Author Topic: There and Back Again  (Read 817 times)

Natasha Romanoff

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There and Back Again
« on: February 11, 2019, 12:35:55 PM »
She was called the Black Widow because she was deadly. It was a shame she didn't have other spider-like tendencies at times. Like today ... laying eggs would have been so much easier than trying to walk across her own living room while enduring contractions and attempting not to swear at the dog.

"Nat, pacing isn't gonna help," Steve scolded mildly, as he tried Colin's phone number yet again. For some reason, the man wasn't answering. "Luce should be back with the car soon."

The look Steve got was less than friendly. "When you're the one whose innards are trying to become outtards, then you can tell me what does and doesn't help," Natasha informed her friend, pausing to bend just a little, one hand on the back of the sofa. Coco chose that moment to jump up and lick her face.

"If I could do what you're doing, it would be a miracle," Steve remarked, as he tapped in a text message to Colin instead telling him to meet them at Rhy'Din General. "I don't know why he isn't answering," he murmured.

"God, he'd better not miss this," Nat forced out from between her teeth, taking slow breaths as she pushed Coco away. "Babe, I love you, but not now, okay?" From outside came the sound of the car pulling up in a spray of gravel.

"I'm sure there's a logical explanation," Steve remarked. "Sounds like Lucy's here. You gonna be okay?" he asked, looking over at his bestest friend with a concerned frown as he pushed off the couch.

Nat straightened, breathing out carefully. "Not gonna lie," she told him. "Straight up, this is the scariest thing I've ever done. If I could pull a trigger to get this over with, I would."

"It'll be okay, Nat. Women have been giving birth since the beginning of time," he reminded her, though it was probably small comfort. He offered her an arm to help her to the door, still wondering why Colin wasn't answering his phone. He didn't have to wonder long though, as the door flew open and the man in question rushed inside.

"Nat! I'm so sorry. My phone died and ... Is it time?"

Nat's expression flashed bright with wild relief before flattening at the frankly ridiculous question from her husband. "No, I just thought it would be funny to be in this much pain for a day," she deadpanned to Colin, daring him to take offense.

Colin was a pretty smart guy, but he'd never seen Nat quite this riled up before and he wasn't quite sure what to make of it. He glanced at Steve, as though he might be of some help.

"She's kidding ... I think," Steve assured him. "Why don't you take your wife, and I'll get the door?" he suggested.

Colin nodded, "Yes, of course," he said, switching places with the man.

Nat's hand wrapped about Colin's tightly, twining her fingers with his, needing to feel his grip on her as she leaned into him. "This hurts," she murmured to him, not wanting to show that weakness but unable to keep herself from sharing it.

"I know, love," Colin replied with a concerned look on his face as he helped her toward the door. "I'm not going anywhere. I'll be right there as long as you need me," he assured her soberly.

"Anything you need me to grab before we go?" Steve asked from the door. "Will Coco be okay for a while?"

"Martin's going to check on Coco when he gets home from school," Nat reminded them. That was a deal she'd made with her friend's eldest a few weeks ago, figuring that the animal whisperer was best suited to checking on an animal. She paused, gripping Colin's hand tighter for a moment. "The hospital bag is in the car."

"Okay, we should be all set then," Steve said, holding the door open for Nat and Colin so they could make their way to the car. "Stay, Coco!" he called to the dog, who only barked in response, tail wagging.

"Careful, love. Take my arm," Colin urged her, as patiently as he could. He'd have to trust the Rogers to take care of Coco.

As the contraction eased, Nat straightened again, blowing out a stiff breath. "I guess it's too late to have second thoughts, right?" she asked, trying to alleviate some of the stress she could feel radiating off Colin as he helped her over the porch and down onto the gravel drive.

Steve secured the door behind them before sprinting to the car to get the door there, too. "We'll get you to the hospital in a jiffy!" he promised, as Colin lead her to the car and carefully helped her inside.

Her husband chuckled at her remark, relieved she still had her sense of humor. "A little bit," he had to admit.

Behind the wheel, Lucy glanced over her shoulder as the couple eased themselves into the back seat together. "How are we doing?" she asked with an encouraging smile. "No leaks yet?"

Nat threw her a dirty look. "Just for that, I'm gonna make sure I break water all over your back seat."

"So long as it's not all over my back seat," Colin mumbled under his breath. It hadn't been an easy feat getting his car to Rhy'Din, and it was no secret how possessive he was of it. Once Colin and Nat were settled in, Steve closed the door behind them, but not before Colin handed him his car keys. "Not a scratch, Cap," he warned.

Steve smiled at the man's concern. "Son, I've been driving since before you were born," he told the man before closing the door and looking to Lucy. "Meet you there in a bit," he told her, leaning down to give her a kiss. "Good luck!" he told them all, before patting the car to send them on their way.

Lucy flashed her husband a grin, turning back to the wheel. "Okay, no one look at the speed dial," she informed her passengers. "Your mission is to be calm for the next twenty minutes until we get you to the hospital."

Nat rolled her eyes. "She says, after mentioning that we shouldn't look at the speed dial," the redhead muttered. To be honest, she didn't care how fast Lucy drove, so long as the birth was over and done with quickly.

So long as Nat didn't give birth in the car, like Liv had. "No need to panic. Everything is under control," Colin said, though he wasn't too sure. He remembered the classes he and Nat had taken and thought they still had enough time. "How close together are your contractions?" he asked.

"Five minutes," Nat told him, tipping her head back against the seat. Her hand rubbed firmly over the proud jut of her belly, which felt taut and tense even between contractions right now. "Lasting about a minute. Steve said that was the right time to get moving."
[color=darkred:8340a39584][size=9:8340a39584][i:8340a39584][b:8340a39584]She wears strength and darkness equally well,
the girl has always been half goddess, half hell.[/b:8340a39584][/i:8340a39584][/size:8340a39584][/color:8340a39584]

Natasha Romanoff

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Re: There and Back Again
« Reply #1 on: February 11, 2019, 12:36:23 PM »
Colin slid an arm around her back, settling his other hand atop hers upon her belly. "Well, Steve should know," he remarked with a soft smile and just a hint of sarcasm. Then again, the man and his wife had been through this a few times already. "Are you behaving yourself for your mother?" he asked, leaning closer as if to address the child still in the womb.

"If he doesn't know by now, he never will," Lucy commented from the front seat, putting her foot down as discreetly as possible the moment they passed out through the Maple Grove gates.

Natasha couldn't help a faint smile as Colin addressed the baby in her belly, wondering if the kid could hear and understand just how stressed out Momma was right now. "We never decided on a name."

"We didn't, did we?" Colin said, more statement than question. "Do you have any ideas?" he asked, giving her the chance to make any suggestions before he did the same.

"Nothing Russian," Nat managed as another contraction made itself known, trying not to hold her breath. It was surprisingly hard to keep breathing through the clenching, cramping pain - no one had warned her about that.

Colin chuckled at her remark, but it died quickly on his lips as Nat's struggled through another contraction. "Breathe, Nat. Remember?" he said, breathing slowly in and out, as if to show her out to do it.

Gripping his hand, Nat raised her head, meeting his eyes to try and match her breathing to his. They'd been to all the classes, and she'd never seen the point of the synchronized breathing until right now. Because without Colin there, she really would be holding her breath through the pain.

"That's it. That's my girl. Nice and easy. In and out," he said in as calm a voice as he could manage, breathing slowly and deeply. If he could distract her with the breathing, that minute would be over in no time and with it, the pain.

As the contraction faded, Nat let her head sag back once again, her grip relaxing once more. "Sorry," she apologized softly. "I didn't mean to get pissy with you. I'm not enjoying the grand finale."

"Were you pissy?" he asked, with the hint of a smirk on his face. "I hadn't noticed." He leaned close to touch an affectionate and protective kiss to her brow. "It'll be all right, Nat. Promise," he assured her. After all, there was no reason to believe it wouldn't be.

"I was pissy," she confirmed, sighing softly. "It's taking so long, and it's worse than I thought it would be. I don't have any control over this, and it's yanking my chain." At least she was able to express that sentiment now. It had taken months to get her to actually state outright what she was feeling and why.

"You don't have to suffer through it, Nat. They can give you something to make it easier when we get to the hospital," he reminded her, though he had a feeling she'd decline and tough it out. It was just who she was.

