"Oh god, I don't think I can do this," Emily muttered, tightening her arms around Hanna. They'd been back in LA for a week, and Hanna hadn't left their sight. They'd stayed home from work, using vacation time to be with their daughter, and try and get over almost losing her. That…that was going to take some time. She'd slept in their bed with them all week, no way were they going to leave her alone in her crib again. At least, not until they were in their new home.
"I know, I know, I don't feel comfortable leaving her either, but I think we need to." This would be their first day back at work, and Hanna's first day back at daycare. They were both scared to death they'd leave her now, and when they came to pick her up she'd be gone.
Emily didn't say anything, just stood looking at the daycare wearily. Hanna had gottena clean bill of health from the doctors, on everything. Higgins had drugged her and held her prisoner, but he hadn't hurt her and he hadn't molested her. Even the shrink the hospital sent in said Hanna seemed fine, to keep an eye on her for strange behavior, and take her for counseling if she had a lot of nightmares.
"Em, the shrink in you knows if we don't do this, and keep being over-protective, Hanna is going to end up needing a shrink when she's older. I'd rather not do that to her." Matt had called one of the Bureau shrinks, and got a laundry list of negative effects over-protective parents have on their children. If not for that, he'd be as reluctant as Emily.
"You're right, we can't do that to her...I just keep seeing us going to pick her up, and she's gone again." Emily looked at him with fear and worry in her eyes. Matt reached out to her, feeling her trembling, pulling her close as he could with Hanna between them.
"It's going to be alright, okay? We'll call whenever we need to, and check on her." He already figured he'd be calling the daycare all day. Emily nodded her head against his neck, and turned back toward the daycare, feeling Hanna growing fidgety. They signed her in, stowed her little backpack, and handed her lunch box to one of the teachers; after kisses and hugs, they set a squealing Hanna loose. She'd missed her friends. Her teacher assured them that Hanna was safe with them, they'd even keep an extra eye on her. They'd been scared when she went missing too, and knew Matt and Emily couldn't have done it.
"Matt, don't let me turn around," Emily plead, tears already in her eyes as they walked across the parking lot. It was like dropping her off for the first time again, except that day, they'd left Hanna screaming and crying for them. Emily had sobbed all the way to work, and even begged Matt to go back. He hadn't, but god, he'd wanted to, the image of his baby crying for them too much for him.
Now he pulled her toward him, holding her still trembling figure in his arms. They managed to get to the car without incident, and Matt used all the self-control he possessed to keep it going toward work. He kept one hand in Emily's, but didn't speak until they were about ten minutes away from the office. Emily was still crying, but trying to stop.
"Would it be wrong to call as soon as we got to work?" Emily gave him a sad smile, and squeezed his leg. At least they'd have each other to suffer with.
They'd gotten through the last three days with Hanna at daycare with considerable difficulty. But, they'd gotten through them, and called the daycare less frequently each day. Today they'd called only twice to check on her, and she was, of course, just fine. Their next big step came tonight, letting Hanna sleep by herself again, in their new home. They'd gotten the last few things moved in, and were spending the first night in their new home.
They traded in their apartment for a house, as soon as they could. They weren't staying the apartment Hanna had been kidnapped from, neither could bear it. It was a small house in a nearly suburban area of the city, safe and family oriented, with a small fenced-in yard in the back, and a park down the street. Hanna's bedroom was right next door to theirs, and painted a light lavender. There was a living room, dining room, kitchen, and second bathroom on the ground level, and the basement was finished, so they had an office and adjoining playroom. There was even a third bedroom upstairs for...whatever. Emily had put her permanent birth control plans on hold for the time being.
Their close friends had helped them finish moving everything in, and tonight they'd spend their first night here. Hanna would be in her new room. Neither said anything, but both were nervous, and the baby monitor was on and ready to go. Now the two year-old was enjoying a slice of pizza, getting sauce and grease all over herself. Her aunts and uncles were cracking up watching her gobble it down messily, and her parents didn't even seem to mind. After nearly losing her,a little mess hardly mattered.
Emily gave Hanna a bath, and got her changed into her pajamas, so that Matt could read her a bedtime story. She pouted a little at first, realizing that she wouldn't get to sleep with her mommy and daddy, but soon settled, and fell asleep holding her stuffed dog against her chest. Matt and Emily each kissed her goodnight, and the retreated nervously from her bedroom.
This should be easier than leaving her at daycare for the day, but it wasn't, it was harder. Hanna had been taken while they slept, abducted from her crib in the middle of the night. How could they not worry? How could they not keep seeing her empty crib in their minds? They kept expecting her to disappear again, kept expecting that they were just dreaming that she was safe with them again.
They kept themselves busy until they got bone-tired: cleaning up, and unpacking the few boxes that hadn't yet been emptied.Yawning more than working, they finally crawled off to bed, returning their half of thebaby monitor to it's charger in the bedroom. No more chances, their new monitors sat comfortably on chargers as they worked. Matt shut off thelight, and spooned around his fiancée, molding their bodies together for the first time in over a week. They both laid awake awhile, still worried irrationally about Hanna, worried they'd get up and she'd be gone again.
Matt woke up first the next morning, as he had that morning over three weeks ago. Sun was spilling in through their new green curtains, there was a lot of light. He made a mental note to get a darker color, or thicker fabric. It was Saturday, and still earlier to be up, but he had to check something. He delicately moved himself from around Emily, pulling the blankets tighter around her body so she wouldn't sense the sudden decrease in heat. He stretched his body enough to get the morning stiffness out, and walked quickly and quietly to the lavender nursery.
