I Got This, You Got This
"Everybody's Lookin' Forward to the Weekend, Weekend"
Summary: "You've got me?" "Yeah." "What if you had more than just me?"
It had been a whole month, and she was getting fat. Nothing noticeable, at least to anyone but herself. Soon, though, everyone would see the ballooning of her stomach, the ever-growing presence of another being inside her. She refused to think of it as a human yet. Not until it came out with ten fingers, ten toes, and no furry tail. Until then, it was just this mysterious being, making her puke her guts out and her jeans fit too tightly.
She still hadn't told Derek.
No one knew, and she'd gotten quite adept at hiding it. When Tori commented the other day that her friend's shirt was a bit tight around the bust area, Chloe told her it shrunk in the wash. The next day, she'd gone on a solo shopping spree and bought loose, fuzzy sweaters, and larger pants for the months to come. Then, she came home and stashed it all deep in her closet before Derek got home.
Chloe was doing a lot of things before Derek came home each day. Ripping open doctor's letters and stuffing them in the back of her sock drawer. Spraying the bathroom with a liberal amount of Febreeze and making sure all vomit was cleaned from the toilet. Layering on bulky sweaters and taking a chance to stare at her bare, increasing tummy in the mirror and wondering just what was going on in there. Derek would come home then, and she'd tug the sweaters down and run out to ask him how his day was. He'd ask her what the deal was with all the sweaters and she'd tell him the apartment was just so cold.
Today was different, though. She'd stayed at work later than usual. Glancing down at the digital numbers in the corner of her computer screen, she sighed and finished up the email she was sending. After six, so Derek was sure to be home already, wondering why this was the first day in a month she'd decided to work overtime. Chloe wondered the same thing, why she'd volunteered to stay when her boss asked if anyone could. Normally, she was in a rush to get out of there at the end of the day, before anyone could stop and try to chat with her because as the weeks passed, the anxiety was tempting her more and more to just spill the beans. As much as she stalled with telling Derek, he still should be the first to know, not some stranger at her place of employment.
"Chloe!" She'd been in the process of putting her cell in her purse and replacing it in her hand with her car keys when she heard her boss call her name. The woman, nearing her forties, was decked out in a tight black pencil skirt and top that showed too much skin for Chloe's taste, looking more like she had dressed for a night out clubbing instead of working. Nice as her boss seemed, Chloe didn't really trust a woman who wore bright red lipstick into an office, unlike all the other woman who walked through the door. Standing beside the older woman, Chloe felt like a frump in her oversized business casual sweater and gray slacks, reminding herself that she wouldn't be wearing any sexy clothes for the next seven months.
"You are such a dear for staying. I really appreciate it," her boss said, placing her hand on Chloe's arm. "I'm sure you'd rather be at home with that big, hulking man of yours than sit around here."
Chloe waved her hand, shaking her head. "No problem, I'm always glad to be a help. And I'm sure Derek can find something to do without me for a couple of hours."
Her boss giggled, a strange high-pitched sound coming from a woman who could be as old as Chloe's aunt. "Probably using this time to hang out with the guys when you're not around. You know boys will be boys."
Not exactly, Chloe wanted to tell her. Simon and Kit were out of town on some out-of-the-blue trip. Tweak 'guys' around to 'books' and then maybe her boss would've guessed Derek's alone time plans correctly.
"So, I bet you're looking forward to this three day weekend, with this holiday coming up. Got any big plans? Going on any special dates?"
"Nope. I think we're just going to take the weekend to relax. I'm going out with my friend Tori on Sunday for brunch, and—"
"Oh, honey," the grip on Chloe's arm began to squeeze harder. "Is something wrong? When couples stop spending time together, that means something serious is going on. You know you can tell me. I'd hate to see you lose such a strong, young man."
Chloe patted her boss's hand, taking the chance to dislodge the clenched fingers from around her arm. "Nope, nothing's wrong." Derek had accused her of seeing things that weren't there, but Chloe swore that at the the last company picnic, her boss had been eying her boyfriend with the look of a hungry wild predator. "Ten years, and we're still going strong," she resisted the urge to rub that fact in her boss's face, but her tone still hinted at a warning.
Her boss looked her over with a concerned expression that managed to also look pitying. "I just don't know these days, dear. And you know men nowadays, when a woman starts to let go of herself." The woman leaned forward, eyes shifting but lighting up excitedly with gossip. "You didn't hear this from me, but there are some rumors going around that you've gained weight. Who knows, maybe your Derek might start to notice and want someone a bit...slimmer."
As you run your hand over your trim waist, Chloe couldn't help but bite her cheek before she said something she'd regret. Even more, she had to stop herself from saying something like, We're having a baby. Though the strained look on her boss's face as she offered a congratulations and thought of how she'd been foiled from younger man meat, Chloe knew it wasn't right. She couldn't go around using her unborn child as a weapon against woman who found Derek attractive. Besides, she was having a baby. Derek didn't even know about it. It was still her own secret. A secret she had to tell him...when she got around to it.