"No, I can do this," she insisted, shaking her head. "Just ... not on my own." It cost a lot for her to be able to admit that at all. Natasha Romanoff had spent so much of her life alone, relying only on herself. Natasha Prescott was slowly learning that it wasn't necessary to do everything alone.

"You're not alone," he reminded her quietly, all too aware that Lucy could probably hear every word they said. "You never have to be alone again," he added, touching a kiss to her cheek to reassure her. "No matter what, we're in this together."

Natasha managed a faint smile before another contraction took hold of her, grimacing as she turned her face against his throat, holding on tightly to him.

Lucy glanced into the rear view mirror as she sped through the city, wondering when they were going to notice that she'd put her own emergency light on the roof. It might have been flashing green to declare it was a doctor on call, but people were still getting out of the way for her.

So intent was Colin on Nat that he'd probably never notice that light, though he did notice how Lucy was weaving quickly through traffic to get Nat there as soon as she could. He'd be forever grateful to her for that. At least, she wouldn't give birth in the car.

There were advantages to having an experienced doctor as a close friend. The one that immediately stood out was the midwife waiting by the drop off zone with a wheelchair when Lucy pulled up.

Libby grinned at the pair of them as she reached out to open the back door. "Not Braxton Hicks this time, huh?"

"They're pretty regular," Colin volunteered, though he left Nat to fill the midwife in on the details, as he carefully helped her from the car and into the wheelchair. It was probably the one and only time Nat had ever agreed to ride in one.

"Less than five minutes apart now," Lucy reported from the front seat, "lasting more than a full minute." She winked at Colin and Nat. "Steve'll drop the hospital bag in at the labor ward desk when he comes up to drop off your car keys, okay?"

"You're not staying?" Colin asked, mostly out of curiosity. He knew Lucy was a doctor, but wasn't the kind of doctor that delivered babies. Now that the time had come, he just wanted to be sure Nat would have the best of care.

"No," Lucy told him. "You don't want a crowd of people waiting on you for the next who knows how long. I'm going to wait for Steve to park your car and deliver your bag and keys, and then take him home to distract him so he doesn't try to get into the delivery suite with you."

In the wheelchair, Natasha actually laughed at that thought - of everyone she knew, she thought Stark was more likely to try and break into a labor suite with a pregnancy woman.

"You think he'd do that?" Colin asked, looking more than a little surprised. Though Steve Rogers had a few kids of his own, he just couldn't imagine him being the kind who'd want to force his way into the delivery room.

"I think he sees your wife as his own little sister, and has a certain amount of overprotective nonsense in his brain because of it," Lucy told him, waving her hand. "Go on, get booked in and settled. Steve won't be long."

Colin couldn't very well find fault with Steve thinking of Nat as a little sister. It was endearing, in fact, but he didn't really want the man with them in the delivery room. "I'll take good care of her. Promise," he assured Lucy, hoping she'd pass that along to Steve.

"I know."

As Lucy smiled, Nat tapped her husband on the hip, grimacing through another contraction. "Are we going in, or what?" she asked, trying not to sound too hostile this time around.
[color=darkred:8340a39584][size=9:8340a39584][i:8340a39584][b:8340a39584]She wears strength and darkness equally well,
the girl has always been half goddess, half hell.[/b:8340a39584][/i:8340a39584][/size:8340a39584][/color:8340a39584]

Natasha Romanoff

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Re: There and Back Again
« Reply #2 on: February 11, 2019, 12:36:47 PM »
"Ready when you are," he told her, assuming the midwife was in charge of the wheelchair, rather than him, but willing to push if that's what they wanted him to do.

Libby nodded to him, turning the wheelchair to head inside, with Nat clinging onto Colin's hand as they went. It was a matter of a few minutes to get her to the labor ward and changed into a hospital gown, inspected to find out how far along she was. Then Libby left them to it, promising to return when they needed her next.

Nat lay on her side, looking over at Colin. "She put her whole hand up there," she breathed in mild horror.

Colin presumed this was only the first of the indignities Nat would have to suffer before bringing their child into the world. Maybe they should have just adopted, he thought to himself, but it was too late for that now, and he was looking forward to welcoming their baby daughter. It was his job, he thought, to be supportive and optimistic. There really wasn't much more he could do than that.

"I'm sorry, love," he murmured, frowning. "I'd trade places, if I could."

"Coco would never forgive you," she murmured, holding his hand. "I guess I should get up and moving around again. Lucy said something about gravity being my best friend."

He couldn't help but chuckle at that. "Why's that?" he asked, regarding the remark about his dog. "Do you think she'd be jealous?" In a few days, they'd presumably be bringing home a baby who might prove competition for Coco's affections, but he didn't think that was what she meant. Meanwhile, he took her arm to help her to her feet, frowning in concern and warning, "Careful." He didn't think she should be on her feet, but if Lucy thought it would speed things up, who was he to argue?

"She loves your smell," Nat pointed out, letting him help her up and onto her feet with a groan of effort. "She who sticks her nose in your crotch at every opporunity would be mortified if a baby came out of it." She grinned, her breath stolen by a fresh contraction.

Colin shrugged, smirking. "Is it my fault she adores me?" he asks of the dog. In a way, she'd been his first love, and he'd worried the two women in his life might become jealous of each other, but so far, so good. He wasn't sure what would happen when they added a third female to the equation. "Are you sure you should be on your feet?" he asked, with obvious concern.

Rolling her eyes, Nat shook her head, breathing through the contraction before she answered him. "Now is not the right time to be second-guessing every decision I make," she warned him as gently as she was capable, still leaning on him for a moment before straightening up again. "Lucy said stay on my feet until the last possible second."

"All right," he said, taking her word for it. He might have bristled at her warning, but he knew it was the pain talking, the pain setting her teeth on edge. "What can I do?" he asked, not just wanting but needing to be useful in some way.

Nat blew out a slow breath. "This is going to sound really weird, but can you rub your knuckles against my spine?" she asked hopefully. "Down here." She took his hand, drawing his touch to where the ache resided.

"Whatever you want," he replied, moving closer so that he could do what she asked. "Tell me if I'm rubbing too hard," he said as he pressed his knuckles against her spine in hopes of massaging away the pain.

A knock sounded at the door, rapping twice, interrupting their moment of privacy.

Nat groaned in relief, glad he wasn't treating her like a breakable doll. He could have barely touched her, but the pressure he chose was perfect. "Oh, god, that's almost orgasmic," she mumbled, glancing toward the door.

"Uh ..." an uncertain but familiar voice murmured as the door cracked open. "It's me ... Steve. Is it okay to come in?" he asked, uncertainly having overheard the word "orgasmic" and wondering what exactly was going on in there.

"Only if you brought the bag," Nat called toward the door, bending forward to press her back further into Colin's rubbing knuckles. "Oh, right there."

"How's that?" Colin was heard saying, as he rubbed his knuckles right where she was pressing her back against his hand. "Better, love?" he asked, as Steve popped his head into the room.

"I've got the bag!" Steve said, holding it up as proof.

"So much better," Nat groaned happily, wriggling her fingers in hello to Steve before letting her head fall forward again. The contractions were getting closer together and longer, but it was still going to be a while before the baby was ready to join them.

"Set the bag anywhere," Colin told Steve while he continued to rub Nat's back.

Reluctantly, Steve stepped into the room, feeling as though he was intruding somehow. "Sorry," he said, setting the bag down on a chair and somehow managing to look as uncomfortable as he felt.

"You know how this goes, old man," Nat reminded her friend. "It's not like I'm mooning you or anything." She flashed him a pained grin as she straightened up, twisting a little to lean sideways into Colin.

"It'll be okay, Nat," Steve assured her, having gone through this already with Lucy, though he knew every birth was unique and different. "Keys," he said, setting those near the bag, too, before moving back to the door, not wanting to overstay his welcome and feeling very much like the third wheel. "Keep in touch, okay? Lucy worries," he said, though in truth, he worried, too.

"Like you're not going to be the first person to know what happens," Nat pointed out with a wry smile. "Closest thing to a brother we've got, you know." She bit down on another groan, letting her head drop forward.

"Just do me a favor and don't name her Stephanie," Steve remarked, smiling at last. He moved over, almost shyly giving Nat a quick kiss on the cheek. "Take good care of her," he told Colin and then he was out the door and gone.

