"You wanna hold him?" Ava handed the baby to Vanessa so she could pour the coffee. Tristan curled his tiny fists up and lay his head against his aunt's shoulder. She couldn't believe how big he had gotten so quickly. It seemed like he was just born a few weeks ago.
She settled down at the table, snuggling the baby close to her. He had that new baby smell, so sweet and pleasant, and his little features were delicate. He was only three months old but Vanessa could hardly believe he was even here. Ava hadn't planned this pregnancy and had been as surprised as anyone when she and David conceived him. Vanessa knew that Ava and David had only planned to have one child, Justin, but had adapted when Tristan came along. The last time they had gotten together, after a bit of dancing to old CDs and too much champagne, Ava had confided that David had agreed to have a vasectomy. Vanessa was impressed and said as much. Most men she knew wouldn't agree to a procedure like that, and she had wondered if Bobby would. That had led to a conversation about babies, which had led to her confession, which she now regretted--the one where she had told Ava how much she wanted to have Bobby's baby.
Ava brought both coffee cups to the table, setting one in front of Vanessa. "I already fixed it, " she told her, then sat next to her sister, a peaceful smile on her face as she gazed at her new son. Tristan was resting in the crook of Vanessa's arm, sleeping, his yellow onesie snuggled tightly around his little body. "He looks good on you," she commented, before taking a sip of her coffee.
"Thanks." Vanessa picked up the mug with her opposite hand and sipped from it. She noted it was lukewarm, and couldn't help but admire her sister's cautiousness. She knew Vanessa wouldn't be able to help but hold the baby and she wanted to ensure there was no possibility of a hot drink burning him. She put the coffee cup down.
"So." Ava turned her cup aimlessly, then looked up at Vanessa. "Did you tell him?"
"Yes." She sipped her coffee slowly, almost wishing she had never confided anything in her sister. Talking about it made it more real, more painful. She knew Ava too well, knew she was like a dog with a bone. She'd never drop this, and Vanessa would have to pray with all her might that Ava didn't butt right in between her and Bobby about it.
"So what did he say?"
She shook her head. "We're still discussing it."
"What the hell does that mean? I thought he wanted a family...didn't you say he had said that was his lifetime dream?"
God, had she really told Ava that about Bobby? Bobby would kill her if he knew. Damn liquor. "I think...maybe it was something said a long time ago...in a moment..." She sighed, wishing their girls' night had never happened. Damn David for going out of town. If he had stayed home, Ava would have never invited her over, they would never have done any shots or sung karaoke or played truth or dare. Then she wouldn't be sitting here in the damn hot seat.
Ava was watching her closely. "I can conveniently forget everything we talked about, if you want. We both had too much to drink....I know it's none of my business, Nessie. I just want to see you happy. And you'd be a great mom. And Bobby...he'd be a good father. He's been a great uncle to the boys." She took another sip of her coffee. "Don't tell him I said that."
Vanessa smiled. She and Ava had worked tirelessly on their relationship in the last year, to the point that Ava could actually stand to be in the room with Bobby for more than ten minutes. They were closer now than they ever had been, and Ava had admitted the other night that a lot of it had been due to Bobby coming into Vanessa's life. He had changed all of their lives, for good. Ava would never be the kind of person who dropped compliments left and right, but it felt good when she gave them. And especially good when she acknowledged how special Bobby was to Vanessa, and even to her family.
"I feel like I have baby on the brain." Vanessa shook her head. "Everything is about babies suddenly...you know, his partner is pregnant and due in six weeks. Tristan just seems more beautiful every time I see him. I'm thirty-two years old and not getting any younger."
Ava shook her head. "Has he said anything about it at all?"
"Adoption...surrogacy..." Vanessa sighed.
Ava looked confused. "Why...is it because of Mom?"
"No." Vanessa shook her head. "At least, not completely...it's more about his mom. He's worried about passing on schizophrenia."
Ava put her cup down slowly. "He has a point, Ness...and I can imagine he would know better than anybody what that's like...to live that way."
Vanessa's eyes settled on her baby nephew sleeping in her arms. His tiny hand was curled by his mouth and he was making soft sucking sounds. His head was covered with soft dark hair that looked exactly like his father's. She smiled softly at him. She tried to imagine what it would be like to look at him and know his future could hold something as dismal as mental illness, and if that would make his parents wish they never had him. If it would one day make him resent them or wish he had never been born.
