Author's Note: Sorry updates have been far and few between for Something to Live For, I have just been a little un-motivated since ideas haven't come as easily as they were for awhile, and even more so, because my other stories demanded top priority. But, this story is back on the list of things needing regular updates, so I hope you guys can enjoy it once more! Please review! Thanks for all the support, as always, you guys are amazing. (HEARTS).
It had been one month since Natalie had gone home, and Keith had just stepped in the door from the third to last of his chemo treatments. The tumors were shrinking, and his doctors were quite sure that by the end of these last four sessions, he would be in remission. Natalie ran downstairs to meet him at the door, and jumped into his arms. He chuckled, stumbling back and catching himself on the doorframe.
"How was your day, partner?"
"Fine. I just finished Catherine's room. The doctor called and said we can pick her up in an hour after her discharge papers are finished," Natalie practically squealed.
Keith laughed. "Calm down, Natalie."
She play-frowned back at him. "Keith, our daughter gets to come home today!"
Keith smirked and pulled her in for another hug before shutting the door behind him. " I know, partner, I'm ecstatic too, trust me."
Natalie smiled and led him into the kitchen where she had already finished some lunch for him. She poured him a glass of lemonade and set the pitcher down, leaning against the counter.
"I cannot believe she is one month old today," Natalie mused, crossing her arms over her chest.
"Neither can I. I can't believe they're letting her come home early!"
"I know! We only would have waited another week, but every single day feels like its own week without her."
"I know you've missed seeing her," Keith replied, seeing as he had seen their daughter a few more times than Natalie. Whenever Keith had chemo, he made it an effort to travel up to the NICU and visit his little girl for a few stolen moments of father-daughter bonding.
"Do you want to see the bedroom?" Natalie asked, her face changing from slight disappointment to utter excitement.
Keith grinned and nodded, setting his glass down. "Of course I do!"
He followed her up the stairs then and turned left on the landing. Keith still walked around the home and couldn't believe that it was really there's. Al had offered somewhat of a 'renter's' idea to them; telling them that they could stay and share the home, but once he got them all settled in, he surprised both of them with the knowledge that he had converted the garage to a large apartment, and that the home was theirs. Al had always made it his mission in life to help young people, and knowing that they needed a place, with their own privacy, pushed him into action.
Natalie gently pushed open the door to the baby's room and Keith's lips broke into a broad smile. The room was done in a Noah's Ark theme, with a mural of the ark and various animals on the wall opposite the baby's crib, and the sound of splashing water coming from a radio plugged in on top of the dresser. A changing table was on one of the smaller walls, across from a rocking chair that was in the corner with a baby rag draped over it and a bin of children's books resting to the side of it. There was a small mobile with different animals on it hanging over the crib, and the blanket that Natalie's mother had sewn for Catherine in a light pink with her name and a little zebra on it was strewn over the crib railing.
"Natalie, this room is absolutely beautiful. You did wonderful."
He wrapped an arm around her waist and took in all of the shelves, and extra details she had added while he was gone. The room smelled like flowers, and everything in it that wasn't the generic 'animal theme' screamed 'girl'. The room was perfect for his little princess.
"Thanks," she smiled, resting her head on his shoulder.
She took in a deep breath the, and faced Keith. "Do you want to get ready to leave?"
"Yeah, I have to grab a shower first, so by the time I'm finished, we can get going."
He kissed her forehead then and retreated to the bathroom. He ran the shower water on the medium setting and shed his clothes before stepping in. The water warmed his feet which had been standing on cold tile, and his body shivered as the chill was burnt away by the steam all around him. He sucked in a breath of air filled with the scent of musk and aloe, and he began scrubbing off his body. When he came to his right arm, he gently peeled the leftover tape from where his I.V. had been, and he cleaned softly around the port on the side of his stomach that had been bandaged up fresh at his appointment. He finished his shower as quickly as possible, and stepped out, dressing even quicker.
Natalie waited for him downstairs, and when she smelled the scent she always smelled of him after a shower, she smiled and walked towards the front door, throwing the truck keys to him.
"Let's go!" She said excitedly, beckoning him to move faster towards the door.
Keith grinned and ran out the door before her, jumping into the truck and locking the doors.
"Let me in, Keith!" She laughed.
"HMMM, NAH! I get to Catherine, and you don't!" He taunted, but being unable to hide his laughter as well.
Natalie grinned and rolled her eyes before he finally unlocked the passenger's side door, and let her in. She buckled herself quickly, and glanced back at the car-seat in the back of the yellow pick-up truck at the same time Keith did. She saw him bite his lip, the way he always did when he was overcome with emotion, and then he turned back to face the front dashboard quickly. Glancing in the rearview mirror, he pulled out of the driveway and drove to the hospital.
When they arrived, they both walked in, hand in hand, and since the staff knew them both so well, they took them back quickly to the NICU where the nurse there gave them the discharge papers to sign, offered them pamphlets and advice on how to care for Catherine since she was still so small and fragile, and set-up Catherine's appointment for next week with her pediatrician. Natalie and Keith took all the information in quickly, absorbing it as though they were the sponge, and all of this information of their daughter was life-saving water. Once the nurse was finished, she detached the final small plug connecting Catherine to the small crib covered with plastic that she had slept in for a month now. Natalie took her daughter into her arms and tears streamed down her face as Keith wrapped an arm around her shoulder and peered down at their little girl.
They got out of the hospital as quickly as they could, wanting nothing more than to start their new life with their child. They both maneuvered her gently into the baby-seat and buckled her up firmly. Natalie adjusted her head so that it fit between the cushioning that the seat provided and they both stood there for a moment before Natalie kissed her forehead and shut the door. Keith put the keys in the ignition as Natalie jumped up into the passenger's seat, and he drove slowly out of the parking lot. Natalie smiled slightly.
"Keith, you're driving different," she uttered the profound statement softly.
Keith chuckled and spoke as they came upon a red-light. Natalie noticed that he didn't turn to look at her like he normally did at a red-light: he kept his hand firmly on the steering wheel and his eyes straight ahead.
"That I am, partner."
"Why?" Natalie laughed.
Keith took in a deep breath, and inched the car forward slowly as they rolled past stoplight.
"Because it isn't just you and me anymore, Natalie- we have a baby too. This little life…I can't jeopardize that, ever. We're here, with a baby, in a yellow truck, with a road in front of us and nothing but opportunity."
Author's Note: So, I hope you all enjoyed chapter 16! I had SUCH a good time writing it. A lot happened in this chapter! Catherine will FINALLY be home with them! I don't know if you guys could see it too, but seriously, this chapter would have been a great ending one for this story…Fortunately for you all, I want you guys to see Catherine fully grow up, so with this story, or a sequel or two, (you guys tell me what you'd prefer), I will be showing you Catherine, Keith, and Natalie's whole lives together. (: Hope you all enjoy it!
Please review- I need feedback so I can know what you guys want to see happen next since I have 1-2 more chapters planned and then we need to show some growing up. Let me know if you like the idea of growing Catherine slowly in this story, or if you want a sequel and skip a few years each chapter. Ah well, I am sure you will all have plenty of ideas!