At Last

Part 3

By: Girl Bard

For disclaimers see Part 1.

May 12, 2001

3:17 AM

"Can you all please quiet down!" The attending nurse tells us sternly for the fifth time. We all immediately shut our mouths and look at each other guiltily. Except for Jaden, who frowns and glares at her.

"Easy Spots, she's just doing her job." I mutter quietly, my hand resting on her thigh.

As the nurse retreats, Kim begins to giggle, and soon we're all snickering like drunken idiots.

Which we all are.

The reality of the situation hits me and I put my head in my hands.

"Goddess, we are all awful people. I can't believe this baby is going to be brought into the world after a night of drunk karaoke. Di is going to kill us, and everyone here is looking at us like we are the biggest losers." I moan as Jaden rubs her hand in comforting circles on my back.

"It's not our fault, we didn't know she was going to go into labor a month early. It's not like we were out partying on her due date." Jaden responds.

"Yeah, and Joe and I would have been sober enough to come and get all of you if you hadn't dragged us to the bar." Harold states, his arms crossed over his massive chest.

"Oh, so sorry that we interrupted your Playstation game and male-bonding rituals." Kim snorts as Harry scowls at her.

"Enough." I say tiredly. "Di is in there bringing a baby into the world. The least we can do is support her and Joe. Besides, Harold, Di wouldn't have stayed at the bar waiting for you to pick all of us up, you know that."

He raises a hand in defeat.

"I wonder why she went so early." Kim muses, glancing at Jaden. "It couldn't have had anything to do with your touching rendition of 'Anything you can do, I can do better?' could it?"

"Bite me." Jaden practically growls and I sigh in annoyance at Kim.

"Enough!" I respond, louder this time. Everyone stays quiet.

I hate awkward silence, I always have. And I really have no clue as to why we're all mad at each other. So I decide to ask.

"I feel guilty." Jaden answers first, surprising me. I raise my eyebrows at her, encouraging her to continue. "I'm their best friend, and I should be smart enough not to be drinking when Di was so close to going into labor."

"I understand." I tell her honestly. "But sweetheart, it's not your job to look out for and protect everyone that you care for. I know it comes naturally for you, but Di is responsible for her own health and well-being, not you. I'm sure she had no idea she would start labor tonight, otherwise she never would have gone out in the first place."

"Grace is right." Kim adds. "Think of the times Di has done anything like this, throughout her entire pregnancy she was so careful not to go anywhere that people would be smoking. This is the first time she's really been out, and I know that she thought it would be fine. It was her choice, not yours."

"It could have been worse, at least she was able to drive okay. It would have been horrible to have to wait for an ambulance and have her deliver on the side of the road!" Harold states.

"That would have been scary." I state. "At least she and the baby are here safely."

"I'm going to get some coffee. Anyone want anything?" Stacey asks, standing up. We all shake our heads and she heads quickly down the hall.

She's been acting weird all night, and Kim has been on edge too.

"She okay?" Harold asks.

"Yeah." Kim responds, her face set. "She doesn't like hospitals. She doesn't really like much of anything right now."

"What's going on?" I ask, concerned for my friends.

Kim dismisses the conversation with a flick of her wrist. "No big deal, just end-of-semester blues." She clears her throat. "How long do you think it's going to take?"

"She went into labor pretty quickly, I guess if that's an indication, it could be any time." Harold remarks, his handsome face lighting up in a huge grin.

"I can't believe we're going to have a baby!" I say, happiness floating around my entire body. "A brand new life, it's going to be incredible."

"I wonder how Kasey is going to handle it." Jaden muses and we all nod in understanding.

Later that morning

My feet tap nervously on the floor, my fingers drumming their own rhythm on Grace's thigh.

Kim's bloodshot eyes keep darting from the clock and then to the door leading to the delivery room while Stacey seems to be absorbed in the outdated magazine she is reading.

Harold is mindlessly staring at the television, his eyes glazed over.

