I think what everyone who antagonizes Maddie doesn’t realize is that she’s literally going through postpartum depression. It brings wild mood strings and feelings of hopelessness. So everything shes feeling is her brain making her feel like she isn’t enough. So if I see you hating on Maddie, I will throw hands.
Summary: Childhood friends Chicago and Chloe have been by each others sides for a long time. When an accidental pregnancy leads to the traumatic birth of their daughter Emma, Chicago grows concerned about Chloe's mental state and asks his old army buddy Beca to keep an eye on them whilst he's on his final tour of duty.
A whole new idea courtesy of my excellent exec. producer @chubby-maimaki who I adore very much 💖 it’s a bit of a different one for me this one, a slow burn which I’m hoping pays off in the end skldfhdd although they’ll be plenty of my trademark angst to come.
Trigger warning for the duration of this fic for themes and discussions of postpartum depression and psychosis. More trigger warnings may apply later on, so keep an eye out for those in future chapters.
when buck entered his apartment and stopped below the stairs for a second, i swear i thought it was because he saw maddie sitting on the couch. like i thought she dropped jee off at the fire station for chim and then ran to her brother because she didn't know where to go and i was expecting to see buck hug maddie as she cries tiredly and the scene end there
Reasons why this hasn’t really just “come from nowhere”:
Any new mom can experience postpartum depression and it can develop after the birth of any child, not just the first. However, your risk increases if:
You have a history of depression, either during pregnancy or at other times
- this goes without saying in Maddie’s trauma filled past. If we start with Daniel - Maddie had to watch her little brother in pain for years and not being able to do anything about it. Then she had to watch her parents in emotional pain and become distant and unloving in a way that she’ll never be able to truly understand or forgive.
Then of course we have Doug, we don’t know why they didn’t have children, we know Maddie said she didn’t feel safe but did she and Doug ever discuss it? Had she ever been pregnant or had a scare? There’s of course the underlying depression, feeling helpless, alone, being told she was never good enough, the resulting PTSD that came after.
You have family members who've had depression or other mood disorders
- I mean, Margaret Buckley much??
You've experienced stressful events during the past year, such as pregnancy complications, illness or job loss
- Maddie has been pregnant throughout a pandemic, please don’t underestimate how heartbreaking this is for any woman.
Maddie Buckley has spent the majority of her life feeing as though she’s not good enough and being told it, being emotionally abused by the people who were supposed to love her more than anything and then physically abused on top by the man she probably thought she would spend the rest of her life with.
Now she’s watching her little girl, in pain, and she can’t do anything about it and all those feelings of helplessness and loneliness and fear of not being good enough has returned and exasperated by the isolation of living through a global pandemic, coupled with sleep deprivation.
The foundations were always there, this didn’t come from nowhere.
I just caught up to the current episode of 911. Jesus that ending 😭 I’m pretty sure I sat there and stared at the tv for a good five minutes afterwards in shock right along with Buck.
Okay get comfy because this is going to get long. I have a lot of thoughts on why I think it’s more likely than ever that Buddie will become canon. I’ve seen a lot of fandom talking about why they feel the same and honestly it’s not surprising given the way that shooting scene played out. But I have some other thoughts I haven’t seen talked about yet too.
I’ve gone back and forth on whether or not I think Buddie will happen. I want them to get together in canon and I think the show should definitely make it happen and not just because us fans want it to happen either.
Since Eddie arrived the show has continually written Buck and Eddie in a way to say to the audience there’s more going on there. So I don’t think it’s some far fetched idea that so many of us ship them or want to see them end up together. I’ve shipped many characters who I knew were never going to get together in canon but Buddie has always felt different. It’s not just wishful thinking there’s a lot of substance there provided by the writers.
Still more recently I’d kind of lost hope that Buddie was ever going to happen. Throughout season 4 I’ve been wondering if the show was working on pulling Buck and Eddie in different directions. I figured maybe they were just tired of listening to the fans yell about Buddie. I figured it’s why we had been seeing a lot more of Taylor and Ana and why we rarely see Buck and Eddie and Chris spending time together the way we used to in season 3. It had actually been bumming me out a lot because I miss that dynamic in the show.
Last night’s episode changed my mind on that though and not just because of the shooting. I was worried at first when I saw that Carla was meeting Ana because I wondered where this was going. Like was the show trying to solidify Ana as a more substantial part of Eddie’s life now? Were they trying to show that she was important enough to start meeting more of the people in Eddie’s life? But I realized after watching that the whole reason Ana was even included in the episode was for Eddie and Carla to have the convo they did.
Eddie and Carla talk about Carla’s dad. Carla says that she was thankful she got to spend time with him (before he died) and she was sorry she left them (Eddie and Chris) Eddie says “you were where you were supposed to be”. When Eddie says that Carla gets this look on her face like she’s considering his words and thinking about the meaning and responds with a line of questioning that gets her to asking Eddie about Ana. Mainly I think because Carla is one of the people who knows Buck and Eddie better than anyone and when Eddie said to her “you were where you were supposed to be” she was likely thinking so how come you’re not where you’re supposed to be with Buck?
Eddie and Carla talk about Chris and how Eddie had been worried about him (after what happened to Shannon) and how happy he is to have Ana around. Carla presses Eddie about how he feels about Ana and Eddie simply says “it’s easy being with her” (aka he doesn’t have to be emotionally invested). Carla responds and says she’s glad Eddie is moving on but most importantly she tells him “just be sure that you’re following your heart and not Christopher’s”.
The show easily could have framed this whole scene in a different way if they were planning on making Ana and Eddie into a more significant thing. Eddie could have responded and said he was following his heart being with Ana. The show could have shown Eddie watching Ana and Christopher with a sense of ease and love on his face instead he clearly looked like he was thinking about what Carla said and it was obvious he’d been running from the fact he was only with Ana for Christopher.
The other thing that made me feel like Buddie is much more of a certainty and the main thing I wanted to write this for since I haven’t seen anyone else really talking about it is what’s going on with the other couples and how that correlates with Buddie.
911 is obviously an ensemble show so some characters and ships will inevitably get more attention than others still there’s usually some that are the consistent main. For example Hen and Karen they’re a great couple but I wouldn’t necessarily call them a main couple of the show. To me the central canon couple of 911 is Athena and Bobby and second to them I think would be Chim and Maddie at least in season 4 where they’ve had a lot of focus given the baby storyline.
I think we’re headed towards both of these couples being on the rocks. Clearly Athena and Bobby are about to go through some stuff. I’m hoping Bobby doesn’t die but no matter what their marriage is in trouble at this moment. As for Maddie and Chim I think it’s likely that they’re headed for a postpartum depression storyline so that will probably spell some trouble for them too.
My point in all of this is if you watch the ending of the recent episode right after the argument between Athena and Bobby we saw the shooting with Buck and Eddie. In the promo for the next episode the majority of what we see is Buck and Eddie juxtaposed with what’s going on with Athena and Bobby and Chim and Maddie.
TV shows particularly drama ones like 911 ebb and flow and there’s usually some kind of balance. If you have one or more of your main couples in the middle of the worst times chances are you’ll see other couples in the best times. So while Athena and Bobby might be unraveling which hopefully is just temporary) in the midst of this shooting Buddie might be coming together or at least closer to getting there. More on that below. 👇
I don’t necessarily think that Buddie will just magically get together in the last episode of season 4. Part of me doesn’t even want that to happen. I think it makes much more sense for things with Buddie to happen gradually. Besides which nothing in tv ever wraps up that neat and tidy anyway. Shows like 911 thrive on drama so if Buddie is going to happen there has to be conflict involved before they get to that point.
My guess is that this shooting will push one of them to recognize their feelings for the other and he’ll want to tell the other one but something will stop him. I think it could be Buck. Like maybe while Eddie is recovering Buck talks to Taylor and finally realizes/admits his feelings for Eddie, to which she says something snarky like she knew that already. She pushes him to go tell Eddie the truth but when Buck goes to the hospital he ends up seeing Ana there and decides not to tell him. Maybe in season 5 we have to watch Buck figuring out his sexuality and dealing with his feelings for Eddie while seeing Eddie with someone else.
