Red

Olivia never wanted kids. Frank would bring it up from time to time, would try to tempt her with the idea of their little progeny running around with his brains and her looks, but she'd just laugh it off.

"It'll never work," she'd tell him. "Not between all the travel for your job, and the hours Broyles has us working at mine. The kid won't know whether it's coming or going."

But Frank hadn't been there when they'd lost Rachel and the baby. Olivia had never told him anything about it, other than, "I have a sister. She died a few years back during childbirth." And then she'd change the subject. Frank probably would've understood, to a degree; viral pathology is one of his specialties. But Rachel's memory isn't something she shares with just anyone and she's still not too sure how serious this thing with Frank is. Maybe in time.

Time runs out. She's confronted with living proof of her slight miscalculation, her lapse in judgment, her inability to accept failure as the outcome of the mission; all frozen in black and white on the tiny screen in the back of the ambulance.

Frank leaves her and she doesn't blame him in the slightest. Sure, it hurts that he splits. He cleans out the apartment, and leaves her with little more than a few empty boxes and some packing peanuts as a farewell note, but she doesn't blame him. She also doesn't think about him much either. She doesn't have the capacity to wonder about could've-beens, not when her mind is constantly short-circuited by thoughts like 'I'll have the virus. I can't have this baby. It'll be like with Rachel all over again. I've got the virus and if I have this baby, we're both going to die.'

Her mother tries to convince her otherwise, tries to focus on the positive as she grasps at the slimmest of odds, but in her heart, Olivia's already making her peace with it. She can't have this baby. She won't ever have babies of her own, but she has plenty of other things in her life to fill that space. Maybe she'll get a dog.

Then, biology is tricked and time sped up, and in the short moments between Lincoln's frantic encouragements and Henry's even voice talking her through the pain, Olivia thinks, 'So this is what it's like to know you're dying'. Because she truly believes that she is. She can't see how she could not be; not when she feels like she's being split in half and crushed from the inside out.

It's too fast and she's not prepared for it, not mentally, although her body has decided otherwise. And so she gives everything she's got. Pushes until she can feel every muscle trembling and all she can see are spots. Because if she can just get this child out of her aliveā€¦ if Lincoln can make sure he's safe, then maybe her mother won't be left completely alone.

His feeble cries nearly stop her heart.

She forgets to breathe.

It's not until she's been secured in the back of the ambulance (and isn't that ironic - her introduction and re-introduction to this little creature has a running theme) with the baby tucked against her chest and the both of them wrapped in layers of blankets for warmth, that reality hits.

She has a son.

His little chest rises and falls under her hand and his head lifts and bobs as his mouth seeks her out, trying to satisfy his instinct to suckle. It's so normal and natural after everything that's happened in the last twenty-four hours that she feels the tears welling up again. She can't help it. He's here. He's whole and alive, and so is she. She has a son and he's the most beautiful thing she's ever held, even in all his swollen and sticky glory.

"Hey there kiddo," she whispers as she strokes the delicate curve of his ear. She marvels at how he burrows his nose into her neck at the sound of her voice. She's never felt this connected to something so much bigger than herself. It's at that moment that she knows without a doubt, if it meant his survival, she would die for him.

Without hesitation.