“Fi,” Kara came back into the living room after setting the now fully packed diaper bag near the door to the garage. “I know it’s really scary, but you’re going to do great.”
Dan cradled Fionna to his chest and continually whispered how much he loved her and that he would never let anything happen to her.
“Here, why don’t I pack your bag for the hospital, as well?” Kara offered.
Fionna scrubbed her hands over her face though her terror was evident to everyone in the room. “Thanks,” she agreed sullenly. “I laid out some skinny jeans and a cute sweater to wear home from the hospital, since I’ll be able to wear them again.”
Kara and Mrs. Haydenshire tried to hide their chuckles.
“Well,” Kara placated, “I’ll get those and maybe a few other options as well.”
“Oh, and those brown high heeled boots that go with my skinny jeans,” Fionna ordered as Dan shook his head slightly.
“Uh huh.” Kara covered her mouth to hide her laughter.
Mrs. Haydenshire joined them in the living room after she checked the huge pot of homemade chicken noodle soup she’d somehow managed to fix in all of the chaos. She was careful to avoid Dan’s shield cast. “Fionna, sweetheart, when you feel a little better, maybe let Dan help you up the stairs. Pack the biggest bra you own and some underwear you’ll plan on throwing away after you get back home.”
“Okay,” Fionna agreed in a fretful whimper. She tried to stand and Dan immediately dropped the cast. He guided her timidly up the stairs to their bedroom.
Kara was packing sweats, Dan’s oldest t-shirts, thick socks, and the few pairs of cotton underwear that Fionna owned.
“No, I don’t like those, just grab some of those thongs in there,” Fionna requested as she began digging in her bra drawer.
Kara shot Dan a horrified look. “She cannot wear thongs for a long while. Oh my, God, I don’t even want to tell you how much blood is going to be coming out and how badly thongs would hurt. I’m talking for several days,” Kara hissed to Dan.
“Yeah, I know.” Dan nodded his understanding. “She’s freaked out, and she can feel every person’s emotion in about a ten-mile radius at this point, so to say she’s not thinking clearly would be a serious understatement.”
Kara headed to the master bathroom and began setting Fionna’s hairbrushes and ponytail holders on the counter.
“No, don’t pack those yet,” Fionna instructed. “I don’t know why my back hurts so bad, but I am not having this baby tonight,” she decreed adamantly. “And why are you not rubbing my back?” she griped to Dan.
“Sorry, baby. Come here,” Dan pulled her close and began massaging her back with his heated hand. A sudden thought had him smiling. If his students thought PMS was bad, they should see labor. “Why don’t we let Kara handle this and we’ll go get some soup. We can just chill out for a little while. Like you said everything’s fine for a while.”
Fionna knew he was lying the second the words fell from his lips.
“You don’t believe that. Why don’t you believe that?” she demanded angrily.
“Fi, please,” clearly begging was going to be the best option. “Just come downstairs with me, so I can keep rubbing your back until you feel better.” He guided her back out of the room. “Keep packing,” he mouthed to Kara as he left.
“Your parents just pulled up, and Meredith called. Aida wants to come home. She’s pretty upset,” Zach informed Dan, trying not to upset Fionna as she waddled her way to the couch.
“Her rhythms are shifting, and Aida picked up on it. She and Fi are closer than any two Receivers I’ve ever seen. They’re practically symbiotic,” Dan explained the relationship between his daughter and his wife.
Governor Vindico slipped through the front door sporting a very proud grin. “I take it you won’t be at work tomorrow,” he teased Dan.
“Don’t think so, Dad.” Dan lifted a crying Aida up into his arms from the front porch.
“I want mommy!” Aida pled.
Carrying her to the couch, he watched her soothe Fionna while Fionna soothed her. They cuddled closely, and Fionna seemed to calm dramatically.
“Here Lillian, let me help,” Mrs. Vindico moved into the kitchen as Mrs. Haydenshire was preparing soup bowls and pulling homemade biscuits from the oven. As long as his Mrs. Haydenshire prepared the food and his own mother only served it, Dan could foresee nothing wrong with that scenario.
He settled on the couch to try and offer his girls his undying love, devotion, and support. Working quickly, he began rubbing Fionna’s back again. He could feel her rhythms pulsing in quick bursts that were coming closer together. “Wanna try and eat something?”
“Okay,” she agreed. The Crown Governor handed her a tray that Mrs. Haydenshire had prepared with soup and biscuits along with a seltzer water.
Aida stuck closely to Fionna while she managed to eat the soup.
