A/N: This one is dedicated to warriormari, because she waited so patiently for baby Gina. Less than three, my Brazilian friend.
Disclaimer - I sadly don't own or have anything to do with Skins.
Everybody's eyes were on her. It was daunting. Inescapable. She was desperate to run, or at the very least to tell the lot of them to fucking look elsewhere, but she couldn't. Clenched her jaw a little tighter, and hung on.
An eternity later, and the music started. The sound of shuffling and rustling, low voices, permeated the room. Lessened the tension, as everyone turned to look to the back of the room. Waiting.
Harry appeared first, solemn and studious, focused intently on the bundle he carried. His dark hair tamed for once into a neat part. As he approached Naomi caught his eye, gave him a smile and a wink. He grinned back, green eyes twinkling, before the serious expression dropped over his features once more, and he took up his allocated position. Swivelled to watch the back of the room.
Naomi's heart skipped a beat then, as Emily came into view. The redhead was radiant, despite the crushing fatigue and discomfort. Walked carefully up the aisle, bouquet clasped in front of her belly. But not hiding it. She'd woken up this morning with terrible back ache, and they'd worried that she wouldn't be able to manage. But a massage and a couple of judiciously timed painkillers saved the day. Blue eyes could read the pain and exhaustion in every line of the smaller woman's body - alongside her joy, and her pride. She'd never looked more beautiful. As she reached the front Emily smiled up at her - whispered that she loved her, then took her own position. Carefully adjusted her dress as she sat.
The minister tutted quietly behind her, but held his peace. All in all he'd been very accommodating, given the slightly unorthodox arrangement, so she could forgive him his distress. The blonde subtly resettled her suit jacket, pulled the sleeves of the shirt until it sat more comfortably across her shoulders. Distracted from her task by the man beside her.
'What the fuck am I doing?' Muttered, almost inaudible.
Naomi turned quickly toward Peter, clapped him discreetly on the back. 'Marrying into the Fitch clan, mate. Too late to back out now.'
'Best thing you'll ever do, Pete. No need to worry.' Smirked as she heard him gulp. Then her attention was drawn to the rear of the church.
Rob's smile was almost blinding in its intensity, visibly bursting with pride as he escorted his eldest daughter down the aisle. Surprising everyone, Katie had chosen an understated dress to complement the modest ceremony. She was beautifully elegant and Naomi felt her heart expand just a little more - delighted that Katie was so happy. She was practically glowing. Rob kissed Katie as he placed her hand in Peter's, aimed a wink in Naomi's direction as he bestowed a kiss on Emily's head before taking his place next to Jenna in the front pew.
They had pared the ceremony down to the essentials, for Emily's sake, so it felt like only moments later when Harrison stepped forward with the rings. Unconscious, the blonde played with her own wedding band. Twisted it gently as she remembered their ceremony the previous year. Blue met brown and for a long moment they lost themselves in the recollection, before the minister's stentorian tone announced the marriage, broke their intimate communion.
'I fucking lisped my way through the entire vows, so fucking irritating.'
'Nobody noticed, sweetheart, it was beautiful.'
'Of course they fucking noticed, mum. They're not deaf.'
'Don't Katie me, this is my wedding day.'
'And it's been perfect so far, babes. You know I love the way you talk.' Naomi watched in amused fascination as Katie melted into Pete's embrace, absorbing his look of adoration like a sponge.
They were milling about in a corridor, waiting to be introduced to the guests at the reception. Naomi could hear the subdued murmur, the clatter and scrape of chairs as people took their seats. The door opened suddenly, James Cook's grinning face appearing through the gap.
'You lot ready?'
'Yes, get on with it Cook.'
'Keep your hair on, Katiekins.' He winked jauntily, propped the door open before scampering back into the reception hall. He'd all but stolen the show at Naomi and Emily's reception, so Katie had decided to ask him to perform official emcee duties. Which he had undertaken with some gusto, and no little trepidation from Katie and Jenna.
He did a wonderful job, guiding the proceedings with charm and humour. Naomi even managed to carry off the best man's speech with a few laughs, collapsed gratefully back into her chair when her part was over. It was only during the first dance that trouble struck, heralded by a sharp intake of breath from Emily.
'Hmmn?' The blonde turned them carefully, guiding the smaller woman around Rob and Jenna and into a clear patch of the floor. 'What is it?'
'You know those cramps I told you about earlier?'
'I don't think it was just from standing too long for the photos. I think...' The slightly harrowed look on the redhead's face spoke volumes.
'What, is she coming now?'
Emily bit her lip, looked around before nodding, hesitant. 'I think so.'
'Fuck!' She must have looked panicked, despite every effort not too, because Jenna materialised beside them.
'What's going on?'
'Mum, I think the baby's coming.'
'Ems, come and sit down for a second, please.' The redhead had a look of intense concentration, which Naomi recognised as an effort to disguise pain. Ushered the smaller woman into a seat, before looking up and meeting Katie's eyes. Raised one eyebrow and looked apologetically between Emily and her sister. The brunette's jaw dropped comically, and she made a beeline toward them, towing Peter along in her wake.
'You're fucking shitting me, now?'
'Katie, I'm sorry...'
'Don't be stupid, Emsy. What do we need to do?'
It was all a blur after that. The Fitches rallied instantly, organised everything, and they were at the hospital within an hour. The night was a long, arduous feat of endurance - breathing and talking, rocking and supporting. Her heart ached with every cry of pain, every exhausted moan. It seemed unendurable. Interminable. And then suddenly it was eighteen minutes past two in the morning, and a small, squalling form was placed on Emily's chest and it was the most incredible thing to have ever happened.
