Tuesday, 7:33 a.m.

Emily let the little stick rest on the counter, and turned the faucet on hot to wash her hands. She was taking yet another pregnancy test, though she supposed she shouldn't complain, she hadn't taken one in nearly five months. That was a record for the last three years. She'd swear that for the first two years she'd taken tests bimonthly in the desperate hope that one would be positive. But, she never had any luck, and she doubted she would this time. Regardless she was late, so she dragged herself to the pharmacy and bought one of what had become to her, the heartbreaking little devices. And, she hadn't bothered to tell Matt, not about this one, or the last half a dozen. Why disappoint him too?

"Mommy!" Her son's shrill voice screamed suddenly at her.

She rolled her eyes, no doubt some catastrophe was striking, like his lunch box gone missing or Cleo ate his show and tell. Resigned to her life as it was, and the likely results of the test, she tossed the stick back in the box, and shoved the box in her purse. She'd find time later at work to look at it.

"Coming Brandon," she called, exiting the bathroom, wondering where her husband had gone.

"Mommy, my lunch box ran away!" He wailed from the kitchen.

"Sweetie, we discussed this, your lunch box did not run away, you probably left it in your room."

He thought for a minute, and then lit up, "I remember where I put it!"

This is how it went every morning; something would vanish and then he'd remember he put it in his room, on the living room couch, in the fridge (oddly), or already tossed it in the car. He was in first grade now, a big boy who all his teachers referred to as brilliant, but frequently in his own world. What they were going to do about that, she still didn't know.

She glanced around, noticing that Cleo's bowl was still full. That was strange, the little cat was such a glutton, she didn't tend to leave food for long. She shrugged, maybe the cat was having an off morning.

"Matt?" She called, hoping that at least one of them was ready to go.

"In the study!" He called back.

She found him plowing through a stack of papers, desperately searching for something.

Emily sighed, "what did you lose?"

"The paperwork on the Miller case, Cheryl is going skewer me if I don't give it to her soon."

She rolled her eyes; is that where their son got that? "Second drawer down on the right, between the Jensen case and the Meyers case."

"Did you clean again?" He asked, diving into the drawer and coming up with a surprised look and his paperwork.

"Yes Matt, I have no choice when your idea of organization is a chaotic pile of paper."

"It's organized chaos," he told her, placing a kiss on her lips. She opened her mouth, and allowed him to deepen the kiss. One of her hands dove into his hair, the other draped over his shoulder, as he grabbed her ass with one of his, and pulled her closer with the other.

"Mommy, I found it!" Brandon cried charging down the hall, causing his parents to jump apart quickly.

"Good, you're all set?" He nodded enthusiastically.

She turned to Matt, "and now, are you all set?"


"Good, can we go before we're all late?" She asked the two men in her life, who were currently smiling innocently at her, as if their mornings weren't chaotic at all.

Matt gestured to the door, and grabbing bags, the whole family trooped out the door. Matt settled Brandon in his regulation child safety seat, while Emily went around to the driver side.

"Oh my god," she breathed, staring in horror at the furry little creature on the road.

"What's that?" Matt asked coming around to her side.

"Cleo, somebody hit Cleo." She knelt down to get a better look at the cat, who'd turned a year old only five days earlier.

"Oh no…" Matt knelt beside her, watching as she brushed the cat's fur back, and tried to see the damage. She was laying on her side, a considerable amount of blood soaking her fur. Then she stirred, her small paw twitching slightly, her eyes straining to open, her mouth opening slightly to emit a feeble mew.

"Oh god, she's still alive," Emily's breath caught in her throat.

"Hang on, let me get a towel." Matt ran in the house, and came out seconds later with a white towel.

Emily laid the soft fabric over the little cat, and lifted her from the road as carefully as she could. Trying to avoid causing her more pain, Emily cradled Cleo to her chest, and looked at Matt, worry and fear burning in her eyes.

"We need to get her to the vet, but Brandon first, I don't want him to know what's going on."

