Hi all just want to say thanks a million for all those really great reviews!! Sorry I haven't updated in a while, been back at school this week and no matter how many times I try to make this more interesting it just doesn't work well. This chapter is a little bit of a filler and isn't as exciting as the previous, so apologies for that but there are some juicy bits coming up!! Love Tink xx.
Troy pressed the buzzer and strolled in through the door of the Nicu, exchanging smiles with the nurses, as he made his way over to the isolette. In the four days since her birth, Troy, Gabriella and even little Ana to some extent, had fallen into a routine. They took turns sitting with Ana, Troy usually visiting whilst Gabriella rested, as consequence, Troy and Gabriella saw very little of one another. Ana was doing very well and despite the odd AOP episode, she was off the CPAP and putting on weight well, so well, that by the time she was three days old she could nurse. Gabriella was thrilled and looked forward to the times when they sat snuggled together, cherishing the feeling that she was nourishing her daughter, no matter how uncomfortable it was for her, nobody had warned her just how painful breast feeding could be.
"Hi there little lady" Troy said softly, reaching into the isolette to cradle Ana in his arms. She looked up at him with her wide blue eyes and Troy felt the now familiar tug on his heartstrings and the surge of longing that always accompanied it.
The news that she was able to go home soon, meant that for Troy, his time with her was almost over and it was something he didn't want to think about. He had grown so used to being with her over the last few days, that he couldn't remember a time before she was in his life and he didn't want to think about the future without her in it.
"You're doing so well, your mommy is so proud of you," he cooed, smiling as she gripped his finger tightly, so strong for one so fragile.
"Hi Troy" came Rachael's voice behind him.
"You must be thrilled to be getting this little lady home tonight" she chattered, as she began to fill in various charts.
"Tonight?" he echoed.
"Yeah…Gabriella didn't tell you?"
He shook his head, holding her closer to him "She can go tonight? Is she well enough for that? "
Rachael nodded "Sure, she's put on nearly three ounces, which given her size is fantastic, they want to send an AOP monitor home for a few weeks but they think she's ready, you must be thrilled huh?"
"Sure" he said forcing a false smile, whilst inside he felt like howling.
This was it, she was going home with Gabriella, she wouldn't need him around anymore.
His heart felt like lead and he pressed a kiss to the fuzz of dark hair on her head, almost absentmindedly, committing her sweet smell to memory.
"Did Gabi tell you what arrangements she'd made to get home?"
Rachael looked at him with a sympathetic smile "She said something about her friends Taylor and Chad picking them up"
"Oh" he said dully, settling her more closely against him as she started to squirm.
"She'll be fine Troy, she doesn't need to be here anymore…This is a place for sick babies and she's not sick, she's just very early…but she'll do great once she's at home with her mommy and daddy" she said with a reassuring smile.
"Yeah," he said, looking down at the tiny replica of Gabriella he held in his arms, feeling something inside him break, as her lids drifted shut and she slipped into sleep. Pressing another kiss to her hair, he gently put her back in the isolette and closed the hatch. Taking one last look, he touched a hand to the warm plastic before turning and walking away.
Gabriella packed her overnight bag, smiling broadly, she was going home and she was taking her tiny daughter with her. She couldn't wait to get back to her own bed, her own routine and get to know her little girl. There were so many things to think about and for a second she was fazed, she would be all on her own and worried she wouldn't be able to cope. After all there would be no doctors or nurses telling her if something was wrong, there would be no other moms to ask advice from. Suddenly she became panicked, what if something happened and she was all alone, what would she do? This baby was now all her responsibility and she would have to do everything herself, it suddenly seemed like a monumental decision to go home. Was it the right one? Taking a deep breath to calm herself, she sat on the bed and put her head in her hands, overwhelmed.
Troy's first thought as he entered the room, was that she looked so forlorn and lost. His second, was that she was getting her figure back and then some!
He pushed that thought aside and smiled at her tentatively, desperately trying not to stare at her engorged breasts.
"Brie?" he asked, his voice cracking slightly.
Gabriella looked up; her worry written all over her face, her nose scrunched up in the way it did when she was thinking hard, frown lines appearing between her chocolate brown eyes.
"Is everything ok with Ana?" she asked urgently, rising from the bed, wondering what he was doing in her room. She hadn't seen him unless they passed in the hall or the Nicu, he never came to visit her or spend time with her.
