Author's Note: Okay, I was initially just going to make an epilogue to "Tangled," but a sequel begged to be written instead. So, here it is. If you haven't read "Tangled" yet, you really should to get the full effect. I'm not too sure where this is going as of now, but I have a few ideas, so we'll see. It'll be a surprise to us both :-p Okay, enjoy the first chapter!
I paced back and forth in the waiting room. I had never felt more nervous in my whole life. And pissed off.
"Why aren't the doctors telling me anything?" I had my thirtieth outburst in the last few minutes. I shot a look over at my family. My Dad was sitting on one of the chairs, looking tired, with a sleeping Marti curled up on his lap. Edwin and Lizzie were playing Hangman boredly.
"Derek, they'll let you know as soon as something happens," my Dad sighed, rubbing his eyes. "For now you just have to wait."
Wait? I gritted my teeth and shoved my hands in my pockets, beginning to pace again. I was never a very patient person to begin with. But now… now my girlfriend/stepsister (shut up and don't judge me!) was in labor. Yes, she was giving birth. To my son.
And I wasn't there.
I wasn't surprised when she asked me if it was okay if she had her mother as her labor coach instead of me. I'm not going to lie, I was a tad bit hurt. But I didn't let her know that, of course. I mean, I knew nothing about labor. I don't even know how I would have reacted if I was in there with her. I don't think I could have handled seeing my Casey in so much pain. Plus, Nora had given birth twice already. So she was more experienced with that. Casey was probably better off with her there instead of me.
But it was torture waiting out here. It felt like it had been days. So far, it had been about four hours since Casey was rushed in with labor pains. I didn't even know how to handle that.
"Derek…" Casey had spoke my name slowly, her eyes widening. We were cuddled up on the couch watching a movie.
"Yeees?" I drawled, only half-listening to her, focused on the TV screen in front of us.
"Derek," she said my name a little more firmly now, a touch of fright in her voice.
Now I unglued my eyes from the TV and looked at her. Her tone was off. She pressed a hand against her large stomach, biting her lip. I was about to ask her what was wrong, when her eyes suddenly closed and she let out a groan of pain.
I leapt up then. "Case!"
"I think it's time Derek…" she looked up at me, her blue eyes clouded with pain and apprehension.
I let out a string of curses as panic took over. What was I suppose to do? For some reason, in my panic, I did a lap around the living room.
"Derek…that's not helping," Casey said, staring at me like I had lost it.
I wasn't so sure I hadn't.
Then I just stood there like a deer caught in the headlights. I couldn't even form a thought.
"Get my Mom, Derek," Casey directed me.
Still in my stupor, I blindly ran into the kitchen. Nobody. I ran into the basement, where our parents slept. Nobody. I ran upstairs. For some stupid reason, I went into my bedroom first. Like the whole family was going to be in there just hanging out. After that I realized that was stupid, so avoided Casey's room altogether. I burst into Marti's room. Nora was in there, helping Marti clean up another mess she had made.
"Hey, it's polite to knock!" Marti cried indignantly.
I ignored her and stared at Nora. I had forgotten what I had to tell her.
Nora looked at me strangely as I just stared at her. "…Derek?" she asked. "Is something wrong?"
Wrong? Right…wrong…pain…labor…baby…Casey! "Casey!" I blurted.
Nora stood up now. "Casey? What's wrong with Casey?"
"Labor," I managed to get out dumbly.
"What!" Nora quickly ran out the door. I followed, feeling stupid. We hurried down to the living room. Casey was now off the couch, crouched down on the floor, holding her stomach and crying in pain.
"Mom, it hurts!" she exclaimed, tears in her eyes.
"I know, sweetheart," Nora sank down to the floor with Casey and gave her a big hug. She glanced over at me. "Derek, go start the car for me!"
Thankfully, I snapped back to life just then. I grabbed Nora's keys and ran to the car, not even bothering with a jacket even though it was chilly out. I shoved the keys into the ignition and started it up. I looked over to see Nora helping Casey out of the house. I quickly jumped out of the driver's seat and opened the back door. I helped Nora slide Casey into the backseat.