Matt nodded in agreement, and followed her back around to the passenger's side, opening the door for her, and closing it after she was seated.

"Mommy, what's that?" Brandon asked, stretching to see from the back seat.

"Nothing sweetie," she told him, covering the cat's face with the rest of the towel, which was beginning to turn pink in spots.

An hour later, Matt and Emily walked into the CNU looking drained; Matt had an arm around Emily's waist, and her eyes were red-rimmed. They barely made it to the cubicles when Cheryl and Lia came rushing over.

"How's Cleo?" Cheryl asked.

"Don't know, they still have her in surgery, said it will take a few hours," Matt explained. He and Emily had mutually agreed that waiting at work, where they had distractions, was better than staring at the walls of the vet's office.

"I'm so sorry," she told them both.

"Thanks," Emily told her, Matt just nodded.

"Listen, I hate to do this, but we just got calls. Matt, you're going to Salt Lake City on a field assignment, domestic kidnapping, boyfriend has his girlfriend and their three kids. Emily you have a man armed with a classic Colt 45, and a grenade over in East LA. You're partners have already been briefed and are waiting." Both nodded at her and prepared to head to their scenes, though Matt would have to stop at the car to grab his overnight bag.

12:37 p.m.

Brandon giggled loudly, as he and his three friends chased each other around the playground at recess. They were playing freeze tag, and he'd only been frozen once, compared to his friends two and three times. He was good at tag, his favorite game to play at recess, which was his favorite time of the day. He suddenly felt a hand touch him, and instantly froze in his spot, wobbling slightly, and giggling as he tried to stay still. Jimmy Calhoun had tagged him, he'd have to wait for Kyle Bowden or Marcus Garvey to tag him free.

He felt another hand touch him, and was suddenly released from his prison, wasting no time taking off running, chasing his friends. Kyle had freed him so he ran after Marcus and Jimmy, only to see Marcus tap Kyle and freeze him in his place. He ran an awkward circle, and smacked Kyle free, not stopping as he breezed by. It probably would have been better if he had; Kyle's foot was in the way, and he didn't see it. His own foot caught on Kyle's and he went head first into the edge of the cement sidewalk.

Jimmy, Marcus and Kyle stopped when they saw him fall, their breath catching in their throats. None moved as they saw red liquid begin to dye the white cement. Marcus suddenly took off, running faster than he ever had before toward Miss Green and Mrs. Juarez. He screeched to a stop in front of them, heaving from his effort.

"Marcus, what are you doing?" Mrs. Juarez asked smiling at him, thinking he was playing a game.

"Brandon Flannery fell on the sidewalk," he broke, panting, "he's bleeding!" The two women looked in the little boy's frightened eyes and knew he wasn't kidding.

Marcus took off again back to Brandon, his two teachers following him. They found the little boy bleeding on the sidewalk, and knelt beside him.

"Brandon, sweetie? Come on, wake up," Mrs. Juarez coaxed him, but Brandon didn't stir.

"Carol call 911, and have the office track down his parents," she instructed her coworker, who ran inside without a second thought.

12:42 p.m.

"Bob, I know you don't want to hurt anyone, so how about you let a few of those hostages go?" Emily pled with the HT, getting tired with his lack of cooperation already.

"Fine, but I better get what I asked for, Emily," he warned her.

"Thank you, Bob," she thanked him to avoid lying and saying he'd get his request, better medical and mental health benefits for himself, a war veteran.

His five hostages streamed out of the social security office in East LA, and the FBI personal standing by barely had time to react as a blast issued from the building. Most people hit the ground, a few of those closer to the blast were thrown off their feet, and landed hard. Cheryl and Emily were among them, and after the initial blast died down, pulled themselves up.

Cheryl spoke quickly into her headpiece, "is everybody alright? Anybody down? Repeat, anybody down?" She stared around the scene in front of her, taking in the unharmed, but shaken crowd, as she awaited response.