Nat rolled her eyes, chuckling faintly. "He didn't mean that to sound threatening," she assured Colin fondly. "And we are not calling her Stephanie. Or Lucille."

"Actually, I was thinking about Alia," Colin said, with a small shrug, unsure what she'd think of that name. It was similar to her second name, but not quite so Russian.

She eyed him almost suspiciously for a moment, recognizing the similarity. "You like that?" was her only question. She might have declared no Russian names, but Alia by itself was not actually Russian. And Nat had decided a while ago that Colin deserved to name their firstborn himself.

"I do. She's our daughter, Nat. What better name to give her than one that reminds me of you? Besides, it's pretty. Don't you think our little girl deserves a pretty name?" he asked, smiling sincerely. He wasn't going to insist on the name, but he'd been thinking about it awhile and had grown rather fond of it.

Nat smiled, leaning her head against his chest. "Alia it is, then," she murmured, letting out a sudden gasp as a flood of warm liquid soaked her thighs and feet. "Okay ... I think that qualifies as broken water."

Colin smiled as she rested her head against his chest, an arm going protectively around her to hold her close. He touched a kiss to her forehead, just as she gasped and he paused to take a single step back at her declaration. "Shall I summon the midwife?" he asked, trying to remember their training.

"Uh ... yeah." If for no other reason than to help her get dried off and changed. Nat managed another awkward smile for Colin. "Maybe we'll get lucky and this'll speed up now."

"The sooner our daughter is born the better," he agreed, for all of them. But there was no need to leave the room, when all they had to do was buzz for the nurse's station. "Excuse me, but my wife's water has broken," he told whoever had been lucky enough to answer the call.
[color=darkred:8340a39584][size=9:8340a39584][i:8340a39584][b:8340a39584]She wears strength and darkness equally well,
the girl has always been half goddess, half hell.[/b:8340a39584][/i:8340a39584][/size:8340a39584][/color:8340a39584]

Natasha Romanoff

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Re: There and Back Again
« Reply #3 on: February 11, 2019, 12:37:15 PM »
"Oh, wonderful," the nurse declared. "I'll just help you get cleaned up and changed, and Libby'll come in to see how far you are along. Shouldn't be too much longer now!"

"Let's hope not," Colin murmured, whether the nurse could hear him or not. "They're on their way, love," he told Nat, though there was nothing wrong with her hearing. He hoped for her sake, it wouldn't be too much longer. He hated to admit it, but he didn't like to see her in pain, and he worried for the safety of both wife and daughter.

Unfortunately for both Nat and Colin, the nurse's prediction proved to be a little too optimistic. It was another two hours before she was dilated enough to begin pushing, with Libby coaxing both of them through the process. Red-faced and sweaty, holding tight to Colin's hand as she gritted her teeth, Nat made no sound at all as she pushed, frighteningly accustomed to bearing pain.

"You're doing great, Nat," Colin encouraged, leaning close as she clung to his hand, letting her squeeze as tightly as she wanted. "You're strong. You're the strongest woman I know. You can do this," he told her.

"Almost there," Libby assured them from the end of the bed. "One long slow push for me, Natasha."

Fixing her eyes on Colin's as though to remind herself what all this was for and about, Nat bared her teeth and pushed once more, her whole body tense for a long, painful moment or seven, aware of a burning sensation even as she did so. Then, as the pressure and burning eased, she heard the coughing first breath of the little life she had never thought she would ever be able to make, raising a thin cry to the ceiling.

Colin smiled, relieved to hear their daughter's first wail at the indignation of being born. Now, he just had to hope she had all her fingers and toes. "Hear that, Nat? You did it! The hard part is over." He leaned in to kiss her brow and then her lips, gently smoothing her hair back from her face.

Against all expectations, Nat burst into tears, her face creased in a bright smile even as she sobbed, holding onto Colin to answer his kisses with her own. "We did it," she managed brokenly. "It really happened."

"We did," Colin replied, touching his brow to hers and laughing through his own tears. "You did," he corrected himself. It was almost too good to be true, but they still hadn't seen their daughter.

While they were crying together through their laughter, Libby was flexing her magical muscles to clean up the new baby and wrap her warm in a blanket, as well as finish up everything else that was involved in the afterbirth. It was a definite benefit of having a magical midwife. But within minutes, she was drawing the fresh sheet over Nat's legs and offering the grumbling bundle to the new parents.

"You have a little girl."

"A little girl," Colin echoed, still leaning as close as he could, the two of their heads bowed close over the tiny grumbling bundle of their newly-born daughter. "Our little girl," he corrected himself. He peeled back the blanket covering their daughter just enough to count her fingers, assuming if there was anything wrong with her, Libby wouldn't have been so quick to hand her over. "She's beautiful, just like her mother."

Nat's laughter was still tinged with tears as she looked down at the grumpy newborn muttering to herself between them. For so many years she had been so certain this was something she would never have ... yet here it was. A family, a child. Something the Red Room would have happily kept from her forever. "Do I really look that pissed?"

Colin laughed. "Only when you're angry," he replied, which seemed logical enough. He brusquely brushed the tears from his face, exhaling a sigh of relief. "What do you think? Does she look like an Alia to you?"

"She looks beautiful," Nat breathed, tilting her head to his shoulder as her fingertip gently stroked down the baby's cheek. "I never thought ... I never thought I would have this. I love you so much, Col."

"She looks like her mother," Colin pointed out, already having remarked on the newborn's beauty, if one could deem a newborn baby beautiful. "I never thought I'd have this either," he added, smiling softly at mother and daughter.

Still weeping softly, utterly unashamed to cry in front of Colin, Nat laughed once again, raising her head to kiss him. "Look what we did," she whispered. "We made a family."

He smiled into her kiss, lifting a hand to gently brush the tears from her face. "We did," he agreed quietly. "Baby makes three." Whether or not they ever had another child didn't much matter. As far as Colin was concerned, their family was perfect just as it was.

"Alia makes three," she answered quietly, accepting the name despite a quiet misgiving. It was still a link to her past ... but perhaps that wasn't such a bad thing. Because that meant that her past had created this future, and that was something worth being proud of.

"What do you think of Alia Lucille?" he ventured further. After all, Lucy was probably the closest thing Nat would ever have to a sister. Of course, they didn't have to give their new daughter a second name, but he liked the idea of honoring Lucy in some small way.

"What about Alia Lucia?" Nat suggested, knowing that Lucy quietly hated her given name. After all, that was why she insisted on being called Lucy at all times. "A little less .... fifties Hollywood."

Colin's smile answered for him. "I love it. It's perfect," he told her, brushing another kiss to her lips before turning his head to gaze down at their daughter who now had a name. "Welcome to the world, Alia Lucia. Your mother and I have been waiting a long time for you."

At the end of the bed, Libby cleared her throat quietly, smiling at the pair of them. "If you'd like to take your daughter a moment, Colin, we'll wheel the bed out of the delivery suite and into your private room," she told them, gesturing to the porter who was standing respectfully in the doorway. "You'll probably be in over night, but I would expect you to be well enough to go home tomorrow."

"Yes, of course," Colin replied, momentarily having forgotten they weren't alone. He echoed the midwife's throat clearing and positioned himself for Nat to manuever the baby into his waiting arms.

The reluctance to hand over the baby was obvious for a moment, but Nat did so, forcing herself to relax back against the pillows as the brakes were kicked off and the short journey to the ward and the private rooms began. In Colin's arms, Alia gurgled, apparently content with her position for the time being, clasping her tiny hands together as her lips smacked.

Colin was instantly charmed by the tiny bundle in his arms, and why shouldn't he be? She was not only a beautiful precious bundle, but she was something of a miracle. Never in a million years had he ever expected to become a father, but here he was, holding his own child in his arms. Though he was doing his best to control his emotions, it was almost enough to make a grown man cry.

By the time they were settled and alone once again, Alia had fallen asleep, sighing hugely every now and then. Natasha had managed to calm down, laughing a little each time the tiny girl sighed, tapping out a text to Steve and Lucy to let them know all was well.