911 could also surprise us and it could be Eddie who realizes his feelings for Buck. We had that scene with Carla and Eddie and it’s clear that Eddie is only with Ana for Christopher. We had Carla telling Eddie to follow his heart. When you look at the symbolism of what happened during the shooting Eddie’s blood ended up all over Buck which is like a trail to this heart (albeit a morbid one) not to mention Eddie reached out for Buck when he was on the ground. So Eddie could wake up and realize the truth about his feelings for Buck and want to tell him but be afraid to loose his best friend. Or maybe Eddie is afraid to change anything now that Christopher seems happy again finally.
There could also just be a scene with them in the hospital or maybe Buck comes to stay with Eddie and Christopher to help take care of Eddie and and it’s clear the atmosphere has changed between them. Like we don’t get anything super serious yet but there’s something more there and they both feel it but aren’t acting on it yet. Maybe Buck tells Eddie how he felt when he saw him get shot maybe Eddie tells him he reached for him. Maybe they both realize they couldn’t bare to loose the other.
Everything that’s happened thus far with Buck and Eddie feels like it’s leading towards something. It definitely feels like something is going to change with them heading into season 5. I feel like they’re going to leave us on some kind of cliffhanger and then drag out whatever happens next season. Which makes sense as it incentives more people to watch. But I’m more optimistic than ever that Buddie will happen now.
I do agree with what others have said that there’s no place really for the writers to go now than to put Buck and Eddie together even if it doesn’t happen immediately. The shooting scene was completely framed like Buck watched the man he loved get shot and they were even wearing complimenting colors which is something I’ve seen done often in movies and tv for lovers. They were staring at each other and reaching out. I mean how do you explain that if it doesn’t lead anywhere?
Not to mention the whole thing was done in slow motion and the scene didn’t focus on anyone else besides Eddie and Buck for a few minutes. It even had an almost a freeze frame with the two staring at each other across the street and since there was blood and the ambulance the whole scene was lit up bright red. And apart from everything else red is pretty much universally known as the color for love.
One other thing I forgot to add was that the convo with Eddie and Carla happened in an episode called Suspicion where people are keeping things from the people they love. The mother keeping things from her bridezilla daughter, Bobby and Athena keeping things from each other, Maddie keeping her depression from Chimney, Hen’s mom keeping how sick she was from Hen.
Why would 911 choose this episode in particular to feature all this important Buddie stuff? That important convo with Carla and Eddie where Carla basically tells Eddie she knows he’s not following his heart. That crazy intense moment with the shooting where Buck and Eddie are just staring at each other like soulmates having to watch the person they love die.
Maybe because both Buck and Eddie have things they’re hiding? Things they’re hiding from themselves and things they’re keeping from the person they love the most. Each other.
The second-born prince knows better than to pretend to understand the intricacies of pregnancy and birth -- aside from his own part in the process, naturally -- but he likes to think he knows when something is amiss with his wife.
"Ursa," he says, gently, the small creature that is their daughter resting in the crook of his arm, "it's been three weeks."
And it has -- three weeks of sleeplessness and worry, of servants exchanging glances, of his son's confusion, his own incomprehension, and of his wife lacking the luster and glow of motherhood he had come to expect.
She turns to him, and the hope in his throat strangles itself when he realizes the glimmer to her marigold eyes is not his wife's radiance returned, but the cold sheen of unshed tears.
Her promises to try are unfeigned -- he believes her, for she has not ever spared him her honesty -- but he decides then and there that her will alone may not be enough.
Exhausted new mother Bridget is on her way home from work late one night on the train when she sees something shocking; a little girl being grabbed off the platform of a station her train is speeding through and thrown into a white van. Nobody else sees it, though, and since Bridget is suffering from post-natal depression and on a strong medication with possible hallucinatory side effects, it soon becomes apparent that the police don’t quite believe her.
Which doesn’t explain the white van which starts following Bridget around. Or the incredible detail she can recall, right down to the logo of the rose on the little girl’s blazer pocket. A specialist in data analysis, Bridget starts doing what she does best; investigate the data. All the data on children who vanished without trace, over the last twenty years, with particular focus on those missing from railway stations. One case, twenty years old, strikes a strange chord, and when Bridget finds herself in the small Northern town a little girl called Frances vanished from, something starts stirring in her memory. Something impossible.
The twist here is actually telegraphed really early, even though it’s not explicitly spelled out, but the reader has to wait for Bridget to discover it and to uncover all the details about why. There are still some threads left open - why therapist Gillian was so loyal to Bridget’s mother didn’t really add up for me, and what about all that data Bridget analysed? Because she really did find a pattern, one which makes me wonder if there might be a second book here where Bridget helps the police find more missing children. I’d love to read it, if so. Bridget’s past would provide a major impetus for her to get involved in such cases and she has the skillset to do it.
It’s unusual to read a character with mental illness, depicted with clear and unflinching detail, as the heroine rather than the villain in a mystery thriller. PND is very real and can be crippling, and although it’s eventually revealed that Bridget’s issues are both deeper and at least partially induced by external forces, her struggles as a working mother to a young baby (with dietary issues, no less) and her desperate desire to do the right thing by her daughter are painful to read. This is gut-wrenching in parts, I think especially to anyone who has children and has felt that crippling fear they’re failing as a parent, and the contrast between that and the shocking emotional betrayals of the eventual villain are extreme.
I honestly couldn’t put this down once I’d got into it, which didn’t take long at all; I was hooked by the end of the first chapter. Five stars for a terrific read and I’ll definitely be looking for more books from this author.
The Girl on the Platform is available now.
Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this title via NetGalley.
[ jang dahye, female, 26 ] Let’s give a warm welcome to one of Sparkwood’s finest, WAVERLY EARP!! Before coming here, SHE/HER once lived on the pages of WYNONNA EARP. Though now they currently spend most of their time as a(n) COLLEGE STUDENT . If you ask the townsfolk about what they are like, you will hear that they are INTELLIGENT but also WEAK-WILLED . If they had a theme song it would be FROM EDEN-HOZIER . Let’s see how their story unravels this time.
Waverly was the youngest of three, and normally the youngest was the one given the most attention but that wasn't the case, her sister Wynona was always getting in trouble, and Willa was so perfect and was always getting praised Waverly was just kind of pushed aside, her mother being gone for as long as she could remember. But for some reason her father always looked at her with disgust, as a kind she brushed it off and clung to Wynonna desperately searching for some kind of love and affection, her father was a drunk who was losing his mind when Waverly was five the details were fuzzy, not sure what happened but her eldest sister Willa was abducted, and her father being a drunk became obsessed with the case, drinking himself to death before he ever found out what happened to his daughter, the case going cold since they never had any evidence except the stories of a five and ten year old retelling of what happened.
Waverly was raised by her Aunt Gus and Uncle Curtis, who were the only people to believe Wynonna's retelling of what happened to Willa, but the cops already had ruled her stories as just that, fantasies and she was sent away to institutions leaving Waverly alone once again, Waverly was holding out on when Wynona got out that she would come back, but instead, she was let down once again and Wynona left town without warning, barely even taking the time to call Waverly and let her know she was doing okay on the road. So to distract herself from how unwanted she felt she poured herself into stories, pretending she had a family that actually wanted her, it was the only thing that eased her loneliness. When she began to ask her aunt questions and she got nothing he began looking into her family that's when she learned their family secret, their mother didn't just leave them all those years ago, she was in prison arson, during an episode of Postpardome depression she attempted to burn down the Earp barn with Waverly inside because she was consumed with the guilt that Waverly wasn't her husband's.