"HRT is all clear," Frank's voice came back from where his team was stationed at the back of the building.

Cheryl released a breath, far as she could see everyone was okay on this side too, but just to be sure, she shouted "does anyone here need medical attention?!"

Several people shook their heads, others ignored her, helping friends up from the ground, but nobody responded in the affirmative. That was a good sign. She turned to her negotiator, who was no doubt already beating herself up for not successfully talking the guy down. She was startled to see the negotiator squeezing her eyes shut, her arms wrapped tightly around her abdomen.


She didn't respond, just continued to let her wave of pain pass silently.

"Emily what's wrong?"

She opened her eyes, and responded quickly, "nothing, I'm fine."

"Then what the hell was that?" Cheryl wasn't about to let her get away with it.

"Nothing, really, it's gone now," she insisted. Cheryl was about to open her mouth to respond, but was cut off by Lia's worried voice over the radios.

"What happened, is everybody okay?"

Cheryl glanced at Emily before answering, "Mostly."

"Are you there Em?"

"Yeah, I'm here," she paused and looked at Cheryl, "and fine."

"Glad to hear it. Sweetie, don't panic, but you need to get to St. Bernard's Hospital. Brandon's school just called, they weren't specific, just said he was hurt and had an ambulance take him."

Emily felt all the blood drain from her face, and her body begin to shake. "What?! What happened? Is he alright?" She demanded frantically.

"They wouldn't tell me anything, just said they couldn't get you or Matt on the phone, so they called here."

"Jesus, they wouldn't tell you anything?" Her heart sped up, and she felt her abdomen begin to tighten painfully again.

"No, sorry, I tried."

Now, Emily's arms were back around her stomach, and she was practically doubled over in agony.

"Okay, hospital is a good idea. Lia, Temple is going to take over the scene here, I'm going to the hospital with Emily, something's wrong with her."

"What? Em, you said you were fine?"

"She's not, I'll call you when we get to the hospital. Try to get in touch with Matt," Cheryl told her, turning toward the bus, "I need a paramedic!"

A team rushed over with a stretcher, Temple not far behind them, confusion written on his face.

"What happened, I thought no one was injured?"

"We were wrong. Lia just got a call, Brandon is hurt too, I'm going to go with her. Can you finish up on the scene for me?" She shot Emily a warning look, as the headstrong negotiator tried to fight against the paramedics' attempt to get her on the gurney.

"Yeah sure. What happened with Brandon?" His face kept changing between shock and confusion at the assault of bad news.

"We don't know, they wouldn't tell Lia anything."

12:59 p.m.

"Come on now Jake, I know you love her and don't really want to hurt her," Matt tried to coax the HT, wiping sweat from his brow. They were literally in the middle of the desert, where this wacko head set up his love-shack, talking on a throw phone. There were a few wires to hook up landlines, but no cell phone reception at all. At least Emily would have reception wherever she was negotiating, in case the vet called about Cleo.

"I may have loved her once, but love turns to hate real quick man, when you've been burned," the HT spit over the phone. He'd let the kids go almost immediately, but still held on to his girlfriend, raging at her.

"Yeah, you were saying Lilah got involved with your friend Jed?"

"Yeah, I don't even know if my baby girl is actually mine, my little Corie," Hunter Mosely wailed over the phone.

"You know they can do paternity tests for that right?"

"And what if they find out the whore got pregnant by Jed? I could lose my baby, I don't want that."

"I can understand that, I have a son, and god knows if somebody tried to tell me that he wasn't mine I'd lose it."

"So you get it?"

"Sure I do. I'm a man, I love my wife and it'd kill me if she ever cheated on me."

"She a good woman, your girl?" Now he was calming down slightly, getting into the male bonding Matt had initiated.

"She's more than I deserve. But, why don't you tell me about Lilah, what made you fall in love with her?" Hopefully, going through this would make him remember that he did in fact love the mother of his three (or maybe two) children, and he wouldn't want to kill her.

