After the Honeymoon ….
Month Number Nine ….
With the apartment finally finished, it was time to lay down and quit for the day. Meg had made her queen size bed, the sheets tight enough to bounce a quarter on. Ben turned it down for them, tossing the throw pillows aside.
"I'm so tired." Meg sighed as she lay on her customary side of the bed. Stretching out felt wonderful. She'd made a hundred trips through the new apartment, carrying baskets, supervising the movers and being as busy as humanly possible.
Ben slid into bed behind her. He felt nervous, he still hadn't gotten used to sleeping with someone. He lay very still, wondering how best to proceed. Gently, Meg scooted back in the bed until she felt her back against his chest.
"I won't break, Ben, relax." She found his hand and pulled his arm around her waist.
"I'm not accustomed to co-sleeping." Ben relaxed against her slightly.
"This will take some getting used to on both our parts I imagine." She yawned, lacing her fingers with his.
"There's still so much we have to learn about each other." Ben's voice sounded wistful in the darkness.
"You can ask me anything. I know what matters, the rest will come in time." Meg rolled over onto her back to look up at Ben.
"All of this is new territory, I'm not certain how to navigate." Ben admitted.
"I've never been married before, I haven't had a child, we'll just have to figure everything out as we go along." This uncertainty was a side of Ben that Meg had never seen, or anticipated. From what she gathered, he had been hurt in the past. Meg could understand, she could empathize.
"Lacking prior relationship experience, I fear I lack the skills necessary to provide adequate emotional support." Meg took a moment to translate.
"Answer me yes or no, do you love me?"
"Do you love our baby?" Meg tried to maintain her patience. She felt so certain of her feelings it was difficult to fathom why Ben didn't.
"Yes, more than anything."
"You'll always have out best interests at heart and you'll help both of us however you can?" Meg persisted, her voice even.
"Yes, always." Ben answered, puzzled.
"Keep that in mind and you'll do just fine. I love you, now go to sleep." Meg slipped her arm around Ben and snuggled against his chest, conversation over. Ben squeezed her gently, loving her more than he thought humanly possible.
"That's better." Meg purred, enjoying Ben's embrace.
Fraser hummed as he painted the walls of the baby's room a bright, sky blue. He and Meg had been working on it for a week; painting trim, shampooing the carpet and assembling baby furniture. Ben continued working at the consulate in the mean time. Ray had been a big help, as had Frannie, in her own, flighty way.
"Are you hungry, Ben?" Meg called from the hallway as she put away linens.
"Yes, what did you have in mind?" Benton stepped down from the ladder to poke his head out the door.
"Tuna salad?" She suggested, closing the door her hands rubbing her bulging stomach.
"Wonderful." He called back. She rolled her eyes and went on to the kitchen, he'd eat anything she fixed.
A few minutes later Ben had washed up to join her. They sat down at the small kitchen table together. It felt strange to him to sit down with her, to see the gold ban on his left hand. There wasn't even a tan line yet.
"Are you alright, Ben?" Meg's voice cut through his thoughts.
"I'm fine." He took her hand, kissing the back, dispelling her fears. "Just trying to remember this is real."
"Oh yeah, I'm reminded it's real several times a day." She laid her hand on her stomach. Ben wished he knew how to relieve some of her burden.
"Let's eat, I believe all three of us are ready." Meg took a bite of tuna salad sandwich on wheat bread.
"Hey, how's my favorite Mounties?" Ray's voice interrupted.
"Hello, Ray, we were just sitting down to lunch." Ben pulled out a chair for the blond detective.
"I just finished, came by to see if you needed anything." He took a seat with them, sitting in the kitchen chair backwards.
"I could use some help painting the nursery, if you have the time." Ben offered.
"Yeah, sure." Ray agreed, stealing a Pringle from Ben's plate. The Mountie pushed his plate a bit toward the lanky detective.
Meg became very quiet and laid her sandwich down. Ben and Ray talked a few more minutes laughing over something Diefenbaker had done. The old wolf, sensing his name, walked over to the kitchen table. He laid his head on Meg's knee, his nose working over time. A second later he let out an urgent wolf and began dancing nervously.
"What's wrong, Diefenbaker?" Ben scooted his chair back.
"Ben, it's time." Meg's pale face startled him. She shoved her chair back. Her water had broken.
"You get her and I'll get the car." Ray jumped up, eager to be out of the way. Ben popped up at the same time.
"My bag is in the bedroom closet, let me get changed and we can leave." Meg took Ben's arm and stood up. She was two weeks early, which was terrifying.
