A/N: CaraLee934, I had already started this when you left your last review! :D
This is a sequel to "Fides, Spes, Caritas" and "Fides Quaerens Intellectus," so read those first (and if you're new to this AU, start with "Semper Fi"). There's also a cryptic comment that will make more sense if you've read "On Whom His Favor Rests" in the Bits and Bobs collection for this 'verse.
A Very Merry Unbirthday
By San Antonio Rose
Springtime in Texas comes early, Dean had told Ben when Ben started whining about the weather warming up two weeks into January. That means you got more time for playing outside where you won't be at risk for frostbite or pneumonia. Would you rather be stuck inside 'cause it's too cold out? No? Then quit complaining and get used to it. He'd suspected Ben was really missing his friends in Cicero rather than the cold, but considering that the greater Indianapolis area had been in the middle of a blizzard at the time, Dean had felt the point was valid.
He'd forgotten the old adage: If you don't like the weather in Texas, just wait five minutes and it'll change.
It was the story of his life, really. The weather had been gorgeous for the birthday party he'd shared with Jess. It had been drippy but not bad for Dad's birthday, and Dean had been seriously considering taking Lisa up to Fredericksburg this particular weekend as an early Valentine's Day surprise... right up until the weather forecast started calling for a norther to blow through on Friday night. And said norther brought along a storm system—that then stalled out right over San Antonio. That meant that as the freezing rain kept bucketing down from Saturday right through into Sunday, the ground cooled off enough that the roads got downright hideous. He wasn't risking his baby in this weather for anything short of a national emergency, and even if Lisa could fit behind the wheel of her car, he wouldn't want her driving.
So here they were, stuck at home in a freak ice storm. Dean and Ben were freezing. Lisa was roasting.
"Well, come warm me up, then," Dean grumbled good-naturedly as Ben went off to get ready for bed.
Lisa chuckled and hobbled over to sit down next to Dean on the couch. "Perils of having a built-in heater."
He put his left arm around her shoulders and pulled her close, soaking in her body heat. "Hell, you really are a radiator," he said after a moment. "Hope this doesn't make things worse."
"Wasn't worried about the heat eight months ago," she confessed quietly with a wry smile. "I was just trying to keep you conscious."
"Eight months? Was it?"
She nodded. "Near as I can figure it, yeah. Eight months to the day. We got done with that werewolf hunt, and you were slipping. Can't remember now if we'd actually talked about parking somewhere to make out for a while, establish an alibi if it was needed, but we got there, and... I seriously thought you were going to pass out. I was already scared enough over the werewolf. I freaked out, kept trying to get you to talk, but you were barely coherent, so I kissed you hard, and... y'know, I still don't know how we got into the back seat."
"Well, I'd be lyin' if I said I remember." He put his hand on her belly and rubbed lightly. "And I'd be lyin' if I said I was sorry."
She smiled and kissed his cheek. "So would I."
The muscles under his hand rippled suddenly as one of those Braxton-Hicks contractions she'd been having for a few days hit. He massaged a little bit gently and was rewarded with a slight kick from the baby.
Then he could feel a hot flash hit Lisa; the amount of body heat she was putting out, already high, spiked further. He pulled back and let her ease away from him a little. "You okay? Need some ice cream?"
She considered. "Think I'll shower first, see if that doesn't help. Might want some when I come back, though."
He nodded. "Okay. Need help getting in there?"
"Nah, I'll be all right." She scooted down to the other end of the couch and used the arm for leverage to push herself up.
"Holler if you need me."
"Okay." And she hobbled off to the master suite.
Sighing, Dean went to check on Ben, who had his PJs on and was about to start brushing his teeth. Then he did his evening check of the wards, went back to the kitchen, and tried to decide whether to fix Lisa a bowl of ice cream just in case.
He hadn't yet decided when he heard her cry out in pain, followed by a splash.
"Lisa?!" he called and dashed toward the master bathroom.