The news was shocking but it made sense by the way her father was so indifferent and uncaring to her, he was blaming her for something that wasn't even her fault. It was a rude awakening but one she had to endure on her own since she only really had herself. So she moved states when she finally was ready to go to college, but not firmly having any money nor scholarships, the only way she could afford tuition was she had two jobs just to afford tuition, choosing to live off-campus because apartments were cheaper than the dorms. She just recently got her first degree in History and ancient cultures, but she was so obsessed with always learning when she finished she decided to go for another degree in Cultural anthropology, which she was half finished with but part of her was scared to finish because she wasn't sure what she would do when she completed her degree. So even if it was silly she still worked at the stray sheep while she earned her degree not really ready to move out into the real world just yet, still clinging heavily to her fantasy world to find peace and not dwell in the all consuming loneliness.
SUMMARY: You’re working through your depression, trying your best to get back to “normal” when an unwanted first occurs with the baby.
WORD COUNT: 3321
WARNINGS: Slight angst, illness, emotional crap, therapy, sick baby
The One With A Fever
You met with Sam three times a week, talking to him about everything you were afraid of, including your many shortcomings in your short time as a mother. The two of you were working on silencing that inner voice that kept telling you no matter what you did, you’d never be good enough. And his homework for you consisted of making sure you called your daughter by name, instead of just referring to her as “the baby.” Calling her by name hurt more, because it somehow made her more real, more yours, instead of some abstract object.
Steve spoke with his boss, and his boss’ boss, and they decided a sabbatical was the best course of action for him. You and Brooklyn needed him more than he needed to work, and his coworkers understood that. So, he was at home with his girls, taking care of the both of you, trying to navigate an unfamiliar territory.
Thank God for your friends.
Tony took care of any expenses, while being a sounding board for both you and Steve. Christine took care of the food, mainly ordering whatever she felt you wanted that day, and you were actually eating a bit more. Christine was a very good guesser. Pepper and Bucky took care of the baby—Brooklyn—whenever Steve needed a break. You couldn’t help but feel guilty for that, for not being the primary caregiver to your child, but Sam assured you that you were doing the right thing.
All in all, your life was starting to feel like your own again. Maybe that was the low dose antidepressant Sam had prescribed you, or maybe everything was finally working for you.
You glanced up from the crossword puzzle you were doing to see Steve bouncing the baby—no, Brooklyn— as he held her to his chest. You shook your head to clear it and he smiled at you.
“Can you take her for a second? I’ve tried to lay her down but she starts screaming, and I’ve got to—“
He blinked and you gave him a smile.
“I can hold her.”
You rolled your eyes as you stood up, sending a surge of happiness through Steve’s heart. You were finally acting more like yourself, a tiny bit playful with him, finally smiling at the baby—Brooklyn—whenever you looked at her, instead of giving in to the dread that used to fill your heart.
You walked to him and he passed Brooklyn into your arms. You settled her against your chest, patting her back and nodding to him. Steve smiled at you and rushed into the bathroom, and you shook your head as you slowly walked around the living room. When you passed the couch, you went still, swallowing before you rested your head atop Brooklyn’s.
You took in a quiet breath when she shifted, moving to put her forehead against your neck. You closed your eyes as a smile spread over your face, that smile fading as the bathroom door opened.
“Sorry about that.”
Steve laughed softly as he walked into the living room, coming to a stop when he saw the look on your face.
You lifted your eyes to him, walking closer.
“Does she feel warm to you?”
Steve shook his head, closing the distance and putting the back of his hand against Brooklyn’s forehead.
“I don’t know. I mean, I run hot anyway, but—“
“There's a thermometer … somewhere in her room.”
Steve swallowed and stepped around you, running to the nursery and digging until he found the thermometer, which didn’t look anything like what he was expecting.
“This has to be it. I just have no idea—“
“Just hold it against her forehead.”
You nodded, and he turned it on, doing what you said, pulling back when he heard the beep. His eyes widened when he saw the number on the screen.
He stared at the screen, looking to you and shaking his head.
“I … I don’t …”
He blew out a breath, lifting a hand to push through his hair.
“What do we do?”
You looked down at the baby—Brooklyn—and gave a shaky exhale. You shook your head, then looked back to Steve.
He furrowed his eyebrows and you nodded.
“She’s at work. She’ll know what to do.”
Steve nodded, going to the kitchen counter and grabbing his phone. He walked back over to you, pushing a hand through his hair as he held the phone to his ear. His eyes widened before he spoke.
“Chris! I … I …”
He stammered a few more times and you shook your head.
“Put her on speakerphone.”
He nodded, laying the phone down, shaky finger pressing the button a second before Christine’s voice came through the line.
“Steve? What’s wrong? Talk to me.”
“Y/N? What’s going on?”
“Chris, Brook’s got a fever.”
You nodded, brushing a hand over her soft hair, feeling the heat from her little body.
“How high is it?”
“Oh, goodness. Is she acting sick?”
You shook your head.
“No, she just wants to be held. She’s a little fussy, won’t let us put her down.”
“I’ve got a friend who works up on the pediatric floor. Let me talk to her and I’ll call you back, okay?”
The call ended and Steve shook his head, stepping closer to you and laying a hand against Brooklyn’s back.
You smiled, nodding your head as you stepped closer to him.
“She’s okay, Steve. Babies get fevers.”
“I just … She’s barely let me put her down all day. How long has she had that fever? And I didn’t even—“
“Hey, don’t do that.”
He shook his head and you moved a hand to rest it against his chest.
“She’s okay, honey.”
“But I didn’t notice.”
“This isn’t your fault.”
Steve hung his head, blowing out a breath. You moved your hand to his face and he leaned into your touch, eyes drifting closed.
It hadn’t happened on purpose, but the two of you had grown apart. Between dealing with a newborn and the depression you fell into, you both unwittingly pulled away. You never stopped sleeping in the same bed, and it always gave you a sense of relief when you found your way into his arms in the night, waking up with his arms around you. But the little touches and kisses you’d grown used to had all but stopped.
You let your hand fall as the phone rang, and Steve scrambled to answer it, putting the speakerphone on again.
“Hey, so I talked to my friend Clare. Is Brook eating regularly?”
“And has she had her normal amount of wet diapers?”
Steve nodded, closing his eyes as he answered her out loud.
“There’s really nothing else to do except watch her. She’s too little for Tylenol or anything like that.”
“So we … I mean, what if her fever rises?”
“If it gets any higher than 104, I’d bring her to the ER. But babies get random fevers sometimes. Just watch her, make sure she keeps having wet diapers, try and keep her taking her bottles like usual. If she starts acting lethargic or her fever climbs, bring her in.”
Steve pushed his hands through his hair and you nodded.
“Thank you, Christine. I appreciate this.”
“No problem, honey. I’ll be up all night, so call me anytime.”
“We will. Thanks.”
You ended the call and Steve shook his head, crossing his arms over his chest.
“I feel worthless.”
“You’re not worthless.”
“How am I supposed to just sit here and watch her while she’s sick? And she can’t even tell me what’s wrong. I just have to guess, but what if I guess wrong?”
He shook his head, dropping his arms and walking over to stand behind a chair. He gripped the back and let out a breath. He looked over to you, watching you smooth the dark hair on your daughter’s head, seeing her little eyes blink heavily as she found him. Steve swallowed, looking down as his watch beeped.
“Time for a bottle.”
“Maybe we should wait a bit.”
“Chris said to keep feeding her.”
“Yeah, but look at her, Steve. She’s exhausted, and she seems fine right now. I’ll just hold her for a while and if she gets fussy, we can fix a bottle.”
Steve swallowed again, but nodded.
“We’ll just … wait.”
You bounced Brooklyn on your shoulder, one hand patting her bottom as she whimpered and squirmed in your arms. Steve was heating a bottle in the kitchen while you tried to calm the baby. Brooklyn.
She’d slept for a little bit, while you and Steve tried— and failed—to watch a show on Netflix. Neither of you could focus. Now, she was awake and fussing.
“Here we go.”
You shifted Brooklyn from your shoulder and handed her to Steve, but she immediately began to wail. Steve shushed her, big hands holding her safe and secure, but she wouldn’t stop crying. He couldn’t get the bottle into her mouth, and she wouldn’t hold still. You shook your head, taking the bottle from his hand and setting it on the kitchen counter, taking the—Brooklyn from his arms and holding her to your chest.