"You want me to drive?" I asked, taking control.
Nora shook her head. "You stay with Casey and keep her calm. I'll drive."
I climbed into the backseat with Casey and shut the door. Casey immediately grabbed my hand. It was slick with nervous sweat.
I pulled her over to me, kissing her forehead. "Don't worry, baby. We'll get through this. You'll be okay. We'll all be okay." I stroked her hair and she sniffled against me.
As we drove, Casey had another contraction. She cried out in pain, and I felt my heart squeeze, knowing she was hurting and there was nothing I could do to help. I just let her take my hand in a death-grip and wiped the sweat from her forehead with the bottom of my sleeve.
"Keep breathing, Case. Just keep breathing," I told her, gently rubbing her back.
"Derek, I'm so scared," she whispered when her contraction was over. She did look terrified.
"I know you are, honey," I used my most gentlest, un-Derek-like voice possible. "The doctors are going to help you, though. Sooner than you think, you'll be holding our little boy in your arms." I gave her a soft smile.
She gave a half-smile back, all she could muster up at that time. I was grateful to see that little smile, though.
"Everything will be fine, Case," I kissed her forehead again.
We made it to the hospital in record time, and Nora and I both helped Casey hobble into the ER. Nora signed her in as I grabbed the first wheelchair I saw and helped Casey into it.
"You'll stay here?" Casey asked nervously. "Here in the hospital?"
"I wouldn't leave unless you were leaving with me," I promised her. Did she honestly think I would just go home and play video games while she was in labor?
She gave a relieved nod and closed her eyes as another contraction began.
"Can't anybody give her some pain medication!" I yelled.
A nurse appeared and wrapped a hospital bracelet around Casey's wrist. "Casey, I'm Nancy," she spoke, "We're going to take her to the maternity ward," Nurse Nancy told me.
"What do I do?" I demanded.
"Wait here in the waiting area, Derek," Nora came over to us. "I just phoned George. He's coming with the kids."
"So we all have to just wait here?" I was not happy. I looked down at Casey. She looked so scared I just wanted to take her into my arms.
"I'm afraid so," Nurse Nancy gave a smile. I wanted to slap the smile off Nurse Nancy's face.
So this was the last time I was going to see Casey before we were parents. She looked up at me.
"I'll be okay," she murmured as Nurse Nancy and Nora spoke to each other.
Casey was now the one comforting ME? Shouldn't it be reversed?
It made me want to kick myself. But it made me want to kick myself even harder because I actually needed to hear her say that.
"I love you," I mouthed to her, not knowing anything else for me to do.
She smiled this time. A real smile, despite everything that was going on and how scared she was. "I love you," she mouthed back right before Nurse Nancy wheeled her off. Nora patted my shoulder and then followed Nancy and Casey, leaving me there alone in the waiting room feeling helpless.
My Dad and the kids showed up about twenty minutes later. I was sitting on a chair numbly, staring off into space. They each tried to get my mind off of things, but it was no use. And then I began pacing.
I had been pacing ever since.
"You've probably lost ten pounds with all of the pacing you're doing," Edwin commented.
I shrugged and continued.
"Derek, have you eaten anything? Lunch? Dinner?" Dad asked.
I shrugged again. I hadn't. I think the last meal I had was breakfast. It was past dinnertime by now.
"I think we should all go to the cafe and get something to eat," Dad stood up.
I just glared at him. "I'm not leaving."
"We'll eat fast. Fifteen minutes. Nothing will happen in fifteen minutes," Dad continued.
"You don't know that," I protested.
"We'll go tell the front desk that we're going to the cafe. They can page us if anything changes," Lizzie said sensibly.
I contemplated this. My stomach was growling. And a nurse could call me if anything changed. Plus, it would be nice to get away for a bit. A change of scenery.