"I... I'm okay," she called back, and as he got into the bathroom, he could see her bracing herself on the support bars Bobby and Rufus had installed in the shower for him.
"My water broke."
Dean suspected his gulp was audible.
"I'm all right to finish my shower, but... ah!... maybe stand by to help me get dressed?"
"Sure, sure. Standing by." His knees buckled, and he sat down hard on the edge of the garden tub, which was separate from the shower stall.
Story. Of. His. Life. He'd been trapped in a horror movie since he was four, so why wouldn't his child's arrival be straight out of a disaster flick? Lisa had been seeing a midwife—one of Jess's now-former instructors at UTSA, in fact—but the roads were impassible, and the midwife lived in Boerne anyway. There was no way they could get to a hospital. They couldn't even get to Jess or get Jess to them. So of course the baby would come now.
Lisa finished her shower, and Dean helped her into a nightgown that buttoned down the front. Then they sat down together on the bed, and she patted his knee. "We're okay. Two weeks early is technically full term."
"Lis..." He didn't want to admit it, but he was terrified. She was in labor with only him to rely on, and he only had one hand.
So he called. And the midwife's phone went to voice mail. He managed to leave a message without swearing, but he did let slip a few Kurdish expletives after he hung up. And then he called Jess, whose reaction was predictable:
Dean could hear Sam and Dad in the background asking what was going on.
Jess moved the phone away from her mouth. "Lisa's in labor."
Somehow, the chorus of creative cursing Dean heard at that made him feel better.
Jess took a deep breath and pulled herself together. "O-kay, Dean. Guess we'll have to do this the old-fashioned way. How far along is she?"
"I dunno. Her water broke, like, five minutes ago."
"Okay. Let me talk to her."
Dean dutifully handed the phone to Lisa, who started rattling off something about times, and ran his hand over his mouth as he tried to think through what he would need. Towel to dry the baby with. Diaper. Blanket. Knife to cut the cord. But did he need to tie the cord off with something first? Was he supposed to treat the part that was left on the baby with anything? Dammit, he wasn't prepared for this!
When Lisa handed the phone back to him, Jess said, "You're okay, Dean. Lisa's not to the pushing stage yet. You've got time to gather supplies."
That got him back on a more even keel. "Supplies, gotcha. Walk me through this, Sis."
While Lisa hobbled in to talk with Ben, Jess helped Dean locate everything he would need to deliver the baby. He didn't know what kind of knife they used in hospitals for this kind of thing, but his hunting knives were sharp and clean, so he picked one of the smallest ones that would still do the job. The surgical kit in the car had the hemostats he'd need to clamp the cord before he cut it, and it turned out that he even had the antibiotic ointment they'd need to protect the baby's eyes against potential infection. Jess said that was SOP in most hospitals these days, plus given... well, everything, it was probably a good idea. He had to hang up while he gathered everything, but Jess promised to stand by until he called back.
He started to set the stack down in the living room, but Lisa shook her head. "Let's... let's do this... in the bathroom."
She nodded and started heading that direction. "I can... hold onto... the bars... brace myself. And... 's easier... for cleanup."
"Okay. You gonna just wait in there or..."
"Gotta empty m'bladder," she murmured quickly.
"Oh." He chuckled and dashed in ahead of her to set things down on the edge of the tub, close enough to the space heater that the blanket and towel should be nicely warm by the time they were needed, then steadied her as she made her way to the toilet. Then he left, closing the door behind him, and went to check on Ben.
Ben was sitting on the couch, looking like he didn't know whether to be excited or scared. "Mom's really gonna have the baby tonight?" he asked as Dean sat down next to him.
"Looks like it, tonight or tomorrow. Dunno how fast this'll go."
"She said I came pretty fast."
Dean looked out the back windows at the freezing rain still pouring off the roof. "It's too dangerous to try to take her to the hospital or anything. The roads are really nasty."
Ben nodded. "That's what Mom said."
