"No! You are not downing shots at my six-year-old's birthday party!"
Maxie pouted and crossed her arms over her chest. "Why not? It would make this party ten times better!"
"No," Lulu repeated, shaking her head for emphasis.
"We're at a bar!"
Maxie groaned and balled her hands up into fists. "Can I at least have a beer?"
"If you want to get drunk, go to Jake's."
"I can't leave you alone with that Harpy in scratching distance. Somebody's gotta protect my Lulu."
"I think I can do that." Lulu and Maxie both turned around in their seats to a smirking Johnny. Lulu felt her heart thud painfully in her chest. Johnny's smile had way to much control over her emotions. "Besides, Claudia's all bark when it comes to Lulu."
"I can take care of myself, you guys," Lulu said.
"Oh, I know," Maxie replied. "But it's entertaining to mess with the Ice Bitch. Besides, I can't just let you have all the fun."
"That wouldn't be fair," Johnny interjected.
"Nope! Not fair at all."
"You two make quite a team," Lulu assessed, much to the horror of her friend and husband. "Or not," she muttered.
"Or not," Johnny and Maxie said simultaneously. "Does anyone else find it really creepy that Ric Lansing is here?" Maxie asked.
"He brought Molly," Lulu pointed out.
"I know, but did he really have to stay? I mean this is a kid's birthday party."
"Does anyone else find it creepy that you're here?" Johnny asked. "Kidless." Lulu shot Johnny an exasperated look that just screamed 'are you serious?' before leaving the table for the two to fight alone.
It seemed that Johnny and Maxie would never be friends which hurt Lulu deeply. Sure she and Maxie hadn't been the best of buds from the beginning, but they grew up. And with that growing up they reassessed their lives and realized that fighting and trying to ruin each other wasn't going to get them anywhere. Neither one of them had any intentions of leaving Port Charles so they might as well learn to co-exist- without sleeping with the others boyfriend. Well, Lulu thought, that was more for Maxie then herself.
"Do you think she's up there somewhere freaking out that we're friends?" Maxie asked gazing at the tombstone with wide eyes. "Or do you think she has that smug little smirk on her face because she saw it coming a mile away."
"I think she's freaking out," Lulu answered, crouching down next to her new friend. "I mean Maxie and Lulu? We're kind of like the Carly and Robin or Carly and Elizabeth or Carly and Brenda of our time."
"Funny how you're cousin is in all of those enemy lists," Maxie quipped.
Lulu laughed. "Carly's . . .-"
"Not the friendliest person alive?"
"But I love her."
"That's kind of like how Georgie and I were. I mean we're totally different then you and Carly, because well you and Carly both ruined marriages and Georgie didn't."
"Do you still hold the whole Dillon thing against me?" Lulu asked quietly. Maxie looked away from her sister's tombstone.
"Honestly, I forgave you once Georgie did. I mean, I was furious that you hurt my sister because she's my sister. All those things I did to hurt you were because I was so sick of people treating you like a Saint. You helped wreck a marriage, got yourself knocked up and then aborted the baby and nobody looked twice. I help wreck a marriage and I'm this giant slut. And yeah, I was kind of using sex as a tool, but I just didn't find it fair."
"I could have been nicer to you," Lulu offered. "I could have not taken the bait, I could have walked away when you said something nasty-"
"Could have, could have, could have," Maxie said smiling. "If we could go back and change all of our 'could have's' we would be Saints."
Lulu smiled and then gasped in surprise, quickly brining her hand up to her large stomach.
"Are you okay," Maxie asked, worriedly.
"Yeah," Lulu replied with a nod. "The baby- he . . . he kicked."
"Yeah. I mean he's been fluttering around for awhile now, but he's never kicked me before."
"Do you want to feel?" Lulu asked, extending her hand out towards the smaller blonde. She quickly nodded and offered up her hand. Lulu gently guided it to the left side of her stomach where her baby boy seemed to be making field goals.
Lulu grinned. "I know. It's just BAM- right out of nowhere."
"That is incredible."
Yep, Maxie Jones was her best friend. Lulu bit back a groan as the bickering increased from behind her. Johnny's voice was rising considerably, but Maxie smacked him in an effort to 'calm him down'. Only in Maxie's world would hitting someone calm them down. Maxie Jones was her friend- her only real girl friend, but Johnny was her husband. He was the love of her life and she knew she'd never find someone like him ever again.
"What about these?" Johnny asked, shoving the baby booties in her face. Lulu rolled her eyes and pushed them away. "What's wrong with 'em? I think they're pretty cute."
"They are cute," Lulu agreed, pulling down some colored bottles.
"Then why don't you like them?"
"Oh," Johnny said, bringing the little booties back up for a closer look. "They are pink."
"Yes, honey. They are pink. So I highly doubt our son will appreciate pink booties." Johnny gave the little shoes another look before trotting off to put them back. He returned moments later with a pair of blue booties.
"How about these?"
"Aww!" Lulu cooed. "They have duckies on them! Put them in the basket. OH! Take a picture and send it to Maxie. She'll love those!"
Johnny rolled his eyes and smoothly pulled his cell phone out of the back pocket of his snug blue jeans. He flipped the phone open and swiftly snapped a picture. "What does it matter what color they are. I mean, the kid isn't going to remember what color booties he wore at six months. Hell, he isn't even going to remember the first two years of his life."
Lulu slammed the bottles into their basket and glared at him. "I'll remember."
Johnny pursed his lips together and hit the 'Send' button before snapping his phone closed.
"Have you thought more about names?" He asked, trying to change the subject smoothly. A happy Lulu made a safe Johnny.
