I'm so sorry for the wait. DX
A whole month after my self-set deadline, wtf?
In my defense, summer is hell in a handbasket. My seemingly dead social life decided to revive itself, so I spent the entire break going to cons and beaches and malls. I actually got a tan! Sorta... Kinda...
Another pitiful excuse: I'm beginning to suspect no-one told this fic that it had a sequal. It didn't want to end! Nothing seemed right, and being the perfectionist that I sadly am, I refused to publish it any earlier and give you crap. It's still pretty crappy, but at least to a lesser degree. I think in the time that I spent writing, I re-wrote about five different versions and cut out so many scenes, I wouldn't be surprised if I end up publishing a deleted scenes fic in the future. (Maybe, my dears, mabye~)
I realized that I tend to start of a majority of scenes with dialogue. It works, so for now I'm keeping it. However, I'm gonna try to get over it in the future. It's okay every now and then, but I'd hate to think that I do it with everything I write.
Sorry, I'm just rambling now.
On with the show!
(PS - I have added one yaoi couple in here, mostly to mess with a friend of mine who does NOT like this particular pairing. Yes, you know who you are. XD Plus, I kinda find it adorable.)
8th Month Part 2: Final Chapter
Leaning against the kitchen counter, Alfred allowed himself to think back to what had transpired just an hour beforehand.
Mattie, deeply upset...
And then she'd left.
Gripping hard at the marble behind him, a few tears managed their way down his cheek before he quickly wiped them away. He was the United States of America! He didn't let things get to him.
But this had.
How could he be so stupid? So insensative? What man in their right mind tells their pregant wife they wanted to leave them for three months?
He didn't, really, if he was being honest with himself. Mattie was right, Alfred was just trying to run away. Because he was scared. He was still so young, he was bound to make a mistake at some point. The one thing Alfred feared more than anything was letting that child down.
If Mattie were there, she'd probably tell him that he was being stupid. She'd go off on a rant about how no one, not even he, was perfect, and to suck it up and face the baby like a man. Alfred smiled at the thought. He thought of her eyes when she got angry, perfectly round orbs the shade of fading bluebonnets, surging to life with a fire no one could match.
Alfred wished she had been angry with him. She had tried to hide it, feigning anger in her emotional outburst, but he knew that deep inside, she was just hurt and miserable. He had made her miserable.
'That's it,' he thought with a rush of defiance. 'President's orders be damned. I'm going after her!'
Running out the front door, the realization only hit Al once he noticed that the garage was empty.
"Ah, man... She took the car!"
Many times in his life, Francis would wonder, 'why do I love this buffoon?' As he glanced at a passed out Arthur in the car seat behind him, he realised that this was indeed one of those times.
The fact that the two were, to many's surprise, romanticaly involved wasn't necessarily a secret. They just didn't feel the need to flaunt it in front of others, so to an outsider, it would probably appear as though they were merely old friends that bickered like a married couple.
In hindsight, that probably wasn't even very far from the truth. It was only about a decade ago that Francis discovered his sincere adoration for the man, and after many failed date proposals and punches to the face, Arthur had finally come to terms with himself and accepted.
Mattie was shocked but thrilled when she heard the news. Alfred, in all his childish honesty, had only wondered who would top who.
Despite knowing that he loved Francis just as much in return, Arthur insisted that they keep the relationship very, very modest.
He was a - what had Kiku called it? Tsundere? And therefore extremely shy about his personal life.
Needless to say, explaining to one of the hospital staff when they arrived that they were both Mattie's father was quite embarassing for him.
"Mon cher, if it is that awkward for you, I can go in by myself. It is no trouble."
"N-no, I want to go in. It's my grandchild too, you bloody frog."
So after Arthur's blush finally subsided, the three were rushed into Mattie's waiting room were they would sit patiently until Mattie's doctor arrived.
She lay on the bed in her hospital gown, panting as Francis held her hand and helped her remember her breathing.