"So I'm probably gonna need your help. Need your hands."
Dean put his hand on Ben's shoulder. "You know, I'm not just askin' for me and Mom. Times like this, they're what bein' a big brother's all about. You don't... y'know... have to be in charge or anything like that, not for now. But bein' there, helping..."
"You don't have to explain, Dad."
That startled Dean, not least because Ben had been waffling on what to call him since Christmas. "I don't?"
Ben smiled. "I've watched you and Uncle Sam. I get it."
Dean didn't know what to say, so he pulled Ben into a hug.
Lisa trundled back into the living room at that point. "Okay. Here we go." She braced herself on the back of the recliner and took a couple of deep breaths, releasing each one slowly. "Ben, you might wanna... rest on our bed while you wait. Dean, would you... walk with me for a bit?"
"Sure," Dean agreed. "Mind if I call Jess?"
Lisa shook her head and took a couple more deep breaths. Ben retrieved Dean's phone from the coffee table for him, then went on into the master bedroom.
Jess answered on the first ring. "Dean? How is she?"
"So far, so good," Dean replied, walking around Lisa so he could support her with his left arm. "We're set up, gonna take a couple laps around the living room."
"Okay. Call me back when the contractions start coming faster, every two or three minutes."
"Two to three minutes, got it. Thanks, Jess."
As he hung up, Lisa grabbed hold of his left shoulder. He put his arm behind her back, and she let him take a lot of her weight as she pushed off the recliner and they started walking.
She nodded but saved her focus for breathing through the pain.
He floundered for a moment, not wanting to ask anything stupid like Does it hurt?—of course it hurt, and he did remember at least some of what Mom had gone through with Sammy—but not wanting to not know. Finally, he hit on, "So, um. How's this compare? To... to Ben? You did natural childbirth with him, right?"
She huffed, but with a smile. "Chickened out. Had an epidural."
"Oh." He racked his brain, trying to remember whether any of the pain meds in the surgical kit were still good or if they'd even be safe for childbirth.
"Hey," she interrupted. "You're here. Tha—" She broke off and stopped walking as another contraction hit. "That's what matters," she finished when she could speak again.
Together they paced around the living room for half an hour or so, then sat down on the couch to watch a rerun of Antiques Roadshow (which Dean would never, ever admit to watching in front of Sam). By the end of it, the contractions had gotten longer and more intense and were beginning to pick up the pace. He turned off the TV during one particularly strong contraction so he could focus on her and the clock.
At the end of it, she panted, "Call Jess. It's time."
He helped her to her feet and into the bathroom as he dialed. "She says it's time," he said as soon as Jess answered.
"Hoo boy," Jess replied. "And I thought finals were hard."
He laughed and brought her up to speed.
"All right. Get her settled, and then put me on speaker. At the rate she's going, you're gonna need your hand free pretty soon, and she's gonna need me coaching."
Dean and Lisa had reached the shower by this point, so Lisa went on into the shower and braced herself facing outward while Dean put the phone on speaker and set it down nearby. "All right," he said. "Let's rodeo."
Lisa's laugh turned into a grunt as the next contraction hit. Jess started up a soothing litany that Dean immediately tuned out as he moved the stack of supplies over within easy reach and started sorting them into what he'd need when.
"Oy, Speed Racer!" Lisa suddenly said, but not in a tone that meant she was calling Dean.
"What?" he asked anyway, looking up at her.
"Baby wants outta here—going fast!"
Jess spoke up. "Dean, what's she wearing?"
Dean shook himself. "Nightgown. Need to pull it up?"
"Yeah, better. That way you can see and she won't get blood on it."
He carefully lifted the hem up past the bump in Lisa's belly, which did look significantly lower now. Then he pressed a gentle kiss just to the side of her belly button. "It's okay, kiddo," he whispered. "Take your time."
"Too late for that!" Lisa yelped as another contraction hit.
"PUSH!" Jess called.
