This is it. The final chapter...at least for now. We all know how I am with sequels (and three-quels...four-quels...and five-quels). Please offer me some constructive criticism. I thrive on it. Maybe someday I'll go back and actually re-vamp this. Who knows? And please let me know what you think of the baby name. Maybe I'll respond back and tell you where I came up with the name.

Killing Loneliness

December 25, 2009

Lockport, IL

Palos Community Hospital, Maternity Center

Philip Brooks paced nervously back and forth in the waiting room reserved for the families of those delivering. Jen had told him to give her a little space—his nervous, frantic energy was sending her jive all out of skew, and she desperately needed all of her jive in skew.

It was just hard for him to stand and watch her in so much obvious pain—even a simpleton knew labor was long, arduous, and painful—and not be able to do anything to help her. She had been in labor for over eight hours, and she still wasn't fully dilated.

He wasn't alone in the family room. His parents and sisters were there as well, thought they kindly let him work off his panic and worry with his back and forth, rapid pacing. His father Jack sat with his back to the corner, facing his younger son. Punk and his father's relationship was always a strained one, but that didn't mean he didn't love his father. Though he loved his father, he wanted a better relationship with his own child, soon to come into the world.

His mother and sisters were a lot more at ease as they chattered and joked together over a few magazines. His sisters even bet on the baby's gender.

The door to the family lounge opened and in stepped the very familiar form of Nicole, and following her was Alex. "Punk, you son of a bitch," Nikki snarled as she stalked up to him. "What the hell took you so long to call, huh?"

"Hey, hey!" he said, cutting Nicole off before she could really start getting fired up. "Jen didn't want to call anyone right away, and since she's the one actually in labor, I figured what she wants is slightly more important than calling you."

Nikki didn't look pleased, but she didn't press the matter.

Alex, on the other hand, smiled at him warmly before asking, "How's our Jennah doin'?"

"She's still in the first stage. It could be a couple hours yet," he said, running his fingers through his jet black hair. Never in his life had he felt this completely shit-yourself-terrified and simultaneously this mind-blowingly-excited. It was an interesting combination, but it left him feeling vaguely nauseous. It wasn't pleasant, but compared to what Jennifer was going through, it seemed like a treat.

His girlfriend was having a baby—his baby, theirbaby. He didn't know whether he should shout, laugh, or cry and his body (so use to being in motion) wasn't sure if it wanted to run or jump up and down. Logically he knew that millions—even trillions—of women had given birth before, but he couldn't help reacting like the baby was the first ever baby. Egotistical, yes, but he felt entitled to worry and pace and rave.

"Punkie, don't make me have the doctors spike your Pepsi with something to help you relax," Nicole warned as he started pacing again.

He glared at her and flipped a rather rude hand gesture at her before going right back to pacing. His mother had seen the gesture, but she did not express her usually displeasure—she had given up trying to break her son of his habit.

"I say that, you know."

"Jen?" Punk asked in surprise as he turned toward the now open door where his girlfriend stood, her IV stand just behind her. "What the fuck are you doing out of bed?" he demanded, quickly striding over to her.

"I'm taking a little talk while I still can. It helps," she said simple. "My nurse actually encourages movement, and since I can't get an epi," she started with a slight snarl and roll of her eyes, "I'll take what I can get." Due to the possible complications involved and the knowledge of the pregnancy Jen had terminated in her teens as a result of a heart malformation, her doctor didn't want to give her an epidural and risk missing key warning signs.

"Oh," was all he could say.

Jen turned her attention to the other inhabitants of the room. "Hello," she greeted, wincing trough another contraction. "I wish I could say I'm happy to see you all bur in five minutes I'll probably be cursing all of your existences," she offered as a little joke.

"Bambi says she loves you and wishes she was here," Nicole said with a smile in response to Jen's greeting.

"I wish she was here, too," Jen answered. She took a few waddled steps past Punk into the room, dragging her IV behind her, and leaned against a wall. She knew if she sat down she wasn't likely to get back up. She took a deep breath and sighed. No matter what position she was in, she was extremely uncomfortable. The walk had helped a little to relieve some of the discomfort, but it left her feeling even more exhausted. She rested for a moment against the cool paneling lining the room before glancing at her boyfriend. He looked a little less panicked than earlier, which was a very good thing. He had stopped pacing at least.

"If you want to, you can go with me," she said to him. Punk smiled softly at her and closed the small space separating them. Being careful of her IV, he pulled her a little closer and held her against his chest. He kissed the crown her head and took a deep breath of her sweet-smelling hair. Her hair was back in a messy ponytail and she didn't have any make up on, but he didn't care. To him, she would never be any less then completely beautiful.

"I love you," he told her quietly.

"Me, too," she responded, smiling brightly before frowning as another contraction struck painfully. She groaned and said, "I think I should get back to my room…now."

*~*~*~*~*

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The fucking stick read positive.

Impossible.

It was fucking positive.

