This is the final chapter guys...cries I hate ending stories...I don't get around to it often, which is why I have so many unfinished lost fics. However, before I post up the sequal to this, I will be working on finishing some of them first, so I might have a break for the summer before putting the sequal up. I'm not sure yet...
Epilogue: We Do What We Can With What We've Got
Two months passed, and they passed quickly. Johnny and Jessica grew so close that it was almost impossible to tell that they had been apart for the first three years of her life, and he certainly continued to tell her that he loved her. Once he had told her the once, he'd found it hard to stop saying it, so he hadn't fought the decleration every time he had the urge to say it. They were a real family now, as they saw it.
Of course, two months then meant that Sue only had a few weeks left until the baby was due. Her and Reed were more excited than ever about their son arriving, and they had all explained to Jessica about what it would mean when the new baby was born. However, rather than resenting another child to share her father, aunt and uncle's attention with, she was thrilled at the idea of being the elder cousin for once. Johnny knew that she missed her other cousins, Cassie's children, a lot, but he had no means of getting in contact with them, and they certainly chose to stay away themselves.
So, two months to the day that Johnny first told his daughter that he loved her, he stood in the middle of the airport with his sister. Someone had needed to go with her, and as it was their father they were awaiting at the busy terminal, it was voted that Johnny go with her. Reed and Ben were at the park with Jessica, probably at the new favourite park that she liked to visit as many times a week as possible. If they took her three times a day, she probably wouldn't mind, but alas, as free as the Fantastic Four usually were, they had other things to do than go to the park so many times in one day. However, they managed to take her a few times a week.
"Dad's gonna kill me." Johnny murmered under his breath, his hands shoved in his pockets like a scolded child. Yes, that was the one problem - his father, Frank Storm, didn't have the slightest idea about his granddaughter.
"It'll be fine." Sue assured him kindly.
He raised his eyebrows at her. "Once he sees Jessie, he'll think that I've just been a jerk and ignored her all these years." He pointed out.
"He won't think that of you." Sue defended quickly.
She didn't answer him. "We'll explain, and it'll be fine."
"Stop saying it'll be fine." He told her irritantly.
"It will be." She repeated, with a simply shrug.
He sighed, fidgetting on his feet for a moment. "Can't we just not mention her?" He suggested.
Now it was Sue's turn to raise an eyebrow at her younger brother. "What, you think he won't notice a three year old girl running around the apartment?" She told him. "It's a big apartment and all, Johnny, but you know what she's like with people..."
"Well, if you go into labour in about ten minutes time, he'll be more occupied with his grandson." Johnny pointed out.
Sue turned to him fully, staring him down even though he was a little taller than her. She put her hands on her hips, as folding her arms over her large stomach no longer made her look authorative to him. "I'm not even due for two weeks. I can't control when I go into labour." She pointed out to him.
He shrugged. "I'm just saying, it'd be helpful." He covered up.
She shook her head. "I think he'll want to meet his granddaughter as well, Johnny." She told him.
Sue's voice stopped both father and son in their tracks. Frank had a simple flight, but was currently complaining to his two children about a small bout of turbulance that had sent his drink flying into his lap. At her voice, however, they both turned, seeing her leaning with one hand against the back of a chair, and another resting over her stomach.
"Sue, what's wrong?" Johnny asked, as they went over to her side.
"Susie?" Frank questioned, his tone mimicking Johnny's.
She looked up at the two of them with a small frown on her face. "I...I think I just had a contraction." She told them, a look in her eyes telling them that she didn't want to believe what she was saying.
Johnny's eyes widened. "No!" He cried. "When I said ten minutes time, I didn't mean literally!" He told her.
"Johnny!" She snapped back at him.
"What do I do?" He asked her, not prepared for this moment at all.
"Call Reed." She told him simply, as her father helped her start moving through the airport before anyone noticed who she was, and towards a taxi that could get her to the hospital.
Johnny took out his cellphone, and dialled Reed's cell, knowing that he'd still be at the park with Jessica and Ben.
"Reed?" He asked, the second he heard the phone being picked up.
"Johnny. What's wrong?" Reed asked, hearing the tone of his voice.
"Uh...I didn't mean to but...I uh..."
"Johnny. What's going on?" Reed asked again.
"I think I made Sue go into labour." He explained, wincing as he said the words.
"What? What do you mean you made her?"
Johnny groaned, following his father and sister to the exit of the airport. "I told her it would be useful if she could have the baby so Dad would be distracted, and then she had a contraction." He told him.