"Let me bring you what you need." Ben offered, knowing Meg would be stubborn and want to go change in their bedroom.
"I'll be fine, Ben, we've made it this far in good shape, it'll be smooth sailing the rest of the way." She gave him a forced smile.
"I hope so." Ben walked with her to the bedroom while Ray went to get the Intrepid.
The Hospital ….
Ray put his emergency light on the dash, turned on the flashers and ignored just about every traffic law on the books to get Meg and Ben to the hospital. For once Ben didn't fuss at him for his disobedience, he was too busy timing Meg's contractions and worrying that he'd have to deliver the baby in the car.
Ray had called Turnbull on his cell to come get Dief while they were at the hospital and for him to call Meg's mother and Buck Frobisher. Everything else would just have to take a backseat.
Meg's obstetrician, Dr. Natalie Keith, arrived thirty minutes after the hospital called. Chicago traffic had snarled, catching her on her way to work. The capable, lady doctor strolled into the exam room with Meg's chart under her arm.
"How are we doing today, Margaret?" Dr. Keith asked, checking the latest vitals.
"What's going on, Doctor, I'm not due for another two weeks." Meg clasped Ben's hand like a vice.
"It's not unusual, let me examine you before you get out of sorts, okay?" The forty-ish doctor washed her hands before pulling on a pair of exam gloves and taking her place at Meg's feet.
"Everything will be alright, Meg, I'm right here." Ben reassured her with more calm than he actually felt.
"I wish Mother could have been here." Meg may have been a highly capable Inspector with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, but she still wanted her mom.
"I'm certain she'll be here as soon as possible, she wouldn't want to miss this either." The Constable pressed a kiss against the back of Meg's hand, wishing his own parents could be with him to welcome their grandchild.
"Alright, Margaret, I have good news and bad, which do you want to hear first?" Dr. Keith pulled off the exam gloves and tossed them into the trash.
"What's the bad news, Doctor?" Meg's fears rose even higher than before.
"The baby isn't quite in the best position, the good news is that the baby is healthy. I don't anticipate any major trouble but we are going to have to take the baby by C-Section." Dr. Keith stuffed her hands into her lab coat pockets, toying with empty butterscotch candy papers.
"Let's get to the operating room, now." Meg frowned, still gripping Ben's hand.
"I'll have them prep right now." Dr. Keith nodded, glad that Meg was the kind of woman who wasn't afraid to do what was necessary.
A few minutes later a nurse came in and began prepping Meg for the C-Section, running Ben out of the room to wait with Ray.
In the waiting room Ray stood by the window drinking a cup of coffee and checking out nurses. Frannie had arrived with congratulatory helium balloons.
"How's she doin'?" Ray asked, concerned. He didn't know much about pregnancy but he knew early wasn't a good thing.
"Dr. Keith said the baby wasn't in the best position for a natural birth so their going to perform a C-Section." Ben answered, his hands shoved into his jeans pockets.
"She'll be fine, Inspect, ah, she's tough." Frannie shrugged. She still couldn't get used to calling Inspector Thatcher 'Margaret' or 'Mrs. Fraser'.
"Thank you kindly, Francesca." Ben gave her a kind smile.
Ben waited in the dull, gray waiting room for word from Dr. Keith. He hated not being able to be in there with Meg, he'd been with her through everything so far. Ray tried to keep him occupied but the Mountie's single mindedness won out.
"Frannie, wanna get a sandwich or somethin' from the cafeteria?" The blond detective asked the Civilian Aide.
"No, I'm fine." Frannie shrugged, sitting next to Fraser, watching a soap opera on the television overhead.
"You sure, Frannie?" Ray asked again, this time nodding emphatically toward the hallway. The young woman just looked at him strangely.
"Francesca, I believe Ray would like you to accompany him to the cafeteria so that he may talk to you without my presence." Fraser urged. He was becoming tired of their concerned glances and awkward attempts at comfort.
"Oh, okay. You want anything, Frase?" Frannie asked, grabbing her purse.
"No, thank you." The Mountie shook his head. He couldn't manage anything as long as Meg and the baby were in the operating room.
"We'll be back soon, Fraser." Ray said as Frannie joined him at the waiting room entrance. The Mountie just nodded.
"I thought the Yank was having a seizure there for a moment." A familiar, male voice brought Ben back to the present.
"Dad, I haven't seen you in months. I had begun to wonder if you'd disappeared all together." Ben turned to see his father's ghost seated beside him in one of the faux leather seats.
"You've had your plate full lately, son, I thought I'd give you some room." Robert Fraser shrugged, his arms crossed over his red serge clad chest.