Lisa pushed, and Dean dropped to his knees just in time to see the briefest glimpse of hair poking through. "I see baby!" he announced.
Lisa grinned and gulped down a few deep breaths.
"PUSH!" Jess called again.
Lisa pushed, and a little more of the baby's head showed briefly.
"Doin' good, Lis," Dean said as she breathed again. "You're doin' good."
"PUSH!" Jess and Sam called this time.
Lisa pushed, and this time the top of the baby's head didn't disappear again.
"Okay," Jess said when he reported that. "Ease up, Lisa, until the baby crowns."
"Might not—" Lisa broke off and tried to just breathe through the next contraction, but a lot more of the baby's head came through anyway.
"Yup," Dad said dryly. "Kid's a Winchester."
It took only another couple of contractions for the baby's head to come all the way out. Dean barely had time to get the nose and mouth cleared before the shoulders started coming through. Jess picked up the "PUSH!" chant again, and Sam and Dad both joined in this time.
"Dean!" Lisa finally gasped. "Get ready!"
Dean got both arms in position just as she gave one last mighty push with a cry that ended with a note of triumph as the baby shot into his arms and he instinctively pulled it to his chest like a football.
A sticky, squirmy, squalling football with hair and nose and hands and legs and...
"It's a girl," he breathed. "It's a girl!"
Sam and Dad cheered like he'd made the game-winning touchdown.
"Put her on Lisa's stomach to keep warm," Jess told him.
"Right, yeah," Dean replied and did so, keeping her braced with his left arm. "Ben!"
Ben came running.
"Here, hand me that towel, will you?"
Ben did so but gawked at the tiny form Dean was holding. "Is that..."
"Your little sister."
Dean got the little girl wiped down a little and covered with the towel, then pointed to the hemostats. "Now, you see those scissor-lookin' things?"
"I need you to put those on this cord where Aunt Jess says."
Jess talked Ben through placing the clamps while Dean held the cord for him, and he did so carefully and precisely.
"That looks good, son," Dean said. "Now I need the knife."
Ben handed it to him cautiously, hilt-first.
Dean nodded. "Okay, hold the cord real still for me, up out of the way so I won't cut you."
"Like this?" Ben held the cord so that Dean could cut downward without risking injury to any of them.
"Just exactly like that." Dean adjusted his hold on knife and baby, eyed the distance between the hemostats, and cut the cord with one slice. "There! Good job."
"Good job!" Lisa echoed brightly, grinning down at both of them. "Big Brothers United."
Sam and Jess laughed.
"A girl," said Dad. "You got a name picked out?"
Dean looked at Lisa, who shook her head, then down at his baby girl and thought for a moment. "Johanna Mary," he concluded. "If... if that's okay, Dad."
The sounds that came over the phone sounded suspiciously like sniffles before Dad replied, "Yeah, son. That... that sounds great."
"Johanna Mary," Lisa repeated. "That's pretty. What do you think, Ben?"
"There's a Johanna in third grade," Ben reported. "She's smart."
"Is she nice?"
"I dunno. She's just on the honor roll a lot."
Then Lisa winced, and Dean felt another contraction under his arm. "Hey, whoa," he said. "What was that?"
"Placenta," Lisa and Jess chorused.
Dean nearly said a word he'd promised himself he wouldn't say in front of Ben. There was still stuff he needed to do for Johanna—he hadn't even been thinking about afterbirth! Should he give the baby to Ben, or—
A hand landed on his shoulder. "See to your daughter, Dean," Cas said gently. "I'll tend Lisa."
Dean scooped Johanna up and moved out of Cas' way. "Well, you picked a—fine time to show up, Cas," he groused as he set the knife in the sink. "Where you been?"
"You had things well in hand to this point."
Dean kept his opinion to himself and grabbed a washrag.