"Fine," I said somewhat reluctantly. I dragged my feet as I followed the gang to the cafe. I was so antsy, wanting to see Casey, that my brain could barely focus enough to look at the food that they were serving in the cafe. Dad, Edwin, Lizzie, and Marti had already picked out their meals, paid for it, and were now eating at a table. I still hadn't picked out anything.
I stared at the sandwiches like it was some big decision.
"The ham and cheese is good," a voice came from next to me. I hadn't even realized that anybody was near me. The cafe wasn't exactly a "hopping place" at this hour. I glanced to my right and saw a girl, about my age, smiling back at me. She had dark blonde hair, but that was about all the features of her that I could get my brain to focus on.
Wow, I'm completely out-of-it, I shook my head to myself.
I looked back at the sandwiches and then at the girl. She was waiting for a response, I think. I just gave her a blank stare.
"Do you…speak English?" she asked very slowly.
I tried to snap myself out of the daze I was in yet again. "Uh…yeah."
She smiled. "That's good. Long day?"
That I could understand. I nodded vigorously. "The longest." I grabbed a ham and cheese and the first bottled drink I found, and brought it to the cashier. The girl followed me.
"I'm here for my friend. She's having an operation," the girl rambled. "How about you?" She twirled her hair and bit her lip, trying to look sexy.
She was trying to flirt with me!
Imagine, some girl trying to flirt with me while my girlfriend was giving labor to our child. I was actually offended at the girl's audacity. Even though there was no way for her to know any of that. But still!
I paid the cashier and spun around. "My girlfriend is in labor," I snapped at her and huffed off, leaving the girl speechless.
I sat down next to Lizzie at the cafe table. I tore open my sandwich and ate it quietly to myself.
"How long does it take to have a baby?" Marti whined as she picked at her macaroni and cheese. She was getting cranky from being in the hospital for so long.
"Awhile," Dad told her. "It took your mother twelve hours to have you, Marti."
"Twelve hours?" Edwin's eyes widened. "I sure hope Casey doesn't take that long."
"Me neither," I spoke up and all four heads turned to me. I simply took another bite of my sandwich.
"Paging the MacDonald-Venturi Family…" was all I heard over the loudspeaker before I bolted up and started running. I stood at the elevator for about two seconds, decided it was too slow, and took the stairs. I sprinted and made it down to the main lobby in record time.
"MacDonald-Venturi," I managed to gasp out, my heart racing as I panted. The nurse stared up at me through her thin-wired glasses.
"Ah yes. You can go up to the maternity ward," she said simply.
"Did she…have…the baby?" I panted.
The nurse shrugged. "I was just told that you are allowed to go to Maternity."
I took a deep breath and began running again. I had no idea where the hell the maternity ward was. The first hospital staff person I found, I asked. Or more like demanded it. He said it was on the ninth floor. So, I found the stairs, and I booked it up nine flights.
There was a front desk, and I practically lunged at the woman sitting behind it. "Casey MacDonald," I said hoarsely, my fingers gripping the desk and sweat dripping down my face.
She looked a bit scared. "Room 923."
I ran down the hall, looking at every door for the right number. When I found it, I didn't even bother knocking, and just kind of charged in. Then my racing heart just seemed to stop.
Casey was there, on the hospital bed, looking exhausted and sweaty. And there, in her arms, was a little bundle of light blue blanket. Casey looked up at me. There were tears in her eyes, but her face still held a bright smile. She was literally beaming.
"Derek," she said.
I just stared at the bundle in her arms, not daring to move.
The nurse and Nora both excused themselves, leaving us alone. The door shut behind me, and I still stared.
"Come see our son," her voice was soft in the silence.
I slowly willed my legs to move and made my way to the bed. There, I looked down into my son's sleepy face. His eyes were wide and blue, and he looked up at me as if he knew who I was. Casey looked up at me and I tore my eyes away from the newborn to look at her. She moved over gently, making room for me to sit next to her. When I did, she carefully placed the tiny baby in my arms, showing me how to hold him just right.