"Are you sure it was a contraction?" Reed asked, after a moment of being silent.
"Susie said it was, and I'm not gonna argue with a pregnant woman." He told his brother-in-law.
Reed sighed. "Okay, go to the hospital, and we'll meet you there." Reed said.
Johnny hung up the phone, and pushed through a crowd of people surrounding Sue.
Johnny lifted Jessica up onto his hip, showing her through the glass the rows of babies in their plastic cribs. He looked through all the different surnames on the front of the cribs, each written on a card coloured with whatever sex the baby was...blue, Jenkins...pink, Parsons...pink, Bailey...blue, Greenwood...blue, Richards...
"There." Johnny said, pointing his finger towards the baby his eyes had settled on. Moving along the window a little until they were right in front of him, he continued to point out the baby to the daughter on his hip. "You see him?"
Jessica nodded, her wide eyes filled with awe. "Yeah." She said excitedly.
"That's your new cousin." Johnny explained.
"What's his name?" She asked, still just as excited.
"His name's Franklin." Johnny told her, as Ben had passed on the message a moment ago. Reed had left the delivery room to tell Ben what was going on while Johnny had remained downstairs with Frank and Jessica, and then their rocky companion had been to tell them the good news about the newest member of the family.
"Franklin." Jessica repeated, trying out the name on her tongue.
"That's right." Johnny nodded.
Jessica grinned. "Now Auntie Sue and Uncle Reed have a baby like you do!" She pointed out.
Johnny laughed at this. "Yeah, they do."
"But I'm not a baby anymore, am I, Daddy?" She said, still not taking her eyes off the little baby that was her cousin.
Johnny kissed the side of her head. "You're always gonna be my baby." He told her.
"Even when I've got lots of babies too?" She tested him.
He resisted the temptation to tell her that she wasn't allowed to start dating until she was thirty. "Even then." He assured her.
Dropping the conversation, Jessica focused back on the baby. "Franklin looks funny." She said, screwing up her face in the same curious way she had done when she'd first called Ben funny-looking.
"That's 'cause he's so little." Johnny told her.
"He's all wrinkly." She pointed out, smearing her hand against the window before them.
"Well," Johnny began, locking eyes with his father, who stood beside them, and winking at him. "Your grandpa's called Franklin as well, and he's all wrinkly too."
"Hey." His father protested playfully, but Jessica giggled.
"Will Franklin stay wrinkly forever?" She asked.
"Not for long." Johnny told her.
"Can he play with me yet?" She asked.
He shook his head. "Not yet, baby. He's not big enough. He's got to learn to walk first."
She nodded, and proudly announced her next statement as if she were the only person in the world to know; "Babies can't talk yet, too."
"No, we've got to teach him that as well." Johnny confirmed.
Jessica frowned at him. "Isn't that Auntie Sue and Uncle Reed's job?" She questioned, causing Frank to laugh from her side at her inquisitive expression.
Johnny rolled his eyes. "We can help them out a little."
"Good." She decided, nodding firmly. "'Cause I gotta look after him, 'cause he don't got a big sister like you do."
"No, he doesn't."
"So, he's got a big cousin instead, and I'll look after him."
Johnny smiled. "That's my girl."
Johnny looked around, turning as Reed appeared at his side.
"Hey." He said to his brother-in-law, clapping him on the shoulder with the arm that wasn't holding Jessica to his hip. "Congratulations, man."
"Thanks." Reed grinned uncontrollably. "You found him in there?" He asked, approaching the window for himself.
Johnny nodded at the baby they were looking down on. "Franklin Jonathan Richards." He read off the card. "Found him alright."
"He's wrinkly." Jessica piped up to Reed, who laughed at her.
"Jess, be nice." Johnny scolded her lightly.
"What?" She asked innocently, sounding exactly like her father. "He is."
Reed sighed, looking through the glass window. "He's really something." He murmered in his son's direction.
Johnny grinned. "Welcome to the Daddy Club." He nudged him.
"Thanks." Reed laughed gently.
"How's Sue?" Frank asked from Johnny's other side.
"She's fine." Reed smiled. "I'm about to take Franklin up to see her, but she wants to see you first, Johnny."
Johnny nodded, and whilst Frank and Jessica stayed behind with Reed, he around the corner to Sue's room.
"You named him after me."
Sue looked up as her brother entered her private room. She smiled at him. "And Dad." She pointed out.
