Author: madamenaan PM
An epilogue for Long Walk Home, set about two or three years later.Rated: Fiction T - English - Danny M. & Delinda D. - Words: 2,696 - Reviews: 4 - Favs: 7 - Published: 04-23-09 - Status: Complete - id: 5014698
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
22/05/10 - Edited to re-add the formatting. Sorry for any confusion!
Disclaimer: I don't own Las Vegas.
Author's Note: A short (and hopefully slightly happier) epilogue for "Long Walk Home". Just because I felt bad doing that to two of my favourite characters, even if it was only in my head :)
I hope you enjoy it! If you have the time, any and all feedback is, as always, very much appreciated!
The baby is a boy. He weighs seven pounds and one ounce, and he is just over four hours old.
He is asleep in a crib in a still, shadowy hospital room, tucked up neatly under his pale blue blanket, his hands curled into tiny, dimpled fists and his eyes screwed tightly shut. His eyes, which are a bright, baby blue, although, the nurse tells Danny, they will probably turn brown soon.
Danny just nods and smiles his reply, tearing his eyes away from the baby for only the briefest of moments. It is, he finds, almost ridiculously hard to do even that.
The nurse smiles back at him. She checks something on her clipboard, and then slips away, closing the door inaudibly behind her.
Danny tilts forward in the rocking chair beside the crib, and watches the baby as he squirms and wriggles in his sleep, drawing up his mouth into a neat round O and aimlessly waving a little arm.
The baby doesn't wake up, though. He sleeps happily on and on, dreaming deeply about nothing at all, and Danny just sits in the stillness and watches him, looking away only to check on the sleeping figure in the bed nearby – Delinda, her face pale and her features washed clean and calm with sleep.
Right at this moment, Danny feels like he could sit here for days, the two of them safe within his line of sight, and not need for anything else at all.
He finds he has the strangest feeling – a little like the funny, unsteady sense of being on the edge of laughing or crying – a feeling that's huge and billowing and impossible to name. He guesses this is the feeling that everybody talked about, the one that he still slightly, secretly feared he wouldn't get, the one of loving something more than you've ever loved anything, of feeling more than you've ever felt.
It's overwhelming, and terrifying, and perfect, too.
He glances across at Delinda, and he almost wants to wake her, to tell her, but he doesn't. He lets her sleep. He sits and studies the sleeping baby, marvelling to himself over every tiny, flawless feature, over the ears and nose and fingers and feet that are each exactly like an adult's, only smaller.
The baby looks, Danny thinks wonderingly, just like a tiny little person. And then he has to smile, shake his head. The baby looks like a tiny little person, he tells himself, because he is a tiny little person. It's been a long day, he thinks in his own defence.
It's late now, or maybe early, and the sky is dark, the light in the hospital room soft and bluish. Outside the window, an ambulance passes in a swift, red flash.
It's quiet, too, the only sound the occasional murmur of voices from the hallway outside. But it's a good kind of quiet, Danny thinks. It's gentle, and calm; the kind of quiet you think of when you hear the word 'peaceful'.
It isn't the other kind of quiet, the one he's dreaded in the past, the kind that is thick and heavy and just unbearable, the aching, echoing kind.
The kind of quiet he and Delinda still find themselves in from time to time, a screaming silence that fills up his head until he knows he needs speak, needs to say something, but finds that there is nothing to say.
It comes, sometimes, when the day has been long and tiring, when something small has happened to make them think of another life they might be leading now, a life where they'd have a toddler stumbling around their feet and where even the good things wouldn't always be hard somehow.
Most of the time, though, they've gotten better at avoiding those silences. They've gotten better at all the things that, for a while, it felt like they'd never be able to do again, at talking and smiling, at going into work and going out to dinner, at trying to live happily, normally.
It's only quickly, now, only for a moment, that Danny lets his thoughts drift to that other life, and it hurts to do, but that's just the way it is. He knows by now that you can't fix a hole just by pretending it's not there. He remembers Delinda telling him once about not wanting to forget, wanting to remember: he knows that he wants to remember too.
Tonight, though – or maybe it's this morning – he won't let himself remember for long. Because, after all, if they're ever going to just be happy, then now is the time for it.