"I met Lilah in high school, she was kind of quiet with most people, but once you get to know her, she'll talk to you all night long. That's what we did the night of senior prom, danced and talked all night long, and we conceived Tucker that night too. I think I knew I loved her the moment I set eyes on her, there was just something special about Lilah…" This became four hours and 23 minutes more of listening to the man go through the whole Hunter-Lilah saga.

"You still love her, Hunter." Matt told him.

"Yeah, I guess I do." He agreed. "It's time for me to hang up now Matt. I can't hurt my Lilah, no matter what the bitch did to me."

"Okay, Hunter why don't you come on out here." He heard the phone click and saw Lilah come out of the house shaking, Hunter behind her, dropping his gun, and holding up his hands. After the local cops took possession of him, Binder turned to Matt.

"Nice work."

"Thanks. Now can we please get back to civilization, I need to check my messages, see if my cat is still alive." The negotiator looked obviously exhausted, and seemed to hold a particular disgust for Hunter Mosely.

"You really didn't like him did you?" He asked, sympathizing, but amused at the same time.

"I don't like any HTs."

"No, me neither, but you were really just disgusted by this guy. I thought you were going to snap at him a couple times."

"I just can't understand a man who could point a gun at his own children and the woman who birthed them." Matt shook his head, and stared out the window as Binder drove them back to the city.

Half and hour later, his phone began beeping. "Imagine that, there is cell reception in Utah…damn." He had six missed calls and probably just as many messages.

"What's wrong?"

"I have a lot of calls, god I hope Cleo didn't die. What the hell am I supposed to tell Brandon?" He hit the appropriate buttons and dialed into his messages.

"New message, received 12:43 p.m. 'Mr. Flannery, this is Drew Mapthower, the principal of Brandon's school, he's had an accident on the playground, and is on his way to the hospital now, St. Bernard's. We'll call your wife, but whenever you can get there.'

"New message, received 12:57 p.m. 'Matt it's Lia, Brandon is in the hospital, they won't tell me what's wrong, and Cheryl just went with Emily, she got hurt at their scene. Call me back when you get this okay?'

"New message, received 1:11 p.m. 'Matt, Lia again, call me back.'

"New message, received 1:43 p.m. 'Mr. Flannery this is Dr. Payton calling about Cleo, we finished the surgery and have her stabilized, but it's touch and go from here. Call my office or come in, and I can tell you more.'

"New message, received 1:47 p.m. 'Matt I'm not sure if you got my last few messages or what, because I haven't heard from you. Emily and Brandon are both in the hospital, St. Bernard's, please call me. Oh, it's Lia.'

"New message, received 2:11 p.m. 'Matt, it's Cheryl, I talked to the Salt Lake office and know you won't get this until you're finished. Get yourself moved on the earliest flight home and then call me back. I'm here with them now, so they aren't alone okay?"

Matt's heart had jumped after the first phone call, and was beating faster with each one. Cheryl and Lia were clearly worried, and that terrified him. His wife and son were in a hospital in LA, and he was stuck in Salt Lake City. "Binder step on it, go straight to the airport." Their bags were still in the car, they never made it to a hotel for the night.

"What happened?" He could tell by Matt's tone that something was very wrong.

"Brandon's hurt, Emily's hurt, they're both at the hospital, with I don't know what wrong."

"Who were all the messages from?" That was a lot of bad news to get in five minutes.

"Brandon's school, Lia, the Vet, and Cheryl."

"They didn't give you any details?" He asked, while pushing the gas pedal down further, weaving between cars, trying to get ahead of them and get to the exit to the airport. Fortunately, they hadn't yet gone into the city, so they weren't too far from the airport right then.

"Nothing, Lia said she didn't know anything, Cheryl only said she was with them." He ran a hand through his hair, cracked his fingers, fumbled with his phone, anything to keep him from going out of his mind. Then he dialed the number for the airport.

"What's your next flight to LA?"