Enamored by their new baby girl, Colin didn't really want to give her up just yet, though he knew he was going to have to eventually, but for now, he was enjoying every second. He had checked and double-checked to make sure she was whole and healthy, and found himself softly humming a song, as if it was a lullabye.
[color=darkred:8340a39584][size=9:8340a39584][i:8340a39584][b:8340a39584]She wears strength and darkness equally well,
the girl has always been half goddess, half hell.[/b:8340a39584][/i:8340a39584][/size:8340a39584][/color:8340a39584]

Natasha Romanoff

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Re: There and Back Again
« Reply #4 on: February 11, 2019, 12:37:38 PM »
"Looks like you two are getting on pretty well," Nat commented, carefully sliding from the bed to rummage through the bag and head for the bathroom. "Wow, that's ... sore."

"Nat, do you really think you should be out of bed yet?" Colin asked, looking up from his adoration of their newborn child, a concerned look on his face.

"I feel grungy," she told her husband, walking carefully as she spoke. "I promise to stay sitting down, but I've got to clean up a bit, Col. I hate feeling like this."

"All right," he reluctantly replied, trusting her to know what was best for her own body. "Let me know if you need help," he said, torn between wife and daughter and which one needed him more at that moment.

She didn't close the door, knowing he needed to be able to at least supervise her as she cleaned herself up. It took about half an hour, but finally she shuffled back into the room in clean pajamas with her hair pulled into a loose braid, climbing onto the bed with slow movements. "Better?"

"Are we talking about me or you?" he asked with a grin as she rejoined them. He was still awake, but he'd moved to a more comfortable chair, the infant nestled in his arms - father and daughter bonding while awaiting Nat's return.

"Both?" she countered, definitely looking a little happier in her skin as she crawled up to the pillows to relax there. Her phone buzzed, and she reached for it, smiling at the message there. "You know, I think the Rogers might be more excited than we are."

"Well, they are our best friends," Colin admitted, including himself in that equation, perhaps for the first time. He still felt a little like the odd man out when it came to her friends, but he was slowly getting better acquainted with them and with the others at Maple Grove. It didn't hurt that he was working for GrangerGuild Conglomerate and had become acquainted with at least some of the family that called the Grove home that way.

It was worth including himself just for the way Nat smiled on hearing it. She worried that he didn't feel a part of the little group that had welcomed them so easily onto the Grove, but hearing him say that was wonderful. "Yeah, they are," she agreed softly. "Did you put a diaper on her?"

"A diaper?" he echoed, brows arching upwards, an almost amusing look of alarm on his face. He lifted the baby up suddenly, hoping she hadn't wet straight through the blanket onto his clothes.

Nat began to laugh, wincing as the movement made her lower region ache in response. "A nappy," she translated, even as he moved to check. "I'm going to take that as a no, then."

"I thought Libby did it," he confessed, realizing he didn't know as much as he thought he did about newborns. "Shall I then?" he asked, looking around for a supply of diapers.

Thankfully, the room was stocked, though they had brought their own supplies as well. Alia grumbled as she was shifted around. "Well, either you put a diaper on her, or she wets your arm," Nat pointed out in amusement.

Thankfully, he was dressed casually today, not in a business suit, but the idea of the newborn peeing on his arm was enough to motivate him to get off the chair and attempt his first diaper change. Thankfully, he'd had a little practice in class, but that had been with a doll, not a wriggling baby.

"All right, little miss, let's see if we can't sort this out," he told the little one as he moved over to snag a clean diaper and lay her on the bed to be changed.

He did have his wife right there to hold Alia still as the baby girl started to complain about having her warm blanket removed from around her. "Throw a onesie on her, too, maybe," Nat suggested, stroking her fingertip against Alia's lower lip to calm the girl.

"Now you tell me," Colin grumbled, but it was a good-natured grumble. It all seemed easier said than done, and yet caring for the newborn was something they were both going to have to get used to. "I need to count her toes," he murmured, once the baby was unwrapped from her blanket, whether she complained or not.

The feet those toes were attached to kicked wildly as Alia began to grizzle, threatening to scream sometime very soon if she wasn't warmed up again in sharp time. Natasha was no help at all, laughing quietly at Colin's mild grumbling while Alia made her discontent known.

"Well, there's nothing wrong with her toes ... or her lungs," Colin remarked with a grin at Nat before going to work on changing the baby's diaper. It wasn't as hard as he thought it would be, and yet, a wriggling baby working up to a scream proved more of a challenge than he'd imagined. "There, there. Patience, little one. You'll be right as rain in no time."

It was heart-wrenching to see their newborn baby girl in floods of tears, even knowing that it was her only way to communicate for a while. Nat couldn't help worrying that maybe they were doing something wrong. "Is she in pain or something?"

"She's just impatient, love," Colin assured her, hoping he was right, mostly confident he was right. "Maybe she's hungry," he ventured, though that wasn't something he could help her with right now. Finished with the diaper, he very carefully attempted to fit those flailing arms and legs into a onesie and rewrap her in a fresh blanket.

"Isn't she supposed to have a special noise for when she's hungry?" Nat asked, trying not to panic at the sound of Alia's sobs. They were calming down as Colin managed to prod the little limbs into clothing, but it was still a terrifying sound for the new mother.

"I don't think they come with a decoder, Nat. Crying is crying," he said, though he wasn't too sure. Perhaps there was a different cry for hunger as there was for other indignities. Once he had her rewrapped in the blanket - though not quite as tidily as Libby - he scooped her carefully up into his arms and rested her against his shoulder, gentling rubbing her back and cooing softly.

It seemed to take an age - at least to Nat - but Alia did calm down, hiccoughing softly until at last she was quiet once more, blinking wearily from her father's shoulder.

Nat relaxed, relieved to see that Colin seemed to have a handle on this parenting stuff. "At least you know what you're doing."

"Not really," the new father admitted. "I guess I'm just a quick study," he said with a shrug of his shoulders. To be fair, he had taken their parenting classes pretty seriously, and he'd been paying extra attention to the other families on the Grove, but he wasn't as confident as he seemed.

"It's probably just as well we decided to bottle feed," she pointed out, leaning back against the pillows. She was quite content to watch him with Alia.

"Yes, but where are they?" he asked, looking around the room. "The bottles, I mean." He hadn't argued about her decision to bottle feed, even if the midwife had said breast feeding was better for both baby and mother.

"Over there." She pointed toward the bed table, on which had been set a few one ounce bottles of ready-made formula. Libby had already known their decisions and preferences, making sure to prep the room appropriately for them.
[color=darkred:8340a39584][size=9:8340a39584][i:8340a39584][b:8340a39584]She wears strength and darkness equally well,
the girl has always been half goddess, half hell.[/b:8340a39584][/i:8340a39584][/size:8340a39584][/color:8340a39584]

Natasha Romanoff

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Re: There and Back Again
« Reply #5 on: February 11, 2019, 12:38:03 PM »
"Ah," he murmured, spying the bottles at last. "What do you say, little miss?" he asked, looking to the little one propped against his shoulder. "Are you hungry?" he asked, as if expecting an answer.

One flailing hand slapped against his chin, gripping with surprising strength. Nat laughed quietly, tucking her arm behind her head as she watched. "You could always try her," she suggested. "Didn't Lucy say babies don't eat unless they're hungry?"

"Oh, no," he replied with a smirk. "You're not getting off that easily," he told her, though she had just given birth. Still, he thought it more important that she bond with her daughter by taking the first feeding than him. With that said, he moved over to settle the baby in Nat's arms, whether she wanted her or not.

"Wait, what?" The panic in Nat's eyes might almost have been comical as she automatically took the squirming Alia into her arms. "But you were bonding," she protested, looking down at the unfocused gaze of her daughter in alarm. "I don't know what I'm doing!"

"Do you think I do?" Colin replied with a chuckle. "Nat," he started, lowering himself to sit on the bed beside her, "she's our daughter. She needs us. She needs you. Do you think Adam and Eve had an instruction manual when their first child was born?" he pointed out. He didn't really believe there had ever been an Adam or an Eve, but he was trying to make a point. "We can do this ... together."

Nat bit her lip. She only ever showed this side of herself to the people she loved and trusted - the side of her that wasn't constantly confident of everything and certain in her actions. She felt Alia's hand wrap about her finger, glancing down at the little face before looking up at Colin. "What if I hurt her?"

"You won't hurt her, Nat," he assured her, believing in her even when she didn't seem to believe in herself. "And I'll be right here, if you need help," he added, with a caress of fingertips to her cheek, gaze soft with affection.