Thanking her boss, she said her relationship was just fine and bid good bye before she could be tempted to say any more that she shouldn't.
Derek was sprawled out on the couch when she opened the door to the apartment, one arm over his face and the other holding open a book against his stomach. His chest was slowly rising and falling, but it didn't fool Chloe. Walking over, she set her things down on the coffee table and sat on the edge of the couch near his stretched out legs. Carefully, she took the book from between his fingers, mindful of keeping his place before placing it next to her purse and snuggling up beside him. His one arm slipped around her, letting out a content breath that ended in a soft snore.
"You're not sleeping, Derek."
"How would you know? I could have had a long day," came his mumble, accompanied with a teasing grin.
"Not as long as mine," Chloe said into his shirt. And you don't have to walk around hauling a three-month old fetus.
"It just has to be about you, doesn't it?"
"Only always." She lifted her head and planted a kiss on his jaw. He dove down to capture her lips with hers, but she got up at the last second and asked, "We're not doing anything this weekend, right?"
"I have some ideas, but they all involve staying indoors. Why?"
"No reason," she called behind her as she made her way into the kitchen. An aluminum foil pan of lasagna was sitting on top of the stove, a corner of it missing. Derek had already helped himself to some dinner, but Chloe still took two plates out from a cabinet and filled them, giving one a larger helping. Grabbing a fork, she took a small bite from the plate with the smaller portion, shook her head and stuck it in the microwave. "My boss thinks we're going to break up because we don't spend all our time together."
"We do spend all our time together."
"We do not!" She pulled out her plate from the microwave and stuck the other one in to be reheated. Derek got off the couch and stretched the muscles in his arms before taking a seat at the kitchen table.
"But we live together. That's spending all our time together."
Chloe rolled her eyes, bringing both plates to the table. "Living together is living together. It is not spending all our time together. I work, you work. I go out with friends, you go out with Simon. And at the end of the day, we just happen to meet each other at home and spend time together then."
"I still spend most of my time with you. I like spending all my time with you."
She knew she shouldn't encourage that behavior, but it made her mouth widen in a giant smile. It was in his werewolf nature to only want to be with his pack, and to know, even after all this time, he continued to count her as one of those very important family members made her heart do funny things. "Fine, fine. You win. I guess I should tell my boss she has nothing to worry about because we do spend all our time together."
"Why does she have to know? It's not her business."
"She wants to make it her business." Chloe nudged his shin with her foot. "She thinks you're a strapping young man, by the way."
"So, I'm not taking you to anymore company picnics if you're going to lead my boss on like that."
"Lead your boss o—" He dropped his fork onto his plate and glared as Chloe burst out into laughter. "That's not funny."
"It was to me," she held her hand over her mouth to stop the laughter. "But seriously, Derek, you better watch out for her. She's on the prowl. A veritable cougar."
Derek growled deep in his throat, probably not liking the idea of a cougar coming after him. It had nothing to do with her age being nearly twice his, but everything to do with the fact that dogs just don't like cats. To that day, Chloe found it amusing whenever she remembered his interactions with Maya, a were-cougar who had also had problems with the Edison Group.
He got up, already finished with his lasagna. Looking down at hers, Chloe noted she had barely taken three bites. Her belly was feeling queasy again, so she didn't want to push it. From the kitchen sink where he was setting down his plate and fork, Derek told her, "She better prowl somewhere else. I've got you."
Chloe turned around in her chair, crossing her arms over the back and resting her head. Watching as he searched under the sink to retrieve a wash cloth and dish soap, she asked, "You've got me?"
"What if you had more than just me?"
He grunted, turning on the faucet and beginning to wash the dirty dishes. "What's that mean? I've got you, that's enough. I don't want any more."
Chloe stood from her chair, crossed the room to the coffee table and rummaged through her purse until she found the square piece of paper she'd stuck in there the week before. Derek was watching her every move from the kitchen sink, as if sensing that the conversation had somehow taken a much different direction. Each step Chloe took towards him, her feet grew heavier and heavier, but somehow, she made it over to where he stood and was holding out the ultrasound picture.
He took it, staring into her eyes and stalling before finally looking down. At first, his brows scrunched together in confusion, as he made out the shape of the round head, the disproportioned limbs, but Derek was smart and he caught on pretty quickly. Slapped with the truth, his head jolted up, eyes combing over the chubbier stomach under her sweater, the thicker breasts, the guilty expression on her face as she tried to avoid her gaze. A sharp breath left his nostrils, but he looked the picture of calm, save for the slightly shaking hand holding the picture the doctor had given her to keep.
"Almost thirteen weeks."
He swore, arms falling to his side. In his other hand, the soapy wash cloth was dripping onto his pant leg, and it took him a minute to realize,swearing again and throwing the rag into the sink. Scratching the back of his neck, he looked down at the picture again, glancing from it to Chloe and back. Turnign around, he leaned on the kitchen counter, gripping the edge until his knuckles turned white and he almost crumpled up the photo. He stopped himself, took the picture and set it down on the counter, rubbing a hand over it to straighten out the wrinkles. "That's three months, so it was back in...How long have you known?"