"Hmm, let me see…we have a 6:45 flight, but I don't know if you'll make that one…oh and a seven-thirty?" She spoke to him like she had all the time in the world.

"I'll take the 6:45 flight, for Flannery and Binder, move our reservations from tomorrow morning."

"Well, it's 6:15 now, and we have rigorous check in procedures, you won't make that one," she insisted.

"We're five minutes from the airport, and are federal agents, this is an emergency." He was trying to keep calm, but she was making it very difficult.

"Let me see if there's room on this flight."

"Lady bump some one for christsake!"

"Don't you take that tone with me, or I'll-"

"Listen, I'm having a really shitty day. My wife and seven-year-old son are in the hospital, and I don't even know what's wrong with them, or if they're alive. My cat got hit by a car, and I just spent six hours talking some dirtbag out of shooting his girlfriend. I need to get on that damned flight!"

"Alright, relax, there are some seats available in coach, I'm moving your reservations now. You said Flannery and Binder, correct?"

"Yes, that's right."

"Alright done, you can pick up your new tickets at the check in desk."

"Thank you." He hung up, just as Binder pulled into a parking spot, hanging up his own phone after telling the Bureau where they could collect it the car.

He dialed Cheryl as they ran to the airport.

"Matt?" She asked, having seen his name on caller ID.

"Yeah, are they okay, what happened?" He felt like time froze as he waited for Cheryl to answer, panic seizing him as a thousand possibilities ran through his head. He felt sick and dizzy, but kept running through the airport, damned determined to make that flight.

"Brandon cracked his head on a sidewalk, he tripped. He's okay though, the doctors are keeping him for observation. They're still running tests on Emily, but say she's doing fine." She was quick to assure him.

He let out a breath, and came to a stop at the check in counter, where Binder collected the tickets, and Matt coached himself to breath. He wanted to cry with relief.

"Matt? Matt are you okay?" He let Cheryl's voice bring him back.

"Yeah, fine. They're really okay?"

"Yes, they are both fine, and we're all here with them. They haven't been alone."

"Oh thank god. Cheryl I was so scared, I though…oh god, I didn't know what to think when I heard those messages."

"Take a few breaths and come home Matt."

8:30 p.m.

Matt approached the hospital room with some trepidation, even after Cheryl's assurances, he was still scared. He hadn't quite gotten over the horror of those messages, and still didn't know what was wrong with Emily. He peered in slowly at first, to see Emily asleep, her red hair splayed out starkly against the white pillows, and Brandon curled into her side, a white bandage wrapped thickly around his forehead and dark hair. Matt retreated back to the hall, sinking to the floor, breathing in and out slowly. They were really okay.

"You going to go in there?" Cheryl asked from behind him. She gotten the call twenty minutes earlier that they landed in LA and were on their way to the hospital, and so had, had everyone vacate the room. Frank, Duff, Lia, and Binder, who came in with Matt, were all in the waiting room now, waiting to hear about Emily.

"I just need to minute."

"Hell of a day, huh?"

"You could say that, yeah." He poked his head in to look again, and rested it back against the wall.

"You can wake her up you know, she's been anxious to see you."

"Yeah…" he trailed off, getting off of the ground. "I think I'll go in now."

Matt leaned down, bracing himself on the bed, and brushed his lips against Emily's. She was hooked to a heart, and blood pressure monitors; Brandon wasn't hooked to anything, and that was an unimaginable relief to Matt.. Emily's eyes fluttered opened, and she smiled at the sight of him.

"You finally got here."

"Yeah, sorry, no reception where I was, it was almost six when I got the messages, which scared the hell out of me by the way. What happened?"

"Brandon fell and hit his head on a sidewalk, but they don't think he has a concussion.." She stroked her son's hair, watching him sleep.

"And you?"

"Are you ready for some good news?" She asked smiling, though under their present circumstances he couldn't imagine why.

"Uh, sure."

