Beth Pryor, you went and had to remind me about a plot bunny I left languishing for over a year. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa for letting this go on so long, so this is for you. Thank you for the nudge. And thank you, girlwithoutfear for being my beta reader.

As for the powers that be, well, if you won't use these characters, I will, but just for fun.

Home Birth

"What I don't understand," Marty Russo spread his hands as if to include everyone in the restaurant, "is why anyone would want to have a home birth. Both my kids were born in a nice, clean hospital and…"

"Are you saying my home isn't clean?" Karen Betancourt-Daniels shot back.

"No, I'm just saying a doctor and…"

"So having a midwife isn't good enough?" Karen leaned into Frank Daniels warm embrace. "Sweetie, Marty says our midwife isn't good enough. Should we sue?"

"No," Marty voice climbed up a notch while everyone else in the restaurant smirked. "It's been my experience that babies born in hospitals have an easier time."

The impromptu baby shower at the Woo Hop's on Mott Street had most of the staff of the 9th Precinct there. Each and every one there loved watching Marty Russo chewing on his foot.

"I delivered three babies, two in cabs and one in the bodega," Lt. Fisk joined the melee. "As far as I know all three are doing just fine."

"Yeah, but…" Marty tried to finish.

"Hands up anyone here who delivered a baby," Jim Dunbar crowed as his hand, complete with beer bottle, went up in the air "How many is that, Frank?"

Frank's head swiveled as he counted, "six. I guess we're okay if Karen drops Fido here."

Karen gave Frank a hard elbow to the rib cage. "Quit calling him Fido!"

"Sorry, I mean Rover," Frank held Karen tight to protect himself from flying elbows. "This is only because you won't tell me the name you picked."

Jim tilted his head, "Why don't you know the baby's name? Isn't that like a joint decision or something?"

Karen pointed her chopsticks at her partner, "too many arguments over names. So we decided that I'd name it if was a boy and Frank would name if it was a girl. This baby had the good sense to be a boy."

"And I've asked Uncle Father to say a mass in the hopes the kid doesn't get stuck with Marmaduke Percival Daniels. OUCH! Watch those elbows."

0o0o0

"This is only day two of my maternity leave," Karen's voice poured out of the speaker phone. "If I'd known it was going to be this boring I'd have stayed on the job 'til my water broke."

"No," Fisk's voice burst through his office door, "I refuse to deliver another baby and I refuse to have anyone else deliver a baby in our holding cell."

"Come on, how about interrogation room one. Marty deserves his chance to deliver a baby." Karen's laugh joined Jim Dunbar's and Tom Selway's.

"Enough of rile Russo time," Marty tried to stay calm, only to sputter and start laughing too.

"Okay," Fisk cut off the speaker phone and pulled the receiver to his ear, "you can all us when Fido is finally here."

"Don't call him Fido," her squeal rang through Fisk's headset and through the squad room.

"You deaf now, Boss," Marty's tone made everyone cringe.

"You ready to walk a beat again, Russo?" Fisk slapped the phone down.

0o0o0

August was not a happy time in Manhattan; the temperature marched up the thermometer double time and the humidity settled down around everything like a second skin. Rolling brownouts stifled air conditioning and the people who could get out of town were gone.

"I know why we can't turn the air conditioning on," whined Russo, "but why can't we open up the windows."

Jim rolled his eyes, "because the windows don't open and if you don't quit bitching I'm gonna sic Hank on you."

"Shut up, Dunbar, nobody wants to hear from you." Marty pulled his collar further from his neck, but his shirt still clung like a warm, wet rag against him. "You want a ride home; I wouldn't curse my worst enemy to the subway today."

Jim started to packed up his laptop, "Nice to know where I sit in your esteem."

"Who said anything about you, its Hank I worry about," Marty picked up the guide dog's water dish. "You want some fresh water, Pooch. That slave driver not treating you right?"

"Watch it, Russo. Hank may not bite, but I do."

The ride home was slowed down because the men had to stop at two Waldbaum's to buy enough bags of ice for each of them and then three 7/11's for sodas and ice cream. Even though Marty had a cooler in his trunk everything started to warm up and melt.

"Dunbar, your building is dark."

"Shit, just the damn perfect ending to a perfect damn day," Jim moaned.

"Hey, you only have four floors to climb to get home and there's a breeze off the East River so you get the pleasing aroma of dirty water all night. Did I tell you that we put an above ground pool in the back yard?" Marty laughed at the sound Jim made. "Tell you what; I'll carry your ice for all the way to the stairway."