“It’s alright, sweetheart. Shh. You’re okay.”
Brooklyn almost immediately quieted, pitiful whimpers leaving her lips as she snuggled closer to you. Steve picked up the thermometer and held it to her temple, cursing under his breath.
“Text Christine and see if there’s anything we can do. Give her a cool bath or something.”
Steve nodded, picking up his phone and shooting off a text. He waited a few moments, eyes lighting when he received a return text.
“She said try a lukewarm bath. Not hot or cold. And dress her like we usually do, don’t try to make her sweat or let her go naked.”
You nodded, cupping Brooklyn’s head in your hand. Steve stared at the two of you, then nodded, walking into the bathroom and running water in the sink. You followed him in there, the two of you working together to get the baby undressed and into the water. She fussed for a moment, your voice soothing her as you spoke softly. Steve cupped water in his hands and let it flow over her belly and back, speaking softly.
“She usually loves a bath. She kicks and splashes.”
You looked at her feet and gave a shaky breath, shaking your head.
“I don’t like this. I don’t like that she’s sick and we can’t do anything about it.”
Steve leaned over, kissing your temple before resting his forehead there. You closed your eyes, leaning into him. Brooklyn whimpered and you turned to look at her, letting out a sigh.
“I think the water may be getting cold.”
“Let me grab some pajamas for her.”
“Just hand me a towel and we can go together.”
Steve nodded, grabbing a towel from the little basket on the rack above the toilet, helping you dry the baby off and wrap her in it.
“Don’t you pee on Mommy before we get a diaper on you.”
You laughed at Steve’s words, shaking your head and patting Brooklyn’s back. You followed him into her room, laying her on the changing table and quickly getting a diaper on her. Steve found a pair of pajamas that were white with purple butterflies on them, and the two of you quickly got her dressed. Steve tried to take her from you, but Brooklyn fussed and started to cry. He shook his head and you gently rubbed a hand over his thick shoulders.
“It’s okay. I can take her.”
“I don’t want to overwhelm you.”
Steve closed his eyes when you pressed a gentle kiss to his cheek. You took Brooklyn from him, settling her on your shoulder, gently patting her bottom.
“There’s just something about having your mom there when you’re sick.”
Steve nodded, watching you walk back into the living room, sitting in one of the chairs and gently rocking. Brooklyn whimpered, snuggling closer to you, and Steve nodded.
“Should we try the bottle again?”
“Yeah, let’s do that.”
Steve went to fix the bottle, back in a few minutes. You shifted Brooklyn into the cradle of your arm, and she immediately started to fuss, squirming, refusing to take the bottle. You shook your head, moving her back to your shoulder, but she started to cry. You looked to Steve, who was crouched beside the chair, shaking his head.
“I don’t know what to do.”
You shook your head, meeting his eyes.
You moved Brooklyn to your lap, where the two of you could look at her, and a thought came to your mind.
“What … what if I …”
“What if I tried to nurse her?”
Steve kept his face passive, slowly nodding. You had stopped nursing Brooklyn shortly before you started seeing your therapist. Instead, you pumped your breast milk, so that the bab--Brooklyn could still get the nutrients she needed.
You met Steve’s eyes, staring at him for a moment before he stood up, taking the baby from you, patting her back and shushing her as best he could while she cried. You took the T-shirt you’d been wearing off, shivering once in the cool air of the apartment, feeling your cheeks burn. Steve handed Brooklyn back to you, helping you maneuver her a bit until you slipped a nipple in her mouth. After a silent moment, you gasped. Steve met your eyes and you blinked multiple times before finding his eyes.
Steve smiled as he looked down, seeing Brooklyn’s cheeks move as she nursed.
“Guess she just needed to be closer to you.”
Steve looked back to your eyes, the smile slipping from his face as he noticed the tears trailing down your cheeks.
You shook your head, holding out a hand, squeezing his hand when he linked it with yours. You gave a quiet sob, shaking your head again, clutching tightly to him. Steve moved closer, his other hand moving to cup your cheek as you closed your eyes, leaning in to rest his forehead against yours. You leaned into the touch, your tears slowing, shaky breaths leaving your lips.
The two of you didn’t say anything else, only letting go of each other to move Brooklyn to your other breast. Steve draped a blanket over your shoulders, watching as you stared at your daughter, one finger slowly stroking her chubby cheeks.
Brooklyn fell asleep while nursing, and you moved her to your shoulder to burp her. Once she did, she gave a sweet little sigh, full and content in her mother’s arms. Steve grabbed the thermometer, checking her temperature again.
“Hey, it’s down to 101.”
You smiled at him, and he set the thermometer on the table beside the chair you were sitting in.
“Do you want me to take her?”
You shook your head, and he smiled, nodding. You met his eyes, mouth moving like you wanted to say something, but you didn’t. Steve licked his lips, voice pitched low.
“What if you moved to the couch, and I … I could sit by you? Maybe … maybe I can hold you?”
Fresh tears came to your eyes, because that was exactly what you wanted. You nodded, and Steve helped you stand, sitting on the couch and resting an arm along the back of it. You moved to sit and stretch out beside him, resting back against his chest. You hadn’t put your shirt back on, and Brooklyn was nestled between your breasts, right over your heart. Steve draped a blanket over the two of you, hand moving to rest against Brooklyn’s back.
You leaned your head back, catching Steve’s eye, seeing the soft smile on his lips. You blinked, watching his eyes drift from your own to your lips, and you nodded. His eyes widened, but he leaned in, gently pressing his lips to yours. You gave a soft whimper, wrapping one arm around the baby, pushing your other hand into Steve’s hair, holding him against you. He gave a soft laugh, murmuring against your lips.
You kept your eyes closed, cheeks burning as Steve kissed your forehead, then your cheek.
“I’m so proud of you. Do you know that?”
“I’m so serious. Look at you right now.”
You glanced to your chest, where Brooklyn was sleeping peacefully. You shook your head, moving to rest your cheek against Steve’s chest, voice barely a whisper.
“I couldn’t do this without you.”
“I’m not going anywhere.”
He kissed the top of your head, fixing the blankets around you and Brooklyn.
“Rest, Y/N. I’ll be right here.”
“You need to rest, too.”
“I will. Just let me worry about my girls for a while.”
You smiled, shifting the slightest bit, snuggling closer to him. His hand moved to cover yours on Brooklyn's back, and you slowly drifted off to sleep.
You woke when you felt yourself be lifted, and Steve spoke softly.
“Hey, it’s okay. I got you. You’re alright.”
“The baby. Where’s—“
“Her fever broke an hour ago. I just put her in the crib and she’s out.”
You nodded, looping your arms around his neck. Steve carried you into your bedroom, laying you on the bed. He pulled your pajama pants down your legs and you shivered.
“Do you want one of my shirts?”
“I don’t want you to get cold.”
“Come hold me.”
He stopped where he was facing the dresser, glancing over his shoulder to see you pulling the covers closer to you. You looked at him and shivered again, sleepy eyes blinking as they met his, quiet voice thick with exhaustion.
“Is that okay?”
Steve swallowed, nodding. He tugged his shirt over his head, climbing into bed in his underwear, watching you roll onto your side. He pulled you closer, until you were his little spoon, and you sighed.
“You’re so warm.”
He just blinked, closing his eyes as he breathed you in. Your voice was soft when you spoke, seeing the early morning hour on the clock beside the bed.
“I feel like we need to talk, but I’m so tired.”
“Rest, sweetheart. I’m right here. We can talk tomorrow.”
You nodded, settling your hand on top of his as he wrapped his arms around you. Surrounded in warmth by the man who loves you, you fell into a peaceful slumber.
“So, anything new you want to talk about?”
You were sitting on the couch in Sam’s office, staring out the window at the clouds rolling by. You had a soft smile on your face, and your voice was quiet when you spoke.