Would she have worried so much if Alia had been a boy? It was a moot point now; Alia was a girl, and Nat just had to suck it up and accept her role as a mother. She looked down at the newborn gumming on her finger, unable to help a faint quirk of a smile. "Do you think that means she's hungry?"

"She's not screaming to eat, but I'm pretty sure she won't get much nutrition out of her finger," he replied, mirroring her smile. "Why don't I find you a bottle and we can give it a go?" he suggested.

"We can try, I guess." Now that it seemed as though she was the one who would be doing the feeding, Nat's teasing urging seemed to have abandoned her, leaving her helpless in the face of her own daughter's needs.

Whether Colin could have done it or not was a moot point. He sensed Nat needed this; she needed to bond with their daughter and she needed to prove, if only to herself, that she could do this. "Now, if I were a bottle, where would I be?" he asked, as he moved to his feet and looked around the room.

It was a testament to how tired they both were after a long labor that he'd already forgotten where the little bottles were. Nat chuckled quietly to herself, trying to remember all the instructions from their parenting classes about feeding a newborn. "You're not going to try and drown yourself in milk on me, are you, little one?"

"Ah! There they are!" Colin exclaimed, finding them at last, practically right in front of his face. He reached for one of the small bottles on the bedside table and opened it up to get it ready for use. "What's in this stuff anyway?" he asked, as he took a better look at the bottle and what it contained before handing it over.

"I doubt they would be leaving poison out for the babies to eat," Nat drawled, tilting her head toward him with a curious tick to her expression. "Should we wait and ask a nurse?"

"We won't have a nurse to ask at home," he said, though their neighbor was a doctor. "I don't think they'd have left it here, unless they wanted us to use it," he reasoned.

"I guess." Nat eyed the little bottle dubiously, unconsciously wriggling her finger between Alia's gums as the baby girl sucked hard. She felt completely out of her depth. "How did I pass those parenting classes? I've forgotten everything!"

"Nat! Just put the nipple in her mouth and she'll do the rest!" Colin said with another chuckle. For a badass assassin, she really did worry too much about being a mother. "See?" he said, reaching over to offer the baby the bottle, while Nat held her in her arms.

That was the problem, though. Nat's whole life had been about ending lives, not nurturing them. But she wasn't in this alone. She visibly relaxed as Colin nudged the little bottle between Alia's lips, glad he was doing the feeding while she did the holding. "Smarty-pants."

Of course, he'd never had any experience with babies either, but he did remember some of what they'd been taught in their parenting classes. "Let her take about half and then we'll try to burp her," he instructed, thinking that seemed reasonable.

"You're the one in charge of the bottle," Nat pointed out, flashing him an almost smug smile. She could handle holding the baby; it was everything else that terrified her.

"You're going to have to touch it at some point," he told her, though he seemed happy enough to do it for now. Progress was progress, after all, even if it was slow progress.

"Not necessarily," she countered. "I could avoid all feeds until she's eating actual food. Since, you know, I just spent nine months being cuddled from the inside. You have some catching up to do."

"Oh, is that how it's going to be?" Colin said, trying to hide the smirk from his face. "All right, then. Hand her over," he said, practically daring her to give the little one up now that she was snuggling so comfortably in her mother's arms.

Nat frowned quickly. "Never interrupt a woman when she's eating," she told her husband firmly. "You're the one who put her here for her first ever meal."

"We're going to have to interrupt her to burp, you know," Colin pointed out, making no further move to take the baby from her arms. He did look over to see how much she was doing though and how much she'd sucked down so far.

"That isn't an interruption, that's an expected recess," Nat argued stubbornly. She didn't quite understand herself; the need to hold Alia close weighed against her terror of doing anything with her daughter just in case she did it wrong.

"Well, I'm afraid you're going to have to take over because Mother Nature is calling," Colin said, handing her the bottle whether she wanted it or not. Maybe it was a bit harsh, but there was only one way Nat was going to overcome her fear and that was to face it. "I'll be right back."

"Wha - Col!"

The sheer panic that gripped Nat on being left alone in the room with her newborn daughter was terrifying to her. She couldn't recall ever having felt this way about anything, and yet here she was, frozen in the face of a tiny baby who was utterly reliant on her until Colin came back.

"I think your papa's trying to give me a heart attack," she informed Alia, forcing herself to calm down.

She gently drew the bottle out of the baby's mouth and carefully raised her up to a shoulder, rubbing her back until a defiant burp made itself known. And despite herself, she laughed at the forceful sound as she drew Alia back down into the crook of her arm.

"That wasn't so bad," she murmured, offering the bottle to the baby once again. "I'll get him back, though."
[color=darkred:8340a39584][size=9:8340a39584][i:8340a39584][b:8340a39584]She wears strength and darkness equally well,
the girl has always been half goddess, half hell.[/b:8340a39584][/i:8340a39584][/size:8340a39584][/color:8340a39584]

Natasha Romanoff

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Re: There and Back Again
« Reply #6 on: February 11, 2019, 12:38:28 PM »
Whether Colin actually had to use the rest room or not, he made himself scarce just long enough for Nat to get acquainted and comfortable with her new baby daughter. He was only gone about fifteen minutes, returning with two cups of coffee, one just the way she liked it. "You don't have to thank me," he said as he set one on the bedside table. She wasn't breast-feeding, so he saw no harm in her having a little caffeine fix to get her through the day.

"Then I won't," was his wife's mildly snarky reply, softened by the promise of amusement in her eyes. "That was mean," she added, setting the almost empty bottle aside to lift Alia to her shoulder again, gently patting the baby's back.

"Trial by fire, Nat," Colin said, with a small shrug of his shoulders. "Did you prove to yourself that you can do it?" he asked, though she clearly had, as evidenced by the way she was lifting the baby to her shoulder and patting her back. If he hadn't left when he had, it might have taken longer for her to find the courage to do what needed to be done. "Besides, it's part instinct, don't you think?"

"Well, I had to, I didn't have a choice," she pointed out, not really wanting to admit to the fact that she was actively afraid of doing anything that might possibly result in Alia being less than content and happy. "It's going to take time, Col. And you can't just abandon me every time I mess up."

"You didn't mess up, Nat," Colin pointed out. "Besides, everyone has to start somewhere. You don't think Steve and Lucy knew what they were doing right from day one, do you? They had to learn, just like we're learning. But we're not alone in this. We have each other and we have friends to help and guide us. We're bound to make some mistakes from time to time, so long as we learn from them," he reasoned. And so long as no harm came to their daughter.

"This whole thing really intimidates me, okay?" she admitted, a little harshly but only because she hated that she had anything to admit in the first place. "I don't know how to be a mom, and I can't get away with just doing what needs to be done. I'm already kind of overwhelmed, and she only just had her first meal!"

"Nat, being a Mom - being a parent - is ninety percent common sense and ten percent experience. I'm just as nervous and worried as you are about being a good father. What do I know about being a good father? I was raised by nannies who didn't have a bloody clue what to do with me," he told her, with a heavy sigh. He turned his gaze to the small person in Nat's arms. "All I know is I love her. I love you both. And I'm going to do my damnedest to make sure she never has to suffer through the kind of childhood that we did. We can do this, Nat, but I can't do it alone. We have to do it together."

"I'm so scared I'm going to screw her up," Nat whispered, guilt filling her expression. "I'm scared of how much I love her. How much I love you. I keep ... I keep expecting something terrible to happen."

"I can't promise you that it's going to be easy or that we aren't going to make mistakes. I can't even promise you that nothing will ever go wrong," he told her, his tone of voice growing softer, more reassuring. "But I can promise you I'll always be here and that we'll figure this out together."

Beside her ear, Alia let out a massive burp finally, breaking the tension in her mother as Nat inadvertantly laughed. "Great timing, peanut." Daring to take one hand from the baby on her shoulder, she reached out to touch Colin's cheek. "I can't promise I won't freak out," she said quietly, "but I can promise to try. Every day."

"I love you, Nat," Colin told her quietly, lifting her hand from his cheek and pressing it to his lips. "And I promise you, we're gonna be okay. We have to be, for her sake," he said, smiling at both mother and daughter. No pressure there.

