor and the alien-like images that swam across the screen.
"You'll see ladies," the doctor explained, a finger pointing to a blob on the screen. "This is the baby's head, and this is the spine."
Kate felt her eyes welling up with tears to see her unborn grandchild, even if it was hard to discern what was what, regardless of what the doctor was pointing out. She'd never had such an opportunity when she was pregnant with Megan. She could feel the comforting presence of Danni behind her, and she so badly wanted to hold her hand.
The doctor moved the wand down a bit further. "Ah, here we are." He looked at Megan, a smile on his wrinkled face. "You are having a girl."
Megan's smile nearly split her face and her eyes welled. "A baby girl," she whispered, unable to take her eyes from the screen. She felt her mother squeeze her hand, and she squeezed back, wishing for all the world that it was Rob who held her hand.
Sitting at a diner for lunch - Megan off on one of her many restroom trips - Kate looked at Danni, her heart heavy and wistful. "I want to have a baby with you."
Danni was surprised by the sudden words. Her cheeseburger halfway up to her mouth, she set it back down on her plate and looked at her. "What?"
"I do. I really want to have a baby with you, Danni," Kate repeated, keeping her voice low so as not to be overheard by the neighboring booth.
"I'd love that, Kate, but it's impossible."
"We could adopt, maybe." Kate reached under the table to grab Danni's hand. "You'd be such an amazing mother. I feel like I've made you miss out on that part of your life."
Danni squeezed her hand. "Baby, everything happened for a reason. Megan wouldn't be here if things hadn't happened the way they were. Besides, it never would have been possible for us to have a natural child together, no matter how much we would have wanted that. I do want a child with you, but what about our ages? We'd be older parents, and I thought you wanted to check in with the university for a teaching position?"
"I do, and we are, but I still want to at least give it some thought and some further discussion, okay?"
Danni smiled and leaned over to give Kate a tight one-armed hug, no matter what anybody watching thought. "Okay," she whispered into Kate's ear. "We'll talk more about it."
As the days became warmer and the storms slowly stopped, Megan's belly grew and she lived on a steady diet of Rob's letters, often sending him care packages stocked with enough to hand out treats to some of the guys who weren't fortunate enough to get love from back home. Kate and Danni would add their letters to Rob's packages, all delighting in hearing back from him, with all his wild stories and anecdotes.
Together with Kate and Danni's help, Megan had turned the new house into a home, the nursery ready for the birth of her daughter, which was due in less than a month. Kate had talked Megan into holding off on finding a job using her Communications degree until after the birth of the baby, so instead Megan had taken Danni up on her offer to work the books for all of Danni's financial ventures in Maine, including the store and all her rentals. She was stunned at just how much Danni was involved in, and what a savvy business woman she really was.
Megan sat at the desk Danni had given her in the office in town that Danni sometimes used to operate out of. "Sooo, Danni?" she said.
"Yes, Megan?" Danni replied from her own desk, where she was going over a new batch of orders that had come in.
"Mom tells me you two have been talking about baby shopping."
Danni's head whipped up, an automatic smile of amusement on her lips. "Baby shopping?"
Megan grinned with a nod. "Yes. Baby shopping."
Danni shook her head with a chuckle. "We've talking about adoption, yes." She studied the girl for a moment, trying to read her feelings on the subject. "How do you feel about that, Megan? Would you want a little brother or sister?"
"I think it's fantastic, really. Gutsy as all hell, but fantastic."
"It's something we had actually discussed a long time ago, way back in San Diego," Danni sighed, tossing her pencil to the desktop and sitting back in her chair.
"But, you're unsure," Megan guessed, both from Danni's pensive expression as well as what she'd been told by her mother.
Danni rubbed her eyes and let out a sigh. "I have some concerns, yes," she admitted.
"Like what?" Talk of babies brought her hand absently to her own massive stomach, which kept her a good distance from being able to fully sit flush with the desk.
"Like, do I want a child to have to deal with the very unusual situation of having 'two mommies'. Is it fair to thrust that upon a child?"
"Danni," Megan grunted as she pushed back from the desk and pulled herself to her feet. She walked over to Danni's desk, which was across the room. Danni quickly got up and grabbed a chair for Megan to lower herself onto next to her desk. "Thank you. Danni, there are miserable couples - normal - couples who pop out kids like cockroaches, and those kids have to live in that kind of environment: unloved, unwanted, unfed, whatever. The baby that you and my mom raise together would have the best of everything: mainly love. Honestly, I think that alone would make up for any 'difference' they have to go through."
Danni was quiet for a moment, chewing on what Megan had said. Finally, she turned to the younger woman. "Can I ask you a question?"
"What was it like? Growing up with your mom and George? What was the household like?"
Megan thought about that for a long time, both hands resting atop her belly. "Well, individually they were both great parents, and though I was always closer to mom, I was fairly close to my dad, too. But, together," she rolled her eyes. "Forget it - not groovy. There was no sync between them, you know? Like, they were definitely both flying different paths. I can't recall one single time when I saw them think the same or want the same things." She shook her head sadly. "It was always a fight." With a shrug she continued, "Eventually they both started living their own lives with me as the one and only common denominator."
Danni absorbed this information then smiled as she saw the familiar look cross Megan's expressive face. "I put a fresh roll of toilet paper in there just for you."
"Thanks," Megan murmured, getting Danni's help to lift out of the chair to and her over-taxed legs and feet.
Left alone, Danni considered all that Megan had said and all that she and Kate had discussed over the past several weeks. She wanted so badly to share that joy with Kate; in truth, the short time that Megan had been in her life, and that Danni had acted on some level of parental guide, it had been incredibly beautiful and rewarding. The thought of that with a child who only knew her as one of two parents was certainly an intoxicating one, but on the other side of that beautiful token, she was scared shitless!
