A/N: Welcome! This story will be structured similar to the show in which it will be told from various points of view by characters in different locations. And, as hinted by "prologue," there will be flashbacks peppered in here and there. I do not own the show or the characters.
She didn't want to burp him with a police officer in the room. Emma drew the line at that, although in just a matter of hours she'd mastered the art of formula-feeding a newborn, had wiped a greenish tar substance off of his bottom, and rubbed alcohol on the crusty flesh protruding from his navel. The police officer, sprawled on the sofa in the room meant for the father, or, you know, loved ones, had leaned his head back and dozed off an hour ago, so she gathered the baby up to her and tapped at his back.
Next time, throw a towel over your shoulder first, she thought, blinking back tears at the notion of a next time. The lady from the foster services would be coming any minute, and it was all Emma could do to not cleave her son to her chest and sob.
"Hey," she whispered, just as he was starting to close his eyes. Great timing, she thought with a sarcastic twitch of her mouth. One word in and the kid was bored out of his mind. "Hey, I need to tell you before you go—they'll find somebody really good for you. They know how to do that now better than they did when I was little. I...I can't take care of you. I don't have a place to live. I don't have a job, insurance, anyone to help me... You'll have your best chance this way."
Futile, discussing life's problems with a newborn. He fell asleep quicker than anyone she'd ever known. Laying him down on the bed in front of her, she ran her hand over the blanket the nurse had helped her swaddle him in. Rebellious kid, that was for sure, always kicking out a foot.
The clock ticked away, five minutes until noon, five minutes left of mothering.
"You'll be fine, kid." To hell with her voice trembling. She could summon up a poker face in a split second, but controlling her voice...worst kind of tell. "Hey, Officer Narcolepsy'sz asleep. You want a lullaby? I know a couple." Did she? Biting her lip, she frowned at only knowing the one where the kid falls out of the tree. Not the kind of impression to leave a kid with.
"Puff the magic dragon lived by the sea/and frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honalee..." she sang in a whisper, glancing at the cop every other second. No one had heard her sing since, well, that wasn't important. Tears streamed down her face, but as long as there was the song, she could control her voice.
"Together they would travel on a ship with billowed sails/Jackie kept a lookout perched on Puff's gigantic tail/Noble kings and princes would bow whenever they came/Pirate ships would lower their flags when Puff roared out his name."
Emma's head snapped up, her fingers recoiling from the baby's cheek like she'd touched a burner.
"I'm Mr. Slight, from Social Services?" A tall man with a cocky smile and a thick mop of blonde hair paused at the threshold looking like a freakin' Ken doll.
"They said on the phone a Miss-"
"I know, but she's delayed. I've got my credentials." He opened an official-looking briefcase on the wheeled cart where she ate her meals. Not pausing to look at the baby, she noticed, but then, how many babies did Social Services people see? Not everyone thought them the novelty she did. She glanced at his paperwork, heard the names of everyone she'd been talking to since she'd found out she was pregnant, and, other than something insanely boyish in the man's eyes...seriously, by eyes alone she would have put him as a teenager, he checked out.
"And he'll, he'll have a good home, right?" she asked, tightening her lips and inhaling. Mr. Slight, who was whistling a strange little song at her son, looked up and grinned. The nerve, Emma thought, about to say something. Grinning?
"He's already set to go with a family."
"He'll need a few checkups and a week or two before heading out, but he'll get the very best. Don't you worry about that. Did you want a forwarding address? I'm sure she'd be happy to talk to you. A lot of adoptive parents understand the benefit of including the biological parents in the child's everyday upbringing."
"No. No, I, I just needed to know he'll be taken care of. He's special." She didn't care if it sounded stupid or cliched. It was true.
"Yes, he's a very special child," Mr. Slight said, still smiling as he held the baby with one hand and his briefcase with the other and strolled right out the door with what should be her very reason to live.
Emma's head fell back onto the pillow, her bracelet-filled wrists flying up to her face to muffle her sobbing even though no one was around to hear it.