He yawned up at me, his lips, small but full like Casey's, parted, displaying his tiny pink baby gums. He blinked and waved one tiny hand in the air. I let him wrap his small fingers around my finger. I felt Casey reach up and brush a tear away from my face. I didn't know I had been crying.
I hadn't cried since I was a young boy.
"Case," I choked out, staring at the baby in wonder. I couldn't believe he was mine. A product of me and Casey together. "He's perfect," was all I could say.
She gave a short laugh, wiping away her own tears, and nodded in agreement.
"Hey there, buddy," I spoke to him softly as he stared up at me. I wanted to say so much. But all I could do was smile down at him. My son.
I glanced over at Casey. Tears were still running down her face as she smiled. I leaned over and gave her a gentle kiss on her lips, silently telling her how much I loved her.
The door was knocked on, but I was too happy to care about being interrupted. Without a "come in," my Dad peeked his head in.
"Okay for company?" he asked Casey.
She gave a nod and a smile. "Come on in."
And the troops filed in. The entire family.
"Oh my Gosh!" Lizzie gasped out when she saw her little nephew in my arms.
I held him proudly as they all oohed and aahed over him. My Dad even shed a few tears. The emotional women—Nora, Casey, and Lizzie—all cried and hugged each other. Edwin took turns staring at the baby in awe and rubbing the crying Lizzie's back. Marti made funny faces at the baby.
My Dad patted my back. "He's beautiful, son," he said to me.
I was completely swollen with pride. I gently handed the baby back to Casey, and everyone gushed over him once again.
"Do you have a name for him?" Edwin asked.
Casey and I smiled at each other. We had just finally decided on a name we both liked about two days ago. Just in time, eh?
"Tell them, Case," I wrapped an arm around her.
"Jacob Michael McDonald-Venturi," Casey announced proudly.
Everyone "awwwed" and seemed to like it.
"How'd you come up with that?" Lizzie asked. She knew that with Casey, all things had to be significant.
Casey smiled at her sister. "Well, Jacob is Derek's middle name—"
"And Michaela is yours," Lizzie finished with a smile, realizing it.
The baby let out a little coo, seeming to like the name.
"It's a beautiful name," Nora smiled approvingly. "It suits him."
It did suit him. He looked like a little Jacob Michael. Or a "Jake." I would definitely be calling him Jake. Jacob Michael was just way too long. That's why Marti's name was shortened from Marguerite.
The nurse came in to take Jake. It was probably good, because he looked over-stimulated and was probably ready for a nap. Of course, I didn't want to let him out of my sight. I followed the nurse and Jake to the nursery, and watched him through the window with a few other adoring fathers.
"That one's mine," the guy to my left told me. He was a business-type looking man, probably late 20s to early 30s. He beamed as he pointed out a kicking baby girl in the sea of cribs.
"That one's mine," I replied, gesturing to Jake. He was asleep already, looking peaceful and tranquil. Perfect. I smiled widely, and the man and I nodded to each other before I walked back to the room. Everyone was gone, except for Casey, of course. She was laying back, her eyes looking heavy.
"There you are," she gave a tired smile when I walked in.
"Did everyone leave?" I questioned, sitting down on the chair by her bedside.
She nodded. "The kids were getting tired. It's late. Mom and George figured you'd want to stay with me and Jake."
I gave a short smile. "They figured right." She reached over and took my hand. I stroked the pad of my thumb against her palm. "You should get some sleep, too. You look exhausted."
"I am," she admitted. "But what about you?"
"I'll stay right here," I told her.
She wrinkled her nose. "That chair can't be comfortable."
I chuckled. So stubborn. "It's fine, Case. Get some sleep."
She smiled, pulling me over to her and kissing me gently. She was asleep literally within seconds. Of course, as soon as she fell asleep, I snuck back over to take a peek at Jake through the glass again. He was sleeping still, looking as angelic as his mother. I smiled to myself.
Man, was I becoming a sap.