Grace is sleeping, her fair head tucked sound against my shoulder. She seems completely relaxed, but I can tell from the frown lines around her mouth she is just as anxious as the rest of us.

It's been a really long time since we got here. I don't know much about babies, but I didn't think things like this should take this long.

Joe has appeared briefly, to tell us Di's making progress. He finally called their families, and Di's sister should be here with Kasey in tow later.

But I haven't seen Joe for more than two hours now, and I just want to make sure everyone is okay.

I really hate waiting.

I wonder if I'll ever be in Joe's place, waiting for Grace to deliver our child. The entire process seems so strange to me, I've always been fascinated with children and how they develop. Grace would be beautiful pregnant, and I know she'd be a wonderful mother. She's so nurturing and caring to everyone, and I bet she'd be fiercely protective of our child.

So would I.

How would it work? Would we use an anonymous donor or speak with someone we know, like Joe or Harold and ask them to father our child. I'm sure Grace would want to carry it, I can't imagine myself pregnant.

And then who would have legal rights? I know the lesbian and gay movement has made tremendous strides in allowing same-sex partners to adopt and share responsibility for the child, but I've also seen the scary stories about one partner dying and their children being taken away.

I couldn't bear that, the thought of Grace dying or the loss of our children.

"You think too much." Grace's slurred voice breathes in my ear.

I smile fondly as her cold hands wrap around my bicep.

"Yeah?" "Turn your brain off, Spots." She repeats tiredly before sitting up and rubbing her eyes.

"How did you know I was thinking?" I ask curiously.

"Your entire posture changed, you went from being my big, soft, pillow to one big cramped muscle. I knew you were thinking about something sad." She responds matter-of-factly. "Any news yet?"

I shake my head. "No, I'm getting worried."

"Don't. When my mother had Lydia, it took forever, almost 28 hours." Grace says, yawning. She looks at her watch. "Besides, it's only been ten." Gracie stands and stretches her arms above her head, exposing her cute navel. I reach to tickle it and she giggles. "I'm starving, you want to go to the cafeteria and grab breakfast?"

"Nah, you go ahead and take Kim. She's making me nervous, watching the clock like that." I say loud enough for her to hear and she scowls at me. "I'll stay here in case anything happens."

"Okay." She answers. "I'll bring you back something." She heads to the elevator, Kim, Stacey, and Harold in tow.

I claim the warm couch Kim and Stacey were sharing and stretch my long legs out, immediately grateful for the change in position. Glancing briefly at the clock, I see that it's 11:02 am. My eyes flutter shut of their own accord and I sink into the surprisingly comfortable couch.

"Jaden." A voice calls me and I immediately wake to find a smiling Joe standing over me.

"She okay?" I ask, sitting up so quickly the blood rushes from my brain and I feel dizzy. The clock reads 11:39, so I haven't been sleeping that long.

"Come see for yourself." He responds with a proud smile on his face.

"Alright Daddy!" I tell him with glee, following him into Di's room. She looks exhausted, but gives me a warm smile. In her arms is a sleeping bundle, snuggled in a blanket.

"You look like hell." Di comments and I laugh.

"Well?" I ask, motioning toward the sleeping baby.

Joe gently takes him? her? from Di's arms.

"This is our son, Jay." He tells me, handing him to me. I awkwardly hold him and look down into his tiny face.

"He's incredible." I breathe, studying his tiny eyelashes and nose. His eyes are firmly closed and his little lips pursed. I can immediately tell a difference between him and what Kasey looked like as a newborn, she's always looked just like Diana. Jay has the more pronounced features of Joe and dark wisps of hair stick out from beneath his little hat.

"Congratulations." I say to them, feeling almost choked with emotion. "And it really means a lot that you named him that."

"Jay Joseph Albano." Joe responds. "I think it's a strong name."

"JJ, huh?" I remark, grinning down at the sleeping baby.