Completely shocked, she dropped the plastic home pregnancy test onto the hard floor of the cold bathroom. Her knees shook and she felt like she was going to throw up again. Weakly, she sunk down onto the closed lid of the toilet seat.

"I'm pregnant," she said aloud, trying to make it more real for herself. "I'm pregnant," she repeated, feeling again like she was going to be sick. It was un-fucking-believable…impossible.

She hadn't been feeling well for a while, but she hadn't actually believed she could really be pregnant. It just was not a possibility. The only reason she had even bought a pregnancy test was…well, she wasn't even sure. She had waited to take the damn thing until after Punk left for the airport. She really didn't want him to know she was taking it.

Actually, this wasn't the first test she had taken. After the first test over three hours previous read positive, she had rushed to the corner drug store and bought two more tests—just to be sure. A false positive was possible, but what were the chance of having three false positives right in a row? Very slim.

"Shit," she cursed as she felt tears well up in her eyes. She was feeling such a wide range of emotions that all she wanted to do was break down and cry. Fear and excitement tumbled around her stomach in an out of control brouhaha. Her hands shock along with her knees.

There was a sudden knock on the bathroom door that shattered the impersonal silence of the room. Through the door she could hear Nicole shouting, "Jen, we're going to be late!"

"Fuck," she hissed before responding back louder," I just need a minute!" Urgently she grabbed the tests and the boxes and wrapped them up in the drug store bag before burying them in the bottom of the bathroom trash can so Nicole wouldn't find them. Just as quickly she grabbed a hair tie and pulled her hair up in a haphazard ponytail. Trying to make herself appear totally together, she grabbed her black kohl pencil and redid her smudged eyeliner.

She couldn't afford to think about the pregnancy test—she had work to get to.

*~*~*~*~*

December 25, 2009

Nicole glared at the nondescript door to the family lounge. For the last five hours she had sat next to her fiancé waiting for news of any kind of development in Jen's progress. She was well aware that labors weren't quick, but she was becoming frustrated with the waiting.

The Brooks were a pleasant family for the most part. She felt of vibe of some sort of guilt coming from Punk's father, but she didn't ask him about it. The women of Punk's family sat together and shared stories about a young Phil, but surprisingly Nicole didn't try and gain any black mail stories. She was too busy anticipating the impending birth.

Sure, she was a little upset Jen didn't want anyone other than Phil and the hospital staff in the room as she had the baby, but that was Jen's right. She could understand that.

Still, it still hurt a little.

The door opened and in stepped a woman Nicole had never before seen personally, but she had seen enough pictures and heard enough about her to know instantly who the woman dressed in a designer pant-suit was. The woman's auburn hair was pulled into a sophisticated twist and the haunty expression on her face showed she was accustomed to getting what she wanted. This was Marie Anderson, formerly Marie McCorvik…Jennifer's mother.

Neither Alex nor Punk's family knew who this woman was, and so they were stunned when Nicole jumped to her feet and snarled at the woman, "What in hell's name are you doing here?"

"Temper. Do I know you? Oh yes, you're that little grunge rat Bambi use to marauder around with. Nicole, correct?" Marie asked, though she knew perfectly well who she was.

"I asked you what you're doing here," Nicole reminded, her eyes narrowing. "Jen told you she doesn't want you near her or the baby, so you've got no fucking business being here!"

"I have every right to be here. I'm going to be a grandmother after all," the woman answered, revealing her relation to Jen to Punk's family. "And I may have given up against my ex-husband, but I will not give up on my grandson. You can tell my ungrateful daughter that. Better yet, I'll tell her myself," she threatened.

"I think," came the gruff voice of Jack Brooks from across the room as he stood from his chair, "that it's time for you to go. I suggest you leave my son and Jennifer alone."

The room was filled with a tense energy. Alex had placed himself in a position to defend his girlfriend should something bubble over. Punk's mother and two sisters were watching Marie and Jack glare at each other across the room. Marie's lips pulled into a tight, unnatural smile on her too-smooth face. "That tart can't take care of herself, let alone a baby," she remarked coldly. Dismissing everyone else, she turned and left the room with a rapid rapping of her ridiculous high heels. The door closed behind her with an echoing thud.

"Pleasant bitch," Jack decreed as he sat back done and returned his attention back to the news he had been watching.

"How'd she fin' out Jennah was havin' the baby?" Alex asked Nicole softly as she sighed.

"I don't know, but I don't think we should tell Jen about her mother stopping by."

*~*~*~*~*

Thursday, June 4, 2009

About nine hours later after working an eight hour shift, Jennifer was exhausted. Her feet and ankles ached from standing in her heels all night and she was almost completely emotionally drained. Thankfully Nicole elected to spend the night with Alex, so Jen didn't have to worry about her realizing something was wrong.