Lulu shook her head. "I think we should meet him first. You know, hold him, look at him, kiss him and then mull over some possibilities." Johnny nodded and watched as she put a hand over her ever growing tummy. She did that a lot these days, he noticed. Especially when she was sleeping.
Lulu wasn't a night owl. Now that she was pregnant and tired all the time she usually went to bed around eight o'clock. Johnny would go with her, because she had once told him she had the best nights sleep when he was next to her. She said his presence, even though she wasn't aware of it in her sleeping state, brought her comfort. And he wanted her as comfortable as possible these days. So he would just lay there and flip through the television channels. Every now and then the glint off her ring would shine in his eye and he'd look over to see her laying a protective hand over her womb.
Their son wasn't even born yet and he had two parents that would die for him. This kid was so going to grow up in a plastic bubble, he just knew it.
"You know, I never wanted kids," Johnny told her as he felt the velvet surface of a baby blanket. He didn't look at Lulu as he said it, but he could feel her eyes on him, trying to decode that sentence. "I always thought I'd be like my father- crazy and cruel. And even if I wasn't like him, I'd still be in the mob and what kind of life would that give a child? Not a good one. Not a safe one. So I never really let myself imagine me with a family, but . . . then I met you. I still remember that night clearer than any other night in my life. You were all tear-stained and angry, furious and hurt, wounded but strong. You spilled your guts to me that night and I spilled mine. I'm not sure what it was about you, but I knew I could trust you. I felt like I could tell you anything. The months went by and before I knew it you became my world. Not like my mom was to my dad, because if you ever wanted or want out I'll give it to you." Johnny looked away from the velvet blanket and straight into brown eyes. "I love you enough to let you go. As long as it's what you want."
"I want you, Johnny," she told him, wrapping her hand into his larger one. "I love you."
Johnny smiled and gave her hand a warm squeeze. "I'm really glad we're having a baby, Lulu."
Yeah, Johnny Zacchara was the love of her life; even if he was color blind.
"Humph!" Maxie turned on her heel and headed over to Lulu. To bitch about him, no doubt. Johnny ran a hand through his hair, but stopped and raised an eyebrow. He quickly waded his way through the crowd of tiny six-year-olds and stopped short in front of a couple locked in an embrace.
"Hey Ric," Johnny snapped. "Get off my sister."
"John!" Claudia exclaimed as soon as Ric removed his mouth from hers. She quickly smoothed her shirt down and stepped in front of her younger brother. "Great party."
"It's not a make-out party, Claudia. It's a birthday party."
"I know, I know," she said, pursing her lips together. "It's a very nice birthday party. I especially like the cake. I haven't had any yet, but it looks delicious."
"It does," Ric added over Claudia's shoulder. She quickly reached up a hand and slowly pushed his face away.
"Just be quiet," she whispered to him. "Oh look! There's Luke Spencer! You should say 'hi' to your father-in-law, John."
Johnny crossed his arms over his chest and shook his head down at his sister.
"Well if it isn't the Mob Princess herself," Luke said, slapping Johnny on the shoulder.
"It's so good to see you Lukey!"
"Oh I wish I could say the same, Ms. Zacchara."
"I'm surprised to see you here, Pops," Johnny told him. "After all, I never did peg you as a Twister fan."
"There's alcohol right?"
"Lulu got rid of it all earlier."
Luke wagged a finger in the younger man's face, sporting an impish grin. "She didn't get rid of it all," he whispered before trotting off to the back.
"Oh look, your wife's coming over. We'll leave so you two can talk," Claudia said, leading Ric away by the hand.
Johnny turned and watched as Lulu looked at the couple running away with an arched brow. "Claudia and Ric?" She asked perplexed.
"I know," Johnny said. "I thought I had seen it all." Lulu nodded and watched as they made their getaway out the front door with an amused expression.
"I guess they didn't want cake," she said with as shrug.
"I think you should let me take you out on a date."
He watched with hidden amusement as Lulu's mouth dropped open slightly as she stared at him. She fidgeted a little, sliding her hands into the back pockets of her jeans and capturing her bottom lip between her teeth. She would never know how that simple little thing made him want to throw her up against a wall and do things that were most definitely not appropriate for a child's birthday party.
"A date?" She asked, taken aback. "I'm pretty sure we're way past the dating status."
"I know, but in order for me to regain your trust we need to start small. A date is small, yes?"
"It is," she agreed, looking down at the ugly patterned carpet. "Where would we go?"
"Anywhere you want," Johnny told her, sliding his hand around her waist, pulling her flush up against him. "We could go to Canada or Paris, wherever you want to go." He ran his free hand down her arm and took delight in the goosebumps that popped up in his wake.
"A date," she murmured, looking up at him. "We haven't been on a date in a long time."
"I know," he said, swaying her gently from side to side. "I've been a terribly neglectful husband."
"And mean," Lulu whispered.
"It had better be one hell of a date," she told him, sliding her arms around his neck.
"Have I ever let you down before?" He asked, leaning down.
"Not that I can remember."
He was so close. He could smell her watermelon lipgloss and her mint toothpaste and it made his heart thud in his chest. He wondered if she could hear it. More than likely, considering she owned his heart.
"Mom. Dad," Nate called. "If you guys are going to kiss, can you do it outside?"
A/N: Darn that Nathan Zacchara. If he wasn't so adorable you'd hate him, no? ;) Hahaha.
I'm iffy about this chapter, just because I feel like I rushed it. I just wanted to get it out to you guys before I went on vacation for a week- it's my mom's wedding. Wee. I think? :D Anyways, only TWO more chapters left! The date and then the epilogue. I'm sad to see CIY go, but I think it's time. Besides, I know a certain someone who knows exactly what's happening in the epilogue and is dying to read it.