"She's fine I promise, I only came to say goodbye, I heard you're going home tonight"
Gabriella looked away from him and played with diaper bag on the bed "Yeah, they said she's well enough"
"I thought you'd be stoked, you don't seem very happy"
Gabriella shrugged "I am, its just daunting ya'know? Suddenly realizing I'm going to be all by myself with this tiny person, morning noon and night… What if I do something wrong? What if something happens to her and there's no one there to help? What if she doesn't like me?" she finished, her voice breaking on a sob, her hormonally driven emotions, rushing to the surface.
Troy stood there for a second and opened his mouth to tell her everything was going to be okay, that she'd be fine on her on but what he actually found himself saying was
Gabriella stared at him, a lone tear escaping down her cheek, whilst she tried to figure out what the hell he'd just said, she could have sworn it sounded like
"Would you like me to stay with you for a while?"
She blinked owlishly, knowing she should say no but finding what came out was "Yes…please"
For a second they both stared at each other, shocked blue eyes meeting wary brown.
Troy cleared his throat and scratched the back of his neck, he was supposed to be getting away from Gabriella, not getting closer to her.
"So… I'll bring my shit round tonight after you get home? It'll probably be late" he warned.
"What about the team?" she whispered, her tears abating, her heart lifting, maybe this way she could make him see that Ana was his.
"They can do without me for another few days"
"If you're sure, it will only be for two maybe, three days tops, till I get my bearings"
He nodded and shrugged "No problem…so I'll go back to the hotel, pack my things and I'll see you later?"
"Yeah" she watched as he turned to leave and she cried out "Troy!"
He turned at the urgency in her tone "Yeah?"
"Th- Thank you," she said softly, lowering her gaze slightly.
He smiled once, a genuine smile of friendship, and then he was gone, leaving a somewhat breathless Gabriella in his wake.
Some hour's later Taylor and Chad rode the elevator, Taylor bouncing with excitement, Chad clutching a car seat and brightly colored helium balloon.
"I can't believe we're gonna get to see her properly, you can't see a thing through those windows" Taylor grumbled, as the doors opened and they exited onto the ward. Chad, wisely, simply nodded.
"Hey Gab!" Taylor exclaimed, drawing her friend into a big hug.
"You ready to get this show on the road?" Chad asked, depositing the empty car seat and picking up Gabriella's bags.
She took a deep but shaky breath and nodded with a smile.
"Well then, lets go get Ana!" Taylor begged with a grin "Chad honey, you can take Gabi and Ana's things down to the car, we'll meet you back outside the Nicu"
Chad raised an eyebrow and opened his mouth to argue but Taylor stared at him for a second, her lips pursed to show she would broke no argument.
He sighed "Alright already, just stop looking at me like that!"
She beamed at him "Thanks baby" then turned to Gabriella.
"As I'll ever be" she said, overwhelmed with excitement and nerves.
The walk along the hall to the Nicu, had never seemed so long, Gabriella was desperate to get her hands on her daughter. Pressing the buzzer for what she hoped would be the final time she felt herself well up with tears again, it was happening, she was going home with her baby!
"Hey Ana, here's mommy" said Rachael as Gabriella crossed the room, to where Rachael was opening the isolette.
Gabriella looked down at her tiny daughter, dressed in a pink onesie with a matching hat, free from wires and monitors, and thought she looked smaller than ever. Gathering her close, she held her while the staff came to say their goodbyes, all of them getting a little emotional, before folding her into a thick pink cardigan, made for preemies. As she carried Ana out of the Nicu to where Taylor waited with the car seat, she felt tears drip down her nose, unsure why she was crying. Hormones again, she was thrilled her daughter was well enough to come home, relieved even but also a little scared about what the future would bring, for her and Ana and for them as a family with Troy. Would he continue to deny she was his? He seemed to care about her so why couldn't he saw what was right in front of him?
"There she is" Taylor cooed and looked down into Gabriella's arms, her mouth and eyes growing wide in shock "Oh my god! She's Troys!"
Gabriella stared at her best friend for a second, the blood draining from her face "Wh- why did you say that?"
Taylor looked Gabriella straight in the eye and pursed her lips "Because she's his living image, she's like a freakin mini me, nobody that's seen her could doubt that…Gabi what the hell has been goin on? Does he know?"
"Know what?" Chad asked as he approached the pair, looking at the tension on their faces. Turning his gaze on the tiny pink bundle he murmured "Holy shit!"
"What?" asked Taylor and Gabriella in unison, worried, had Chad too, noticed the resemblance?
Chad's face relaxed into a smile "She's so tiny, gonna be a real heartbreaker though"
Gabriella breathed a sigh of obvious relief; the last thing she wanted was for Chad to know what was going on.
"She's bigger than she was" Gabriella said, shooting Taylor a look that said they would talk about this later.
Setting Ana in the car seat, the trio made their way out of the hospital and towards home.