"In quickly, then exhale. Manifique. You are doing wonderfully, mon lapin."
"Papa," Mattie said heavily, "I need to call Alfred... I did something horrible..."
Francis caught the pained look in her eyes, as if she had done something unforgivable. It nearly killed him seeing her like that.
If only this whole ordeal would end. But the nurse had said she wasn't yet fully dialated, and they couldn't start until she was.
Gently, he cupped her cheek in his free hand and brought their foreheads together, like he often would when she was small and feeling upset.
"I am sure whatever it was, he will forgive you. He is too in love to ever stay angry with you."
It was obvious that something had happened when they picked her up and Alfred was no where to be found. Arthur had almost mentioned it (after he woke up), but Francis had quieted him, and nothing else was said.
"I'm too scared that he won't," she said, eyes trembling. "I-I was angry and said...t-that he didn't care about the baby..."
Suddenly the door opened and Mattie's doctor stepped in, carrying a clipboard pressed against her spotless white coat. She was fairly young with long dark hair that was done up in a tight pony-tail. She adjusted her glasses as her heels clicked softly on the way to the front of Mattie's bed.
"Do you mind if I...?" She pointed toward Mattie's gown.
She lifted the front up in a swift motion and Arthur nearly fell back out of his chair.
She murmered, more to herself than anyone,"Hmm. Seems you're nearly dialated. Quicker than I expected. I'll let the nurses know."
Well, she was certainly straight-forward, if nothing else.
Setting the gown back in place, she flashed a smile at Mattie and said. "Well, dear, you must be Matilda Williams. I'm Doctor Jane Doe and I'll be helping you with your delivery. Sorry I'm late, you wouldn't believe the traffic."
Doctor Doe. This was the woman Austria had recommended to them a few months back. Although they had never met in person before, Mattie had spent hours talking to her on the phone, making various appointments at clinics and arranging for the delivery.
"Oh, it's fine, really! And please, call me Mattie."
"It's a pleasure to finally meet you Mattie. I'm going to go get preped and then we can start, alright?"
"Oh, wait!" she called, just as Doctor Doe was about to leave. "M-my...the father isn't here yet. Do you think maybe we could wait?"
The doctor looked at her sympathetically. "I'll do what I can, but it's best not to make the baby wait. We don't want to risk any complications."
With that she left, but not before she heard her patient give a quiet 'thank you'.
"I need to call Alfred," Mattie stated again, almost absentmindedly. Both men in the room looked at her with pity, though they didn't dare let her see it. They couldn't help in, but knew it was the last thing she ever wanted.
Arthur spoke up. "Cell phones aren't allowed in hospitals, but I'll go see if there's a pay phone I can use. We'll get him, love, don't you worry."
He stood up from his chair and exited, glancing at Francis as if to say, 'Cheer her up by the time I get back, you git.'
He sighed. It was just like Arthur to leave the difficult part for him.
While trying to decide what would be the best course of action, Mattie clenched his hand again, like a signal, and began to speak, so quietly that he almost missed it.
"Do you remember all those years ago, when I went to live with England? I hated it. I was just a child. Everything was so different, and you weren't even there to help me through it. I would cry in the middle of the night, unable to sleep, thinking that surely, there couldn't be anyone in that strange place that would love me like you did."
Her voice was hushed and calm, despite the painful memories, and she could feel her father's comforting stare, as his hand rubbed soothing circles on the back of her's with his thumb.
"But I realized that I wasn't completely alone. A young boy, who also lived with Arthur at the time, would often try to find ways to cheer me up. He would bring me flowers and tell jokes, and even when he messed them up, I found myself laughing... I never thought I'd be able to laugh again, after you were gone.
"He was kind and sincere, and though I know my faults were plenty, he never judged me. I could tell him my secrets and know he'd keep them, to the grave even, if I asked. Whenever I was scared he'd hold my hand and tell me that everything was going to be okay. I... I need him now...t-to tell me everything's going to be okay..."