Of course the apartment was dark and silent when she got back. She didn't bother to turn on any lights as she walked right to the bathroom, only pausing to toss her purse onto her chair in the living room. She pulled the door shut behind her and flicked the light switch on for the light over the vanity mirror before she began stripping off her clothes, starting with her shoes. Once she was naked she leaned over and turned the knobs in the shower before stepping inside the bathtub and pulling the curtain closed.

The water was hot on her skin—a welcome change from the general coldness she had been feeling for hours. For a moment Jen stood in the spray of the water and just let it flow over her. Soon thought she reached up and undid the tie holding up her dampened hair. The water running down her face was tinged black form the eyeliner and mascara she had been wearing and didn't bother to wash off.

A thousand thoughts were running through her head as she washed away the mark of the day from her hair and skin. At one point tears were running down her face as much as the water was. Feeling lost and isolated, one of her hands settled over the bare skin of her navel. She looked down at the spot and resolved that if she was really pregnant, then she was going to keep her baby…somehow and way.

The hot water eventually turned cold. Numbly she turned the knobs the opposite way this time and plucked a towel from the rack by the tub. She wrapped it around herself before opening the curtain.

The glass of the mirror was fogged over from the steam of the shower. Little beads of moisture left streaks on the cool surface. It was a funny thing to focus on, but it was better then obsessing over the fetus apparently growing inside of her. Trying to maintain focus not on being pregnant, she seized a comb and ritually worked at the tangles in her hair.

Distracting herself worked from a short time. Almost as soon as she left the bathroom, her cell phone went off. Her stomach sunk as "This Fire Burns" played, signifying the last person she wanted to talk to at that moment was calling. Despite this, she still hurried to het her phone anyway.

"Hey," she answered as naturally as she could.

"Hey, Babe," the voice of her boyfriend answered from the tiny speaker by her ear. "Did I wake you up?" he asked, sounding apologetic.

"No, no," she answered softly, pulling her hair to the side with one hand before sinking down onto the couch. "I just got out of the shower now," she continued. She could easily envision the slightly leering grin on his face. Guilt gnawed at her. She knew she needed to tell him she was quite possibly pregnant, but she really didn't want to tell him over the phone, especially since she didn't even know how she really felt…other than nauseous.

"Sorry I missed it," he said back.

"It's nothing you haven't seen before," she reminded with a little laugh she didn't have to fake.

"You've clearly never watched yourself take your clothes off…or get all wet," he responded, no doubt still grinning.

"You perv!" she shot back.

"Only for you," he answered, surprising her with one of his moments of sweetness. "I miss you," he continued. "And I really, really hope you're coming for the pay-per-view Sunday."

Fore a few weeks she had been going with him for Smackdown tapings and making appearances as his girlfriend, and for the first time in a while she had elected no to go with him. He had been trying to convince her to let him buy her a ticket to fly down.

She sighed and bit her lip. "Okay, I'll come."

*~*~*~*~*

December 25, 2009

Near Midnight

Jen's hair was a mess and damp thought with sweat, but he didn't notice. He sat next to her bed in the uncomfortable hospital chair, but he didn't care about the discomfort. The only thing he noticed was the infant in his arms.

After hours of agonizing labor on Jen's part and anxious worry on his, they had a son…a beautiful, perfect son.

He finally understood what people meant when they said the love for a child was the greatest sort of love. Despite having only seen his son scream and sleep, Punk loved him more deeply than he ever thought he could. He had obsessed over, dreamed about, and feared the moment he would first get to hold his child for weeks, but nothing he imagined compared to what he felt when his son was in his arms for the first time. There just were no words that could even begin to rationalize what he felt.

Jen had screamed at him, threatened him with bodily harm, and she almost crushed a few of the carpals in his wrist as the doctor directed her to breath and to push. Still, he hadn't let go of her hand or thought about leaving her during the worst of the process. What kind of man would he be if had?

Now here was their reward for all of their panic, worry, and stress. The newborn infant was resting serenely in the arms of his father. In the bed beside them the new mother slept just as deeply, thoroughly exhausted and sorer than she had ever before been. The baby was so tiny that Punk was almost afraid he'd crush his child if he wasn't gentle enough. Honest to whatever higher power existed, he had never before seen a more stunning child, though logically he knew that no new born was a pretty sight. Still, he was amazed by the little tuff of downy black hair and immense blue eyes his son had. Of course, those eyes could always change to another color as he grew.

Jen was the first to hold the baby after the doctor affirmed that he was healthy. At first she had seemed almost reluctant to hold him, but soon she cuddled her son to her breast and within half an hour of given birth to him was successfully breastfeeding. Before long the exhaustion finally got to her and she feel asleep.

The baby had fussed a little once his mother was asleep, and so Punk picked him up and settled with him into the hospital chair, tucking his son back into his baby blue blanket to keep him warm like the nurse had instructed. For the last hour Punk had sat holding him, and he had no desire to put him down into his hospital crib anytime soon.

His little family was complete. Punk smiled at his sleeping girlfriend and regarded her with a deeper and more profound respect. Soon she and he would be able to go home, taking with them little Rhett Asher Brooks.