"I'm pregnant, five weeks along." She beamed up at him, while simultaneously wearing a look of relaxed satisfaction.

Matt's jaw dropped slightly, before he could form a single worded, uttered in complete disbelief, "really?"

"Yeah, doctor said the explosion at my negotiation scene set off the cramps, and getting the news about Brandon aggravated them. I almost miscarried, but they stopped it."

"We're going to have a baby." He said it aloud just to convince himself it was real.

"Yeah, after all this time, I finally got pregnant again. Aren't you happy?" She was growing concerned now, because he wasn't smiling yet, just standing staring at her in shock. But, that seemed to snap him out of it.

"What? Of course, of course, I'm thrilled, I'm just stunned, I didn't expect…"

"I know, I took a test this morning, but I didn't get to see the result, I figured it would be negative, I never imagined…" She stopped talking, tears forming in her eyes, and running down her cheeks. Matt leaned over and wrapped his arms around her, as best he could around all the machines and Brandon, and Emily threw her arms around his neck. When they finally pulled back, she could see, he also had tears in his eyes.

"Mommy?" A little voice asked beside them, their embrace having woken Brandon up. He blinked his eyes, and looked up to see his father.

"Daddy!" He shrieked, throwing himself into his fathers arms, nearly pulling his heart monitor off.

"Hey buddy, how are you feeling?" He held his son away from him so he could see his face.

"My head hurts," he pouted. "And the doctors made me drink yucky pink stuff! And they said I have to drink it everyday for two weeks! Don't make me Daddy!"

He looked at Emily, who filled in that blank for him, "Amoxicillin."

"Oh, yeah that stuff is pretty gross, but you know what? It will make your head better."

"Yeah, I know, but I still don't want to drink it." He pouted again, before looking at Matt curiously. "Daddy, why are you crying?" He pointed to the tear tracks on Matt's cheeks.

"Did you tell him?" He turned to Emily, who shook her head.

"I haven't told anybody, I wanted you to hear it first." At that, he leaned down, with Brandon still in his arms, and kissed her again.

"Daddy! Don't make kissy faces with Mommy here, the doctors won't like it!" Brandon admonished him, causing both his parents to laugh.

"Mommy and Daddy have some very good news Bran. You know how a while ago we talked about babies, and how we couldn't make another one?"

"Yeah, you're broken."

"Well, not quite. Mommy and Daddy made another baby, Mommy's pregnant, the baby is inside her belly." Matt spoke patiently to his son.

Brandon looked at them in confusion, turning to his mother and looking her over before, looking back at his father. "Shouldn't Mommy be fat? Mrs. Goldstein, the art teacher is having a baby, and she's really fat!"

Emily covered her mouth, cracking up, while Matt stood staring in surprise at his son. No, this kid had no questions about why there was a baby in his mommy's belly, he was too smart to not understand that; what was his child learning in school?

"Bran," Emily turned his attention to her. "Right now the baby is very tiny, smaller than the eraser on a pencil, so as the baby grows bigger, so will my belly."

"So, you're gonna get fat?"

"Yes, I'm going to get very fat." She smiled at him, gesturing with her arms wide out.

"And you and Daddy won't be sad anymore?"

"No, we're very, very happy."

"Yay! Yay!" He began jumping around, until he got a bit dizzy and nearly fell into the bed.

"Easy buddy, you're still hurt remember," Matt warned, steadying him.

"I know," he pouted.

Matt crouched to his level. "How about you and me go get everyone in here, so we can tell them the good news?"

"Yeah! Yay!" He shrieked, trying to run out the door, until Matt caught him and lifted him up.

"Not so fast, I think I'll carry you, still hurt remember?"

"Okay Daddy," he wrapped one of his little arms around Matt's neck, as they made their way down the hall.

"Hey, you guys mind joining us in Emily's room for a second?" Matt asked once they got the waiting room, and their five friends. Without a word, they all got up and followed him in, worried what they might be told.