She smiled faintly, the expression shifting as she heard Alia give out a particularly wet blup next to her ear. Then she felt the warm trickle of spit up making its way over her shoulder to her back and the pillow. "Okay, so that's why you're supposed to have a cloth there."

Colin laughed. "Want me to get you a clean shirt?" he asked, following her gaze to the trickle of spit up that was pooling onto her pillow. "And a clean pillow case," he added with a grin.

"Yeah, that's probably a good idea," she agreed, rolling her eyes as she drew Alia down into the crook of her arm. Taking up a wipe from the nearest surface, she carefully wiped the little girl's mouth and neck clean and dry. "You, little miss, are a smelly, messy little monster."

"Not as smelly as Coco," Colin said from across the room as he carefully rifled through Nat's overnight bag. "If you think babies are a messy business, try raising a puppy," he told her, chuckling at the memory. After a moment, he returned with a fresh pajama top and a clean pillow case. "Come to Papa, little monster," he said, holding out his arms to exchange the linens for the baby.

Easing Alia over into her father's arms, Nat pulled the pillow out from behind her before drawing her shirt over her head to change it. "Maybe I should have bought more shirts for us recently if she's going to spit on everything."

"Or maybe we should just make sure we use a cloth next time," Colin suggested, as he cradled the newborn in his arms and rocked her to and fro, hardly even realizing he was doing it.

"Sure, that would be sensible," Nat agreed, tugging the soiled pillow case free and tossing it at the hospital laundry hamper. She paused, looking over at him. "I don't want to stay here tonight," she said quietly. "I don't ... I don't feel safe in hospitals."

"Then we go home," Colin replied, without hesitation. They could hire someone to help if the wanted to, but with Steve and Lucy right next door and most of the residents of Maple Grove willing to help, it seemed hardly necessary.

"Libby said I had to stay overnight," she said worriedly. "But, I mean ... we have Lucy right there if something goes weird, right?"

Colin shrugged. "Maybe Libby should stay overnight instead," he suggested, only half joking. He didn't think there was any harm in Nat staying at the hospital overnight, but if it caused her more anxiety than it was worth, then he was in favor of taking them both home. "Why don't I go talk to her and see what she says?"

She nodded. "Or we could ask Lucy to do it," she suggested, though that would involve getting Lucy to the hospital to explain things to her first.

"Ask her to stay overnight?" Colin asked, brows arching upwards. He didn't really think that was necessary, but if it made Nat feel better, he wasn't opposed to the idea. The important thing was that she got some rest.

"No, ask her to put on her doctor hat and get us out of here," Nat clarified with a wry smile, replacing the pillow case and setting it back behind her to lean back more comfortably.

"Ah," Colin chuckled, wondering why he didn't get that the first time without explanation, but it had been a long day. "We can do that," he replied, in agreement. "Do you want to do that or shall I?"

"Oh, you should do it," Nat told him. "She won't accuse you of being oversensitive or too tired to make a sensible decision." Not that Lucy would do that to Natasha either, but Nat had a feeling she'd be asked a couple of uncomfortable questions if she was the one doing the asking.

"All right," he agreed, as he attempted to juggle the baby so that he could fish his phone from out of his pants pocket.

Nat watched him for a moment, her lips quirking with fond amusement. "Want me to take her back while you make the call?" she asked helpfully.

"Would you mind?" he asked, stepping closer, giving up on finding the phone before he dropped either it or the baby. He eased the little one into her arms once again before digging the phone from his pocket at last. "I'll just be a minute."

"Well, we're not going anywhere," Nat assured him, settling back with a little more confidence this time as Alia squirmed and got comfortable once again.

"Not yet anyway," he murmured, smiling. He handed her the cloth, though he wasn't sure she'd need it, and made sure the baby was settled comfortably before dialing Lucy's number.
[color=darkred:8340a39584][size=9:8340a39584][i:8340a39584][b:8340a39584]She wears strength and darkness equally well,
the girl has always been half goddess, half hell.[/b:8340a39584][/i:8340a39584][/size:8340a39584][/color:8340a39584]

Natasha Romanoff

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Re: There and Back Again
« Reply #7 on: February 11, 2019, 12:38:52 PM »
Lucy picked up after just a couple of rings, though it was a moment before Colin got her full attention. The first thing he heard was,

"... sleep in someone else's house when they're not home without permission just to make a dog feel better, petit. Hello?"

Colin chuckled, assuming that conversation was probably about Coco. "Lucy? It's Colin," he said, though she probably already knew that from the caller ID. "We need to ask you a favor," he started. "Can you get away for a little while?"

"Oh, hi, Colin!" There was a pause, presumably while Lucy left the room she was currently inhabiting in search of some quiet. "What do you need?"

"Can you get up to the hospital for a little while?" he asked, debating whether or not he should tell her why and finally deciding it would probably be better to come clean. "Nat wants to come home, and Libby wants her to stay overnight."

"I don't need to come up there to get you let out before nightfall," Lucy responded without a second thought. "I'm assuming nothing went horrendously wrong, there were no stitches or anything and the little one is healthy?"

"No, nothing went wrong. We ..." Colin trailed off, as he glanced over at Nat and the baby. How could he explain without sounding irrational? "We just want to come home. What difference does it make if we bring the baby home tonight or in the morning?" he asked.

"All right then, find Libby and put me on the phone with her," Lucy told him. "I can get you discharged with only one condition, easy as pie."

"What condition is that?" he asked, shrugging at Nat, who was only hearing half the conversation. He assumed it was a condition that would be easy enough to comply with.

"Both Nat and Alia have got to use the bathroom in their own ways without complications or difficulties before they can be discharged," Lucy said easily. "Just to make sure the whole thing is working and has recovered from the shock."

"Okay, I think they can do that," he replied, with another glance at mother and daughter. It was only a matter of time, after all, wasn't it? "I'll call you back when I find Libby."

"I'll be waiting."

As the call cut out, Nat tilted her head in his direction, looking vaguely suspicious. "What did she decide?"

"She says she can get you out of here on one condition - you and Alia have to, um ..." How did one put it without being vulgar? "You both have to go to the bathroom before you can go home," he said, hoping she understood what he meant.

Nat grimaced, rolling her eyes. "Well, I guess it's just as well I ate a big breakfast, huh?" She wasn't happy with her freedom depending on her bowels, but if that's what it took to get out, she was prepared to do it.

"You're gonna have to go sooner or later anyway, right?" he asked, with a smile he hoped would assuage her. "Meanwhile, I have to go find Libby. Will you be okay without me for a while?"

She shrugged one shoulder, glancing down guiltily when Alia grumbled at the unexpected movement. "Sorry, peanut ... Uh, sure, I guess. You're not leaving the building or anything."

"Do you want me to tuck her in first?" he asked, unsure if she wanted him to leave her with the baby in her arms while he went in search of the midwife. "I shouldn't be too long. I'm just going to the nurse's station to have her paged."

"No!" Nat shook her head, softening her voice despite the visibly tighter curl of her arms about their daughter. "No, I ... I feel better holding onto her while you're not here."

"Okay," Colin said, furrowing his brows at her and wondering just what was going through her head. "Nat, this isn't Russia. You're safe here. Nothing is going to happen. I'm only stepping down the hall. I won't be more than five minutes," he tried to assure her.

She nodded, forcing herself to relax once again. It was not beyond the bounds of imagination to envisage Natasha Prescott fighting off anyone who came in here with dark intentions, even just an hour after giving birth. Her own pain was nothing compared with defending her family.

"Don't shut the door," she requested quietly. Privacy was nothing compared with knowing Colin would be able to hear everything.

"I will be right back, okay?" he assured her, leaning down to touch a kiss to her cheek. "I'm not gonna let anything happen to you or the baby. Promise," he told her, a little worried as he'd never seen this side of Nat before.

Nat managed a smile, hoping to reassure him a little about her fiercer side. She had good reason to distrust official facilities, but this was Rhy'Din. Surely they would have heard if Hydra had a presence here as well? "Neither will I."

And with that, he slipped out in search of the midwife, but determined to only be gone a few minutes. The first sign of his return came about ten minutes later when he was heard having words with the midwife in the hall outside Nat's room.

"I'm asking you to call Doctor Storm. If you don't, I will."

"And if you would just tell me why, I might be able to set your mind at rest without having to bother Lucy at all," Libby answered.

