Ian placed his hand over Lucy's as she made a soft noise from the passenger seat of their SUV. She looked at him with a serious expression as he squeezed gently and said, "Shh… it's okay… we're almost there… just breathe…"
She nodded and said quietly but firmly, "I am breathing…"
Ian choked on the chuckle that was fighting to escape as he concentrated on navigating towards General Hospital as quickly as he could without breaking any laws. He groaned loudly as they were stopped by a red light and impatiently tapped the steering wheel as he glanced at Lucy to see how she was faring. She glanced back and attempted a brief smile while he soothingly squeezed her hand again.
Ian reflected on the changes in their lives since they had returned from Tirama Island nearly a year before. Most of the changes had been good ones, but their lives were very different since the vampires had been eradicated from Port Charles once and for all. As soon as they had arrived home, Ian and Chris quickly developed an antidote to the vampire virus and called upon the many people who had been affected by Caleb's reign of terror to help them administer it. With everyone's help, all of the vampires had been cured—even Caleb Morley. Once he had realized that he was a mortal man with no means to return to his former life, he left Port Charles and had not been seen or heard from again.
When the last of the vampires had been cured, Ian and Lucy were free to concentrate on building a life together. Ian had taken Lucy and the children to Ireland to meet his family. His brother Patrick and wife Margaret had recently become parents to a son, and Ian was anxious to meet the nephew they had named Seamus Ian in his honor. Lucy fell in love with the Thornhart clan just as they fell in love with her and the families formed a strong bond, while Christina and Patrick's daughter Aisling became fast friends. He smiled to himself and looked forward to Patrick and Margaret's planned visit to the states for the holiday season.
Ian had, with Lucy's influence, offered a truce to Kevin—who had lost so much during the prior four years. Once Kevin accepted that Lucy had chosen Ian, the men formed a tenuous bond through their mutual love of her. They had even agreed to work together and re-open the GH Clinic while Kevin had moved onto an unlikely new relationship. Lucy was pleased and happy when Kevin and nurse Colleen found first comfort and then the beginnings of love through helping each other. Kevin had been dealt another blow when Livvie suffered an adverse reaction to the cure, succumbing to a mental break that had necessitated being briefly institutionalized, while Colleen had needed assistance in caring for her mentally challenged sister after the death of her parents.
Rafe and Alison had suffered greatly and, as the chief had predicted, were unable to overcome his issues of anger and betrayal. While Ian and Lucy had been on Tirama, Caleb had taken great pleasure in informing Rafe that Alison was pregnant with his child—and Rafe had rejected Alison, unable to accept either the baby or the fact that Alison had kept this secret from him. Although testing later proved that the child was actually Rafe's, the trust between the couple had been broken and Rafe could not let go of his anger. They did try to reconcile for the sake of their child and the love they still shared, but Alison had been so devastated by Rafe's rejection that she had her own feelings of anger and betrayal to overcome—especially since the circumstances surrounding her tryst with Caleb had been beyond her control. When Alison suffered a miscarriage, she lapsed into a depression that caused Rafe to finally realize the extent to which he had hurt his wife. After much soul searching, Rafe decided to leave town—not wanting to abandon Alison, but to give her the time and space she needed to heal from the pain he, Caleb and Livvie had all caused her. Recognizing that he was risking their future, his note assured her of his love and forgiveness while asking for hers. He told her that he could be reached through Lucy if she ever wished to contact him for any reason, and hoped that one day she would choose to be his wife again. Rafe had remained true to his words and stayed in sporadic contact with Ian and Lucy, but had not returned to Port Charles or contacted Alison in any way.
Jack and Chris Ramsey took over Elixir, renaming it Ramsey's, with Jack running the bar/restaurant while Chris handled the business side of the investment. Jamal returned to Port Charles when he heard from Jack about the opportunity of a cure, leaving behind the people he had met in Alabama. Given a choice between a supernatural existence with Imani or the chance to retrieve a life he had once loved in Port Charles, he grabbed his old life with both hands. After Rafe's departure, he had also been a source of caring and comfort to Alison as she struggled with her grief over her lost child and husband. Alison, Jamal and Jack once again became the inseparable group they had been before Caleb's arrival in Port Charles, although they were marked with a sadness and maturity much greater than their years. They were all, along with Chris Ramsey, frequent visitors at the Thornhart's.
Lucy and Ian's home became a gathering place for friends that had been forever changed by the events of the previous years. While there was a strict rule that those dark times could not be discussed around the children, they had a safe haven to heal from the wounds inflicted by Caleb and Joshua and even Rafe. They were all there to share in Alison's sorrow as she lost her family members one by one, and to celebrate with Ian and Lucy as they discovered she was pregnant—healed by the waters of Tirama Island. Slowly they rebuilt their lives and moved on, but the scars inflicted by their losses had created a lasting bond.