The tears welled up in her eyes, and Fracis immediately pulled her into an embrace, with some difficulty, petting her hair as gently and reassuringly as possible.
"Shhh~ It's going to be alright, mon cheri. I promise you, everything will turn out alright."
"Damn it, Alfred. Answer the bloody phone!"
Arthur was not in a good mood. He'd managed to find a pay phone, with some mild difficulty, but then a new problem had quickly reared it's head.
Alfred's phone was off.
No matter how many times he tried, the Brit was instantly sent to voicemail.
"Hiya! This is Al Jones, aka the U.S. of A., aka the awesomest country in the friggin' world! (Arthur could practically hear the smirk.) If I'm not answering, it means I'm busy doin' important stuff, so leave a message at the beep!"
"Of all the incompetent...," he muttered, hanging up the phone harder than necesssary. 'What on earth could he be doing that's so damn more important? And why wasn't he with Mattie in the first place?'
Two nurses walked by, distracting Arthur from his outraged thoughts as he caught part of their conversation.
"He was yelling, you say? Inside a hospital?"
"At the top of his lungs, arguing with the receptionist! If you ask me, I think he's crazy. He was wearing this old, worn out bomber jacket from the fifties. Probably homeless too."
"Excuse me!" Arthur reached for the middle aged nurse telling the story. "Where exactly do I find the reception desk?"
The woman flushed, realizing someone had overheard her speaking. "O-oh, it's down this hall, on the second left, sir. But I really think you should wait before goin-"
"Thank you very much!" And with that, he was gone.
"Honestly! Having a spat with the receptionist..."
"It's not my fault, Artie," Alfred pouted. "Mattie's name wasn't on the register, and the old bat wouldn't listen!"
Arthur sighed, footfalls heavy with stress from the eventful day.
"That's because Francis signed her in under 'Matilda'. You know, her actual name?"
Alfred huffed. "Whatever..."
As the two men turned the corner, Alfred grew anxious, and the closer they seemed to get to Mattie's room, the more time seemed to still; his thoughts began to race.
Unable to know where Mattie had driven off to in her anguish, Alfred had called a taxi and simply given the driver directions to roam around the area as long as possible. This had proven to be one of his less intelligent ideas, as his money had quickly depleted within a couple of hours.
It didn't help matters when he realized walking down the sidedwalk that he had also forgotten his phone back at the house. With the little cash he had left (transfered into change at a nearby convenience store), Alfred decided to lay all his cards on the table and use a pay phone to see if Mattie had gone to any of their friends' residences in Canada. No such luck.
It was only due to sheer paranoia that the thought entered his head when it did.
'What if she went into labor?'
Alfred swore he broke some kind of record when he dialed their doctor's private line.
Doctor Doe had just been with Mattie when Alfred made the call. She agreed to call him a taxi, and since the hospital was close to where he was, it didn't take long at all for him to arrive.
If only not for that damn receptionist.
"Are you even listening, boy?"
Arthur's biting tone quickly snapped Alfred out of his reverie, and it was only then did he realize that they were standing in front of a door. He quickly figured out which door, and it suddenly seemed all the more menacing.
"Well," the Brit said. "Are you going in, or aren't you?"
He was the United States of America. He was brave. If he made a mistake, he owned up to it. And if the mistake was so big that the woman he loved hated him for it, well...then he'd cross that bridge when it came.
Taking a deep breath, he said, "Yeah... I'm ready."
He'd prepared himself for the worst; yelling, silence. He'd even braced his body incase she decided to start throwing things at him.
What Alfred never could've guessed was that the minute he entered Mattie's hospital room, she'd literally lunge herself out of bed, awkwardly waddle-run to him and crush him in a hug with all her maternal strength. All the while crying her eyes out.
She was hysterical!
"I-I didn't mean- I just...I love you so...! Why- W-what...? H-how could I even..."
From what Alfred could vaguely gather, Mattie didn't hate him. In fact, she seemed to blame herself for the whole thing.
