Because today is the 4th of July...and this has been done for weeks I figured why the hell not! Hope you've all enjoyed this fic. I can't thank you guys enough for the wonderful reviews and PMs! The support means a lot - I know some of it was hard to read, because of its disturbing nature. This chapter is half fluff, half creepy. I figured it was the best way to end this since that was the tone of most of the story :-D
One year later; April 2010
Hunter frowned in confusion as something collided with his ankle. He looked down to find that the baby had crawled right into him.
Tobias Conner Helmsley went right over his father's foot, continuing in the direction of his play pen. His first name meant "God is good." Stephanie and Hunter both felt like the baby's name should pay some sort of tribute to how fortunate they'd been that he made it into this world at all. Not only that, but he was a healthy baby with no developmental problems whatsoever despite the fact he was born weighing a bit less than he should have. The kid had quickly caught up to his age group. His middle name was Gaelic, paying tribute to Stephanie's Irish lineage.
While doing their research they discovered that Devin's first name and Morgan's middle name Cassidy were also Gaelic. It was totally a fluke, albeit a really cool one in their opinion.
Toby was six months old and was deemed by Hunter and Stephanie to be "crazy strong." At four months old he was sitting up unassisted. At five months old he would sit down on the floor and use his hands to drag himself forward. It was a prelude to crawling. Now he was a pro at it and almost always on the move.
His hair was the same shade of brown as his mother's, but curly like his father's. His eyes and ears were direct copies of Hunter's. He'd inherited Stephanie's nose, lips and chin. One dimple had made itself known so far.
It turned out that Stephanie had been wrong when she guessed at the sex of the baby she was carrying. Despite the stress she had experienced in the beginning of her pregnancy, Toby was born almost exactly on his due date right in the middle of October.
At first, Hunter was going to leave his son to his task. But his hazel eyes fixated on what his child was dressed in. So he walked the couple of feet to Toby, scooping him up off of the floor. He brought the baby to eye level with him.
Toby looked into the eyes that were a mirror image of his own, though he wasn't old enough to know that yet. Excited at being held in the air with his limbs unrestricted, he waved his arms up and down, happily babbling away at his father.
"STEPHANIE!" Hunter yelled, his voice echoing throughout the large house.
Toby quieted down and just looked at Hunter, his adorable brown eyes almost conveying confusion. His full, pink lips were slightly parted.
Upstairs, Stephanie felt her heart sink. Had something happened to one of the kids? She ran out of the bedroom and down the hallway at a sprint and went down the stairs as fast as she could.
When her feet hit the marble floor, she sped up and ran into the living room.
She was momentarily confused when she saw nothing out of the ordinary going on. Hunter was just holding Toby.
"What?" She asked and sucked in a desperate gulp of air. "What happened?"
"What." Hunter emphasized the word greatly. "Is. This?" He finished, holding the baby up higher and turning him to face his mother.
Has he lost his memory or something? She wondered as she smiled at her cooing baby boy who was kicking his legs excitedly at her presence. "Uh, that's our youngest son. Toby."
Hunter sucked his teeth and lowered the baby. He narrowed his eyes at Stephanie, shifting Toby to just one arm. "Not that," he corrected.
Stephanie wasn't sure how she missed it. It was probably just because she thought she was running down here to see that one of the kids was unconscious, dismembered or bleeding half to death. But when Hunter grabbed a hold of the pink, frilly material and wiggled it, she couldn't help but snort out a laugh.
"This isn't funny, Stephanie," Hunter said sternly. "What is this crap?"
"I'm pretty sure that's a tutu," Stephanie said while she tried to quiet her laughter. Hunter was taking this very seriously and laughing probably wasn't helping him not be further insulted.
"Why is he wearing this? He's a boy, Steph!" He stated incredulously.
Unable to help herself, Stephanie snickered. "I know that, baby. Who do you think got him here?" She asked playfully. "I didn't dress him in that though," she said quickly as her husband glared at her.
"I'm gonna get to the bottom of this," he said with determination. "Mac! DJ! Get down here!"
"I'm sure you will, honey," Stephanie encouraged lightly and patted his shoulder before she moved to sit on the armrest of the couch.
Morgan would turn five next month, while Devin would turn four in three months. They ran down the stairs together, coming to a stop in front of their father.
Mac pointed at Toby and giggled. DJ simply scrunched up his face.
Hunter held the baby up for them to see. "Who did this?" He asked, getting right down to business.
Another laugh gave his daughter away as the culprit. This was probably the outfit from one of those damn life-size dolls she'd received as a present for Christmas.
Hunter sighed and sat Toby back down on the floor, shaking his head as the baby crawled away not seeming to care that he was still wearing the tutu.