While Cas helped Lisa with the afterbirth, Dean had Ben hand him things as he got Johanna washed, dried, diapered, and swaddled. By the time he'd finished with the antibiotic and everything, Cas had helped Lisa over to sit on the edge of the tub and was cleaning the last of the gunk out of the shower.
Jess finally spoke up again. "Um, birth certificate. How are we going to do this? I mean, I've got the form, but..."
Cas stood and held out his arms to take Johanna. "May I?"
Somewhat nervously, Dean passed her to him.
Cas studied Johanna for a moment and then rattled off all her vital statistics, including her Apgar score. "And she is beautiful and in perfect health," he concluded as he handed her back to Dean.
Dean couldn't help smiling at that. "Thanks, Cas."
"Okay!" Jess said. "I guess we'll sign off and let you guys get some rest. Congratulations!"
"You keep that baby warm, you hear?" Dad added.
Dean and Lisa laughed. "Don't worry, John," Lisa replied. "We will."
"This is so awesome, guys," Sam said. "Congratulations."
"Thanks, Sammy," Dean grinned.
"Night, Dean, Lisa, Cas, Ben, Johanna."
"Night," everyone on Dean's end chorused, and the phone went dark.
Cas picked up the phone and set it on the vanity, then turned to Lisa. "Here, let me help you to the bed."
"I really appreciate this, Cas," Lisa said as he helped her to stand.
"This is what friends do for each other," he answered, and Dean suspected he heard an echo of his alternate-timeline self in that statement.
So he covered by looking down at the boy who was holding onto his shirt tail as they followed. "You were a big help tonight, Ben. Thank you."
Ben practically glowed.
Once Lisa was seated on the bed, which was adjusted so she could semi-recline, and Ben had had a chance to say good night to everyone and give Johanna a parting kiss, Dean sent him on to bed. But Cas stuck around for a moment.
"Cas?" Dean prompted.
"I assume you will want to stay with Lisa for the rest of the night," Cas responded. "So I thought I would offer to watch Ben until he falls asleep."
Cas glanced away for a second, then smiled a little and addressed Lisa. "Also, your refrigerator and freezer are full of cooked meals. You won't have to worry about cooking for a while."
Lisa smiled. "Great. I appreciate it."
Dean shook his head. "Cas, you didn't have to do that."
Cas' smile turned wry. "Not every good thing that happens to you is my doing, Dean. Good night." And he left, closing the door behind him.
Johanna had quieted during all the commotion, but now she began fussing again before Dean could wonder what Cas had meant. "Oop," he said. "Someone's hungry."
Lisa chuckled and unbuttoned the top of her nightgown. "Now the fun begins."
Dean slid into bed beside her and held Johanna until Lisa was ready to take her. Then it finally registered how gross his shirt had gotten—though for a happy reason for a change. So he changed for bed, and then he retrieved the burp rag he'd included with the stack of supplies in the bathroom, put it over his left shoulder, and returned. Once he was settled again, he put his left arm around Lisa's shoulders. She leaned against him, and they sat together in companionable silence, the only sound being the soft noise of Johanna nursing.
Finally, Lisa chuckled. "Lot of good that shower did. I must look horrible—sweaty, pale, my hair's a wreck..."
"No, sweetheart," Dean murmured. "You've never looked more beautiful." And he meant that.
She leaned a little more heavily for a moment.
Soon Johanna had had her fill and turned away with a yawn. Lisa handed her back to Dean, who braced her bottom with his left arm while she rested against his rag-covered shoulder and used his hand to pat her back very gently until she finally burped. By the time he handed her back to Lisa, she was sound asleep.
"We made it," he whispered.
Lisa smiled at him. "You did a great job."
He ducked his head a little, but his heart skipped a beat.
"And I'm glad we didn't wait to get our own house. This would have been even crazier if we'd still been at Sam's, or in the middle of moving in. Two weeks early... hell, Ben was three days late!"
"A very merry unbirthday to all of us," Dean quipped, and Lisa nearly turned purple trying not to laugh out loud and wake the baby.