8 Months Later

Rock music played softly in the background as Jack worked at an easel, tapping his foot along to the bassline of Nirvana as his eyes focused sharply on the brushstrokes he was carefully making. Every few moments he'd pause to refresh the paint on the bristles or lean back to get a better view of the overall canvas before nodding approval and leaning forward again. He wore an old college shirt, marred with paint stains and bleach marks and a pair of jeans that looked just as old.

He was in his studio now, no crutches to be found and both legs bent normally on the stool that he sat on. The studio space around him was small, cluttered with paint tubes and papers showing sketches and color values. The smells of turpentine and hot summer August air filled the room as he worked, a fan blowing air up onto him as he concentrated on the painting.

The door behind him squeaked as Elsa entered, her slippered feet padding softly across the concrete floor as she walked over to him, pausing beside him and rubbing a hand across his back. He finished his stroke and leaned back, turning and giving her a smile.

"Hayden asleep?" he asked, reaching his arms up over his head in a stretch.

She nodded. "Poor thing was so tired but didn't want to go to sleep."

He laughed softly, relaxing from his stretch. "Yeah, definitely stubborn."

She smiled and looked at the painting, lazily rubbing her hand over his back as she did, watching as he slowly added a few more strokes and dabs of paint to the nearly completed work.

"That's pretty," she commented, turning her head slightly. "Looks a little like us."

"It is," he affirmed. "Kind of. It's the only thing I remember about those crazy dreams I had from when I was in the hospital, I sketched it when I came out of that sedation coma thing. Kinda liked it, so I thought I would paint it."

She watched him work for a few more moments. "So I'm a Queen?"

He nodded. "Fitting I think, don't you?" he turned and grinned up at her.

She snorted. "And, an ice theme? Going a little heavy on the last name with this one, aren't we love."

"Ah, we both had ice powers in the dream," he said, moving his brush to work on a part of her dress. "And I could fly."

She chuckled, moving her hand up to feel his forehead. "My, my, they DID give you some good drugs, didn't they?"

He chuckled. "It was an interesting dream, I'll give you that. I'll put it up in the gallery, but I doubt it will sell."

She shook her head slightly, looking at it.

"Never know," she said. "Someone might be crazy enough to buy it."

He finished another stroke, leaned back again and nodded. "Yeah, that's good for tonight," he said, swirling the brush in a water filled mason jar.

Elsa yawned beside him as he gathered all the brushes he had used that evening in one hand and gestured for her to lead the way out of the small studio, his hand swinging down on the lightswitch as they walked through the garage, and then back into the house. She held the door open for him, laughing as he held his hands up to avoid getting paint on the door.

He headed for the kitchen, laying the used brushes in the deep basin and turning the water on warm, watching as the dirtied water swirled at the bottom with all the colors he'd used. He bent to open the cabinet to get the soap for cleaning out the acrylic paint, paused and smiled, noticing that she'd already set it out for him. He began to wash his brushes, and his hands, turning to glance at her as she came into the kitchen, setting a clean shirt on the counter for him.

"Think Hayden will sleep through the night again?" he asked, working at the brushes to get them clean as she leaned against the counter, watching him.

"I hope so," she said, yawning again. "I certainly hope so, I'm tired."

He chuckled. "What, you didn't get the parenting memo. No sleep anymore."

She laughed. "Oh no, I got it. It's just a little harder than I thought it would be."

He shut the water off in the sink, pulling paper towels out of the holder and laying them out, laying out his paint brushes to dry. Then, he turned and walked into the laundry room, pulling his shirt off and tossing it into the washer, his paint splattered jeans following shortly after, leaving him standing barefoot in a pair of gym shorts as he tossed a packet of detergent into machine.

After turning it on, he strolled back over to her, reaching behind her and pulling his clean shirt around her and then over his head.

"Better?" she asked when he was done, smiling at him as she watched.

"Yeah," he said, looking down at himself. "Mostly paint free."

She chuckled and leaned forward, wrapping her arms around his waist. "Let's go to bed, I'm tired. And tomorrow is Monday, beginning of the work week."

He kissed the top of her head, rubbing his hands up and down her arms. "I've got my last follow up with Dr. Layug for my leg. Should be my last appointment."

She nodded, turning and they both walked out of the kitchen, walking down the hall towards their bedroom. The wail of their child began as they stepped past the cracked doorway, causing them both to stop and look into the darkened room. Elsa groaned, her head rolling to rest on his chest.

He chuckled. "Go on, I'll be in in a few minutes, shouldn't take me long."

She nodded, sighing and shuffled forward into their room while he pushed the door to the nursery open and stepped inside, stopping at the side of the crib with the squalling infant laying inside. He bent and scooped up the red-faced baby, arms and legs kicking in the pale yellow onesie covered in small darker yellow ducks.

"Shhh, little one," he said, cradling the baby in his arms and rocking gently, bouncing the babe gently. "Shhhh."

He walked slowly around the room, speaking softly and rocking the small child. Eventually, after long cry-filled moments, the crying stopped and was replaced by sniffles and the eventually hiccup.

"There," he said, smiling down. "You just wanted a little more attention didn't you, upset I didn't come put you to bed. I was working you know."

The child gave him a smile, gurgling a laugh at Jack.

He laughed, stepping back to the crib and laying the baby back down, carefully laying a blanket back over the babe.

"You are my greatest masterpiece," he said, running his hand over his child's face. "Without a doubt."


Okay. So, BEFORE you storm off to give me hate for not giving you the baby's gender, I did that for a reason. So **PLEASE READ THIS**.

I didn't give the baby's gender for a reason, because while it is an important thing for Jack and Elsa, overall for the story, it isn't important. It doesn't matter for this story if their child is male or female! The baby has a unisex name, and if you feel the overwhelming need to choose between one or the other, than you decide for yourself. And it can be perfect that way.

You can have it that Jack and Elsa have the male child for their female cousins, or you can have that they had a female child for Jack to fret about as she grew older and older.

If the only thing that you can think about right now is "OMG ARIA DIDN'T TELL ME THE GENDER" then you are missing the point that I'm trying to show with the story. The ending of the story isn't about them finding out the sex of the baby, and then having the baby. The ending of the story is about their lives returning to normal after this MAJOR event happened in their life.

The beginning of the story starts with the interruption, the car accident that Jack gets HORRIBLY injured in. And then the middle and meat of the story is about Elsa coping and dealing with her husband being injured and slowly healing. She deals with this by remembering all the good that happened with him. Yes, you have the memory of her parents dying as well, but you also have him there, helping and supporting her. Then you move onto them both working through his recovery.

The last full chapter, Chapter 13, is to show you that they are finally being able to return to their normal lives, a normal routine after having this major disruption to their lives from this accident. And this epilogue finalizes that return to normalcy.

This story is meant to show that life can change in a mere moment, and what can happen in that moment. "Say Something," a one shot that I've posted, gives you another angle of what could have happened to this story, if something else happened.

So, no, I didn't choose a gender for their child. If it is that important, you can choose for yourself! That's the beauty of how I have written this, you get to choose if it's a boy or a girl. But, it's not important. What is important, is that everything is back to normal for them, and they are happy.

I hope that you enjoyed the story, and continue to read my works. Please let me know what you think. Love! Aria