Disclaimer: I own nothing, and only borrowed the characters for a little while.
It was drizzling as the taxi driver pulled up outside the Carlisle house. Not seeing his fare waiting, he pressed the button to get the meter running and stepped from the car. Opening the gate, he walked up the path past the roses. Knocking on the door, it opened before him.
"Hello?" he called through the open doorway, looking around for sign of life.
"This isn't just any day!" a loud voice shrieked. "It's the day my sister comes home."
A man stepped into the hallway and the taxi driver opened his mouth to speak. The man raised his hand. "We'll be right with you."
"Eight months she's been away Mick," the female voice said again loudly. "Eight bloody months." She sniffled. "It's been seven months and three weeks too long."
There was a pause and the taxi driver thought that perhaps now his passengers would be ready to go. No such luck.
"They had no right to ask her to stay later."
"I know that," the man – Mick – said in a placating tone, "but if we don't leave now, we won't even make it there."
Stepping back down the stairs, the taxi driver expected a hysterical woman to come down the hall toward him, but he was surprised when a well-dressed woman stepped out onto the verandah.
"Plus it's hardly my fault I'm sick," the woman protested as the man pulled the front door shut. "Blame it on that godawful curry you made last night."
The blonde haired man stood up for his culinary efforts as he put the key into the lock. He didn't get very far.
The taxi driver saw the woman push the man out of the way, throw the door open and disappear into the house once again. There was a moment of silence before a retching sound was heard.
"You okay, hon?" called the sick woman's partner dubiously.
"Do I sound okay to you?" came the shouted reply.
Mick turned to the taxi driver who had a disgusted look on his face. "She's fine."
Ten minutes later and they were finally on their way.
Billie sat in the back of the taxi with Mick. Seatbelt on, she spared a glance at her long-suffering man.
"I'm sorry for being such a douche," she apologised as she reached across the middle seat and took his hand. "It's just that I'm excited and freaked out all in one."
The musician squeezed Billie's hand to reassure her. "It's okay, babe," he promised. "I get that you're nervous." He leaned across and pressed a kiss to her lips. "We'll just go with the flow."
Billie's smile was watery. "How did I end up engaged to a man like you?" she asked, resting a hand on his cheek, a gold band with three diamonds shining in the late evening sunset.
"You threatened to cut my balls off if I didn't ask you," replied Mick. "That's how."
Billie punched his shoulder, giving him a mock glare as he pulled his own mock expression of pain.
She turned away from him to speak to the driver soon after. "You know where you're going right?" She didn't bother waiting for an answer. "Take me to the nearest ice cream place."
"Billie?" questioned Mick warily.
"I haven't seen my sister in eight months, Mick," warned Billie as the car ventured off the main street. "I'm entitled to an indulgence."
The taxi pulled up outside a Baskin & Robbins. Billie was out in a flash, not caring for the rain, and Mick swiftly followed, pausing long enough to address the taxi driver. "Wait here."
Inside the shop (that was thankfully empty), Billie couldn't decide what she wanted, looking over the multitude of flavours on offer with a creased brow.
The staff was obliging. "Do you want to taste any of them?" a young woman asked in a perky tone. "We have a flavour of the month – hokey-pokey."
Mick's head shot up and he waved his hands in an "abort, abort" manner from behind Billie as that same woman looked up irately. "Sorry, did you say something?"
Seeing the serving girl looking beyond her strangely, Billie turned. Behind her was Mick and she had her suspicions that he had just been doing something behind her back, the nonchalant pose of running his hand through his hair not helping one iota.
She gave him a suspicious look before turning back. "I'm sorry what did you say?"
"I asked if you wanted a taste of the hokey-pokey ice cream," the girl said slowly, offering a small spoon with a little ice cream on the end.
Mick winced, anticipating an explosion.
Still in a state of shock, Mick pulled up his jacket collar and followed Billie back into the taxi five minutes later. On the road once again, Billie happily slurping her way through a strawberry cheesecake / butterscotch combo, they were finally on their way to the airport.
They were the last ones to arrive of their family: Darcy was following the toddling Ray, Geraldine speaking with Cherie and the tanned Jimmy grinning widely near the ATM.
It was the latter who spotted the couple first, walking hand-in-hand through the automatic entrance doors. "Hey Billie, Mick," he called out across the concourse. "Or should I say, hey to-be-wedded lovebirds."
"Shut up," retorted Billie to her brother, but her heart wasn't in it, a smile on her face. Her hand left Mick's as she stepped forward to embrace her family.