From his crib, the baby makes a sudden sound, a little gurgle, like he's trying unsuccessfully to blow bubbles. Danny looks down. Slowly, the baby opens one eye, and then the other, and looks up at him.
"Hey, little man," Danny greets him, smiling, "How's it goin'?"
The baby just gazes back at him, unimpressed. He smacks his lips and settles gradually back to sleep.
They didn't have a big wedding in the end. Danny guesses that they were probably both a little too afraid of what it was they were doing, and whether that was the right thing, for all that.
He knew that he loved her; he's always known that. If there's anything he understands after everything that happened, it's that, no matter what, as long as she's there he can feel like he still has a chance.
What troubled him was that for some reason he'd imagined getting married as some kind of magic salve, something that would fix their problems once and for all, and he'd realised, once it actually came to it, that it wasn't like that at all.
But still, he thinks, it had helped. It hadn't been the cure-all he thought it would be, but perhaps the whole thing – the flowers, and the toasts, and Jillian crying, and Mike making a speech, and the drunken dancing and the honeymoon suite – had reminded them what it felt like to have fun again.
They had a week at the Montecito's Hawaiian villas for their honeymoon, a blurred, hazy week of lying in the sun, and drinking pina coladas out on the terrace, and making love to the hum of the bedroom's overhead fan, trying different ways and different paces: fast and hard and rough, soft and slow and soulful.
And after that, they came back to Vegas, and began the business of starting over again.
They bought a house and they did all the things that newlyweds are supposed to do – they painted and decorated and moved in furniture, they talked and laughed and argued, and had sex in every room, including the closet-like downstairs bathroom, which proved something of a challenge.
They took weekend trips to Home Depot and bickered over swatches and paint samples, and pretended to be just what they looked like, just another happy married couple.
And, after a while, they weren't pretending any more.
They didn't talk about a baby, about trying again. There were times when he almost wanted to, but he was always reluctant somehow. A part of him felt like he wanted it, was ready for it, in a way he hadn't been before. A part knew they would be good at it. But the other part was afraid, afraid of screwing up, afraid at the thought that all they would be doing would be leaving themselves open to more pain.
So he didn't say anything, and neither did she.
It was almost a year later when one afternoon, when they both had a day off and nothing else to do, they went for a walk in the park, and found themselves wandering past the play area.
They slowed down both together, almost unconsciously, pausing to watch the children laughing on the swings and the merry-go-round. They saw a little boy, speeding over to his mother, trip over and fall, watched him sit on the ground a moment, red faced and indignant, and then burst into loud, fat tears.
They both smiled, sharing the same expressions of sympathetic amusement, and then Danny began to move, before they started to think too much. And as he did, she slid her hand into his.
"We could have one, you know," she said.
He looked down at her, surprised, and she looked up at him and kind of smiled, almost sad and almost not. He took a breath, about to say something, but in the end he didn't. They kept on walking.
They didn't say anything later that night, either, when neither of them reached for the birth control in the bedside drawer. They didn't say anything the next night, or the night after that, or the night after that.
It was as if they were trying to get away with something, secretly, and if they didn't talk about it then maybe they could.
And then he came home from work one day and she was already back, standing in the sun and waiting for him out on the front porch.
"Hey, you," he called to her from the bottom of the steps, hurried lightly up.
She lingered a moment where she was, as though waiting for her thoughts to come back from somewhere inward, and then she came over, smiling.
"Hi," she answered, kissed him hello.
"Good day?" he asked, running a hand up into her hair.
She nodded, slowly, looking up at him, and then she smiled, the smile small and almost shy, letting him in on a secret. She hesitated, felt for the words for something. "I'm having a baby," she told him, finally.
He stared. And for a moment everything turned over, and then he smiled.
"Yeah?" he said, grinning.
"Yeah." She laughed, lightly, happily.
He kissed her, then, and the sun was shining, and she was beautiful, actually heartstoppingly beautiful, and laughing, and it was, for the first time in such a long time, a perfect day.
Now, he sits beside Delinda on the edge of the hospital bed, holding the baby slightly nervously, his hands feeling suddenly far too big, far too clumsy.