Di looks at me warily. "JJ? God, I didn't even think of that. We're not calling him that!"

"I think it's cute." I answer, looking down again at little JJ.

I continue to stare at him, memorizing every little feature until I hear Di yawn. I gingerly hand him back to her.

"I'll get going, I know you're tired."

"He actually was born a little after 9:00am, we spent a few hours in here alone before coming out to get you." Di remarks, unable to keep her eyes off her child.

"I'm glad you had some down time." I tell them honestly. Leaning over to give Di a kiss on her cheek, I slap Joe's back before turning to leave the room. "I'll tell everyone the good news!"

"Nah, I'll tell them. Besides, Kasey is probably here now and she'll want to come in." Joe says and follows me out.

Our group, with the addition of Kasey and members of Di and Joe's family, is anxiously standing outside and they start cheering when they see Joe and me.

"It's a boy!" Joe shouts and everyone goes nuts.

Grace throws her arms around me, kissing me soundly. "Did you see him? What does he look like? Is Di okay?" She babbles and her excitement is so contagious that I pick her up and twirl her around, feeling like we've just had our first child.

"I saw him, he's perfect, looks just like Joe, and his name is Jay Joseph. Di is thrilled and looks beautiful!" I respond.

"Yay!" She says. "Now put me down!"

I comply and look around the room to see everyone else celebrating in much the same way. Except for one person.

"Poor Kasey-girl." I mutter, seeing her held securely in Joe's arms, bawling her brains out.

"She's been kind of upset. I think we should send everyone home and spend some time with her so Joe can be with Di." Grace remarks.

"Good idea. Why don't you all go see the baby and I'll take her down to the cafeteria for awhile." I offer and Gracie gives me that beaming smile.

"She'll love that." Grace nods and tells the idea to Joe, who smiles and nods eagerly.

"Does Di feel up to visitors?" Grace asks, and after receiving the affirmative from Joe, leads the rest of our group in there; leaving just Joe, Kasey, and myself standing around.

"Hiya munchkin." I tell Kasey, who is still sniffling.

"Hi." She responds sullenly.

"Listen, I'm hungry. Do you want to come with me to get something to eat?" I ask her and she raises her brown eyes to meet mine.

"Just with you?"

"Yep." I answer her.

"Okay." She decides, wriggling from Joe's hold. "Bye daddy." She calls as I take her hand and lead her to the elevator. Joe calls goodbye and scampers off to Di's side.

While we wait for the elevator, Kasey remains quiet, which is very unusual for her. "Would you like a piggyback ride?" I ask and she smiles brightly.


I easily pick her up and swing her onto my back. Our combined height is almost taller than the elevator and I instruct her to duck as we step on.

We quickly get settled in the cafeteria and I hold her small hand as we pick out our meal. I sit her in a booth with a booster seat and she sips happily on her chocolate milk.

"You know, I had a brother." I mention as I pick up my egg salad sandwich.

"Was he mean?" She asks and I shake my head.

"He was the nicest person in the entire world." I respond and she furrows her brow in thought.

"Like Santa Claus?"

I think for a second. "Kind of like Santa Claus. He didn't ride around in a sleigh with elves or anything, but he was very giving and loving like Santa."

"Where is he?" She asks.

"I'm not sure." I tell her. "Jonah died a long time ago."

"Oh." Kasey says, her eyes wide. "Are you sad?"

"I'm very sad." I answer honestly. "We were best friends in the whole world. We used to play all sorts of games and make up silly stories and build things in the backyard. One time, we wrote an entire play for our mother to act in, because she was an actress."

"Michelle has a brother and he's mean. I don't want a mean brother." Kasey says.

"How do you know your brother will be mean? My brother wasn't mean." I tell her and she thinks about it.

"Maybe he won't be mean, but he's always going to be here." She responds quietly.

So this is what it's really about. Poor Kasey has been the apple of her parents' eyes her entire life. She's never known what it's like to have to share their attention or love. She probably thinks the new baby will take up all their time and they won't want her around.