Danni had very little time to explore that realization when she heard a scream coming from the bathroom.
Danni shoved away from the desk and ran at breakneck speed to the bathroom, shoving the door open. "Oh boy," she swallowed.
Kate nearly ran down the corridor of the hospital, relieved when she saw Danni step out of the elevator, where they met with a fierce hug. "Is she okay?" she whispered.
Danni nodded. "She's at seven centimeters," Danni whispered into the hug. She took Kate's hand and led her back into the elevator, pushing the button for the appropriate floor.
Kate's heart was pounding. She took the opportunity of the privacy to be held by Danni for the short ride up to the fourth floor. Once the doors opened, Danni led Kate through a maze of hallways and waiting rooms until they arrived at Megan's room.
"Mom," Megan whimpered when she saw her enter the room, relief flooding her. She reached out an I.V.'d hand to her, which was immediately taken.
"I'm here, baby." Kate bent down and gave her daughter's sweaty brow a kiss. "I called Rob's parents and Grandma and Grandpa before leaving the house." She brushed Megan's hair back from her face. "How are you doing?"
Megan took a deep breath, her eyes
closing and face scrunching up as another intense contraction hit.
Danni looked at her watch. "Oh god," Megan bit out, squeezing her
mother's hand painfully.
"I know sweetheart," Kate murmured. "I know. It'll pass."
Megan gasped as the pain began to subside. "Shit," she panted.
"Three minutes apart," Danni reported.
"It should be soon then," Kate said. "You may be lucky and not have to deal with sixteen hours of labor like I had." She smiled at her daughter, squeezing her hand.
Just then, the doctor entered the room. "How are we doing?" he asked, nodding acknowledgment to Kate then turned his focus to his patent.
"Three minutes apart," Danni offered. "She just had another one a minute ago."
"Very good." He set Megan's chart on the sliding table. "Let's see what we've got here." Megan's legs bent and spread, the doctor probed and measured. "Eight and a half!' he announced with a winning smile to Megan. "We can probably take you pretty soon, Megan."
"Okay," Megan breathed.
He looked up at Kate as he got to his feet from the rolling stool he'd used. "Mom, will you be joining us?"
Kate looked to Megan who immediately nodded. "Yes."
"Alright. Let's get you suited up, then."
Ten minutes later, Kate had pulled the scrubs she'd been given over her clothing and hugged Danni tightly to her. "I love you," she whispered into her ear, then let her go to follow Megan and her team of nurses and doctor down the hall to the delivery room.
Danni watched as her family made its way down the hall, tears in her eyes as she was overwhelmed with love and the strangest sense of acceptance. She turned and made her way down the hall in the opposite direction to the waiting room.
"Push, Megan. Push!"
Megan's face screwed up in pain and exertion as she once again brought all the strength she had to the surface and pushed with all her might, unable to breathe as she growled in effort.
"Good, sweetheart," Kate said, her words muffled behind the mask she wore. She held onto Megan's hand, her own fingers squeezed together in a vice through Megan's pain. She ignored it, instead trying to stay focused for Megan's sake.
Megan gasped for air as she fell back to the bed, her chest heaving with the effort. "God," she panted.
"You're doing great, Megan," the doctor complimented. "One more and the head should be out. Ready? Push!"
Again, Megan drew from an inner strength and image of Rob and pushed with everything she had. Tears rolled down her reddened cheeks, stark against the paleness of the rest of her face. She cried out in effort, her voice straining and cracking under the stress. "Rob!" she screamed, which was quickly followed by the sudden cries of a newborn.
Tears sprang to Kate's eyes at the first sound of her new granddaughter. "Almost there, Megan!" she exclaimed, excited. "Almost there!"
"One more! One more, Megan!"
"I can't," Megan panted. "God, I can't." She felt dizzy and lightheaded from the exertion and lack of air.
"You have to. One more and she'll be out..." the doctor exclaimed.
Megan suddenly saw an image of Rob smiling at her, a sob coming to her throat. "Okay," she breathed. "Okay." She'd do it for him.
It felt like an eternity since Danni had first entered the waiting room and had taken a seat on the thinly padded couch. She'd made a call to Carol and had read every single magazine the waiting room had to offer, and still she was antsy. She'd resorted to pacing, along with a few other expectant fathers. She looked at them, so young and so filled with anticipation.
Danni whipped around to see a still-scrub-wearing Kate walk over to her, a tiny bundle in her arms. "I'd like you to meet someone."
Danni' s breath caught and instantly tears came to her eyes. She looked down into the tiny, swaddled face of the most beautiful baby she'd ever seen.
"I'd like you to meet your granddaughter, Christian Bailey Jamison."
Danni smiled through her tears. "Isn't that a boy's name?" she asked absently.
Kate smiled. "I said the same thing, but you know these kids today..."
Danni almost held her breath as she looked down at the baby. "Can I... can I hold her?" she whispered, looking like an excited child as she met Kate's gaze.
"Of course you can. Support her head."
Carefully they exchanged the baby from one set of arms to the other. "Look at you," Danni whispered, holding the tiny baby in one arm and bringing up the other hand to gently touch the softest skin she'd ever touched. "She's so tiny. So perfect."
Kate leaned up and kissed Danni's cheek, the best she could do under public circumstances. "Yes, she is."
"How is Megan?" Danni asked, unable to take her eyes off of Christian.
"She's sleeping. She did wonderfully."
Danni looked at Kate and mouthed the words: I love you.
Kate smiled. I love you, too.