Once everyone was settled, and quiet, Emily went to speak. "So we have some news-"

"Ooh, ooh Mommy, can I say it?" Brandon bounced in Matt's arms, making it difficult for him to hold him.

"Yeah, go ahead baby."

Brandon smiled proudly and said, "Mommy is gonna get fat!"

Emily once again covered her mouth, laughing so hard her face got red, and her eyes watered, while Matt hung his head, his body jerking every now and again with his own laughter. The other five people just looked confused, until Cheryl finally got it.

"Wait, are you pregnant?"

"Yeah, the baby is going to grow big and make Mommy fat," Brandon explained to her impatiently, sending the rest of the adults into fits of laughter. After they'd quieted down, and delivered congratulations, and hugs and kisses, the group grew quiet.

Then Duff and Lia looked at each other and seemed to communicate silently, seeming to agree on something.

"Well, while we're making announcements," Duff began, swallowing and grabbing Lia's hand, "we're going to have a baby."

Once again the group exhibited looks of shock, until the news settled in, and the squealing and congratulations began once again.

"How many weeks are you?" Emily asked eagerly, happier than she'd been in a long time.

"Almost nine weeks. We needed time to adjust to the news before we told anybody," Lia said almost shyly, something decidedly new for the analyst.

Brandon tugged on his dad's shirt, his face scrunched up in confusion, "Is Aunt Lia going to get fat with mommy?"

"Yeah buddy, there's a baby in Aunt Lia too." He explained, bending down to get on the little boy's level. Brandon seemed satisfied by his answer, and turned to look at Cheryl.

"So, when did you two decided you wanted a baby?" Frank asked the nervous couple.

"Well uh, we weren't exactly trying, it kind of just happened, and well, we're really happy about it." Duff moved closer to Lia, and wrapped an arm around her. Everyone in the room smiled at them, and the general happy ending to an otherwise awful day. Brandon looked from adult to adult in the now quiet room, with a curious look on his face.

"Aunt Cheryl do you have a baby in your belly too?" He asked, innocence radiating from his eyes. All the adults turned to her, watching her eyes grow big, and seeing everyone looking at her, she stuttered and shook her head.

"What? No, no, no, no way." The others in the rooms were covering mouths or biting lips to stifle laughter, until they couldn't take it anymore and burst out laughing, Cheryl included, once the shock of the question wore off.

10:33 p.m.

Brandon yawned and burrowed in further to his mother, who looked just as tired. Fortunately, Matt had just suggested leaving them to rest until tomorrow, and everyone began saying goodnights, just as the nurse came in to throw them all out.

"Daddy, can we go to?"

"No, the doctors want you and mommy to stay overnight, and I'm staying with you." He explained, watching the nurse check Emily's stats, before moving over to Brandon to take his temperature and check his pulse.

"But, Daddy, what about Cleo! She'll be hungry!" He seemed frantic and the thought of his cat missing a meal.

"Cleo is at the vet's office tonight, because she got hurt this morning." He'd almost forgotten Brandon didn't know about that yet.

"She's okay Daddy right?" The little boy looked like he might cry.

"I don't really know Brandon, she was hurt pretty bad. I'll call them tomorrow, alright?" Great, now he was never going to sleep.

"But Daddy-"

"It's okay Brandon, I called before while the doctors were taking care of you, and they said she was doing well." Cheryl stopped on her way out to reassure the child. Matt pulled her aside, and whispered at her.

"What did they say about her?"

"She woke up sooner than they expected, which is a good sign. After the anesthesia wore off, she was awake and responsive, they think she'll make it." Cheryl nearly went out of her mind waiting for a doctor to come out and tell her what was going on with either patient, so she made a call to the vet, if only for something to do.

"Thank you." Matt's relief was palpable, and he squeezed her hand once, before returning to his family.