"I know he's always going to be here." I begin. "But think about something, okay? Your parents are always around, right? And you don't mind them being around because you love them so much. So let's just say you end up loving your brother. Then you won't mind him being around because you'll love him and love to play with him, right?" She looks at me and nods slowly.

"And listen to this, munchkin, you're going to kindergarten soon and you're going to be learning all sorts of important things that Jay won't know. You're going to have to teach him the important things, like what time to wake up your parents on Christmas morning, and what to ask for on birthdays."

"Yeah." She says softly, her eyes meeting mine.

"Most importantly, your mom and dad love you more than anything. Just because they have Jay doesn't mean they're going to love you any less. Do you love one of your dogs more than the other?"

"No." She answers; a hint of a smile around her mouth.

"So there you have it. I am the expert on brothers and if you have any questions, just ask me, okay?" I smile at her and receive a toothless smile in return.

"Okay." She says happily, contently eating her peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

I ruffle her hair and dig into my lunch.

June 18, 2001

I throw open the door and do a little dance. "Kasey's here!" I shout, picking her up and hopping up and down with her.

"Who's here?" Jaden exclaims, sauntering in from the bedroom. "Who's Kasey?"

"I'm Kasey!" The little girl yells and we giggle.

"Oh yeah, that Kasey." Jaden responds. "What are you doing here?"

"I'm staying the weekend, remember?" She answers and Jaden slaps herself upside the head.

"Duh! Let's put your stuff in your bedroom." Jaden suggests, taking the girl's overnight bag from Di's arm before leading Kasey into the spare bedroom. "Bean and Bella have been waiting all day for you to come and see them!"

"Hey JJ!" I coo at the infant, immediately taking him from Di's arms. He's very alert, and his muddy blue eyes study the ceiling intently.

"Hello Jaden and Grace! How are you today? You both look well. Myself? I'm fine, thanks for asking!" Di exclaims and I blush.

"Sorry, you look wonderful, how are you?" I ask, focusing the attention back onto her.

"I'm great, actually. Jay's been sleeping really well and things are going okay with Kasey. Whatever Jaden said to her at the hospital completely changed her attitude about her little brother. Of course, because Jay sleeps all the time it give me plenty of time to spend one-on-one time with her." Di mentions as she takes off her coat. "And you guys are a tremendous help. She really looks forward to these outings with you."

"Don't mention it." I tell her as I gently rock the baby. "We love having her and she's never a problem. She and Jaden are thick as thieves." I smile. "Grab a seat, can you stay awhile?"

"For a minute. Joe is running to the store to pick up some diapers and then we are dropping Jay off at my mother's. I'm so excited to be able to go out to dinner!" She exclaims, leaning back tiredly on the couch.

I expertly shift Jay to one arm as I take a drink from my glass. I've been holding him a lot in the month he's been here, and he seems to like me. He actually seems to like everyone, he's a really easy going baby.

"Crap." Di mutters, looking down at her lovely blouse that is bearing matching wet spots. She glances at me warily. "The only thing I hate about nursing is leaking milky boob juice for months."

I snort with laughter, causing my coke to fly out of my nose across the room and luckily not on the baby. "Arugh! It burns!" I exclaim over Diana's frantic laughter.

Jaden and Kasey, followed by an excited pair of dogs come bounding out of the bedroom.

"Pixie-head! Jaden said we could go ride the horses and take the dogs on a walk in the woods and go to Six Flags and go see a movie!" Kasey shouts as I try to make my nose stop burning.

"Well, that's my cue to leave." Di laughs as she puts on her coat. "Have an exciting weekend!" She says as she takes Jay from my arms and kisses Kasey goodbye.

I have a feeling it's going to be exciting, to say the least.

Part 4: Coming soon! I think feedback is cool. I think fanfic readers are cool. Won't you be doubly cool and drop me an email at: ?

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