Disclaimer: All I own here is what I make up.
For Mai and Jade, because without them, there would be no story.
Amanda-June McLaine Rollins.
That was Amanda Rollins' real name, and she hated it. Why? Because it reminded her of home, down in Loganville, Georgia.
Yes, she'd gotten out of Georgia for good because of her history with her former captain, and also because of how sexist the men in her old unit had been, but there had also been another excellent reason she'd gotten out that not even Olivia, Nick, Fin, or Carisi knew: Bedelia.
And who was Bedelia?
Amanda wasn't one to use derogatory terms, but when it came to Bedelia Rollins, the phrase 'white trash' always popped into her head because that's what Bedelia was. She wasn't overweight, like a lot of people in that classification were, but she sure did present with every other marker of the term: her southern drawl was almost thicker than Amanda's, and she had a lot of boot-type shoes, but while she wore jeans with her t-shirts in the cool weather, in the summertime, she always opted for shorts.
Bedelia Rollins also happened to be a smart person, but more it was more streetwise than anything else because she hadn't got any education past her junior year of high school, and unsurprisingly, she owned a shotgun and knew how to use it. Bedelia also shopped mostly at K-Mart and cooked almost exclusively out of Paula Deen cookbooks, was a smoker, and had also never lived anywhere than the trailer that she currently lived in.
Her home and neighborhood was another story, but just like any other bottom-of-the-heap, desolate southern motor park, not a lot of its residents ever strayed far from it. Amanda was the first person from the Rolling Hills Motor Park to leave it altogether in far too long, and for that, the residents closed ranks on her.
But as far as the name thing went, she'd gone by Amanda Rollins the second she could.
If any of her current colleagues found out her full name or where she'd grown up, she'd probably crawl into a hole and never come out.
The detective jumped at the sound of her name being called across the bullpen; it had been a very quiet day at work, and so things were humdrum, at best. Thank goodness her shift ended in ten minutes.
Amanda usually hated to be still, but today she welcomed it, because it gave her a chance to slow down and think about a pressing situation that she really needed to sit down and sort out with Nick as quickly as possible. She'd only just stumbled upon the news in the morning, before work, but she'd been so nervous that she just didn't know how or when to tell Nick about it.
When she heard her own name being called out, she'd expected it to be him, so imagine her surprise when it had been Olivia.
She stood and looked in her direction. "Yeah, sarge?"
"Will you come see me for a minute, please?"
Ignoring Fin's, Nick's, and Carisi's playful comments about getting called to the principal's office, Amanda answered her summons.
"What is it?" Amanda asked, genuinely curious when Olivia shut the door behind her and sat down on the edge of her desk.
"Are you okay?"
The question had been asked with motherly concern, so Amanda answered the question with one of her own. "What makes you think that I'm not?"
"I've known you for four years now—I can read you like a book. You're also the closest I've had to a daughter in five years."
That last part derailed Amanda almost completely because one, she wouldn't have made it this far in the NYPD without Olivia's tough love, but sometimes forgot that with the sixteen years between them, Olivia was technically old enough to be her mother, and two, Amanda had no idea that Olivia had ever had a child in addition to Noah.
"I'm flattered by that last part, but back up a second—you had a child before Noah?"
Olivia nodded, thinking briefly of Gladys Dalton, the beautiful but misguided and troubled young woman who had been part of one of her cases already half a decade ago. Gladys, who, just before falling through the cracks to never been seen or heard from again, left her premature, frail, disabled newborn daughter in Olivia's guardianship, effectively making her her mother.
"Yeah, I did, but Grace passed away just after she was born because she was too little." Olivia motioned for Amanda to come sit in a chair by the desk. "You aren't in trouble right now, Amanda, I promise. All I want to do is talk to you as a friend; you've earned that with me."
Amanda sat down and began to think of how to begin to talk about what she'd been thinking of all day. She also pondered telling Olivia her true name because after all these years and all they'd been through, Olivia had more than earned that.
Seeing that Amanda was collecting her thoughts, Olivia continued.
"I know you're done with your gambling and I'm so proud of staying clean, but there's another thing that's got you up in the clouds today. I thought it would be a good idea for you to get it out in the open."