"You know, you could always carry a baby...somebody else's fertilized egg..." She realized Ava was talking to her, and she turned her attention back to her sister.
Shaking her head, she said, "So many ways to make a baby...and so many people who can't. When did the world get so complex?"
Ava patted her hand. "I dunno, Nessie. But you can love on your nephews anytime you want."
Eames was roughly the size of a house.
Rayden sat in her chair at her desk, watching Alex trying to maneuver her huge belly through the bullpen without bumping into desks or detectives. It was quite a feat. She though it was quite possible that Alex's circumference now surpassed her height. For somebody so round, she still was quick and light on her feet, and although Rayden could tell Eames was tired by the way she held herself, she got as much work done as ever.
She was watching Eames curiously when she realized that Eames was watching her as well. Self-consciously she looked down at her work but it was too late; Eames was quickly making her way to Vanessa's office.
"Hey," she said, opening the door and closing it behind her. "Everything okay?"
"Oh, yeah," she lied, picking up a pen and clicking it. "How about with you?"
"Great," Eames replied, sinking into the chair on the other side of Vanessa's desk. "Because I was just wondering if I had a bullseye on my ass, the way you're watching me today."
Vanessa felt her face flush. If Eames didn't know she was straight, she would have been horribly embarrassed. Her mind rushed through possibilities of how she could explain away the fact she'd been staring at Alex for most of the morning. She decided the truth was probably the best choice, as awful as it sounded.
"I'll tell you...if you promise to keep it between us."
"Why would I want anyone else to know you're checking me out?" Eames was laughing at her.
Vanessa raised one eyebrow at her. "I'm not checking you out. At least, not in the way you're implying."
Alex tossed her hair back and rested her hands on her enormous belly. "Then what's up?"
Vanessa sighed. "Please don't say anything to anyone...it's kind of embarrassing...I was just wondering what it was like to be you."
"A cop?" Eames looked puzzled.
"No." Vanessa tried desperately not to roll her eyes. Alex wasn't usually this dense. "Pregnant. Really super pregnant."
Eames snorted. "Didn't Ava just have a baby a couple months ago?"
"Yeah...but I'm around you more..." Her eyes caught Eames', then she looked down. "Sorry."
"Ness..." Eames' voice was softer now. "Are you pregnant?"
Now Vanessa laughed. "No. Really, no."
"But you're thinking about it."
She hesitated, then answered, "I can't seem to help myself." She tapped her pen on a piece of paper before saying, "Bobby has a lot of concerns."
Eames nodded. "His mother. And yours?"
"Those are valid concerns, Vanessa...but you know, pregnancy is only nine months. Parenting is forever."
Vanessa started to laugh again. "That sounds like something that should be on a plaque!"
"Yeah, but it's true...I mean, I did this for my sister because she couldn't. And I wouldn't trade it for the world. But she's the one who gets a lifetime with this kid."
"Are you glad you did it? It's been amazing, hasn't it?"
Eames' eyes met hers, and Vanessa could see her choosing her words carefully. "It's been special and I feel honored I got to do this. I wouldn't have gotten to ever experience this if it weren't for my sister. But you know, if carrying a baby is that important to you, you can always have a donated egg fertilized with donated sperm, and implanted. The doctor I see does those procedures regularly."
Vanessa nodded. "I know. But it's not what I want." She drew circles with the pen, then said, "I want to have my husband's child. I think about it all the time...what our baby would look like, what he or she would act like. If the kid would like chinese or italian or asian fusion, if it would run track, if it would sing or fiddle with car engines or read or be completely stupid and a beauty queen." She sat quietly for a moment. "Did you ever wonder...with Joe?"
Alex nodded. "All the time. After I miscarried, I was devastated that I would never know. I still wonder what our baby would have been like."
Vanessa remembered the day she had heard about the miscarriage. She had been interning and only knew Alex casually. The female cop whose husband had just been murdered on the job. She had taken Eames a casserole two days later that she had made herself. Chicken noodle.
"I'm sorry if this has brought up bad memories...it was selfish of me."
Alex shook her head vehemently. "No," she told her. "You're one of the few people I can talk about Joe with and don't have to hide it. I appreciate that about our relationship, Vanessa...I really do. And I've never forgotten you coming by. It meant so much to me."