"Why me?" He asked her, still confused as to why she had given her son the same middle name as his first name.
"Because you're my brother." She said, as if it were explaination enough. "And if it wasn't for you being so awkward growing up, I wouldn't have a clue how to be a parent." She added lightly.
"Well, learning through experience..." He laughed, sitting down on the edge of the bed that she lay in. He was silent for a moment, and then smiled proudly at her. "Congratulations, sis. He's one hell of a kid."
"Have you see him?" She asked anxiously.
Johnny nodded. "Jessie said he's wrinkly." He laughed.
She smirked, but then her smile faded. "They took him away to check for radiation when he was first born." She explained. "I know Reed's seen him, but I haven't had a chance yet."
"Reed's bringing him up now." Johnny said, motioning his head towards the door.
"Really?" She asked, her entire face lighting up.
He nodded, and then turned serious. "Sue...I...before the others get here at witness me being...well, soppy...I want to say thanks." He told her quietly.
"What for?" She asked him.
"You raised me into who I am after Mom died." He reminded her. "I mean, Dad's great, but we all know that it was you who did what I needed. You stopped me going completely off the rails, and most of all, you taught me how to love my little girl. And now, you've got Reed and Franklin...you've got your own family. I don't expect you to keep being there to look out for me, not when we're both looking out for our own kids, but before we take a step back and realise that we're twenty years down the line again, I want to thank you for everything."
She sniffled slightly, smiling at him with tears in her eyes, so strong that she actually had to wipe the underneaths of her eyes with the back of her hand. "Johnny, I'm still hormonal. Don't make me cry again." She warned him lightly.
"I mean it, Sue." He told her warmly. "You've always done so much for me, and I've never really thanked you."
"You can make it up to me with a lot of babysitting." She told him playfully.
He smirked. "Sure thing."
"Someone needs to meet his Mommy." Reed said, announcing his arrival at the doorway.
Sue instantly jerked her head towards the open door. "There's my baby boy." She said softly, opening her arms to the baby that Reed placed within her embrace.
Johnny looked up at the other soft voice, and was just in time to catch Jessica in his arms she flung herself into his lap. Standing up, he allowed Reed to take his place at Sue's side. So, he stood beside his own father, holding his daughter in his arms.
"Look at my children." Frank said aloud, looking between the daughter holding her newborn, and the son holding his toddler. "All grown up. Your mother would be proud."
Jessica kissed Johnny's cheek, and Johnny grinned. "Yeah, well, we do what we can with what we've got." He said with his cheeky smile.
"I know I'm proud of you." Frank said, turning to Johnny and putting a hand on his shoulder. "You did good, son."
He smiled, his father's blessing on his efforts meaning just as much as Sue's did. "Thanks, Dad."
"She's a beautiful girl, you should be proud of her."
Johnny looked down at his daughter, who playfully stuck her tongue out at him. "I am." He laughed, tickling her sides lightly.
Frank smiled, and then turned to his daughter. "Now, Susan Annabell Richards, I have a bone to pick with you, young lady."
Sue looked up from where she had been mesmerised by her baby. "Why?" She asked.
"Why'd you go wasting your first born son away with a name like Franklin?"
"I'm not going to question the Jonathan part, just so you know." Johnny piped up, before the converstation was steered in that direction.
Sue smiled. "You're my Dad, and I love you." She reminded him.
"Why don't you give him a good name?" Frank suggested.
"Franklin is a good name." She said stubbornly, smiling down at her baby and kissing his forehead.
Frank smiled at her gently when she raised her head again. "You know you don't have to, Susan." He told her, but the pride was already written all over his face.
"It was Reed's idea." She told him, looking up at her husband.
"It was?" Frank questioned, turning to his son-in-law instead.
"Well," Reed explained. "Seeing as he couldn't continue the family name of Storm, he can do it with Franklin instead."
"Well." Frank said, his chest swelling. "Doesn't that make an old man proud?" He smiled.
Sue looked up at him. "You want to hold your grandson?" She asked him.
He grinned. "I guess I'll have to, won't I?" He told her playfully.
As Sue passed Franklin to her fathers arms, Jessica turned closer to Johnny, and yawned widely. "You tired?" Johnny asked her quietly, and Jessica nodded against him. "Right," He announced to the others. "I hate to break up the party guys, but this little girl needs some sleep."
"No, I wanna stay." Jessica whined tiredly.
"You can come back tomorrow." Reed pointed out to her.
She turned to Johnny excitedly. "Really, Dad, can we?" She asked him.