Amanda finally spoke. "You said that we're having this conversation as friends?"
"Yes. It'll stay between us."
Comforted, Amanda took a deep breath and slowly let it out. "Once again, I don't have the best timing in the world, but I just found out this morning that I'm pregnant!"
Olivia's heart leapt and she hugged her friend. Amanda sank into the hug and reciprocated, mostly because it felt so good to finally get this news out.
"Does Nick know?" Olivia asked when they pulled apart and Amanda sat back down.
Amanda started. "How did you know?"
"Like I said, I can read you like a book, but even if I couldn't, the dynamics between you and Nick remind me so much of how things were when I was with my old partner. I can't begin to tell you how many times people jumped the gun and assumed that he and I were married."
"Well, to answer your question, I haven't told him yet and I think you would've noticed if I had."
"Okay, I'll give you that. When did you start suspecting?"
Amanda stretched her legs, a nervous tic. "The same day as Noah's party."
"That was almost a week ago."
"Uh-huh. Nick already has Gil and Zara, and they both live in California now; I feel like I've gotten myself stuck in a soap opera, Liv, because Nick and I really, really care about each other, and sometimes it even feels like we're married, but what if he doesn't want another kid? I've got another five years before I turn forty, but this could be my only chance to be a parent, and I have always wanted a baby!"
Remembering how Nick had confided in her his consideration about early retirement and moving to California, Olivia said, "You and I both know that when it comes to the people closest to him, Nick does nothing but love, and he loves deeply. When you tell him, he's going to be happy, and he will do everything he can to make it work."
Amanda smiled, knowing that Olivia was right. Amanda also knew that she was the first woman whom Nick had been with that hadn't treated him poorly, like Maria had. She wanted to keep that for as long as she could because she knew that they were already on the path to something wonderful.
"Thanks." she said. "That really makes me feel better."
"I'm glad to hear that."
"Excuse me a second."
Amanda's phone had chimed at her, so she pulled it out of her jacket pocket to see who it was from. When she read the name, she rolled her eyes.
"And I was having such a nice day…"
"That bad, huh?" chuckled Olivia. "Who's it from?"
Amanda heaved a theatrical sigh. "My mom."
Olivia was immediately interested, because other than Kim, none of them knew anything about the rest of Amanda's family. "When was the last time you talked to her?"
"It was over the phone, but just after Kim cleaned me out. My mom hasn't been all that nice to me since I got the hell out of dodge to come up here, and that was four years ago."
Olivia saw Amanda's pointer finger tapping almost restlessly on the corner of her iPhone.
"Are you going to answer her?"
Amanda pouted, channeling her inner child. "Do I have to?"
"I'll intercept your phone and answer her for you if you don't."
Amanda sobered up at that because she knew that in that moment, Olivia was talking to her as a surrogate mother, a role she'd come to play towards her once they'd gotten to know each other. Olivia took it very seriously, and Amanda had no doubt that given enough time, the older woman would crack her phone password.
"Okay, okay, but I'm going to read it aloud, because if she's dropping a bombshell on me, we'll both hear it."
Amanda opened the text. "Okay, here we go: 'AJ, I'm in town right now, and I really need to talk to you right now. Spagoli's at 6:30? Please?' Not a bombshell—thank the Lord—but I don't know what to say."
Amanda turned a slight shade of red. "I can't keep this quiet forever, but I come from a family of almost stereotypical Deep South white trash."
I didn't see that one coming, Olivia thought. "You do?"
"I'm the only good one, and Kim only shows one shade of the family, but I grew up in a really poor trailer park, and let's just say that the very next step down from that is shacks with dirt floors because that neighborhood is just a quarter-of-a-mile down the road from the park. And even though we never had a lot of money, my sister somehow got a potbellied pig when she was twelve and kept it as a pet."
"A potbellied pig?" Olivia echoed in amusement.
Amanda nodded. "Kim named him Clyde, and he was her shadow. That stupid, cranky thing might even still be alive."
"Please tell me you had a weird pet."
"I had three hens: Annabelle, Emmylou, and Josephine. They thought they were puppies and followed me everywhere. I got teased all the time for it, but since I liked my hens, I didn't let the teasing get to me."
"You must have been a really weird kid."
