See part 1 for notes


May, 2006

A tiny squeal brought Nick back to the present with a rush and dragged his attention to the little mortal in his arms. She wasn't quite the most precious thing he'd ever seen, but she was pretty damn close.

There were plenty of differences between this moment and the night her mother had been born. For one, the baby had a name - Evelyn Hope; for two, her mom was in the bed over on the other side of the room getting some well earned sleep. And, of course, he was older now. Maybe wiser. And yet, for all that it was different from that seventeen-year-old memory, some things were the same: he was sitting in an armchair, cuddling the newest member of the Stokes clan and watching the sun rise.

Quietly, he murmured, "I made a promise to your mom, when she was your age, that I'd be here whenever she needed me. Same goes for you, darlin'. Might only be an uncle, but if you need me, I'll be here."

Evie's only response was to blink sleepily at him.

"She must be getting close to wanting to eat," said a voice softly.

Nick stiffened, then realised that Libby was no longer asleep. He looked up and offered her a faint smile. "How long've you been awake?"

"Long enough to know you and Evie look awful cute together." Libby grinned. "So how's it feel to be a Great Uncle?"

Nick winced. "Like thirty-five's a little too young to be as old as that title implies. Just plain Uncle Nicky'll do fine - not like it's gonna make a heap of difference to Evie just yet, anyhow."

Libby giggled. "Did you cuddle her all night?"

"Only since she woke up - and I think you're right," he added as Evie uttered that squeal again, "she is gettin' hungry again."

"Bring her over, then," said Libby. "Better make sure she's fed and happy before the first round of visitors show up."

That made Nick smile. It had surprised him just how fast the various members of the LVCL Graveyard shift had adopted Libby when she'd shown up, seven months earlier. It had been Catherine who'd explained it with a simple, "She's your daughter in all the important ways. Why wouldn't we?" To Libby he simply said, "Catherine did promise to hold the lab folks off until this afternoon."

"And you don't think Grampa Cisco's gonna have pulled strings to get here?" Libby retorted, holding her arms out for her daughter. "He said him, grandma and dad would be here at seven and if Grampa Cisco says so--"

"It is so," Nick finished, handing Evie over. "I know." He turned away to give Libby a little privacy while Evie fed.

Libby hesitated. "Nick? Why'd you make that promise?"

Nick sighed. "Because you needed me - and, guess, in a funny sort of way, maybe I needed you, too. And now here we are, you're all grown up and got a beautiful baby girl all your own."

"Guess you've come full circle, huh?"

"I think we both have, darlin'." Nick turned back to face her. "I just hope the next go round's a little easier on us both."

Libby smiled. "I think it will be."