"Wasn't me, Daddy," Devin answered.
Hunter nodded his head in acknowledgement, reaching out to ruffle his son's light brown curls. "Why did you put that on your little brother, Mac?"
"My doll is as big as Toby...I wanted to see if the tutu fit, Daddy," she told him innocently.
"Hi son!" Stephanie greeted enthusiastically as Toby finally made it over to her. She bent down to pick him up from the floor and stood him up in her lap. The baby smiled toothlessly and threw himself against her, his cheek rubbing hers.
Stephanie took the opportunity to start pulling the pink outfit off of him, before Hunter had a mental breakdown of some sort.
Hunter crouched down to his daughter's level and made sure he spoke gently so he didn't hurt her feelings. "Mac, we only put boy stuff on him, okay?" He tried. "You have dolls so that you can dress and style them however you want. Your baby brother isn't a doll, though. Only me and your Mom dress him unless you get our permission."
"Okay, Daddy," she said sweetly. "Are you mad at me?" She asked, her bluish hazel eyes widening and her lips pouting.
Hunter kissed her on top of the head and affectionately tugged at her curly ponytail. "No, sweetheart. Seeing your brother in a girly outfit just scared Daddy, that's all."
Mac giggled at her father and stepped a few feet away. "Funny Daddy," she commented as she climbed on the couch next to Stephanie, leaning her head against her mother's thigh. Stephanie placed her hand on the side of Morgan's head, rubbing gently.
Hunter shook his head. "DJ...man you've gotta watch out for your little brother. You have to protect him from the girls," he said.
"From Mommy and Mac?" Devin asked, looking at his Dad in confusion. His Mommy and sister were nice to him. They wouldn't do anything to hurt anybody. Would they?
"Hunter, that sounds terrible!" Stephanie chastised from the couch, smirking. "You're gonna make him afraid of us or something."
"Okay look, little guy...when Daddy isn't with you and Toby, you have to look after him. Make sure he's being a boy. Don't let the girls give him girl stuff to play with or dress him up in stuff like that," he amended, gesturing towards the pink tutu that Stephanie had thrown on the floor. "Can I trust you to do that?"
DJ nodded eagerly and Hunter smiled at him. "All right, good. You guys can go back to...whatever it was you were doing." Devin took off for the stairs and Mac jumped up from the couch. "Mac, take that - that thing with you," Hunter directed lightly before she could run off.
Mac grabbed the tutu and scurried up the stairs just as her younger brother did.
Hunter plopped down on the couch next to Stephanie with a sigh. "Leave them alone with the baby for ten minutes and this is what happens," he commented.
Stephanie shrugged, stood up and walked the restless, diaper-clad Toby over to his play pen. She placed him in and watched as he quickly crawled to the pile of brightly colored, shiny toys. "I don't know what was more funny and cute; Toby being dressed like that or your reaction to it," she laughed and began heading back over to the couch.
"My wife thinks our son is cute in ruffles and pink," Hunter muttered, sinking lower into the cushions. "I've failed as a husband and a father," he said despondently.
Even though she knew he was behaving exaggeratedly on purpose, she still thought back to the scariest time of her life and how Hunter had been so brave and selfless. While she'd been lying around screaming, crying and having panic attacks, he had stayed calm. He'd come up with plans. He'd been willing to risk his life to save her and the baby.
Blinking back her tears, she reached down and grabbed his hand, squeezing reassuringly. "You haven't failed," she disagreed. "I don't know anyone who's done a better job at either one."
"I'm glad you think so," he told her honestly.
"I know so," she countered with a smile.
Hunter grinned and swung his legs so that he was lying down on the couch, his head propped up by the armrest. He tugged Stephanie's hand until she moved to lie down against him. Once she was settled with her head on his chest, he just wrapped an arm around her waist to pull her even closer.
A year ago, there was a chance that this moment wouldn't have been possible. He might've been gone...or worse, Stephanie might have been taken from him and Toby may have never been born.
The thought was surreal, but hadn't been a farfetched potential outcome this time last year. Thinking about it made him appreciate his family that much more. He never wanted to waste a single day.
Distantly, he wondered how Randy Orton - the man who had sought to steal everything from him - was spending his days.
Separated from the Helmsley's by thousands of miles, Randy Orton lay confined to the plain, white bed. He'd been in and out of jail and mental facilities ever since being released from the hospital. He'd been deemed as mentally unfit to stand trial. After a couple of months he would seem to get better and he'd be sent back to prison while the courts tried him again. But ultimately he would relapse and disconnect from the reality of what he'd done.