An hour or two later, when Gabriella was unpacked, had settled Ana into her crib for a nap and Chad had been dispatched to get the takeout, Taylor broached the subject of Ana's father again.
"Gabi, what the hell is going on with you and Troy?"
Gabi sighed and looked at her tiny sleeping daughter "I can't tell you Taylor, it's between me and him"
"Is he her father?" Taylor asked, with her usual bluntness.
Gabriella paused for a long second, and then nodded slightly, unable to look at Taylor.
"How Gabi? How is he her father?"
Gabi smirked at her "In the usual way" she said with a little giggle, suddenly feeling lighthearted.
Taylor rolled her eyes "You know what I mean, I thought you guys were best friends"
"We were, we are…I think"
"Gabi, you need to talk with him… what's he gonna do for Ana, how could he leave you when you were pregnant? He's her father, how can he be halfway across the country and raise her with you?" Taylor was incensed and fired questions at her, without giving her chance to respond.
Gabriella knew what she had to say next, wouldn't go down well with Taylor, at all.
"He doesn't believe she's his," she said softly, bracing herself for what was to come.
"He what!" she screeched, incandescent with rage.
"He thinks Ana isn't his, he-"
"How dare he? The spineless bastard!"
"Tay, calm down…Remember when he had mumps in high school? The doctors told him he couldn't have children…so in his mind he thinks that Ana is someone else's"
"That's crazy Gabi, he must know she's his, she looks like him and you told him he's the daddy…doesn't he believe you?"
Gabriella shook her head "He thinks I cheated on him"
"Cheated?" Taylor squeaked, "You two were in a relationship? I thought it was maybe a drunken, one night thing,"
"No, it was more of a friends with benefits…but he thinks I cheated"
"Want me to talk to him? Tell him what an ass he's being?"
"No! Taylor he would be furious with me if he thought I'd spoken to you about this"
Taylor sighed, studying the pained look on her best friends face "Why not just demand a DNA test, and prove Ana is his"
"I don't want that, besides, the media would get a hold of it" she sighed deeply, her eyes drifting back to Ana "I want Troy to realize she is his, to trust me and believe what I say… I still think he will…one day"
"Oh honey, we know Troy and when he thinks he's right, he doesn't change his mind…promise me you'll think about having a DNA test"
Gabi nodded "But Tay, you have to promise me that you won't tell Chad, he'll never manage to keep this to himself"
"Okay we'll do it your way…you're in love with him aren't you?"
She shrugged helplessly "I- I…yes"
"Just be careful Gab, I love Troy, he's one of my best friends but you know his rep with women and I don't think he's ready to settle down, even if it is with you"
"I know," she said simply and she did.
By ten that evening Taylor and Chad had left, Gabi had taken a quick shower and fed Ana before changing for bed. Just as she was about to turn in, there was a knock at the door, she knew Troy was here. Clutching the edges of her ancient robe together, she opened the door, peeking around it, so he couldn't see her state of undress.
"Sorry it took me long, I had to contact my agent, let him know where I am" he said not really looking at her, more looking past her.
She shrugged, feeling strangely embarrassed and stepped back to allow him to enter, "It's okay, we're about settle for the night anyway"
Troy followed her inside and dropped his bag on the floor by the door.
"Where is she?"
"Sleeping, in my room, you can sleep in the nursery, I set up a cot for you…I appreciate this Troy, I just didn't want to be on my own these first few nights…When do you have to go back?"
"Saturday…how's she been since you got home, any episodes?"
"Just two but they only lasted for about four seconds, she's doing really good but she just looks so tiny in everything" she gestured about the room.
Troy's curious blue eyes followed her hand, Gabriella's apartment had always been immaculate but now every surface was littered with some sort of baby paraphernalia, it wasn't untidy as such, more like organized chaos. There were piles of diapers ready to be used, baby wipes stacked in neat piles, and toys of all colors shapes and descriptions. Congratulations cards stood proudly on her mantle and Troy felt a sudden strong surge of wistfulness, if things had been different, those cards would be for him too.
Gabriella watched as he took in the mess which surrounded her, at first she had been concerned that she wouldn't be able to keep on top of things and keep her apartment in the same way she used to, but as Taylor, her priority was her daughter, not doing the vacuuming or polishing. She knew they were right, all the chores would still be there to be done another time, a baby is only a baby for a very short time and Gabriella wanted to cherish her daughter.
He looked so handsome, she thought, so fresh. Whereas she felt as though she had been up for up for hours, her body still sore from the birth, her hair frizzy, bags under her eyes and an old oversize robe covering, in her opinion, her still too rounded body.