"Awhile..." Chloe bit her lip, leaning against the counter as well and tentatively laying her head on his shoulder. "I wanted to tell you, but...I wasn't even sure I wanted to...That it—th-that we should..."
"But you've decided now, right? Or else you wouldn't be telling me. We're keeping it, aren't we?"
She nodded against his shoulder and whispered, "Yes...I want it, Derek."
"Me...Me, too. I think—" For once, the man who was usually telling her to slow down before she stumbled over her words was having trouble himself trying to express his thoughts. Chloe stood behind him, wrapping her arms around his torso and rubbing her hands along his chest in a comforting gesture. "I think I want it—to be a girl. They can tell those things. We can know early. When did you get this done?" He nodded at the picture, holding it closer in front of his nose as if that could tell him what he wanted to know.
"Last week. I asked then if they could, and—and they said it was a boy."
Derek's shoulders slumped, the most heartbreaking deflation she'd ever seen. She held him tighter, telling him quickly, "That's only a guess. It could still be a girl. The do-doctor s-s-said it was better to wait until somewhere between the si-sixteenth and twentieth weeks for a more accurate result. But I really, really wanted t-t-to know. You can come with me next time, we'll ask again. It might be a girl."
"One that has bogeymen for imaginary friends." Chloe winced. "Sorry."
"No, no. You're right. Either way, there's a high chance." A high chance any child of theirs could be a monster, be a supernatural with even more uncontrollable abilities. "Aunt Lauren..."
"Does she know?"
"Let's keep this a secret for awhile. I don't want to make any hasty decisions, make the same mistakes our parents made. I mean—we're not mistakes. Just—shit, I don't know what I'm saying. I just...I don't know."
And that's what was killing him, the having no idea where to go from there. Chloe took his arm, guiding him to turn around and face her. He looked so lost, so not like the Derek she had always known, and she knew how it felt. She'd already felt those emotions before, still felt them whenever she was reminded there was another living being inside her. Cradling his face in her hands, she stood on tiptoe to kiss him, deeply and fully on the mouth. He instantly reached for her, clung to her warmth and pulled her towards him until he felt the bump of her stomach press against him and he let go.
Pulling away, Chloe told him, "We can't keep it secret forever, you know. I'm getting fatter by the day."
"You're not fat. You're pregnant."
She chuckled. That was a typical Derek observation if she ever heard one. "What I'm saying is we should take this weekend to relax, and next week, drop the bomb on everyone."
"Do we have to?"
"Yes, we do." She kissed him again. "I've already had some time to get used to it. You get a weekend, Derek. Let's make the most of it."
Authoress's Notes: Heyyy! I'm back! How's everyone been? I'm good, very good. I went home a couple weeks ago, celebrated my twentieth birthday, got some new shoes, saw the new Footloose, ate Indian food and almost burned my esophagus-but all that's unimportant, because I finally got around to typing up this chapter. That's a big accomplishment. It is just getting significantly harder and harder to get these things up. BUT! To apologize for taking forever to update, I have granted many a reviewer's wish and continued the idea of "Gotta Make My Mind Up". AND! I shall continue it even more, in a future one-shot. So, that's my gift for you.
Because now here comes the bad news:
I will be on hiatus until after December 16th.
Yes, this is a big disappointment, and I feel bad, but life has gotten completely crazy now, and it's only going to get crazier. On top of the usual classes and work and social stuff, I am now involved in two organizations on my campus, one in which I am the treasurer so I have more responsibility. I'm also going to spend the next couple of weeks applying for a job at our writing center, as well as try out for a student manager position at the job I already have.
And my biggest, most time-sucking responsibility is National Novel Writing Month, for all of November. Because that starts in like, three days and I've been planning out my novel all summer (10+ pages of plot outlining and character building, boo-freaking-yah!). So any time I have for writing will be dedicated to that, not my fanfiction. In the meantime, I'll be detailing my NaNoWriMo efforts on my blog because I've started one of those to keep track of all my research (probably wasn't the best choice to write a historical fiction novel in only one month...). I'll be putting a link up to that on my profile, in case anyone's interested enough in reading my crazy, struggling-author's ramblings.
I would continue this one-shot collection after November is over (and my novel is, fingers crossed, completed), but right after I come back to school from Thanksgiving break, my school goes on this intense preparation for finals, so I'll be studying all crazy-like. Which is why I will not be updating until my winter break starst, after Dec. 16th. Because after that date, I get to spend a whole relatively stress-free month at home doing nothing but watch tv and read and write (last year, I read about 27 books in the three and a half weeks I was out of school. It was really nice).
Now, I'm off to feast on Gushers and Diet Wild Cherry Pepsi as I do more research for my novel and cry about how I'm never going to finish 50,000 words in 30 days. Wish me luck!
Oh, yeah, and Happy Halloween! (Too bad it's on a Monday, when I work, and not on a Friday, when I can go partyin', partyin'...)