Cheryl understood his worry about the little cat; she'd only had hers half as long, and was very attached. Every surface area of six month-old Nigel was black and sleek, and his favorite spot to sleep was on Cheryl's bed. Just as they'd promised, Emily and Matt took Brandon back to the pet shelter to pick out a cat for Aunt Cheryl's birthday. He picked one that more closely resembled a ball of fluff, than an actual cat. And, that afternoon, Cheryl was presented with her new pet, complete with litter, cat box, food, bowls, collar, and a few toys. The close knit group of friends was amused to see her melt immediately.

Wednesday, 11:21 p.m.

"No running Brandon, you still have to take it easy!" Emily yelled to her son, as he dove out of the car toward the door to the Vet's office.

"Sorry Mommy," he called back, slowly down the tiniest bit, excited to check on his kitten. They had been released from the hospital twenty minutes earlier, with strict instructions that Brandon had to be careful. No running until tomorrow, they were afraid he might get dizzy, and if he did, immediately sit him down and check to make sure he wasn't bleeding or bruising.

Emily was on bed rest for Wednesday, and ordered out of the field and into desk duty. If she felt especially tired Thursday and Friday, she had to work only half days, until her body decided against spontaneous abortion. If she got cramps again or started to bleed, she had to go immediately back into the hospital. Her obvious response to that had been groaning; she hadn't been on bed rest or hospitalized a single day with Brandon. The idea of her needing to be further hospitalized scared the hell out of Matt, and this was enough to get her to nod her head to the doctor.

"Do you think it's really such a good idea that he see her now, Matt? She could be hooked up to god knows what kind of medical equipment; it could scared him."

"Em, he just saw his mother hooked up to scary medical equipment and handled it pretty well, I think he'll be fine," he reminded her.

"Hi, we're here to see Cleo? We brought her in yesterday as an emergency, a car accident." Emily shot him a weary look, before turning and speaking to the receptionist.

"Flannery, right?" The young woman asked.

"Yes, that's us."

"Alright, I'll take you to back now, but we have her on heavy painkillers, so she won't be too lucid."

"Is she going to be okay?" Emily asked worriedly.

"Dr. Payton checked on her this morning, and said she's doing very well. She's going to be just fine," she assured them, leading the family to through a maze of hallways that were as convoluted as a hospital, only shorter.

"Let's see, her chart says she should be over in this corner." They passed rows of cages filled with cats, some sleeping, other eating, a few playing, and a couple staring at the passersby. "And here she is."

The receptionist opened the wire cage door, and stepped back so they could see her. Cleo had one bandage around her left front paw, where they'd put the IV line. One of her back legs was splinted and bandaged, and gauze was wrapped around most of her torso, where the worst of the damage had been. Her head was cone-free for the time being, but wasn't likely to stay that way over the next few days. Her eyes were closed, but when she smelled Matt's hand, they opened very slowly, and she picked her head up slightly from the cage floor, and looked at them.

Matt stroked her head softly, and encouraged Brandon, who seemed nervous at the sight of his normally feisty feline friend so prone, to come closer and pet her. Matt had to pick him so he could reach her; his little hand came to rest on her head, and like his father had, he stroked her soft fur. After Brandon finished, he scrambled off to look at the rest of the animals. Emily ran her hand over Cleo's head a few times, before letting it rest on her bandaged torso, and feeling the cat's chest rise and fall as she breathed. Cleo raised her head further to lick Emily's hand, and Emily moved it back to her head.

Matt pet her one last time, before both allowed the receptionist to close the cage door, feeling as though the frantic morning that found them scooping the injured cat off the road was a lot longer than just a day ago. Emily yawned and leaned on Matt as they walked out, Brandon just in front of them, struggling against the urge to run. She sighed, she had never felt this tired with Brandon, but she was seven years older now, at 42. Matt kissed the top of her head, after they were all buckled in the car, and grabbed her hand. This baby was going to be harder and more work than the last, they could both tell that already, but they would take it as it comes.

Not sure if I'll do any more of this series, I feel like this is a good place to end it, and I'm already doing a baby story. But, thank you for reading, and special thank you to reviewers.