"I don't think I'm doing this right," he says to Delinda, and his voice sounds funny, giddy.
He thinks, anxiously, that he would like for her to take the baby back now, doesn't want his first act of fatherhood to be dropping his son on the hospital floor.
She says, "You are." He looks at the baby, sleeping seriously amongst blue folds of blanket, and slowly, cautiously, allows the warm weight of the little bundle to settle in his arms. Delinda leans closer, delicately smoothes the tuft of dark, downy hair on the baby's head. "He's okay," she says, softly surprised, her voice verging simultaneously on laughter and tears.
He nods, wants to say something, but his breath catches in his throat. She turns her head, kisses the side of his face. They sit quietly together and stare down at their baby.
He knows what she means. They've been treading on eggshells for all of these months, not wanting to even imagine things going wrong, and afraid at the same time of ever fully allowing themselves to believe it'll all be okay this time.
They haven't bought baby clothes, or things for the nursery. They haven't even really thought about names.
He remembers her mentioning it once, a month or so ago. They'd been talking one night, just about their days, about the usual stuff, while she was in the bath and he sat balanced on the edge of the tub, shirtsleeves rolled up, the air in the room thick and warm and smelling like lavender bubbles.
After a while, they had drifted gently into silence, and then she'd said, unexpectedly, "I was thinking…" She swirled the bubbles in the bathwater around with her hand as she looked at him. "We should probably talk about names."
"Names?" he'd asked, looking over his shoulder at her, even though he knew what she was talking about.
"Well, yeah," she answered. She'd smiled slightly. "I mean, we can't just call our child 'Baby McCoy'."
"We can't? I think it has kind of a nice ring to it."
She'd shaken her head lightly, going along with him. "You don't think it would get them teased at school?"
He shrugged slightly. "Maybe a little," he'd conceded with a smile.
She'd smiled back at him, but the smile was faded, all of a sudden, troubled. She was quiet for a moment, and then she'd said, softly, "I don't know – I feel like every time I talk about this I'm casting the evil eye on us or something."
She said it like a joke, but her eyes watched him unhappily, and he knew she meant it.
He'd turned to look at her. "You don't have to feel like that," he'd said, gently, trying to sound sure. But it had been hard, when he felt exactly the same way himself.
They hadn't really said much else about it, before or after that, as though being afraid was itself some way of tempting fate. Mostly, they had just tried to be happy; to have this time and not worry, not let their thoughts get too far.
Now, though, he thinks with a smile, they can think and say whatever they want. Now, the baby is safe and healthy and sleeping, and Delinda was never in any danger, and there's a bunch of blue balloons that Jillian brought tied to the end of the bed, balloons that Danny thinks might be bigger than the baby himself. There are flowers again, from everyone, but now the flowers are bright and cheerful, and it doesn't ache to look at them.
"I think he looks like you," Delinda tells him, as he eases the baby slowly, carefully, back into her arms.
He asks, a little sceptically, "You do?" It's hard to see the resemblance just now.
"Well, smaller, obviously," she allows. "And with less hair."
"Kinda redder," he suggests.
She nudges him good-naturedly with an elbow. "I think he does," she says. "Around the eyes, anyway. And the nose."
He just smiles and shakes his head. He kisses the back of her shoulder, rests his forehead lightly against her hair.
A moment later she asks suddenly, soft-voiced, "Are you scared?"
She turns to look at him, her eyes wide and searching, and he thinks about lying, but there doesn't seem any point.
He hesitates, reaches to touch one of the baby's tiny, clenched hands. "Terrified," he says.
She smiles, then, and seems relieved. "Good," she says. "Me, too."
Quietly, they laugh. The baby lets out a whimper, and they fuss over him for a while, adjusting his blanket, brushing gentle fingers against his warm, petal-soft cheeks and hands. In the window, the sun rises, blinking pink and gold over Las Vegas.
"Good morning," Delinda baby-talks, leaning over the baby and touching his nose with her finger. "Good morning."
Danny watches them, and he smiles, feeling, just now, brave enough to swing the world.
It's been a long walk, but he thinks that maybe they've found their way home.