Lucy looked at her husband and tried to concentrate on her breathing as the light changed and he hit the gas so hard in his haste that the tires squealed. With all the difficulties and sorrows that they had experienced in the past, they were still amazed at the miracles of their life since returning from Tirama. She remembered calling the chief and Maya and thanking them for making their child possible, and being told that it was their faith in the universe that had performed the miracle. Ian's eyes were filled with love as he glanced at her, and she felt safe knowing that he would be beside her as she delivered their baby.
Once they arrived at the hospital, Chris met Ian and Lucy as they stepped off the elevator with a huge smile on his face, "It's time?"
Ian nodded and Lucy looked at Chris with fearful eyes before answering a brief, "Uh-huh."
"Lucy… I don't think I've ever seen you this quiet before," Chris answered, still smiling broadly.
"Listen Ramsey… your usual bedside manner is not appreciated at the moment, if you don't mind," Ian replied in irritation. He then focused his attention on his extremely uncomfortable wife as he helped her into a wheelchair for the short trip down the hall while Chris left them both in the capable hands of Lucy's obstetrician and waited with their other friends for news of the baby's safe arrival.
Several hours later, Ian appeared in the waiting room to announce the birth of a daughter and to accept congratulations that he would pass on to Lucy. Although he was happy to share the news that mother and baby were doing well, he was anxious to return to Lucy's side. After a few moments, he left the group followed closely by Chris Ramsey.
"Ramsey… I'll see to my family, if you don't mind," Ian said brusquely. "You can go back to whatever it was you were doing before we got here."
"I need to meet your daughter for myself… she is proof to us all that there is hope," Chris said seriously. "After everything we've been through… and suffered… I need to see for myself that it's finally and completely over."
"Well… I guess I can't argue with that," Ian answered in reply. "Come in an meet the wee lass."
Chris entered the room with a smile on his face and a ready quip for Lucy before noticing that she had fallen asleep. The baby was also asleep in a bassinet beside the bed, being watched over carefully by Colleen—who Ian and Lucy had specially requested to be with them for the delivery. Ian lifted his daughter carefully, whispering softly to her as he allowed Chris a closer look while Colleen excused herself from the room.
"She's beautiful…" Chris breathed softly. "Have you picked out a name yet? You've both been so secretive that we wondered if you really had one picked out… or were just stalling for time."
"She's been named for a long time," Ian answered quietly. "When we found out that we were having a daughter, there was only one name that we could give her… but I'll have to wait until Lucy wakes up to share it with you—and you have to promise to keep it to yourself until she tells the other wee ones their new sister's name."
"I'm awake, Ian," Lucy called softly from the bed and holding out her arms. "Bring her to me…"
Ian carried his daughter to Lucy and placed the sleeping babe in her arms before seating himself on the bed beside her. Lucy gazed at the baby with love before looking deeply into the eyes of her husband as he lowered his lips to hers for a gentle kiss. She laid her head on his shoulder and sighed with contentment as he wrapped his arms around her, and Chris had to clear his throat to regain their attention.
"Ramsey?" Ian queried with a smile. "What are you still doing here?"
"Waiting to find out your daughter's name," he answered in irritation.
"Her name is Caroline Grainne Thornhart… for two very special women," Lucy whispered.
"You mean? You named her after…" Chris said in stunned surprise.
Ian nodded his head, "Uh-huh… If not for Karen, Lucy wouldn't be alive today… we named the wee lass after Karen's namesake… and after my sister who was taken long before her time."
Lucy glanced at Ian with tears in her eyes, "They'll live on in our daughter, Ian… and I believe that somehow they know."
"Well… this calls for a celebration…" Chris said looking teary eyed himself before pointing his thumb toward the door and saying, "I'll just… be going… now."
Chris left the room quickly and pulled the door closed to give the new parents a little privacy. Ian tightened his arms around this wife and daughter, his face alight with happiness that few had ever seen.
"You know… looking at wee Caroline… I do believe this is the best one yet," he whispered in Lucy's ear as he gently stroked the head of his daughter.
"The best what… daughter?" she asked in confusion.
"No… I do believe this is the best of all our lifetimes… for we have been blessed with health, happiness and children… everything we've ever wanted… all together," Ian answered simply.
"I love you, Ian Thornhart," Lucy answered him lifting her face for another kiss.
"I love you, Lucy… and I can think of no better destiny than to spend all of my lives with you," Ian replied before kissing her gently.