"Course we can." He assured her. "We'll bring Auntie Sue and Franklin a present as well. Say goodnight to everyone." He told her.
The car journey on the way home was quiet at first, with the radio playing the recent chart playlist quietly into the car. It wasn't the sort of music that either of them liked, so they kept it quiet, more providing a background than anything. From the height of her booster seat, Jessica looked out of the car window, and then spoke quietly.
"I'm glad Mommy gave me to you."
Even though she knew she could talk about Hallie whenever she wanted to, it was rare that Jessica brought her mother up in conversation. Johnny had given her the pictures that Hallie placed in the folder for him, and she had one of the two of them framed beside her bed, right beside one of her and Johnny together.
"Me too, Firefly." Johnny told her with a smile, taking his eyes off the road for a second as they waited at the traffic lights.
"I like my new family a lot." She decided.
"That's good, kiddo, 'cause you're stuck with us now." He teased her.
She turned to him with curiosity on her face. "Uncle Ben says you're gonna make me a chick magnet." She told him.
Johnny laughed, and then shook his head. "Uncle Ben's talking out of his ass, Jessie." He told her.
She widened her eyes at him. "You have to put a dollar in the swear jar." She told him. "You said 'ass'."
He frowned. "We don't have a swear jar."
"It's next to the new toaster."
He frowned even harder. "I didn't know we had a new toaster."
Jessica looked at him incredulously. "Daddy, you broke the old one." She reminded him. "You burned it. Auntie Sue had to buy another one."
The spark-filled breakfast from three days ago resurfaced in his memory. "Oh yeah." He realised quietly.
"I still love you, though." Jessica assured him. "Even though you broke the toaster."
He smiled at her. "I love you too, Jessie."
"Even though I burnt Uncle Reed's tie?"
They hit traffic, and Johnny turned his head to face his daughter. Every hardship had been worth it, he realised, when it meant that he had this wonderful child to call his own.
He grinned at her. "Especially because you burnt the tie."
Well guys, thats it. The story is over. First of all, I have to say thank you to everyone who has reviewed this story:
BooneShannon4eva; Wolfinson; APerfectGrace; Morgomir; ElektricStorm; Imtweetybird; Raye Sun; Jules, JainaZekk621; Silver Dog Demon; Birdhearted; Liliaeth; Mrs. Jones; Holly EverGreen; Lexa Moon; Looking'AtTheBrightSide; Patienceless; Tricia; LosingTrack; BrokenAngel1753; Goth Child of Zyon; AshleyEH; Chirping Cricket; BollywoodRocks; Stormygirl84; Karista; Penny3; Alexandizzie4eva; TheGiantMushroom; Conversecutiue; Julietdaughter; Sadie; .Sweet Lies.Bitter Truths.; Sd freek; Rogue21493; PadFootCC.
Specials thanks have to go out to Siyavash, just for the plain fact that she gave me the LONGEST review I have ever had! Thank you so much sweetie it was much appreciated; and to Emma, my sister, my brother, my rose in my garden of evil...this story wouldn't have gone ahead without you (and Jessica) constantly keeping me going. You're the best friend in the entire world - I'd be lost without you!
Now, about the sequal - I shall post it up when I start writing it, which will be soon. I have already been asked some questions about it, so here are the answers:
1. Jessica's age: She'll be eleven years old in the next story.
2: Title: It's called Over My Head - another Fray song which is amazing, and the title goes so well with the story
3. Hallie: Yes, Hallie will be back.
4. What's it about?
Well, that's a question...
Basically, Johnny and Jessica are going to be getting on brilliantly. We're going to see Jessica's best friend, there's a possible love interest for Johnny as well. However whilst this is going on, Johnny has to deal with Hallie's return, and his own fears as a father after Jessica is hurt again. Of course, will Hallie returning, she's got an ultimatum that she delivers, leaving Johnny wondering whether or not he really does still love her like he believes he does; especially when she tells him what she has come back for.
Other characters returning for the haul are Reed and Sue, Ben and Alicia, Franklin and Valeria, Frank Storm, as well as Hallie's sister Cassie, who will make a brief appearance at the start of the story.
Again, thank you so much to everyone who has read and enjoyed this story. It's been a pleasure to write, and even more of a pleasure to get up and read your reviews when I turn my computer on every morning. I think it's fitting to update this on what, for me, is the loevly and beautiful morning of June 14th, and I hope you all enjoy the sequal when it shows tomorrow!