“Brooklyn had a fever a couple nights ago.”
“We took her to the pediatrician, but she didn’t find anything wrong. Just a random bout of fever, I guess.”
You looked to your therapist then, a smile coming to your lips.
“Steve said she’d been fussy all day, but I was the one who noticed something was wrong. I held her and she wouldn’t let me let her go. And she … she wouldn’t take a bottle, so I …”
Sam nodded, and you exhaled as you spoke.
“I nursed her.”
His eyes widened and you gave a quiet laugh.
“She was sick and she only wanted me and I took care of her and now she … she’s fine.”
Tears came to your eyes as another laugh left your lips.
“I took care of my sick baby like a real mom does.”
“Y/N, you are a real mom.”
“I know, I just … I haven’t felt like one in a long time.”
“But you do now?”
the last time that sage had seen nathan she was in the ER after having her babies, an OD after her not thinking she was able enough to take care of the twins. her depression had taken a toll on her &. the first face that she saw was his. now she was somewhat embarrassed that he had seen her in such state. ❝ hey ----- enjoying the festivities ? ❞ she asked nervously with a small smile.
The doctors say that it's colic, but you'd think after eight years of being an ER nurse and a further two as a 911 dispatcher that she'd be able to differentiate her daughter's normal cries between ones filled with pain. Yet that's all she can hear; her daughter crying in pain and she knows that it isn't always the case but it's following her everywhere she goes and she can't escape from it. It's the first thing she hears when she wakes up, it's the last thing she hears when she goes to bed, it's all she hears during the day and she just wants to know if some things are more genetic and hereditary than others.
Summary: Childhood friends Chicago and Chloe have been by each others sides for a long time. When an accidental pregnancy leads to the traumatic birth of their daughter Emma, Chicago grows concerned about Chloe's mental state and asks his old army buddy Beca to keep an eye on them whilst he's on his final tour of duty.
More of this little fic for you my loves, I’m falling further and further in love with this one thanks in no small part to the help and support of my EP @chubby-maimaki 💖 I hope you enjoy, there’s more to come from this fic really soooon 🥰
this is possibly very bad so i apologize for the poor quality! but i really did think we were going to get a scene of maddie and jee in the dark paralleling the last time we saw them in S4. maybe we will next week? who knows? but for now, i wrote my own version.
tw: postpartum depression and panic attacks
One minute, she's standing in her bathroom, back to the mirror, focusing on the stripes on Howie's towel as she calms her breathing, and the next, there's nothing.
The bathroom is plunged into darkness. Her breath hitches and all the work Maddie had done to talk herself down seems to vanish into the dark. She can feel the goosebumps spreading down her arms. The quick rise-and-fall of her chest is almost painful and the cool tiles beneath her feet take her back to winter nights in a crumbling suburban house she escaped many years ago.
It feels a bit like drowning, she thinks, as her mind buzzes noisily. Teeth chattering, body swaying, she tries to get a hold of herself.
Jee needs her. She's all alone in the dark, whether she knows it or not, and it's Maddie's job to make sure that Jee never feels alone or scared. It's her job and she can't fail. She's fallen short enough to know she isn't good enough to be Jee's mother but she is. That beautiful girl needs her. She can't stop now. Not now. Not now.
There's nothing but black in front of her, below her, above her. A ringing sound makes it hard to hear anything else. She closes her eyes like it could do any good in the moment. It's darker behind her eyelids and it calls to Maddie like a siren's song, begging her to sink in. Fall. Let go of the world and drown.
She has to get to Jee-Yun before she wakes and finds herself in the dark alone. Maddie can't leave her. She won't leave her.
Somewhere a siren rings loud. Maddie latches onto the periodic up and down of the familiar sound, timing her breathing along with it.
With every exhale, she takes a step forward. Another. And another. Until her feet hit the door.
From there, it's six quick movements: pull the door open, inhale, take a left into the bedroom, exhale, feel for Jee's crib by the bed, inhale, hold Jee in her arms.
Jee snuggles a little against her chest but is otherwise oblivious to the changes around her. She sleeps like she always does, calm and peacefully, like she knows the world will wait until she's had her fill of dreams. Her mouth is open ever the slightest bit and her left hand is balled into a loose fist. It's like looking at a smaller version of Howie.
Los Angeles rages on in the late hours. Horns and sirens and screams pierce the night, doors in the corridors of her apartment building open and close, a car crashes into something.
Maddie holds Jee-Yun tighter to her, a finger gently pushing into her fist. Jee fingers circle around her thumb and for a second, Maddie feels nothing but warm joy radiating from her chest into every inch of herself.
Chaos erupts outside. But inside, for that one moment, Jee sleeps as Maddie holds her and her trust doesn't seem so heavy to bear.
Summary: 2 dads, 4 kids. What could possibly go wrong?
A/N: So I suggested an idea like this to @talkfastromance4 with Cory and Luke and the idea still makes me giggle, so I’m gonna recycle.
Content warning: Mentions of postpartum depression.
Word Count: 3.2k
And away, and away we go!
“Are you okay?” Ashton asked worriedly as he and Vanessa came home from dinner with Finn and Mia. He carefully set down the baby carseats while Vanessa dropped the diaper bag with a huff and face planted into the couch.
“No,” her muffled voice answered, sounding cracked.
“Do you want me to make you a hot chocolate?”
He leaned over the back of the couch to kiss the back of her head. “Okay. Gimme a few minutes.”
He rushed to get the twins settled upstairs, his concern for Vanessa causing his forehead to crease as his eyebrows pulled together. It was like her energy had slowly been draining from her all week, and she’d finally hit her breaking point. He hated it. He clipped the baby monitor to his belt before dashing back downstairs to the kitchen, quickly making them both a cup of hot chocolate goodness.
“Alright,” he said, coming back to her still face planted into the couch. “You wanna sit up so we can talk?”
“I’m just tired…” she deflected, sitting up to make room for him, her fingers curling around the offered mug.
“There’s more to it than that. C’mon, don’t hide from me, please,” he coaxed gently.
“I’m exhausted. I don't sleep because I’m always worried about something. Did I give Mason and Bailey enough of me when they were here? Are the twins okay? Are Mason and Bailey okay? Am I being a good enough mom to all of them? Am I being a good enough wife to you? I can barely focus on anything. I don’t know how I’m gonna pull it together when I go back to work. I’m going fuckin’ nuts. I know if I ask you for a break, I’ll get it. But I don’t want to ask you for a break because what kind of mom wants a break from her children?”
He set his cup down, opening up his arms. “C’mere.”
“What?” she asked in confusion.
“Put the cup down and c’mere.”
She did so, hesitantly, letting him pull her to his chest when she got close. The warmth of his embrace had her bunching the front of his shirt in her hands, and hot tears spilling down her cheeks. “I’m so tired!” she cried.
“Shh, you’re gonna be okay. I got ya.”
“I’m a terrible person!” she continued to wail into him.
“Being overwhelmed, and needing help doesn’t make you a terrible person.”
She pulled back to look up at him incredulously. “You’ve been spending too much time with Finn…”
The pads of his thumbs brushed underneath her eyes, catching the stray tears. “What can I do to help? What am I not doing? Do I need to take more time off? Do we need to get a sitter so we can go out, just me and you? Do you need a day just for yourself?”
“I don’t know…”
“Okay. How about this. I’ll take the twins tomorrow so you can have the house to yourself. You can sleep as much as you want. Maybe go get a massage. Whatever you want. And then I’ll bring home dinner, I’ll put the twins to bed while you eat, and then we can spend the rest of the evening together just us. How’s that sound?”
“Like I’m gonna spend the whole day feeling like shit, and missing you guys…”
“It’s okay to need some time for yourself, baby.”
“I know,” she snapped. “It doesn’t make me feel less like shit, though.”
“I understand that. So what can I do to help you? What am I not doing?”
“It’s not anything you’re doing or not doing, Ash! This isn’t something that can be fixed with a day off, or a night out!”
Ashton’s tongue clicked. “Alright,” he said simply.
