Sam had taken a seat near the window to better watch for her dining companion. It was soon apparent that it didn't matter where she sat for she was so lost in thought it took a hand to her shoulder to bring her back to reality. Luckily, that hand belonged to Grace Alvarez.
"Hey sweetie, I got out as fast as I could. It sounded serious, are you okay?" Grace bent down and gave her a quick hug. "You don't look so hot."
"Thanks Grace. I always love hearing that." The sarcasm of the comment was cut with a genuine smile for seeing her good friend once again. They tried to meet up as often as their schedules would permit (Grace's the least accommodating of the pair) which translated to a few times a month. As Grace took the seat opposite her, Sam truly realized what their friendship had meant to her over the years they'd been acquainted…
"I'm pregnant." Grace was in the process of putting her purse on the vacant chair next to her and nearly dropped it to the floor with Sam's confession.
"Geez, honey. You can't just lay something like that on a person. Thank goodness I didn't have any water in my mouth—," Grace gave off the impression of being winded from speaking so rapidly. "What I mean to say is, 'Mazel tov!'" She looked over at Sam to see how her congratulations would be accepted. It wasn't promising. It looked like her friend was holding back tears. "What is it? The hormones?"
"No, Gracie. Well maybe a little," Sam didn't know how much of her judgment was being clouded by the extreme change her body was going through. Either way, it felt real to her. "It's just that I'm scared Bailey won't be happy."
"Why wouldn't he be happy? He loves Chloe. Even when she was so young he's always been the doting type." Grace knew Bailey hadn't always been the ideal father, but he'd made good on his second chance with Sam's daughter.
"It's not like we were trying. We haven't really even talked about it." The blonde sighed and was torn between continuing or taking a bite of the delicious looking slice of pecan pie she'd ordered on a whim. "I didn't think I needed to. I'm too old to be having a child!" It felt good to vocalize her fear.
"Whoa now. You've got to be kidding me. Too old?" Grace sounded almost offended at the thought.
"Chloe's going to be going off to college soon and I'm going to be changing diapers? It doesn't seem right," Sam reasoned, slightly defeated.
"So what you're saying is that you think I was too old when I had Jason? Because, honey, you're about the age I was when I got pregnant with him." The feisty brunette gave her friend one of her famous stern looks.
"No, that's not what I'm saying at all Grace. You know that." Sam knew that Grace was in better shape now than before she had her two kids. She ran half marathons twice a year and swore the two boys—now eight and five—kept her young at heart.
"I know that. But I want you to know that. So you can hear how utterly ridiculous it sounds." Grace threw her hands in the air to emphasize her point.
"How am I supposed to tell Bailey? It's not like I can put this in a box and stick a bow on it." Sam knew her problem was not an "if" anymore but a "when."
"Sweetie, any way you tell him he is going to be the happiest man in the world. Trust me." Grace Alvarez had known Bailey longer than she'd known Sam. And she knew this news would put him on cloud nine. "Now do you mind if I order some lunch? Pregnant people make me hungry."
Bailey was sitting at home practically reduced to twiddling his thumbs. He'd already watched countless hours of mind-numbing reality television waiting for Sam to come home and rescue him. But she texted she was having lunch with Grace which would inevitably delay her arrival. He'd been mulling over ways to cheer Sam up (Vincenzo's was out, "fish" was definitely a no-no around Sam as of late) when an idea sprang to mind. He pulled out his cell and dialed. The call seemed destined to go to voicemail when it was finally picked up with a rather surprised "hello?"
"Hey Angel, it's Bailey." The man never got tired of the slight uneasiness his wife's friend seemed to harbor towards him. He knew she loved him, but Angel never forgot to remind him what would happen if he hurt Sam in any way. Let's just say there wouldn't be a body to find…
"What's wrong?" Angel put on her concerned voice.
"Why does something have to be wrong for me to call you?" He thought he'd have a little fun with her.
"Bailey." Angel felt that was response enough. The unconvinced tone earned a chuckle from the man.
"I was just wondering what you were doing for the holidays?" He didn't want to reveal his plan until he was sure it was an option.
"Jason's parents were supposed to fly down and spend Christmas through New Year's with us. But they got snowed in at the airport and decided to take the refund and rescheduled to come see us in February. Personally, I think they made up the entire story and are spending the holidays in Bora Bora." You could hear her smirk through the phone.