By the time they got into the room, Natasha had set it up in a defensive manner, standing beside the fire escape window with Alia hugged on one shoulder. She definitely didn't feel safe in the hospital.

"That's why!" Colin said, pointing at Natasha standing near the fire escape window and looking like she might flee at any moment. He sighed, looking more than a little concerned as quick strides took him across the room to gently turn his wife back toward the room with soft reassurances that everything would be all right.

Libby frowned as she watched Colin gently move his wife away from the window. She wasn't used to brand new mothers being a hair's breadth away from breaking out rather than relaxing in bed. If Mrs. Prescott was that on edge, she wasn't going to rest so long as she was here, and rest was what she needed most of all. She sighed.

"Can you give me your full assurance that if you have any difficulties of any kind, you will contact a medical professional immediately?"

He'd tried to explain how his wife didn't feel safe here, though to an ordinary person, the hospital seemed safe enough; but Nat wasn't an ordinary person, hence she shouldn't be treated as such. The last thing he wanted was for her to be sedated, when all she wanted was to go home.

"Yes, of course," he assured the midwife, as he gently put Nat back in bed. "You have my word."

Libby sighed again, shaking her head. "I'll go and write the discharge papers," she said, clearly defeated. But her purpose was to care for the mother and child, and it didn't look as though Nat was going to allow anyone to care for her to the extent that she needed it, at least not in the hospital. "I will be visiting you at home in the next couple of days, though," the midwife added before she left.

"Doctor Storm is a close friend, and she lives a stone's throw from us. You have my word that if anything goes wrong, I will call her immediately," Colin assured the woman again, as he tucked a blanket up to Nat's waist.
[color=darkred:8340a39584][size=9:8340a39584][i:8340a39584][b:8340a39584]She wears strength and darkness equally well,
the girl has always been half goddess, half hell.[/b:8340a39584][/i:8340a39584][/size:8340a39584][/color:8340a39584]

Natasha Romanoff

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Re: There and Back Again
« Reply #8 on: February 11, 2019, 12:39:14 PM »
"All right." Libby wasn't happy with it, but she knew better than to argue. "I'll go and write up the discharge. Just ... take your time and don't push things."

"Of course not. Thank you," Colin told the midwife, breathing a sigh of relief once he was left alone with Nat and the baby. "Well, that's that. You don't even have to poop first," he told her, with a smile that was unsure whether what he'd witnessed had been real or part of an act to get her own way.

"Good." Nat's eyes were just a little wild as she looked up at Colin, glancing down at Alia against her shoulder for a moment. "I wasn't going to jump out," she told him quietly. "I just ... There are only two exits in this room and one of them is the fire escape. I don't know who is coming through that door next, I can't relax somewhere that I don't know."

Though he might have thought Nat's fears unfounded, he didn't dare say so. "Nat, you are perfectly safe," he told her gently, settling himself on the side of the bed and brushing her hair back from her face. "No one knows you're here but your friends. No one is going to ..." He trailed off as he realized something - perhaps something even Nat hadn't realized yet. "No one is going to take our baby away. I promise. I will protect you both with my life, if I must." Though he was employed as an IT consultant now, he had once been with the Royal Marines. If needs be, he knew how to protect them.

Her head tilted into his touch, knowing he was right but unable to let go of her paranoia. "Nothing good has ever happened to me in a facility filled with strangers," she told him. "Some things worse than dying have happened to me in facilities. I can't just forget that, Col. I can't relax here. It isn't that I don't trust you, it isn't that I don't know you can protect both of us. I just ... I can't let go of this feeling."

"It's all right. We can go as soon as Libby signs the discharge papers," he assured her as gently as he could. "But you have to promise me you'll rest and take it easy for a few days and let me help," he said, adding his own caveat.

"I will," she promised him fervently. "I know our home like the back of my hand. It's ours, and it's safe. I'm sorry. I wasn't expecting to feel like this after giving birth. I thought ... I thought maybe I was over it."

"You should have told me. We could have given birth at home," he told her, but his voice was gentle and non-accusatory. "If we ever have any more children, we'll do it at home, all right?" he said, his fingers brushing a caress against her cheek, a soft smile on his face.

A relieved smile crossed her face as she let out a quiet huff of laughter. "Yeah," she agreed, her firm grasp on the baby finally loosening. "You should take Alia. I have to put clothes on."

"Take your time," he told her, leaning in to touch a kiss to her lips before relieving her of the baby. "And you, little miss, need to have your diaper changed," he said as he moved to his feet, the baby firmly planted in his arms.

Perhaps it was an effect of the serum they now knew she had been given, or just the luck of having had a little magic used on her immediately after the birth, but Nat was easier on her feet this time around, moving with less stiffness and definitely quick to dress herself and pack the bag. In fact, thanks to that healing Libby had used after the birth, she didn't look as though she'd given birth just a couple of hours ago at all.

It wasn't long before Colin had the baby changed and bundled up for the car ride home. He handed Alia off to Nat so that he could pack up the rest of the baby's things and get his coat. Once Libby arrived with their release papers and a wheelchair, it was a short ride to the car, before they were on their way home to Maple Grove.

Even just in the car, the air of tension around Nat dissipated palpably. She let her head rest back against the seat, finally feeling some of the weariness from the very long day.

"Hey, Col?" Her head turned toward him as he drove. "Thank you."

"You know I would do anything for you, right?" Colin replied, glancing briefly her way before turning his eyes back to the road. Thankfully, it wasn't too far from the hospital to Maple Grove.

"I know." Her voice was soft with apology as she answered him. "I'm just not used to being the one who needs looking after. It really isn't anything to do with not trusting you. I trust you more than myself half the time."

"Well, I guess you're just gonna have to get used to it," he told her, an almost amused smile on his face. "How's the little monster doing back there?" he asked, taking a quick glance in the mirror at the newborn bundled into her car seat behind them.

She twisted, reaching into the backseat to tweak the blanket down a little and check on Alia. "How can anyone sleep that soundly on their first ever car ride?" she asked in amazement. "All of this should be so new, it should terrify her."

He shrugged. "Maybe babies find the motion soothing," he suggested, though he wasn't too sure. He knew some babies liked being rocked or swung or swayed, so maybe there was something to his notion.

"Maybe." Drawing the blanket back up, Nat relaxed in the seat again, even more tension fading as they passed through the gates to Maple Grove. "Almost home. Oh, s*** - did we tell Steve and Lucy that we were actually coming back, or just that we wanted to?"

"I asked Libby to call and let her know what's going on," he assured her. The conversation had been brief and had happened while Nat was in the bathroom just before they'd left, which was why he'd forgotten to pass it along. "I hope they aren't all planning on dropping in tonight," he murmured.

"They've been through this, I doubt they'd do that to us," Nat mused. "I hope one of them brings us dinner, though. That'd be acceptable." And was pretty much guaranteed, to be fair. The Rogers would probably keep Coco overnight as well.

Colin nodded as he slowly pulled through the gates of Maple Grove and down the winding road that would eventually lead them to the cottage known as Birchwood Pines, which just happened to be right next door to Oak Croft, where Steve and Lucy lived.

"I'm sure they will," he said. And if they didn't, there was always delivery.

Of course, they hadn't counted on the children of the Rogers household keeping an eye out for their arrival. As they drove past Oak Croft, Nat caught sight of Lianne barreling across the back garden toward the gate that separated their homes.

"Aw, nuts," she muttered. "Incoming excitable girl."

Colin chuckled. "She's excited to see you and the baby. Can you blame her?" he asked, hoping Steve or Lucy would be around to rein the children in a little. Though he and Nat were both fond of them, it had been a long day and Nat especially needed to rest.

"And you," his wife pointed out with a faint smile. "You're the one she hugs first these days." Which Nat didn't seem to mind; she knew she'd get her hug at some point, and Lianne did seem to like having every male within a five mile radius wrapped around her little finger.
[color=darkred:8340a39584][size=9:8340a39584][i:8340a39584][b:8340a39584]She wears strength and darkness equally well,
the girl has always been half goddess, half hell.[/b:8340a39584][/i:8340a39584][/size:8340a39584][/color:8340a39584]

Natasha Romanoff

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Re: There and Back Again
« Reply #9 on: February 11, 2019, 12:39:37 PM »
"Do I?" Colin said, looking a little surprised by that statement. "I hadn't noticed," he added as he pulled the car into its usual parking spot and came to a halt. "Well, we're home," he said with a sigh and a smile for Nat before looking to see who else had come to greet them.