"You're a real saint, Marty."

Juggling grocery bags while Dunbar managed a briefcase, laptop bag and Hank on his leash Marty guided Jim into the lobby when he stopped cold.

Jim froze when Marty spoke. "Frank, what the hell are you doing here?"

Karen's husband, Frank Daniels sped in his wheelchair to the pair, "the elevator's not working. Karen called; she's in labor and can't walk down six flights of stairs any more than I can walk up. I've called the ambulance but they said because of the brownouts it could be as much as an hour to get here. You've got to get to her, please."

All the bags were dropped on Frank lap as Jim and Marty bolted up the stairs but no matter much they wanted to fly up the stairway the dank, hot interior slowed them down to a crawl.

"Jesus, we're finally here. Which apartment is Karen's?"

"Son of a bitch!" rang through the hallway.

"Never mind, I think I can find it myself."

"You're one hell of a detective, Russo, now we get to see if you're a doctor."

Russo turned, "no way Dunbar. No way on earth am I delivering a baby. You've done it before, you can catch the kid."

Jim pulled back, "and Hank is here to assist me, right. Sorry Marty, you might not know nothin' bout birthin' babies but you are going find out in a real hurry."

The door to condo 6B flew open. "I can hear you idiots out there. Get me to the hospital now or I'll rip you both a new oneeeyoww!"

"Hold on," Jim pushed Marty aside to get to Karen, "the ambulance is coming." He eased her inside. "Marty, get us to the bedroom."

"I don't know where the damn bedroom!"

"Jim, let me lean on you so I can get us there. Marty, call Frank's cell and tell him you're here." She rested against her partner, "thank god someone came. I was afraid I'd be alone doing this."

"We're here, you can relax now." Jim rubbed Karen's back as she guided them both to the bedroom.

"Should I boil water or something?"

"Do you want a coffee or maybe some boiled baby?" Jim called over his shoulder. "Call the hospital and see how long before the ambulance gets here."

"We're here," Karen sighed as she settled on the bed. "Oh, here comes another one."

"Uh," Jim tired to remember what happened when he delivered a baby, "hold my hand and pant through the pain. Marty, get your ass in here."

"I'm here," Marty came through the door to see Karen squeezing Jim's hand so hard he was grimacing in pain. "What do I do now?"

"Gimme the phone," Karen sound very tired. "I'll call my ob-gyn and my midwife, someone'll tell you what to do. Marty, wash up and get some clean towels here because I think you are going to be playing doctor today."

"Lucky me," he groused but Marty went quickly to do what do what he was told. "I can do this, I might not like it but I can do it."

"Jim, I really didn't want to share this with half the squad."

"Why, you got any obscene tattoos I don't know about?" Jim eased himself behind his partner so Karen could lean into his chest. "As scary as this sounds, we just have to trust Russo now."

"What are you two laughing at?" Marty, stripped down to his undershirt, came into the room carrying an armload of towels. "Have you called your doctor yet?"

It was then the apartment door burst open, "Mrs. Daniels, this is the emergency medical service."

"Thank you, God," Russo called through the door. "She's in here."

Two med techs pushed past Marty to get to Karen. "We'll take over from here, gentlemen."

"Come on, Jim, we had better let Daddy know the cavalry has arrived." They had settled in the living room, cell phone in hand, to let Frank know how things were progressing.

"Your turn is gonna come, Marty." Jim said as he listened by the bedroom door. "I think Fido has arrived."

"Don't call my baby Fido," Karen voice was gentle this time; gentle but tired. "Come in here and meet my son." She waited while Marty guided Jim to her bed.

"Mr. Russo, Mr. Dunbar, I want you to meet Francis Xavier Daniels Jr." Karen took the cell phone from Russo, "did you hear that, sweetie, I named him after you. Yeah, I love you too." She snapped the phone closed and gave it back to Marty.

"He's a cutie," Marty inane smile showed his relief for not having to deliver the child.

"Jim, come here," Karen patted the bed and waited for her partner to come near and then she pulled him down to sit beside her. "Meet my son," Karen placed the tiny baby in Jim's arms, "isn't he beautiful?"

Jim held the baby close and passed his knuckles lightly over little Frank's cheek. "Yep, he's really beautiful. You always did do good work Karen."

fin