"Perfect. How about I fly you guys down here then and you spend New Year's with us? Sam's been a little under the weather lately and I think some after-Christmas shopping with her beautiful best friend will do her some good."
"Beautiful, huh? Mere flattery doesn't work on me, Bailey. At least not since getting married."
"Actually I was hoping you'd help me throw a little New Year's get-together. Chloe's coming back on the 29th and I wanted to get the gang assembled to help her ring in what might be her last year living in Atlanta."
"I can't believe time is flying by so quickly. What are you thinking for the party?" Angel let the slightest bit of intrigue slip into her voice.
"Engine 23 Fire House for old time's sake? The girl isn't too old to go down the slide a few more times, right?" Bailey still kept the place active even though no one had lived there in a while.
"Perfect. Let me just make sure Jason's in and I'll call you later." Bailey heard the click of his wife's keys in the front door.
"Hey, Angel? Let's keep this a secret from Sam as long as we can until we know everything's going to work out." Angel agreed and said her goodbyes in time for Bailey to slip the phone back in to his pocket and greet his wife in the foyer.
The last few days passed slowly for the couple. It was not for lack of activities; just yesterday the pair had gone to see a production of "The Nutcracker" and the day before that had been their turn to host the annual neighborhood trivia contest. Sam and Bailey placed second (those Nelsons from two doors down were the reigning champions three years counting). The slowness was a result of the awkwardness the two faced when not in the company of others. The quiet moments at home where Bailey was too afraid to confront his wife about her mild turn towards depression and Sam was too afraid to tell her husband the true source of her mal mood.
And here they were, Christmas Eve, about an hour before they'd have to leave for Midnight Mass. Alone together.
They were already dressed for services and decided to take a little rest before they had to go. Bailey took the corner seat on the plush couch in the living room while Sam snuggled in next to him, fitting perfectly under his outstretched arm.
"You know, darling, it's tradition for us to open one gift tonight," he whispered into her hair. The rumble of his voice soothed Sam to close her eyes.
"Mmm, I haven't been thinking much about traditions lately. And I'm far too comfortable right here to get up and get your present." She turned her head until her cheek was firmly pressed against his chest.
"That's just fine, I'll go first then." From nowhere Bailey pulled a tiny box—immaculately wrapped—and held it in his free hand right in front of Sam's face for whenever she decided to open her eyes. The rustle of paper was too tempting for the blonde to resist for too long. She slowly extricated herself from her husband and took the box in her hand, carefully undoing the bow on top.
"Aww, honey. Thank you." Bailey appreciated the sparkle that came to her blue eyes as she unwrapped the package. He began to smile knowing that the token within was perfect for the situation they currently found themselves in.
Sam opened the box and took out the jewelry case. Within its blue velvet she uncovered a gold pendant with the image of St. Anne, patron saint of mothers. She looked questioningly into Bailey's eyes. Could he possibly know or was this just a relic in honor of Chloe?
He ended her torment. "Sweetheart, I may not have been around a lot when Janet was pregnant but that doesn't mean I didn't notice the symptoms. How far along are you?" He wrapped his arms around her waist and pulled Sam closer to his body.
"About six weeks. So you're okay with this?" Her voice wasn't as strong as she'd like it to be. At least she was keeping the tears at bay for the time being.
"Okay with it? Sammie, I'm over the moon." He kissed the top of her head. "I love you and the little person growing inside." He rubbed along her tummy, though it'd be quite awhile before he'd feel anything moving. "I can't wait to teach our little boy or girl to play ball and the difference between Puccini and Verdi." He chuckled deeply. Sam turned in his embrace until their faces were mere inches from each other. What she found looking into the smiling face of her partner was not fear nor disgust, but unconditional devotion. She closed her eyes and brought her lips to his, feeling his strong fingers dance across her cheeks and brow. Never again would she doubt this man. She pulled away and placed two more kisses along his chin.
"Now the only question remaining is how are we going to tell Chlo?" Sam looked to the person that—for a vast majority of her life—held all the answers. He looked right back at her, seemingly perplexed until it hit him.
"I've got an idea." He grinned that devilishly handsome grin. "Got any plans for New Year's Eve?"
A/N 2: It has been way too long since I've seen all the episodes and Netflix is not helping (how long is a "short wait?"), so I apologize for the blatant disregard of canon. I think. I don't remember if the firehouse still exists, if Bailey's ex is still alive, or what Grace's first son's name is…giving it all an educated guess. All I wanted was for these two to have an enjoyable Christmas with the promise of many more to come.