Kara came down the stairs. “Don’t forget her pillow when you leave,” she ordered Dan before she seated herself on the floor in front of the coffee table to eat soup while Zach fed Aidan a bottle.
But suddenly, Fionna was shoving the tray towards Dan. All of the blood in her face drained in an instant. She sprinted to the bathroom. ran after her in a heated pant.
When she finished vomiting, he helped her stand erect and wiped her face with a cool cloth as she shivered convulsively.
“She needs to stay in here,” Fionna rubbed her hands over her belly. “I don’t know how to have her. What if I do it wrong, and she isn’t okay? What if something goes wrong, or she doesn’t like me? Or Aida doesn’t like her? Or she gets mad at me because I made her be born? And,” she began to sob against Dan’s chest again. “It’s gonna hurt,” she tucked herself as tightly as she was able into his strong embrace.
“Fi.” He tenderly kissed her head. “Baby, she’s going to love you so much and Aida, too. You’re going to be amazing, and I will be right there every second. I’m not going anywhere. I will cast you through every single contraction. We will get through this together, just like everything else. And very soon we’re gonna be able to hold her in our hands. I can’t wait to meet her, and I know she can’t wait to meet you.”
Nodding against him, Fionna seemed to have no desire to leave their bathroom. She just wanted a moment of solace in his arms.
“And you’ll help me get back to normal, and lose all of this weight?” she begged.
“I’ll help you do anything in the world you want,” he promised, “but you have to let your body recover the way it needs to.”
“I want to take a bath,” she begged suddenly.
Dan hated to tell her no but had no choice. “You can’t take a bath, sweetheart. The plug is out,” he soothed his gentle reminder.
“I want everyone to go away. It’s horrible. I can’t think. It’s so confusing,” she sobbed out her plea.
“That, I can do.” Dan couldn’t imagine what she must be feeling with her powers on the very highest of alerts.
“I think we better let my parents stay in case we have to leave Aida here over night, but you go lay down for a little while. I’ll get you some relief,” he promised.
“My back hurts so bad,” she trembled against him as her tears permeated his shirt.
Feeling like he was being physically rent in two, he rubbed her lower back again, trying desperately to ease her pain. After guiding her to their bed, he heat-casted the sheets, blankets, and comforter. Helping her pull off her maternity jeans, he guided her into the heated comfort.
“I’ll be right back.” He raced down the stairs, dispensing with his shirt as he went, leaving him in nothing but an undershirt and the jeans he’d changed into while Fionna was cleaning out her vanity table.
“Is she all right?” Governor Vindico eased.
“Not really,” Dan allowed. “Thank you all for all of your help…” he began.
“But we need to go because she can feel every emotion coming from all of us,” Kara supplied for him.
Dan offered a bereaved expression. “I need you to stay,” he instructed his parents. “I think we’ll be leaving in the next few hours, but could you just try to sort of stay calm and happy?”
“Just call us if you want us up there, and she’s going to be perfect, Dan.” Mrs. Haydenshire patted his cheek and then pulled the Crown Governor towards the front door.
“Thank you,” Dan offered again.
“Our pleasure, son,” Governor Haydenshire urged.
“I’m gonna try to get her to sleep as much as she’s able,” he explained to everyone left in his living room.
“How about if Aida and I get her ready for bed, and then we’ll all go to the hospital after your baby sister is here,” Kara baited Aida.
“I want Mommy,” Aida fussed dejectedly.
“Let’s let Mommy sleep a little, and then you can see her okay?” Dan urged.
“Daniel, is there anything else we can do?” Mrs. Vindico offered very sweetly.
“I don’t think so, Mom, but I’ll let you know.”
Kara led Aida up the stairs to give her a bath while the Governor and Mrs. Vindico began cleaning the kitchen.
Zach offered Dan a kind smile as Aidan slept on his shoulder.
“It gets intense, but it’s really awesome, too,” he eased. “Just try to cast her through the contractions. Keep eating so you can keep it up. It’s unbelievable how much pain they feel. I don’t know how Kara survived, but just try to pull as much as you can on you.”
“Want to take these with you?” Governor Vindico brought in a large box of Gifted power bars and added them to Dan’s bag.
“Thanks,” Dan urged.
“We’ll get Aida to bed. Go on and take care of her. She needs you,” Governor Vindico urged.
Dan fell asleep several hours later, after keeping Fionna tucked in his shield that he filled with heat to ease her pain and soothing energy to keep her calm. He regulated his emotions as best as he was able so that she felt nothing from him but his undying love.