"Oh, I see." Fraser just nodded, taking it in stride. His father's enigmatic ways weren't anything new to his son. They sat in a companionable silence for a few minutes, Ben staring at the painting of day lilies on the opposite wall.
"She'll be alright." The old man said out of the blue.
"She will?" Ben turned, biting on his bottom lip as he studied his father's face, hoping he knew something in that way he had.
"Yes, Margaret will be fine, so will the boy." Robert Fraser said nonchalantly.
"I'm going to have a son?" Ben's blue eyes shone with excitement.
"You know, it took your mother over thirty hours to have you. I thought you never were going to come out." The old Mountie shook his head, thinking back to the first year of his marriage.
"Dad, you said I'm going to have a son?" Ben re-directed him, sitting on the edge of his seat.
"That's what the doctor said, someone will be along any minute to get you."
"Mr. Fraser?" A nurse's bright, alto voice interrupted the Canadians. When Ben turned back to the seat where his father had been sitting it was empty.
"Mr. Fraser?" The nurse called again.
"Yes, that's me." Ben popped up quickly.
"You can see your wife and baby now." The slight, brunette nurse said with a smile.
"Thank you kindly." Ben followed her into the recovery room where Meg lay with the newborn in her arms. She looked up from her son to her husband. She stretched her free hand out to take his.
"Isn't he beautiful, Ben, he's perfect." She cried as she looked down into the infant's face. His tiny fingers stretched up to her as his eyes blinked against the harsh lights overhead.
"He's wonderful, Meg." Ben couldn't identify the swirl of emotions moving like a tornado in his gut; pride, relief, love, fear?
"He's ours, Ben, all ours." The lady Mountie let the tears fall down her cheeks, she didn't care if anyone saw her crying, this was the best day of her life.
"Our miracle baby." Ben whispered, gently touching the baby's cheek. He looked from his son to his wife. Silently, he leaned over and pressed a kiss against her temple, glad and relieved to have both of them safe and healthy.
"I didn't know a person could contain this much love for another human being, much less two." She chuckled, feeling exhausted and dopey from the medication.
"What's his name?" Ben asked. They hadn't really discussed a name, he thought she'd decided on one during the IVF process.
"I don't know, what do you want?" Meg looked up at him, her dark eyes so big in her pale face.
"I thought you'd decided on a name months ago, I hadn't given it any thought." Ben admitted.
"Benton Fraser, you're a father and you hadn't given it any thought?" Meg said incredulously in her 'Inspector' voice.
"Harry, it was your father's name." Ben suggested after a moment's thought.
"Nope, too many jokes. Dad's middle name was Alan, it's much less likely to be made fun of as he grows up." Meg suggested, vetoing her husband's suggestion.
"Alan Fraser, I like the sound of that." Ben tried the name out. He'd often wondered how parents chose their children's names. It had never occurred to him that he'd be giving another person their identity.
"How does Robert Alan Fraser sound?" Meg suggested, studying Ben's reaction. She saw the spark of pleasure in his eyes.
"That's a fine name, my father would be pleased, as would yours." Ben nodded.
"Would you like to hold him, Ben?" Meg asked, adjusting Robert Alan's position.
"Oh dear." Ben said before he could stop himself. The baby was so small, barely bigger than both of his hands.
"You'll do fine." The new mom urged. Cautiously, Ben held his son for the first time. To be so little, Robert Alan had changed so much in both his parents' lives.
"Hello, son, I've been waiting to meet you my whole life." Ben whispered as he studied the baby's face.
"I hate to, but I have to take the baby." A nurse interrupted the new parents. She carefully took the baby from Ben's arms.
"And I have to take you to your room." Another nurse had come for Meg.
"Give us about twenty minutes and you can come see her, alright." Meg's nurse said as she began squaring the lady Mountie away for travel. Gently, Ben took Meg's hand and pressed a kiss against her forehead.
"I'll be with you as soon as I can, Sweet Meg." He whispered against her sweat drenched hair. He walked with her out into the hallway then stood watching the nurse wheel his wife toward her hospital room.
"Hey, Fraser, what's the news?" Ray's voice interrupted the Mountie's thoughts.
"Meg and the baby are both fine." Ben smiled, almost dizzy with relief.
"Is it a boy or girl?" Frannie asked, excited, despite herself.
"A boy, Robert Alan Fraser." The proud father announced.
"How much did he weigh, how long was he?" Frannie dumped two questions in the space of one.
"I don't know." Ben chuckled, he hadn't thought that far. Meg and the baby were alright and that's all that counted.