Naomi honestly thought her heart might beat it's way right out of her chest - she had so much love in her, watching the baby nuzzle her way into Emily's neck, watching Emily stare down at her in wonder - it didn't seem possible to contain it all within her body. It gushed forth from her in a babble of words, a litany of praise and amazement and joy. She was only peripherally aware of the midwives as they bustled industriously around her, scrubbing the worst of the mess off the baby's body, cleaning up the bedding. One of them nudged her gently, offered up a large pair of scissors.
'Would you like to cut the cord, love?'
'I would, yes.' Grasped the scissors, tentatively closed them against the umbilical cord. Nothing happened.
'It's quite tough, you'll need to use a bit of force, alright?'
'Oh.' Blue eyes flicked up the bed, saw Emily watching. The redhead, although she looked limp and exhausted, smiled. Encouraging. Naomi gritted her teeth. Snipped the cord through.
'Nice job, love. Now, can you just pick her up and bring her across here so we can weigh and measure her?'
She'd held babies before. Harrison had been only one when she'd met Laura, still a baby really. But this... this was so different. This was her baby, Emily's baby. She was so very tiny, so very precious. Seemingly so fragile. Tentative, she picked the tiny bundle up, conscious of Emily's eyes on her. On them both. The baby gave a squawk of protest - without thinking, she snuggled her closer, murmured soothingly. A baby sigh, and the small form nestled closer into her chest. Trusting.
When she could finally tear her eyes away from the contended baby in her arms, Naomi looked up. Emily was watching them both, a look of such naked adoration on her face that the blonde nearly swooned. Would have if the midwife hadn't cleared her throat, nudged her arm gently. 'C'mon, love.'
She relinquished her hold on the tiny girl only long enough for her to be placed on the scale and weighed (seven pounds, six ounces), and then measured (forty-six centimeters long). With the formalities over Naomi cuddled her tight once more, before carrying her back to the bed. Emily was sitting up comfortably, looking a little less dishevelled. Naomi deposited the baby gently into her arms, then wrapped her own arms around the both of them. Basked in a long, long moment of pure, unadulterated joy.
Eventually the midwife returned, bearing a sheaf of papers. Smiled at them kindly. 'Sorry to interrupt ladies, but we just need to clear up a bit of paperwork before we get you up to your room, alright?'
'So, first things first. What's her name, then?'
'It's Gina.' Brown eyes looked up at Naomi for a moment, questioning. They'd still not firmly pinned down a middle name yet, but given the circumstances, it seemed blindingly clear.
'Yes Gina. Gina Katherine Fitch-Campbell.'
Naomi would remember the smile Emily bestowed upon her for the rest of their lives.
A/N: And we're done. I have a fair amount I'd like to say, so if author's notes bore you, skip right down to the bottom and click on the Review link - let me know what you thought, yeah? For the rest of you, grab a cup of tea and settle down. No, just kidding... Mostly.
This story - there's nothing that can convey what it's meant to me more accurately than this: this story has changed my life. It's been a joy and a struggle, it's caused angst and laughter and pride and a myriad of other emotions. But most of all, it's given me a whole heap of new friends, and my life is so much the better for it. Yes, this is me being #peachy. Cherish it tweeps, you know it doesn't happen that often.
Thanks first and foremost to my wonderful ashantalee, who supported me in my endeavour, indulged (mostly) my Skins obsession even though she doesn't share it, and beta read every chapter. I could not, and would not have done it without you. Thank you. I love you.
ThaDarkSlayer - you were my first point of contact into the wonderful world of twitter, all those months ago. If it hadn't been for you I never would have the friends I do now (you of course being one of them). We've been through a lot together, over the course of NB, and I heart you, my fellow Android lover.
Vangoghgurrl - I'm not even sure where to start. What began as you guys being my twittertainment on my Wednesday cooking sessions has grown into you being my family, no matter that you are 10,000 miles away. You have pushed me, cajoled me, badgered me into extending myself and becoming a better writer. There are parts of NB that would not exist if not for you, so wear the title of aunt with pride. I heart you too, Generalissimo.
whyyesitscar - You are a sometimes strange, always wonderful human being, and an incredible writer. Never stop writing Car, because I know you are going to go far.
warriormari - Your boundless enthusiasm and incredibly dry wit have both made me happy on so many occasions. And your acronyms. KFF FTMFW. Hell yeah.
Thank you to the rest of my FNDS buddies: ImagineAlex for being a real life hero, FitchSwitch for being God (what other reason do you need?), DarthCaiter for the ever entertaining pyromaniac tendencies, lizardwriter for enlightening me about the other wonders of KFF, and engendering a heap of new ideas (like I needed them!).
My other twitter peeps: EsDiferente, HyperFitched, LadyHawk1709, AssassinsLover - you are all amazing writers and amazing people and you make the twitterverse an incredible place to hang out.
I can hear the sighs now. How the fuck can she STILL be going? There are a just a couple more people I'd like to mention, because for some reason or another their work or their reviews have touched me. MoaningMyrtle123, reddawg82, lumagoo1015, pitterpat87, coolbeans17 and my-other-ride-is-your-mum.
For everyone else who I haven't mentioned, for everyone who reviewed, alerted, favourited No Barrier - I thank you. It's been a labour of love, and while I have enjoyed writing it for the sake of writing, for myself, I'm truly glad that all of you have gotten something out of it too. So I'm going to ask one last time - get to reviewing, and let me know what you think.
I shall close by saying this: keep an eye out for me. I have ideas percolating in my head, and I will keep writing when I find the time. Until then, adios muchachos.