After he’d soothed her to sleep, he let the thoughts he’d kept at bay form in his mind. Everything his life had been until the moment he’d followed her home from that bar. Every loss and every gain tabulated in his mind. The baby they’d lost and his precious Halia that was mere hours from being in their arms. His precious Aida, asleep across the hall. Kauai and D.C. and so many places in between. What it would be like to have his little baby girl in his hands and out in the cold cruel world? I have to keep her safe. The thought filled him from the tips of his fingers to the deepest darkest places of his soul.
Suddenly, he questioned everything. Questioned his desire to go back into law enforcement, his father’s pleading request that he not take his family to Kauai, how this night would change the course of he and Fionna’s lives forever.
He’d fallen asleep amid his ponderings but awoke with a spasm as he felt Fionna jerk away from him. “You okay, baby?”
“I have to go to the bathroom,” she managed through an exhausted yawn. “Oh my God, why am I wetting my panties?” She sounded thoroughly disgusted.
Leaping from the bed, Dan made it to her in two long strides. She was soaking wet.
“Make me stop,” she demanded.
“You’re not wetting your pants. Your water is breaking,” Dan tried to remain calm.
A knock sounded on their door, and Dan helped Fionna into the bathroom before noting that it was three in the morning as he let in their visitor.
The Governor was wearing the robe and slippers he’d worn every day of Dan’s entire life. “I heard you explode from the bed. I take it we’re having a baby,” he chuckled with a pride filled smile.
“Her water just broke.”
“All right, deep breaths. She’ll be fine. Just get her to the hospital,” Governor Vindico soothed.
Fionna appeared, wearing her favorite robe, purple terry cloth with large green polka dots. She’d had it for years. It was a gift from Tutu. Dan had always considered it her security blanket.
“I’m taking a shower and shaving my legs,” she informed Dan and his father defiantly.
“Fi, honey, your water is breaking. We have to go. We are having a baby. You are not taking a shower,” Dan demanded.
“Well, the baby will have to wait until I’ve shaved my legs,” she argued.
“Dan,” Governor Vindico shook his head slightly as Dan’s eyes goggled in stunned disbelief and he set to order his wife to get in the car. “It’s something she can control. And there is a whole lot right now that she can’t,” he eased knowledgeably. “Go take care of her. I’ll put your bags in the car,” Governor Vindico offered kindly. “She’ll be fine.”
“Fine,” Dan spoke through his teeth. “I will take a quick shower with you, and then we are leaving.” He phoned Adeline and then helped Fionna step into the shower. Leaving the phone on the counter, he stepped in behind her and watched over her obsessively. He helped her wash and then held her steady while she shaved her legs as best as she was able. He casted her through the beginning contractions, but the sheer amount of pain had her more willing to go to the hospital than anything else.
After what seemed like a lifetime while Fionna dressed, then changed clothes again, blew dry her hair, and lotioned her recently shaven legs they were in the car flying to Georgetown.
With a quick call to Garrett, they had a police escort and made it to Georgetown in record time.
Adeline was waiting with a wheelchair and a kind reassuring smile.
“You ready?” she soothed as they were quickly guided onto the elevator.
“No.” Fionna clung to Dan’s hand.
Chuckling, Adeline nodded her understanding. “Well, get ready, because she’s on her way. You’re going to do great,” she assured her.
They exited on the obstetrics floor and were quickly escorted to a room. Dan lifted Fionna up into the bed.
“Go ahead and take everything off for me,” Adeline instructed.
It was a true testament to the state of his wife’s psyche that she asked, “Do you want me to take my panties off, too?”
Dan fought the urge to double over laughing. Fionna Vindico was most certainly not prudish or even that modest, but the sterility of the hospital room coupled with the extreme stress she was under had her confused and panicking.
“Here, baby.” Dan eased her out of her clothing and covering her in the hospital bed immediately.
Adeline covered her chuckle, while she moved to Fionna. “I’m going to hook up your monitors, and then we’ll see how far you’ve dilated,” she explained.
Nodding Fionna clung to Dan’s hand with both of her own now, as Adeline hooked up the monitors to measure Fionna’s contractions, her vital signs, her energy rhythms, and the one to measure Halia’s vitals and energy.
“Everything looks great,” she assured them. Seating herself in a rolling chair at the end of the bed, she slipped her hand under the blankets. “Dan’s going to uncover you, and we’ll just see where we are, then he can cover you back up.”
Fionna tensed as another contraction took hold of her.
“Just cast her. That’s pretty mild. You can pull most of the pain from her if you’d like,” Adeline guided.
More than happy to take his wife’s pain, Dan concentrated and replaced Fionna’s fear with his calm and pulled the pain from her body into his shield.