She sighed, pressing the palms of her hands into her eyes. “Now I’ve made you mad. Great…”
“You didn’t make me mad.”
“Yes I did. You did that tongue click thing. You always do that when you’re mad, just like Finn pinches his nose.”
“I’m not mad at you, or because of anything you did. I’m mad because I feel useless. I want to help you feel better, and I don’t know how.”
“That makes two of us,” she grinned sarcastically.
“Can I just hold you then? Can you let me do that for us?”
“Please?” she asked, snuggling back into him.
His arms wrapped around her, and his nose buried in her hair. “As long as you need.”
In the morning, Ashton got up with the twins so Vanessa could sleep in. “Hey,” she smiled softly when she finally made her way downstairs, finding him on the living room floor with the babies on a blanket.
“Hey,” he said, rising to his feet to give her a kiss. “How ya feeling?”
“That’s good. There’s breakfast. Want me to make you a plate and get you a cup of coffee?”
“No, I got it.”
“Okay. Got any ideas for what you wanna do today?” he asked, sitting back down while she headed to the kitchen.
She paused in the door frame that separated the kitchen from the living room. “Am I terrible if I want to take you up on your offer of giving me alone time?”
He shook his head. “No, baby. I’m gonna put these guys down for their morning nap, then grab a quick shower. When they’re up, I’ll take them out for the day.”
“Thank you, love.”
“Of course, baby. I love you.”
“I love you, too.”
After putting the twins down and before he got in the shower, he shot a quick text to Finn:
Hey, mate. I’m taking the twins out later. Any suggestions on what I can do?
He had a response waiting for him when he got out.
I actually promised the kids I’d take them to the planetarium today if you wanna join us. I think they open at like 10:30.
Yeah, that’d be great! Thanks, mate.
No prob. I’ll send you the details.
“Papa!” Mason and Bailey said in surprise, running to give Ashton a hug. “Mom?” Mason asked.
“Nope, just me, and Henry and Hope,” Ashton told them.
“Ness sick?” Finn asked, helped unload Ashton’s car.
“Sort of? She’s been in a funk, so I asked her last night if she wanted a day to herself. But she kinda blew up on me for asking. But then earlier when I asked if there was anything she wanted to do today, she brought it up.”
“Shit…” Finn commented, snapping out the double stroller.
“Yeah… I’m a little worried.” Ashton went to set Hope’s baby carrier in the stroller, but the infant’s mouth twisted into a cry. “Oh, okay,” he told her, unbuckling Hope and holding her to him.
“Daddy’s girl, aren’t ya, Hope?” Finn teased lightheartedly.
“Oh, yeah,” Ashton chuckled, reaching into the truck for a baby carrier. “Can you hold her for a sec?”
“Yeah,” Finn nodded, taking Hope. “If you have a spare, I’ll take Henry and we can just leave the stroller here. I can put the diaper bag in Bailey’s stroller.”
Ashton finished buckling the carrier around him, taking back Hope and placing her in it. “Alright! There we go!” he cooed at her before handing a second one to Finn.
“Easier said than done,” Finn told him as he secured Henry to him like Ashton had done with Hope, “but try not to worry too much about Ness. Sounds like she might have a case of postpartum depression. And not gonna lie, that can be a little scary for both of you. But, you seem like you’re on the right track. Just keep reminding her that she has people who support her, and take initiative where you can.”
“Yeah… just wish there was more I could do, ya know?” he asked as they made their way across the parking lot towards the planetarium.
“Yeah, but unfortunately that’s not how depression works. Be great if it did. Be great if you could just be like ‘hey, I know you’re going through it right now, but I’m here for you’ and poof! it goes away. But, that’s not how it works. She’s gotta go through this at her pace, and in her way. Only thing we can do is just be receptive to what her needs are.”
“Yeah, suppose you’re right.”
The planetarium was full of dark exhibits with calm and quiet atmospheres, giving off the impression that you were in the middle of nowhere, just staring up into space. And while there were other families with mostly children of around Mason’s age or older, it still wasn’t that crowded for a Sunday.
They took their time, making their way slowly through a few exhibits, reading each placard aloud for Mason and Bailey who took everything in with wide, childlike wonder. “Dad?” Mason whispered in one of them.
“What’s up, bud?”
“Okay. We’re almost done with this room, and then we’ll go get some lunch. Bailey, you getting hungry?”
“Yes!” she answered before something else caught her attention. “Daddy! Papa! Lookit!”
“I see, love, but hey. C’mere a sec.” Finn crouched, beckoning Bailey towards him with a finger. “Remember what I said about using indoor voices? Do you hear how I’m talking?”
“I know. I know you’re excited. And that’s okay. You can be excited. But we gotta bring the volume down, okay?”
“Thank you. Now, five more minutes in here, and then lunch. Mase? You hear me? 5 more minutes.”
“Dad,” he answered back, giving a thumbs up.
When the five minutes was up, they made their way to the cafeteria. “Oh, well aren’t you guys just the cutest family!” the clerk cooed, ringing them up. “Enjoy your meal.”
“Thanks,” Ashton and Finn chuckled. “What do you think that was about?” Ashton asked as they took up residence at a table.
Finn shrugged. “Maybe she’s a fan of yours?”
Ashton shook his head, looking around the dining area. “Nah… Something else. People have been staring at us all morning, and not in the ‘oh, famous dude!’ kind of way if that makes sense.”
Finn shrugged again. “Not really, no. But I’ll take your word for it. Might just be people doing that dumb double take of seeing dads actually be dads.”
“That’s closer to it. Yeah, that’s gotta be it.”
They were nearly finished with their meal when two women with two small children between Mason and Bailey’s age approached them. “Hi. We’re so sorry to both you. But we just had to say how great it is to see another gay couple with kids. Did you use the same surrogate for all of them?”
Ashton giggled into his drink while Finn’s eyes went wide. “Oh! Thank you! Truly. But we’re not a couple. Um, he’s actually married to their mom,” Finn explained.
Both women turned bright red. “Oh! We’re so sorry! The older two just look so much like you, and the little ones so much like him. And so much like each other. And we overheard the oldest call you ‘Dad’ and ‘Papa’ and… we are so sorry!” they sputtered quickly.
Ashton shook his head, stifling more giggles. “It’s okay, honestly. Honest mistake. These two are actually his, while these two are mine. And they are all siblings. So it wasn’t too far off the mark.”
“Exactly,” Finn agreed. “No harm, no foul.”
“Well, in that case, it’s great to see such a strong blended family. These are definitely some well-loved kids.”
“Thanks,” both Ashton and Finn grinned. “And it’s great to see a family like yours, too.”
“Thanks,” the woman returned. “Well, again, sorry for bothering you. Enjoy your day.”
“Same to you.”
Ashton broke out in a case of giggles once the other family was out of earshot.
What’s funny? Did those ladies make a joke?
“No, they didn’t make a joke, Mase,” Finn explained. “Those ladies thought Papa and I were gay.”
Gay is two dads and no mom?
Mason chuckled. That’s silly! I have two dads and two moms.
“We know that. But Momma and Mimi aren’t here with us, so those ladies were working with the information that they had.”
Were those ladies gay?
“Not gay,” Finn started to clarify.
Girl gay. Which word is that?
“Lesbian.” Finn signed the word as he spoke
Lesbian, Mason copied. Is that what those ladies were?
But they had kids. Don’t you need a mom and a dad to have kids?
“Generally yes. But remember, there are different ways for all sorts of people to have kids. When two mommies have a baby, they get what’s called a donor. When two daddies have a baby, they get what’s called a surrogate.”
I thought it was adoption when they did that.
“Yeah, that happens too. And any type of family can adopt. But when you adopt it means you don’t share any DNA with the baby. And sometimes people like to share DNA with their babies.”
Oh… do we share DNA?
“Yes. Me, you, and Bailey share DNA. And Henry and Hope share DNA with Papa. And you and Bailey share DNA with Henry and Hope through Momma.”