'Typical,' he thought with a relieved smile.
"Hey, hey," he soothed, taking her face between his hands. "It's okay, I'm here now." He gently brushed half of her tears away with his thumb. "You couldn't get rid of me if you tried," he joked.
She laughed, genuinly, but since she was still crying, it came out as a sort of hiccup. Alfred found it adorable.
At that moment, Doctor Jane Doe appeared through the open door behind them, now adorned in a set of light blue scrubs.
"Well, looks like the gang's all here. Mattie, sweetie, we're ready to take you to the delivery room now. If I could get the father to come with me, please, we can get this party started."
Alfred helped Mattie climb back into her bed, and held her hand the entire time, as a pair of male nurses entered to wheel her to the delivery room
Francis and Arthur got up as well, but were stopped as the doctor raised a firm hand. "Sorry, gentlemen. I'm afraid it's the long wait for you two." She turned her head out to the hallway and called out. "Ms. Farris!" A young looking nurse approached, and Doctor Doe explained. "Ms. Farris, if you could, please escort these two to the waiting room just outside Delivery Room 3."
"Yes, ma'am!" The nurse's voice was light and bouncy. Francis didn't skip a beat. In one fluid motion, he was up right next to her, working his magic with a rose he'd seemingly pulled from nowhere.
"It is an honor to have such a lovely mademoiselle show us the way~"
French charm. It never failed. In a second, the young lady was a blushing mess, stumbling as she attempted to show the couple to their destination.
Francis chuckled as they walked, while Arthur just pouted.
"That's not fair. You know I hate it when you do that, frog."
"Honhon~ Pardonne moi, I simply cannot help it. The look on your face when you get jealous is too good to resist."
Now Arthur was the one blushing. "Idiot."
The delivery had been brutal, on both nations' account. Alfred was determined that he'd never be able to use his right hand again.
He sat down, exhausted, in the chair next to Mattie's bed, as Doctor Doe and her assistants cleaned off their first child.
He could hardly believe it. After all that waiting, all that worrying and agitation, Alfred F. Jones was actually a father.
He turned his head to look at Mattie, who appeared to be resting. He gently brushed her cheek, layered in sweat, and she sighed.
"Is it over?" she whispered.
Alfred chuckled. "Yeah, it's over."
Doctor Doe walked up, a large pink bundle nestled in her arms. Mattie cracked her eyes open tiredly, before they widened in anticipation.
"Oh," she said in awe. "Let me hold her."
"Of course," she said, carefully passing the little girl over.
They sat there for a long time, mother and daughter just staring, taking each other in. Finally, Mattie motioned for Alfred to come closer.
She was so small, so delicate. Alfred was almost afraid that if he even touched her she might shatter, like fine glass.
"Don't be shy, Al," Mattie smiled wearily. "Come say hi to your daughter."
He didn't know how to approach. How could he have possibly had a hand in making something so beautiful? She looked perfect, right where she was, embraced in her mother's arms. But Mattie was waiting, anxious to see him hold his new daughter for the first time. God...he really was a father now, wasn't he?
Gingerly stepping forward, he held out his arms as the new mother showed him how to balance the baby's soft head.
It was true, compared to what he was capable of lifting, she weighed nothing; but at the same time, Alfred didn't think Mattie could've placed a bigger weight on his heart. And somehow, he didn't mind.
Her hair, already appearing in little tufts, was exactly the same as his, wheat color and all. Her eyes, however, had Mattie's coloring, deep violet like a wildflower. He stroked her soft cheek, basking in how warm and comforting it felt.
"My God, Mattie... She's so beautiful..."
Mattie swore she saw him crying, though if you asked Alfred himself afterword, he would admit that he honestly couldn't remember. He'd been too absorbed in his new little bundle of joy.
(P.S. - Naming, and all that good stuff, will happen in the sequal. It's taking place immediately after the birth, so basically from the moment the new parents get home, new hijinx will ensue. Yay~!)