"I'm gonna turn in" she said "You know where everything is, there's a cot set up in the nursery, so I'll just see you in the morning"
He fixed her with his bright blue eyes "Sleep well"
She nodded, her stomach suddenly filled with butterflies, and like the coward she was, she fled to her room.
Troy stood in the doorway of the nursery transfixed, it was beautiful, perfect and so Gabriella. From the crib to the toy chest it was all designed with a baby in mind. He felt that same surge of wistfulness again, that he would never have this feeling again, once he went back to LA. With quick efficient movements he stripped down to his boxers and lay down on the cot, one arm under his head as a pillow, the other resting just above the waistline of his boxers. He thought about all that had happened in the days since he'd come home, home, he hadn't thought of this place as home in a long time, so why now? What had changed? Was it him? Was it seeing Ana born? Had he forgiven Gabi for cheating on him? Did he want Ana and Gabi in his life? Could he cope knowing Ana was someone else's? Would he be able to trust Gabi again?
These were just some of the hundreds of questions, which chased around his head until he succumbed to sleep.
Troy came awake quickly, sitting up, startled from sleep by a high-pitched wail, the sheet pooling around his waist. For a second he panted, his chest heaving with the shock of being awakened so abruptly. It was Ana, he squinted at the clock, it was just after one am. He listened for a few seconds, waiting for the noise to abate, and when it didn't, he swung his legs over the edge of the cot. He padded barefoot from the room and made his way down the hall towards Gabriella's room; concerned the crying was still going on. He yawned, scratching his chest and silently pushed open the door to Gabriella's bedroom.
What he saw he made him stop in his tracks. Gabriella sat in a large rocking chair, Ana held in her arms, trying to latch her on, with hesitant fingers. The smooth creamy curve of her breast was just visible, sending hunger surging through him and he watched as she fitted the screaming child to her, the wailing stopping instantly. Troy immediately felt like the worst kind of pervert, getting turned on. He watched, an odd kind of longing filling him, tenderness swamping him.
"You okay?" he asked, his voice gruffer than he'd intended.
Gabriella looked up, shocked to see a half naked Troy standing in her bedroom door, she nodded, looking away quickly, feeling embarrassed, even though what she was doing was perfectly natural. Color and heat suffused her cheeks, making her burn and she looked down at her daughter.
He watched as Gabriella fed her child, the expression of love and tenderness on her face, making his breath catch in his throat. He felt excluded and knew he wanted to be part of their lives for a long time to come, he'd couldn't deny it any longer, he wanted them, wanted them both and he didn't care about the past. Gabriella glanced up shocked by the look of longing on his face, her heart pounding where Ana's head rested.
"Troy?" she asked softly
"Huh?" he almost grunted.
"Are you okay?"
He nodded, his eyes still on their daughter, watching as she ate hungrily.
"Yeah, just not used to waking up to a screaming baby" he admitted, his voice gruff.
Gabriella chuckled "Me either but I guess it's something I'll have to get used to"
He nodded, his eyes still on them "I should get back to bed, give you guys some peace" he began
"You don't have to, I'm awake now anyway, she doesn't feed for too long" Gabriella looked up briefly, wincing slightly, as Ana's sucking increased.
"Does it hurt?"
She nodded "Just a little…I'm getting used to it though"
They were both silent for a few minutes, watching their daughter eat, wondering what was going through the others mind. Trying not to stare and failing, Troy watched as Gabriella moved a now sleeping Ana to one side. Gabriella had a dilemma, her hands were full and she couldn't cover herself properly but to move would expose her more to Troy's gaze. Lifting her chin, she ignored the fact that her breast was now visible and quickly tucked Ana back into her crib, before adjusting her nightshirt.
Troy couldn't help but stare at the smooth, full, creamy, expanse of her breast, it was so much bigger than he remembered but then she had just given birth and that was pretty normal. He just felt so perverted that he wanted her, that he felt this way about her again; she was a mother for Christ's sake, lustful thoughts were the last thing she should entertain from him.
"Call me if you need anything, I'm just next door…I would offer to do the next feed but somehow I don't think I come with the right equipment" he said with an attempt at humor.
Gabriella smiled a little, stifling a yawn "I appreciate the offer and if I could, I would take you up on it in a heartbeat"
"G'Night Brie" his voice was soft.
"Night Troy" she said watching as he walked from the room before switching off her lamp and settling to sleep.
Watching Gabriella and being with Ana had made him realize that he was missing something vital from his life, something that he probably would never have the chance to have again. He wanted, needed, to have a family. He wanted Gabriella and Ana to be his family. He couldn't let them go and vowed first thing in the morning he was going to tell Gabriella so.