She smiled slightly. "Do you think I'm wrong to want this?"
"Of course not. I think you're a normal woman who loves her husband and whose biological clock is ticking away. I think it'd be stranger not to want it." She crossed her arms. "How is Bobby feeling about it all?"
She shook her head. "Conflicted...you know him...he'd do anything for me and it's about killing him not to just say yes. I hate even bringing it up."
Eames voice took on a firmer tone. "You need to talk to your husband about this. You both need to figure this out...what you can live with. Either way, I don't think you should give up on parenthood. You both would be incredible parents." She stood up. "You can stare at me all you want...sometimes I wonder how I fit through spaces, too." She grinned at Vanessa. "Ness, you guys will figure out what's best for you. Try not to worry too much." With a final empathic glance, Eames turned around and headed back into the bullpen, leaving Vanessa alone with her pen and her circles, both the ones on the paper and the ones in her head.
"Hey Bruce," Vanessa cooed as she entered the condo later that evening. "I'm home!" She didn't hear an answer and didn't really expect to. It was her late night at the office, and she had brought home pizza, per usual. If Bobby was following routine, he was probably either in the study working or in bed reading. Sure enough, she found him in the bed, near the end of his book on neurology and crime.
"Hey," he said, looking up. "What are we eating?"
"Pizza." She laid the box on the bed, then pulled off her shirt. "As soon as I get changed, I'll go grab us some drinks and plates."
"Awesome." They had gotten into the habit early in their relationship of eating in bed together. Sometimes they ate junk, other times healthy food, and still others, four star dinners they had requested be boxed up and brought home. Sometimes they ate in their clothes and sometimes in their pajamas, and still other times they ate naked, and even occasionally off of each other, laughing at their own creativity. He watched her pull off her bra and her slacks, reaching for one of his t-shirts. He liked that, her body swallowed in his shirt, knowing that he'd wear it again. He could see her nipples gently pressed through the thin fabric and he smiled, because, well, he enjoyed being reminded.
She left the room and returned a few minutes later with a couple glasses of water and two plates, and they sat down to eat. She had gotten spinach for her and sausage for him.
"I love you," he told her as he bit into his first piece. "I want you to know how much I appreciate the fact that you get me italian sausage and don't make me eat weeds."
She laughed. "Well, you can have sausage but if you'd like some of the weeds you're welcome to those as well." She flipped on the television and set the channel on the food network.
"Heh," he said, "I always like to watch people eat when we're eating."
"Yeah, me too..." She pulled a piece of cheese off her pizza and chewed it slowly. "We need to talk about something. I'm supposed to go in next week for my birth control shot." She didn't look at him but felt hyper aware of his reaction, waiting to see any change in his posture or tone at all.
But he just took another bite of his pizza. "You want to go off it?"
"Yeah. Just in case we decide to try...it can take awhile for the body to readjust to not having the hormones..."
He nodded. "It's your body...I think you should do what you're comfortable with. And what you're saying makes sense."
She twisted another piece of cheese on the top of her pizza. "Makes sense?"
"Yeah." He put his pizza down and looked at her. "I mean, we haven't ruled this out, right? So it makes sense for you to go off the shot and we can use something more...I don't know, temporary..." He cleared his throat. "Until we make a decision."
She didn't know why, but she felt insistent, almost annoyed. She raised her chin. "I want to have your baby and there's nothing you can say to dissuade me. I understand the risks we'd be taking. I just hope you understand how much I want this, and how serious I am."
He rested his hand on her chin, holding her face to look at him. She could see his whiskers and couldn't help but remember the last time they had scratched against her when they made love.
"I understand," he said softly. "I know you want this." His brows furrowed before he continued. "My biggest fear is not being able to do this and losing you because of it."
She could see the tears welling in his eyes. "Stop it," she told him. "I'm your best friend and I don't want to live my life without you." She shook her head. "It wouldn't be much of a life. For either of us, now."
He leaned over and kissed her, long, sweet, gentle. "Go off the shot," he whispered. "We'll use something else for now. And I promise I'll make a decision, soon."
She wrapped her arms around him. "I love you," she told him. "And don't forget, I'm your everything."
He inhaled. "Don't worry."