Hunter and Stephanie were both pissed off whenever these rulings happened. But they were grateful that the sicko was still locked far away from them in some way. But each of them was disappointed because it was unlikely that someone in a mental hospital would kill Randy. In actual prison, he'd be killed or beaten within an inch of his life because inmates didn't take too kindly to guys who abused women or children.
His accomplices Cody and Ted had both taken plea deals for lesser charges. They were sentenced to eight years in prison and were required to serve at least half of that before being eligible for a parole hearing. The sentencing was so harsh because their crimes were committed in Texas.
Isabelle Shaw was thirty-five years old. She was a tall, lithe woman of a blended background. Her father was Puerto Rican and her mother was Senegalese. She'd married a man whose family was from Scotland and they had a five-year-old daughter together. Family gatherings were always diverse and interesting, to say the least but everyone got along great. She was one of the evening shift nurses, since her husband worked mornings. She sat beside Randy, attempting to spoon feed him some vegetables. Randy was being completely uncooperative. All he wanted to do was tell his story and defend his case.
He turned his head from the food while he twisted and turned on the bed.
"You have to eat," Isabelle informed him sternly, but in a concerned tone.
"When she comes for me, we're gonna eat real food!" He yelled. His voice didn't sound like it had before Hunter tried to strangle him to death. It always sounded raspy and hoarse. Combined with the labored breathing as a result of lung damage and his jawbone injury, he sounded nothing like his pre-injury self.
Isabelle blew out a breath, making her dark brown bangs move a little since the strands couldn't fit in her ponytail yet. "Randy if you don't eat we'll have to feed you through a tube," she said gently. "You don't want that, do you?"
"NO! I want you to leave me the fuck alone! I want you OUT!" His wrists struggled against the restraints and he tried to sit up. The muscles in his neck showed their strain with the effort. "I want - I want," he breathed out heavily. Getting worked up was always a bad thing. He always had to be sedated at some point because of his limited lung capacity. "I want Stephanie."
"Stephanie's not coming," she told him.
Randy's head snapped in her direction. His blue eyes were vivid and outraged. "YOU'RE A LIAR!" He screamed with his voice cracking. "She's - she's coming for me! She just has to get away...from him. From Triple H," he reasoned. "Then she's coming. She said - she said she loved me!"
Isabelle's piercing dark eyes stared at him sadly. In a way she felt bad for him. But because she was briefed on the terrible things he'd done and tried to do, most of that diminished. She was a woman and a parent so she could easily sympathize with what Stephanie Helmsley had gone through. But the bottom line was that Mr. Orton was mentally ill. He suffered from mental diseases such as severe antisocial, narcissistic, impulse and sadistic personality disorders. And those were just the most troubling ones.
Their job was to make him face reality and get him to a healthy mental state so that he could be tried in a court of law and sentenced for his crimes. The prosecutor for the case was literally throwing the entire damn book at him. If and when he was mentally competent to understand his charges and their implications, he would definitely get life in prison as half of his charges carried life sentences all on their own. In addition, some of the charges were from Texas.
For Stephanie alone, Randy was charged with assault, kidnapping, two counts of sexual battery, attempted rape and attempted murder. For Hunter, Randy was charged with two counts of aggravated assault, aggravated kidnapping and assault with a deadly weapon.
"She lied," Isabelle told him plainly. "She lied because you were threatening her. She had no choice."
"NO!" Randy screamed as he tried to sit up. "You're a filthy fucking liar! When I get out of here I'm gonna - I'm gonna choke the life out of you for lying on her! She loves me! SHE LOVES ME!"
"Orderlies!" She shouted down the hall.
Within seconds, two large men ran into the room. They each held down one of Randy's shoulders.
"GET OFF!" He yelled raspily as he struggled against them. "Get the hell off me!" He hissed.
Isabelle sighed and measured her solution in the syringe. "This is gonna sting a little," she told Randy in a calm voice.
"What's that? What're you doing?" He questioned, watching as she folded down the corner of his bottoms. She stuck the needle in his hip, injecting the sedative. "OW!" He yelled! "Ow, ow, ow!" He said as she finished and pulled the needle out.
"You get some rest now," she told him, gesturing that it was fine for the orderlies to release him now.
Randy's eyes rolled into the back of his head, but he still twisted and pulled against the restraints. He needed to get free. He needed to see Stephanie. He had to be with her. He just had to.
"She's...waiting for me," he said softly, feeling the drug begin to take its effects. "She - she loves me...they're all...liars! They're all liars."
Randy let out a strangled cry as he tried using all of his strength to get free one last time before slumping against the bed. Tears began to travel down his cheeks slowly. "Stephanie...loves me," he whispered before his eyes slid shut.