"Like you wouldn't believe."
Olivia laughed and then glanced at Amanda's phone, still open to the text from her mother. She then thought back the relationship she'd had with her own mother and how damaged it had been until they'd taken steps to fix it. And she couldn't help it, but because Amanda had imprinted on her so long ago like a baby duck, she saw a lot of her younger self in her and really didn't want for her to have a bad relationship with the woman who had given her the gift of life.
"Reach out to her. Trust me, it'll you a lot of good."
Amanda continued to drag her heels through the mud. "Really? She called me some pretty bad things the last time we spoke."
"Do it for me, Amanda. Please."
Amanda caved and began typing a response to her mother. "I'm doing this for you."
Amanda's message read: See you then. It was short and to the point, but still held so much weight. As she hit send and put her phone away, she suddenly had the feeling that she'd just set something in motion. How the hell was she supposed to take that?
Olivia's voice cut through her thoughts again. "Did you hear what I just said?"
"No." Amanda answered honestly.
Olivia stood and pulled Amanda to her feet. "I said, if you leave now, you'll be able to make it to Spagoli's on time."
"Okay. Thanks for listening, Liv. It means a lot."
Amanda started to leave, but paused a moment when she saw that Olivia was furrowing her eyebrows.
"Cough it up." Amanda told her.
"Your mom called you AJ?"
"My full name is Amanda-June McLaine Rollins."
"Your service record says Amanda Rollins, though. No second or middle name."
"I've been going by Amanda Rollins for as long as I've been in law enforcement because my name is long, clunky, and ridiculous. It's traditions like that and the stereotypes that my mom is composed of that made me want to get out of Georgia in the first place. Kim knows better than to call me AJ, but my mom only calls me that when she wants to get something."
Olivia opened the office door for her. "Go on and go, but please play nice."
Amanda promised she would try.
2717 Lafayette & Lexington
Spagoli's Diner was, as the name suggested, an Italian eatery, and it was neither to fancy nor too shabby, so anybody could eat there, including families. Amanda realized that Bedelia had chosen this place for that exact reason—it was a neutral zone.
One of the things that Amanda was always extra embarrassed about in regards to Bedelia—and would never be able to deny—was that she and Kim had both been born to her at very young ages. Because of that, Amanda was always going to know how she'd look less than fifteen years into the future, and the relationship she had with Bedelia Rollins wasn't typical.
Amanda found her sitting at a table near the back of the place and walked right up to it. "Mama? I don't think I've ever seen you out of Loganville before!"
"Well, there's a first time for everything, I suppose." Bedelia laughed. "You could say I'm turning over a new leaf."
Despite her claim of starting over, Amanda was left disconcerted because of how things had ended between them the last time they'd talked. And although she was dressed nicer than Amanda had ever seen her, Bedelia also had yet to stand up.
"Are you alright?" Amanda asked her mother.
"I'm fine, Amanda-June, but I'm about to show you one of the things we came up here about. I just need you to back up a smidge."
Wondering who exactly constituted as 'we' in this case, Amanda did as she she was told, but then couldn't help gasping when Bedelia got to her feet. Her gasp was warranted, though: at age forty-eight, not only was Bedelia pregnant, but she was massively pregnant.
"Surprise." she sounded like a child who was desperate to please.
"Oh, my God…"
That was all Amanda could say as she sank into the nearest available chair, although she discovered Bedelia's other main reason of coming up to New York about a split second later.
"Hi-hi, my AJ!"
A little blond girl who looked about two or three was occupying the chair next to Bedelia's, propped up by a booster seat. She was dressed nicely and groomed even nicer, like Bedelia was doing her best to make a good impression, and one thing that Amanda noticed immediately was that the little one was equipped with a pair of kid-sized hearing aids.
That aside, this little girl bore a very striking resemblance to Amanda, which could only mean one thing, but Amanda was having trouble wrapping her mind around the concept.
"Hi-hi, my AJ!" the little girl repeated.
"Hi, sweetie." Amanda forced herself to speak. "What's your name?"
The little girl dissolved into giggles and looked to Bedelia, who was easing herself back into her chair. Amanda looked to her, too.
"Mama, who is this?"
"Her name is Maggie Blue. She's your sister."