Author's Notes: Sorry it took so long, but I've been swamped with work and will be for the rest of the month as well. Will try to get some writing done, but I can't guarantee anything at this point. But please enjoy this chapter. Less than 3 weeks left until season 5, how 'bout that promo... As always, many thanks to my beta, Mediatorsk. For everyone else; enjoy and let me know what you think ;)

Violet mentally curses herself for leaving her cell phone behind at the office, forcing her to stop by Oceanside, rather than just taking the direct route home from the hospital. She's been on her feet all day the last couple of days. Between counseling her closeted elderly patient into finally coming out to her son and helping to deliver the most heartbreaking news to a single father she's absolutely exhausted.

Seeing Pete waiting for her puts a small smile on her face. Her thoughts drift to her patient, who was forced to lead a double-life in order to give her child the family he deserved and be with the person she loved. Violet realizes how lucky she is that the man she loves also is the father of her child; not that it makes matters any less scary. The other woman may have had to hide an important detail about herself to the people closest to her, but she still managed to remain true to herself, going after her desires and leading a relatively full life. She had her husband and child, as well as the woman she loved right there with her. Violet, on the other hand, is too scared to try figuring out what really is real and what only feels real right now. That's why she keeps shielding her heart, why she keeps her feelings to herself.

Pete's eyes are pained, "Darren gave up on his son," he tells her with a sigh, "He just… walked away from him…"

She can almost feel his gaze dropping to her protruding stomach, and it doesn't take a genius to figure out that he's putting himself in Darren's position, wondering what choice he would've made himself.

"Well, it was an impossible choice to make," she reminds him, "It's hard to fault him…" Plopping next to him on the couch, she immediately feels his arm close around her.

Pete sighs, "He left a two year old boy alone in the world… no mother, no father… no family to take care of him. Julian is going to grow up in the system, knowing his father gave up on him…"

"The alternative would mean letting a nine year old girl die alone," Violet points out, "It's human… natural… to react to what's right in front of us. All Darren saw was Gracie dying without him, the idea of his little boy having to bury him and live on without him; it was just too abstract…"

"Yeah, I know…" Pete nods, his free hand travels across the curve of her stomach seeking hers, their fingers eventually interlocking, "Welcome to parenthood…" he half-chuckles.

There's a lump forming in her throat at the mere mention of the word. She's reached a point where the bug doesn't scare her so much anymore; in fact she's beginning to really enjoy feeling the signs of life coming from within her. The thought of becoming a parent, however, that still renders her paralyzed with fear… "Oh crap," she sighs with a slight smile.

It's an early Tuesday morning and Violet is leaving the kitchen with a fresh mug of tea when she stops and closes her eyes as a burning sensation hits the back of her throat and upper chest.

"You okay?" Naomi asks with a concerned frown.

"Heartburn," Violet explains, referring to her latest treat from the pregnancy goodie bag.

"Ah," Naomi nods in understanding, "I had a lot of that with Maya, especially towards the end. You want me to get you some Pepto Bismol?"

"No, that's okay," Violet shakes her head, holding up her mug, "Pete has me trying out this tea remedy of his; chamomile, fennel and peppermint… not my favorite, but it does the trick… well, more or less," she shrugs with a hint of a smile. Noticing the sudden goofy grin on Naomi's face she asks; "What?"

"Nothing, it's just," Naomi shrugs, "I can't remember the last time I saw you so calm and content, I mean, you're… glowing…"

"That's the pregnancy," Violet insists, unable to keep a smile off her face.

"Some of it, yes," Naomi agrees, "But it's more than that. I was convincing myself it was the calm before Hurricane Pete," referring to Pete's old habit of screwing up his relationships, "but I honestly can't remember seeing either one of you this happy before. So this time I'm happy to say I was wrong."

Violet opens her mouth to reply, but is distracted when she sees her pensive best friend walking out of the elevator, his eyes quickly scanning the room. Stiffly approaching her, Cooper throws out a quick 'hello' to Naomi before turning to Violet, quietly muttering; "I, ah, need to talk to you…"

Naomi nods in understanding as Cooper halfway pulls Violet into her own office and wastes no time getting to business; "So, this morning… Charlotte and I were having sex, lots and lots of sex…"

"Do I need to be hearing about this?" Violet quips, earning herself an annoyed glare from her best friend, "Sorry," she chuckles.

"So, we were having quality naked time together," Cooper continues, "Like we've been doing a lot ever since coming back from Monroeville…"

"Sounds like things are finally good between you two," Violet comments, happy for her friend, but at the same time intrigued about what has Cooper so urgently seeking her advice.

"Yeah, almost too good," Cooper sighs, "She… ah… she asked me to marry her…"

Violet's eyes widen in surprise, "What?"

Cooper mirrors her look of disbelief, "Charlotte proposed…" he emphasizes.

"Wow…" Violet chuckles, "So, what are you gonna do?"

Cooper throws up both arms and plops down on the couch right next to her, "You tell me… is it too fast? It's too fast, right?"

"It's… ah… sudden," Violet tentatively agrees, "How do you feel about it?"

Cooper shrugs and shakes his head, "I love her, Vi, I really do… I want to make her happy, and yeah… down the line I could see us walking down the aisle… But this feels… impulsive… scary impulsive, the kind that could seriously go bad if we're not careful…"

"Well, you have to consider where this is coming from," Violet points out, "She just lost her father. She's hurting, and she doesn't want to hurt, and this, marrying you, will make that hurt go away."

Cooper frowns, "So, what you're saying is that she doesn't really want to marry me, it's all just a reaction to the grief…"

Violet shakes her head, "I'm saying, you'd be best to wait a while, see where your hearts are at once things get back to normal…"

"I guess that sounds sensible," Cooper shrugs, his gaze dropping to her stomach. "How's the bug doing?" he asks.

"Kicking up a storm and giving me heartburn," Violet replies, rubbing her stomach.

"So, right on schedule, then," Cooper quips, "You've decided whether you're gonna find out if it's a boy or girl?"

Violet shrugs, "Pete's coming to the next ultrasound with me."

"Does he wanna know?"

"We haven't really talked about it. I think he might be leaving it up to me, he hasn't brought it up, at least…"

The truth is, neither one of them have initiated any conversations regarding things like finding out the sex or discussing possible baby names, nor has there been any talk about fixing up the nursery or doing any other kind of prep-work for when they're going to be parents. It's amazing how little Pete has pushed when it comes to her pregnancy, even announcing he wants to come along to her next ultrasound was done very casually; asking her when her next appointment was, and letting her know he'd clear his schedule.

"What do you think we should do?" she asks, "Like, what would you want?"

"I don't know," Cooper shrugs, earning himself a laugh and a punch in the shoulder from his best friend, "Ow, okay, okay… on one hand, knowing is good. You can decide on a name, settle the whole pink versus blue…"

"Oh, there is no way I'm doing a gender specific nursery," Violet interrupts, shaking her head, "I don't care what Pete says, the feminist in me just wouldn't allow it."

"Okay, so nixing the pink and blue," Cooper laughs, "Not finding out would be a cool way to go, too. You know, build up the anticipation… You could still do everything else, only keep your options open about the name… It all boils down to what you want…"