Greetings dispensed with, she smiled once again as Mick slipped his hand into her back jean pocket and pulled her close, continuing his conversation with Jimmy about his recent adventures.
Billie's mind went elsewhere though when she spotted the time. "We've got to get going guys!" she cried. "Or else Neens will get off the plane and no one will be there."
The family Proudman and assorted tag-alongs sprung into action in a noisy mess and headed for the queue to get past security.
The plane was thirty minutes late.
When Nina finally came through the gate, the first thing she saw was her sister. "Billie!" she cried.
Both women embraced, hugging each other tightly. Pulling back, both were laughing and on the edge of tears. "I can't believe the change in you," exclaimed Nina.
"You noticed!" squealed a delighted Billie, holding out her hand, her engagement ring shining from its position on her left hand ring finger.
"You're engaged too?" said a gobsmacked Nina.
"Yes!" cried Billie before her brain caught up. "Wait a second, what do you mean by "too"?" she demanded to know as the family joined them.
"Hello sweetheart," said Darcy, Ray in his arms as he leaned down to kiss his newly returned daughter.
"Neens," warned Billie in a drawn out tone as Mick stepped up next to her, Nina exclaiming at Ray's size as she hugged her brother.
"Neens!" shouted Billie. Geraldine backed off from her hugging her middle daughter as they all turned toward the other one – including some other airport patrons walking nearby.
"Piss off," she ordered the unwanted spectators, shaking off Mick's hand as she eyed her sister. "Spill."
"It's just that you're pregnant as well, that's all," said Nina, Ray now in her arms.
"I'm what?" swore Billie, automatically taking a step back. "I think I'd know if there was a bun growing in my oven," she denied.
"Have you been sick lately?" questioned Nina in her matter-of-fact tone.
"Yes," answered Geraldine when Billie remained silent.
"Yawning every day for the past three weeks without fail," said Darcy. He didn't balk when Billie glared at him.
"Your boobs gotten bigger?" continued Nina.
"I'm not answering that!" protested Billie even as Mick answered softly. "Yeah."
"Put on weight?"
"Oh yeah," said Jimmy.
"When was your last period?" asked Nina pointedly, handing her baby brother to Cherie as she eyed her sister.
Ready with an answer, Billie shut her mouth when she realised the answer wasn't quite as ready as she had thought.
Running back the dates, and discovering that she was likely pregnant, the eldest Proudman didn't feel the horror she thought she might have.
Instead, a wide grin spread across her face once again. "I'm pregnant." She turned to Mick. "We're pregnant."
Laughing incredulously, Billie threw herself at her fiancee. The sudden-father-to-be was unprepared but nevertheless caught his woman up in his arms, taking her weight when she wrapped her legs around him.
The shock was hugely apparent on his face and the family laughed with him.
When Billie pulled back and faced them all again, her grin had grown impossibly bigger. "I'm going to be a Mummy!"
It was congratulations and celebration all around as bags were picked up, people accounted for and they left the arrivals lounge, heading for the baggage carousel.
Stepping through the automatic door, Nina had a grin the size of Billie's when she saw a familiar figure standing near the entrance doors, looking up at the Arrivals screens.
He too was unprepared, but had ready arms to wrap around Nina when she called out his name and sprinted the short distance between them.
There was no time for a fantasy, just reality.
The lips of Doctors Proudman and Havel met hungrily. Eight months was far too long.
Pulling back, their eyes were intense on the others. "You look good," said Nina blissfully.
"So do you," replied Chris.
The newly returned, still-much-in-love doctor had to agree. She felt good too. Bracketing her soulmate's face, standing on tiptoes, she smiled. "I missed you."
He drew her in for another kiss.
Watching the lovers (yes, it had only been one night – so far – but details weren't important), Billie rested her head happily on the shoulder of Mick – the father of her unborn child.
It was always nice when other people got their happy ending.
The couple joined them soon enough, walking over hand-in-hand.
"Sorry, I'm late," said Chris. "A birth went late."
"It's okay," reassured Geraldine as Darcy reappeared, dragging a large suitcase that was his daughter's. "Chris!"
Jimmy was close behind with her second bag. "Better late than never mate," joked the young man, slapping the doctor on his back.
The sun set on the rowdy bunch as they left the airport.
Geraldine and Darcy Proudman held back as they watched their offspring cross the carpark: Chris had one hand on Nina's suitcase, the other around her shoulders, Billie and Mick, dragging the other bag, were laughing at Jimmy who was holding Ray high up on his shoulders, Cherie close behind telling him off.
Darcy turned to the mother of three of his children. "We did good."
Geraldine smiled fondly. "That we did."