He stopped outside the door and braced himself, trying to block out thoughts of the last time he'd done this. He pushed the door opened wider, and immediately let out a sigh of relief at the sight of a little head of curly red hair. He went over to the crib, and reached his hand in, stroking Hanna's head. Her hair was as soft as her mothers, her lips pouting in sleep; she slept on one chubby little cheek. The stuffed dog her Uncle Frank had bought for her was still under one arm, the stuffed monkey they got her at the hospital was sitting in a corner by her head.
Hanna was still there sleeping soundly and safely.
Matt returned to the bedroom, where matching curly red hair was the only thing visible past the sheets. He crawled back under the covers, wrapping his body back around hers, stroking her belly gently with his fingertips. She stirred, but didn't awaken. He pressed his lips to the back of her neck, trailing kisses along to her shoulder, then down to her collar bone. Emily's eyes fluttered open, and she brought his face closer to hers, capturing his lips in a searing kiss. But, she broke it after only a few seconds, a very short kiss for them. She needed to check on Hanna, even though she knew Matt already had, she had to see for herself.
She returned a few minutes, and Matt sat up at the sound of her footsteps, admiring the bright smile on her face.
"It's a relief, right?" There was definitely a release of tension for him, upon seeing Hanna in her crib.
"It's wonderful. Amazing really." Emily sat on the bed beside him, facing him, and pressed her mouth against his.
"Yeah, it is amazing," Matt broke the kiss smiling at her. He initiated another case, wrapping his arms around her waist as hers went around his neck. Emily lost her balance, went to straighten up, but then thought better of it, and sent them both falling back onto the bed. Matt certainly didn't mind.
He tugged gently on the thin little camisole she'd worn to bed, warning her before he pulled it up over her head. He decided to leave the matching sleep shorts-underwear things, he could never figure out what they were supposed to be, on for the time being. Emily leaned hard against him, shifting her body subtly and strategically, in just the right way to rub against where she needed too. He groaned. She giggled. In one swift move, he held her against him, and flipped them over, so he was leaning over her, enjoying his new vantage point.
They made love until they were both breathing hard, and feeling their pulses beating furiously in every vein in their bodies, utterly spent. Matt wrapped himself back around her, and Emily held his arm against her, allowing their bodies to calm down. Sleep took them again, but only for a couple of hours.
Hanna woke them, crying for them from her crib. Her little voice came distorted through the baby monitor, but they could hear her without it. Emily threw on a light robe, and went to get her, scooping her up from the crib, quieting her instantly. Matt came in behind her, wearing his pajamas of choice- boxers and a t-shirt. The man had more t-shirts than a Manhattan gift shop.
"It's ten-thirty. We have an hour and a half to get ready before everybody starts arriving."
"Get in the shower, I'll change her diaper and get her breakfast, then I'll shower and you can get her dressed." Emily instructed like a woman who'd been balancing a baby and a busy schedule for the two years she had. Matt kissed them both and tickled Hanna before marching off to the shower.
"We've got to start getting you on the potty." Emily had always heard two was a good time to try. She smiled at Hanna,who seemed completely disinterested. "What do you think Hanna, you want to try going on the potty today?"
"No potty." Hanna shook her head smiling; it was not the first time her parents mentioned the potty.
"Yes potty, soon. You know why?" She spoke in a soft voice, as she changed Hanna's soiled diaper.
"Noooo," Hanna answered, drawing out the 'o', her lips in a round little circle.
"Because Mommy and Daddy want to get married." Emily tickledthe toddler as she said it,knowing she wasn't going to get a realresponse anyway. Hanna was too young to understand that they couldn't leave her with her aunt for a week or two before she was potty-trained.
"You know why else you need to go on the potty?" She asked, eyes wide with excitement.
Hanna shook her head, one finger in her mouth.
"Big girls go on the potty, and you are getting to be a big girl." Hanna shook her head, grinning.
"No, I baby." Emily laughed at her. Yes, Hanna was still her baby, always would be.
"If you aren't becoming a big girl, then why are we having a party today?" They'd moved Hanna's aborted birthday party to today, they wanted to celebrate her life now more than ever.
"Cake!" Hanna yelped excitedly, causing her mother to laugh again as she put her on the floor.
"Cake is big girl food, not for babies. Are you a big girl?" Emily leaned close to her, and Hanna nodded silently.
"Well then, big girls go on the potty too." It didn't even phase Hanna.
"I potty! I potty!" Now she was suddenly a big girl, ready to potty train.
"Well that's good to hear. So, we'll try the potty tonight?" Hanna nodded excitedly; children were so easy to manipulate.
"Potty, potty," Hanna sang absently, as Emily led her into the kitchen for breakfast. Emily put Hanna in her high chair, and set a bowl of cheerios in front of her. Hanna could work a spoon pretty well by now, and Emily watched her daughter as she careful scooped out some milk and cereal and shoved the spoon eagerly in her mouth.
She was starting the coffeemaker when strong arms suddenly went around her waist, and hot breath hit her neck. She turned her head toward Matt, and met his lips for a quick peck. He didn't let her goyet, but turned her around to face him, and initiated a deeper kiss. Just a short one. Still not letting go, he turned them both toward Hanna. Unwilling to let Emily out of his arms yet, he felt her lean into him, as they watched their little girl eat her cheerios happily.
This was what it meant to be happy. This was bliss.
This is the end of the story, thanks as always for reading and reviewing!