Oh… I have to go to the bathroom.
“Me too…” Bailey announced, wiggling in her seat.
“Alright,” Ashton said, pushing his seat back and rising to his feet. “C’mon. Think they got a family restroom in here?”
“Yeah, I think I saw one near the front. Ready, my love?” Finn asked with a grand gesture of grabbing Ashton’s hand.
“Lead the way, baby,” Ashton winked, laughing. “Nessa’s gonna get a kick out of this when I tell her.”
“Oh, same with Mia. So if you hear laughter, that’s her.”
“Baby, I’m home,” Ashton announced. “Baby?” he asked when he didn’t spot her on the couch or hear her in the kitchen. “Nessa?!” He took the stairs two at a time, breathing a sigh of relief when he heard music spilling from their bedroom.
He placed the twins on the bed in their carseats before rapping on the bathroom door. “Nessa?”
“In here, love.”
He opened the door, finding her sunk down to her chin in a sea of bubbles, candles casting her in a soft glow. “Hey,” he said softly, leaning against the counter. “How was your day?”
“Good. I made an appointment with a therapist. Took a nap. Baked some cookies. And now I’m in the bath.”
“That’s good, baby.”
“Yeah. Did you bring home dinner?”
“Didn’t have enough hands. I’ll order us something, though. Anything in particular?”
“How are the twins?”
“They’re good. They’re still in their seats so I should probably go set them free.”
“Yeah. Oh, I made some more bottles. Fridge. Top shelf.”
“Okay. I’ll start their nighttime routine while we wait for the food. Enjoy your bath.” He crossed the room to lean down and press a kiss to her forehead.
“Thank you,” she mouthed.
He kissed her again before going back to the twins, taking them back downstairs. He put them in their boppies, before making the bottles. When he came back, Vanessa was curled up on the couch between them. “Oh, baby, I didn’t mean to rush you.”
“No, no,” she waved her hand. “I wanted to. I missed you guys.”
“We missed you, too.”
“So what did you guys do today?” she asked as they got settled and started feeding the twins.
“I took them to the planetarium with Finn, Mason, and Bailey.”
“Oh yeah! Mase has been wanting to go, and Finn said he would take him.”
“Yeah, they had fun. All of them. We’ll have to make sure to do it again sometime.”
“Yeah, that’d be nice.”
“Oh! So the funniest thing happened when we were there.”
“Yeah, a lesbian couple thought that it was so great to see another gay couple out with their kids.”
Vanessa laughed, and Ashton smiled, not realizing how much he had missed her true laugh over the last few days. “Oh! That’s great!” Her body shook with how hard she was laughing.
Ashton started to laugh with her. “Yeah, it was pretty funny. Kinda left Finn to fend for himself because I was trying not to laugh, but I couldn’t help it.”
“Oh! Those poor women must’ve been so embarrassed!”
“Oh, yeah they definitely were. But it wasn’t a big deal or anything. Just a small misunderstanding.”
“And a funny one at that.”
“Yeah it was great. I can’t wait to tell the guys. Luke’s probably gonna tease me for it. ‘See, Ash! I told ya it was only a matter of time.’”
“Aw, you guys have matching stories now! How cute!” And now Vanessa was laughing for a whole new reason, remembering one of the first stories Ashton had ever told her about how Luke and Cory got mistaken as a gay couple at a pizza parlor with Lily.
Ashton continued to laugh with her. “Fuck, I’ve missed you, baby,” he said suddenly, the words holding lot more power to them than just him having missed her throughout the day.
“I missed you, too.”
“No, I meant… You kinda went away from me there for a while. Scared me a little bit.”
“I know… kinda scared myself too. This is just hitting me a lot harder this time around and I’m not really sure why.”
“That’s okay, baby. That’s why I’m here. I’m not gonna let you do this alone. And I’m never gonna make you feel guilty for needing to take a step back. You gotta take care of yourself first.”
“Thank you. For today. And everything. I know I haven’t been the nicest to you recently. Especially yesterday. I’m sorry.”
“Thank you for not pushing me away this time. And there’s nothing to forgive because there’s nothing to apologize for. You don’t have to be sorry for feeling what you’re feeling. Just keep me in the loop.”
“You’ve definitely been spending way too much time with Finn. Should I be worried?” she teased.
“Oh, baby…” he winced through his teeth, teasing her back. “You haven’t heard? Finn and I are kinda a thing now…”
Vanessa fake-scoffed. “Of all the people you leave me for, you leave me for my ex? The audacity… guess I’ll just have to take Mia then.” Ashton’s eyebrows shot up and she smacked his chest with a laugh. “Oh! Get your mind out of the gutter!”
He raised a hand in defense. “I’m just saying… lil girl on girl action would be pretty fuckin’ hot.”
“Do not sexualize the bis for your twisted fantasies, mister,” she tsked, wagging a finger. “Naughty, naughty.”
“Mhm!” Ashton nodded with a grin. “And what are you gonna do about it?” His question was a hot whisper under her ear.
She shivered, smacking his chest again. “Stop that! Not in front of the babies!” she laughed.
“Guess we better speed up bedtime,” Ashton winked.
Vanessa let out another laugh then sighed. “I can’t, Ash. Six weeks, remember? Next week we can.”
“I know.” He softly kissed repeatedly at her jaw. “Glad you seem to be feeling better though.”
“You’re amazing, you know that?”
“You’re pretty amazing yourself, love. I love you.”
I slipped into the bedroom, doing my best not to disturb Y/N. She was settled in the bed surrounded by pillows with everything she could want or need within reach. It had been three weeks since we’d brought her and Ty home, and she was slowly recovering. Her body had started rebounding just as it had after our other four kids, but there was something different this time. Something that worried Nick and I more than we had words to share.
Y/N wasn’t eating like normal. She didn’t talk much, even when the kids came in to see her. Every time we brought Ty to her, she burst into tears. She held him and sobbed, and it broke our hearts.
I sat gently down on the edge of the bed. I’d taken to checking on her every hour or so when she was asleep. The truth was that I was afraid. I was terrified. I almost lost her—would have if it weren’t for Nick—and I couldn’t face the prospect of losing her again.
She turned her head as the bed dipped beneath me. Her face had a greyish tinge, and there were dark bruise-like circles beneath her eyes. It was like a punch to the chest to see her eyes so listless and empty. I ached for her, wishing I could have my wife back.
“Is it time to feed him?” she asked flatly. Her voice was robotic and emotionless.
“No,” I said, reaching for her hand. I squeezed her fingers and tried to smile. “I just wanted to check on you. Make sure you were okay. See if you were up for some visitors.”
She sighed and shrugged, looking toward the door. “I guess.”
I nodded then leaned over to press a kiss against her forehead. “I’ll send them in.”
My wife said nothing as I slipped back out of the room and down the hall to my living room. We’d all basically moved into my house for a while. It was the place we’d brought Y/N after the hospital, and we didn’t want to move her if we could help it.
My mother- and sister-in-law sat on the sofa, Mattie, RJ, and Lee crowded around them as Y/N’s mother held Ty. Nicole was with Nick at the dining table putting together her Lego Hogwarts train. My brother had been my rock just as I hope I’d been his. We switched off kid wrangling and caring for our wife, doing our best to keep our family together and functioning like normal. But the kids were well aware that something was wrong with Mommy. I could tell it scared them. I just wished there was a way we could make it easier for them.
“She’s awake,” I said to her mother and sister as I crossed the room to take Ty. “Go on back.”
“It’s going to be alright,” my mother-in-law said confidently as she handed my newborn over gently. “It takes some time, and she’s had a more difficult time than she prepared for. Have you talked to her doctor?”
I nodded, bouncing Ty in my arms in an effort to keep him asleep. “Dr. Willis said it was postpartum. Probably made worse by the way her body’s hormones aren’t getting back to normal because of the hysterectomy. She prescribed some depression medication, but I don’t think it’s really started working yet.”