Just as Adeline’s glove snapped on and her fingers were inserted into his wife the door to the hospital room flung open.
Adeline jerked her hand away making Fionna yelp as she cringed into a kind of ball and Dan attempted to cover his wife up. “What the hell do you think you’re doing?” he thundered furiously.
He was stunned as he took in Bob and Linda Barge standing in the door way of Fionna’s labor and delivery room.
“Why does she get this room and I only get a little one?” Linda huffed on the verge of stomping her feet.
“Mrs. Barge,” a nurse tried to drag her away, “Mrs. Vindico’s labor is much further along than yours. We told you not to come to the hospital for another few hours. You wouldn’t listen. Not to mention the fact that she is the Governor’s daughter-in-law,” she urged.
Dan quickly pulled the covers back over Fionna as he marched towards the Barge’s all in one sinewy move. “Get the hell out of my wife’s hospital room,” he roared. “And do not come back.” He shoved Bob Barge out of Fionna’s room and slammed the door behind them. He tried to refocus on Fionna and the pain she was experiencing. His single minded focus was on his wife.
“I’m so sorry,” Adeline continued to apologize.
Fionna was so bewildered she was shivering in her shock.
“I’m right here, sweetheart.” Dan laced his finger through hers letting her draw from him in heavy doses.
“Okay, just keep doing that,” Adeline urged. “You work up there. I’ll work down here. We’ll have a lovely night,” she assured them as she checked Fionna’s cervix.
Suddenly, Fionna contorted in pain. Dan casted her instantly. He felt his shield shimmer slightly from the sheer amount of pain she was experiencing as he tried to syphon it onto himself.
“That’s a big one,” Adeline sounded truly sorry for Fionna’s plight. “You’re at a six. If you’d like I’ll have an anesthesiologist medio come in a cast your spine. That will block the pain receptors and let you relax somewhat until you’re fully dilated. Your energy will soothe for a while. Then will let Dan pull as much as he can while you push okay?” Adeline encouraged.
Dan sincerely hoped Fionna would agree. She was still gasping for breath from the last contraction.
“It won’t hurt Halia?” she asked.
“Not at all, and I’m a little worried about your previous wound. I think keeping you as calm as we can for as long as we can will actually be best for Halia.”
“Okay, let’s do it.”
A minute later, a guy who appeared to have just come out of the Academy made an entrance. He was a little too cocky for Dan’s liking, and he was sporting quite a smirk.
“This is Cade McNamara. He’ll be your anesthesiologist,” Adeline introduced. She didn’t particularly care for Cade either, Dan noted.
“Fionna Styler,” Cade drawled. He was entirely too excited to be working with Fionna.
“NO,” Fionna grumped. “Fionna Vindico, and this is my husband,” she jerked her hand up still laced in Dan’s. “And I’m a ridiculously strong Receiver, and I’m in labor, obviously, so I can feel all of the gross things you’re thinking about.” Her eyes narrowed hatefully. “Make him stop,” she commanded Dan as she covered her breasts with her arms. Dan stood his eyes ablaze in fury as he marched towards Cade.
“You know I think we’ll be needing another anesthesiologist,” he growled. “Because Cade’s going to be in the emergency room, very soon,” he shouted. Adeline’s eyes goggled as Cade slunk backwards, trying to make an escape.
“I’ll see who else is on call tonight.” Adeline casted Fionna and tried to help her calm down.
Another medio appeared shaking her head. Adeline beamed as she issued into the room.
“This is Carla Parakin. She’llbe your anesthesiologist,” she tried again this time with a delighted smile.
Carla was British and very maternal Dan noted. She fussed over Fionna, telling her that she would ease the pain in just a matter of moments.
True to her word, Dan casted Fionna through another contraction and after that Carla set to work running a solid blue energy orb up and down Fionna’s spine, allowing her to relax from the pain for a while.
“I like it when she calls me, dearie,” Fionna confessed as she settled back against the pillows as everyone left the room for a few minutes. Chuckling, Dan kissed her forehead pleased that she seemed settled for the moment.
“I’ll take anyone over Cade,” Dan was still infuriated over the Medio’s lack of ethics and the Barge’s intrusion.
“Ready for me to start calling people?” He wasn’t entirely certain she wanted him to let everyone know she was in labor or not.
“Dan…” Fionna blinked back tears as she clung to his arm.
“Are you hurting again?” He started towards the door to locate Carla.
“No,” she assured him. “It’s just…” Her chin trembled as more tears escaped her eyes.
“It’s just that we’re gonna have a baby.” He knew perfectly well what had settled firmly in her mind in the absence of the pain.