“Give it time,” her sister said, squeezing my arm affectionately. “Keep doing what you guys are doing, don’t let her stay holed up in that room alone, make sure she takes everything the doctor gives her. She can get through this, especially with you guys behind her.”
Without another word, they walked down the hallway and scooted into the bedroom with Y/N, shutting the door behind them.
I was surprised that I could focus enough to read the instructions spread out in front of me. Nicole sat on the chair next to me, building the pillars that made up Platform 9 ¾. Her face was a mask of concentration—a face that suddenly looked so much like her mother’s. I could see it in all our kids—the same nose that she had, the same curve of the eyebrows, and (Thank God) her hairline. Just looking at them made me realize how desperately I missed my wife.
“Dad,” Nicole said, tapping my forearm with her palm. The look in her blue eyes made me thinks he’d said my name more than once. “I’m done with this one.”
I smiled and kissed the top of her head. “Good job, Bug. Want to try the bridge now?”
She took a breath far too heavy for an almost seven-year-old and looked down the hallway toward where her grandmother and aunt had disappeared. “Is Mommy going to be okay?”
Her voice quavered and it hit me like someone had punched straight through my chest. “It’s going to take a while. And a lot of hard work and help from us, but Mommy will be okay.” I couldn’t let my daughter see how worried I was, how terrified I had been since that moment in the operating room when Dr. Willis made me make that decision. “We just have to be really patient and really easy with Mommy for a while.”
Nicole looked back up at me, her eyes welling with tears. “Are you and Papa okay?”
I felt more than heard the sound that ripped out of me. My daughter climbed into my lap and put her arms around my neck, squeezing me in a hug so hard that I couldn’t breathe. I clenched my teeth together, desperate to not break down at that simple, innocent question from my sweet little girl.
“Hey, you good?” came Matt’s voice. I looked up to see worry etched in his brow. Mattie and the boys were trailing after him, Ty propped high on his shoulder.
Mattie slipped out of line behind my brother and stopped next to me. She put her head on my shoulder and her arms around me and her sister. “It’s okay to be scared, Dad.”
By the time I was able to wrap an arm around her, the boys and Matt had joined in. We stayed there, in a jumble of arms and legs and hugs and tears, until I realized my daughters were wiping tears off my face. They smiled at me—that same endearing, reassuring smile that their mother had—and kissed my cheeks. I hugged them even harder.
Supported between my mother and my sister, I took the long walk down the hallway to the living room. They’d gotten me up, put me in the shower, and changed my clothes. I felt more human than I had in days.
They shuffled me slowly into the living room, talking calmly the whole time. My sister squeezed my hand in tight solidarity. As soon as I walked into the room, I saw the huddle by the dining table. The kids were gathered around Nick, all of them wrapping their arms tight around him as he cried against his brother’s shoulder. Matt crouched beside him, baby Ty held firmly against his chest.
My mother led me to the recliner and helped me sink down into it.
“What’s wrong?” I asked numbly, looking toward the kitchen.
“I don’t know, sweetheart,” she replied. “Rest and I’ll go see.”
My sister sat on the floor, Oreo quickly hopping into her lap. I strained my ears for the sound of my mother’s voice. Instead, I heard Nick and Matt.
“This is not your fault,” Matt said firmly. I could imagine that he had Nick by the back of the neck in that older-brother way of his. “You are the reason that our kids still have a mother.”
Nick’s voice was muffled, but I could still hear the words. “I miss her,” he wailed against his brother’s shoulder. “I’m scared. This one… it’s been so hard… and it’s because of… of…”
“Certainly not you, Nicolas Jackson,” my mother’s voice interjected. “Don’t give yourself so much credit. She’s gone through a horribly traumatic experience. An emergency C-section. Fear that there was something wrong with Ty when he wouldn’t come on time. A major surgery that she wasn’t mentally prepared for. You don’t even factor into this, Nick.”
Her words were stern, but I could tell she meant them to comfort him. To prove to him that he wasn’t the reason for how I felt. I looked to my sister, feeling tears burning my eyes. The sob came out before I could stifle the noise. Nick’s name slipped out amid the cry. There was a ruckus in the dining room, and suddenly Nick came running into the living room, nearly going past me in his haste to get to me. He hit the floor, skidding across the carpet bare-kneed until he came up short at my feet.
He wiped furiously at his bloodshot blue eyes as he reached for my hands. “Are you okay, Sunshine? What’s wrong?”
I pulled my hands from his grasp and tugged him as close as I could, throwing my arms around his neck and holding him as tightly as my strength allowed. The sobs came again, and I clutched at him as I cried against his shoulder. He held me just as tightly, his body rigid against me.
“I’m sorry,” I mumbled into his shirt, my fingers shaking and turning white with how hard I was holding on. “I’m sorry.”
“For what?” he replied, his voice cracking and breaking. I felt his fingers slip into my hair as he cradled my head. “Oh, Y/N, you haven’t done anything to be sorry about. What do you need? What can I do?”
I breathed deep of the scent of him, almost as if it were going to be the last time. “Don’t leave me. Please don’t leave me.”
Nick leaned back, even though I fought him every inch of the way, and cupped my face in his hands. His thumbs wiped away the tears on my cheeks. “Sunshine… Y/N… I’m not going anywhere. I’m never, ever going to leave you.” He leaned in and pressed his lips against mine, kissing me tenderly, desperately. “You are my wife and I can’t imagine life without you. I love you. I love you more than you’ll ever know.”
I wrapped my fingers in the front of his shirt and looked around wildly, suddenly terrified that it wasn’t only Nick who would abandon me now that I was broken beyond repair. I searched for Matt, for his dark eyes and dark hair and fierce love and protection. Almost the moment I thought of him, he appeared at Nick’s back, hand settled on his younger brother’s shoulders.
He smiled softly. “I’m not going anywhere either, Mama.” His eyes went glassy as he cried tears of his own. He squeezed Nick’s shoulders. “We need you… I need you. How could I ever walk away from you?”
My chest ached. I felt wretched. “Because I’m broken. I’m not… I failed with Ty. I failed and I’m broken.”
“Y/N,” Matt said, kneeling at my feet beside Nick. He curled one hand around the back of my head, rubbing his thumb against my hair. “You are the strongest woman… hell, the strongest person… I’ve ever known. No matter how scared you were, you did what you had to do to make sure we had Ty safe and healthy. You’ve supported us when we’ve been the biggest morons on the planet. I can’t imagine how you feel inside right now, but I swear to you… you are strong and brave and so full of love and fight that I will never doubt you.”
“Do you know how lucky we are?” Nick continued, stroking my cheek. He cried harder, his fear and shame etched on his face. “How in awe we are of you every day? Y/N… I never thought… the day you told me you loved me was the start of the best years of my life. I didn’t deserve you and I didn’t have any right to want you, but you wanted me, and you loved me. And I’ve never had a single moment of doubt about you because you have a superhuman heart. You have to when it comes to loving us.”
I drew in one heavy breath after another, looking back and forth between the two of them. I’d only ever seen them cry when our children were born. And now… here they were crying over me. I’d never doubted the sincerity of their love, but seeing the pure depth of it was breathtaking and emboldening.
“Trust us,” Nick said, kissing my hands repeatedly. “Trust us to love you through this.”
There was a rustle and suddenly Mattie was there, wrapping her arms around her Dad’s shoulders, her head against his back. Nicole wasn’t far behind, kneeling next to him and ducking beneath his arm. RJ and Lee came in on my sister’s hands and then wiggled into place in the space around Matt. My mother’s gentle hands placed my newborn son in my arms.
“There’s nothing broken about you, sweetheart,” my mother said, hovering behind my husbands and children. “And even if there was, you’re looking at nine people who wouldn’t care. Who would still love you and help you put the pieces back together again.”
I felt a smile curl my lips, even though there was still a slightly heavy weight in my chest. But for the first time since I awoke in the recovery room, I began to feel that the world wasn’t as dark as it seemed. That the men I loved and the children who I’d carried within me were not disappointed in me. Instead, they held me up and loved me, even when I couldn’t do it for myself.