"Thank god," Nat breathed, taking a moment to compose herself before moving to get out of the car.

The little gate by the side of the house swung open and Lianne erupted from the other side of it, waving her hands hopefully, long hair flying, running bodily into Nat without a second thought for what the redhead had actually been doing today. To her credit, Nat only groaned, but her face did pale with the impact.

Steve was quick to follow, but not fast enough to stop the tornado that was Lianne from colliding with Nat. "Easy, Li. Aunt Nat is sore from just having a baby," he told the girl, carefully prying her away from Nat's body. "Sorry, Nat. The kids have been excited and worried."

Meanwhile, Colin had gone around to the backseat to unstrap and remove little Alia from her carseat.

"But she doesn't look like she had a baby," Lianne pointed out, reluctantly letting herself be pulled away. "You're all flat, Auntie Nat."

Nat chuckled quietly, stroking the little girl's hair. "Because Libby did some magic on me, kiddo," she explained. "But I'm still sore."

"Remember how sore your Mama was after she had the twins?" Steve reminded his daughter, hands resting gently against her shoulders to hold her in place before she tackled anyone else.

"Would anyone care to meet baby Alia?" Colin called as he moved to join the group, a small wriggly bundle cradled in his arms.

Instantly distracted from Nat's midriff by the prospect of meeting the new baby before any of her siblings or her own mother, Lianne raised her hands hopefully, wriggling her fingers at Colin. "Yes, please, Uncle Col!"

"Let's get her inside first, out of the cold, okay?" Colin said, smiling so as not to disappoint the little girl. In fact, he reached for her hand while cradling baby Alia in the other.

"I'll get the bags!" Steve volunteered, though his attention seemed focus on Nat, for the moment, a look of concern clouding his expression. "Are you okay?" he asked, lowering his voice, so that Lianne wouldn't overhear. "We expected you to be there overnight."

Watching Lianne leading Colin into his own house for a moment, Nat looked up at Steve. "I'm okay now I'm home," she told him carefully. She didn't want to make her best friend freak out too much over her own issues. "I didn't think it through - I should have done it here, not at an unfamiliar facility."

"Well, you're home now. Safe and sound," Steve said, with a reassuring and non-judgmental smile. He knew her better than almost anyone, after all. "Colin seems to be handling parenting well," he remarked, as he moved to grab their bags from the trunk.

Nat smiled faintly, glad Steve had understood without needing a full explanation. "It comes naturally to him," she agreed quietly. "He says it doesn't, but it's obvious. I'm glad one of her parents knows what they're doing."

Steve smiled knowingly. He'd been there and done that, though he and Lucy had started out their parenting experience by adopting older children, instead of having babies. "You'll learn, trust me. It's not as hard as it seems." He could have warned her about the occasional sleepless nights and the inevitable accidents and illnesses, but he didn't want to worry her more than she already was.

"She's so beautiful, Steve," Nat almost whispered, her entire being expressing her disbelief and amazement. "I mean, I get it how she got it from Col, but ... how did I make someone so beautiful and innocent?"

"You were innocent once, Nat, just like her, and who said you weren't beautiful?" Steve asked, like the big brother he felt he was to her. She'd never had a brother; she'd never had a family, but there was a first time for everything, even for her.

"That's not what I mean," she told him, and he knew it. Her hands were stained with a lot of blood, and much of that was innocent. She couldn't quite wrap her head around how she had been rewarded with love and a family when she had done so much evil in the world of her birth.

"Everyone deserves a second chance, Nat," Steve told her, his voice soft with compassion. They all had some innocent blood on their hands. In their line of work, it couldn't really be helped, but hopefully the good they did outweighed the bad.

She smiled ruefully, nodding slowly. "I think I scared Col today," she admitted quietly. "I had my escape route worked out, I was ready to take it if someone I didn't know came through the door. He wasn't ready for me to be such a flight risk."

"Well, now he knows," Steve reasoned, once again without judging. "Anyway, there's no one I wouldn't trust more to keep my children safe than you," he told her, shouldering her bags. "Come on, let's get inside so you can relax."

"Yeah, but I don't think a woman is supposed to be ready to throw down with the first stranger to cross her path an hour after giving birth," Nat pointed out with a faint chuckle, moving to walk with him to the porch and the house. A familiar bark from the back garden suggested that Coco had been let loose to greet her humans on their return.

"Trust your instincts, Nat. They've kept you alive so far," Steve said, once again not faulting her for wanting to protect her child, even if she was being just a little paranoid. "Give yourself a break. It takes time to learn how to trust people ... and you're, what's the word? Hormonal?" he added with a smirk.

"Is that really a safe thing to say to an irrational woman who regularly beats you when you spar with her?" she responded, showing a flash of her usual humor, albeit tired behind her smile. Inside the house, she could hear Lianne's hushed excitement over the baby as she pushed the door fully open.

"Ever think I let you beat me?" Steve asked, the corners of his eyes crinkling in amusement. He could have and had easily taken on half a dozen soldiers at once, but they weren't trained assassins like she was. "Where do you want these?" he asked of the bags as he followed her into the house.

"Uh ... in the kitchen, I guess?" she suggested. "There's laundry and stuff in them, so that makes sense." A small furry form came skidding out of the kitchen as she spoke, tail wagging and long ears flapping. Nat chuckled, carefully moving to one knee to greet Coco. "Hey you. Miss us?"

"In the kitchen, it is," Steve said, sidestepping Nat and Coco to make his way to the kitchen to drop off her bags and maybe even start her laundry. He chuckled a little at the dog's greeting. They had obviously been missed by at least one member of the family.

In the kitchen, Lianne was peering at Alia, still in Colin's arms. "She's like Sarah and Natalia, Papa," she told her father. "When they came home." She looked seriously up at Colin. "She won't always look like a squashed strawberry, Uncle Col."
[color=darkred:8340a39584][size=9:8340a39584][i:8340a39584][b:8340a39584]She wears strength and darkness equally well,
the girl has always been half goddess, half hell.[/b:8340a39584][/i:8340a39584][/size:8340a39584][/color:8340a39584]

Natasha Romanoff

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Re: There and Back Again
« Reply #10 on: February 11, 2019, 12:40:02 PM »
"Babies always look a little red and wrinkly when they're born, Li," Steve assured his daughter as he dropped the bags off near the washing machine. "Would you like me to get this started?" he asked, unsure if they'd want some help or prefer to do it themselves. "Lucy is bringing something over for dinner later."

Colin didn't bother to answer Lianne's question as Steve seemed to have done that for him. "It's okay. I'll start the laundry in a bit," he assured the big guy.

"Mousse kaka," Lianne informed them cheerfully as Nat came into the kitchen.

The redhead snorted with laughter, absently putting the kettle on before easing down into a seat at the table. "It's been a while since I had moussaka," she commented, not mentioning the mistake. "Lucy's branching out again."

"Not kaka, Lianne!" Steve said, laughing. "Moose-ah-ka," he pronounced slowly. "Lucy said it's sort of like lasagne, but not."

"It's Greek, isn't it?" Colin asked from where he sat with Alia still cradled in his arms. The infant had drifted off to sleep, two tiny fingers stuck in her mouth. "Do you want a peek?" he asked Steve, who blinked in surprise.

"It's layered with eggplant rather than pasta sheets," Nat explained, finally getting her hug from Lianne as the little girl tucked herself close against her side. Coco came padding back into the kitchen, lifting her nose curiously to inspect the baby yet again.

"Curious, girl?" Colin asked the dog, knowingly, hoping she accepted her as part of her pack. "This is the newest member of the family, Alia Lucia," he informed her, shifting that baby so that the dog could properly inspect her new human.

"Lucia?" Steve echoed, brows arching upwards.

Nat smiled at her friend. "Well, you said no to Stephanie," she pointed out, "and your wife hates her actual name, so we went with something a little less inflammatory."

Lianne tilted her head curiously. "Lucia like Mama?"

"Lucia like Mama," Colin confirmed, smiling at Lianne before looking to Steve. "I hope you don't mind."

Steve shrugged. "It's not really me you need to ask, but I'm pretty sure Lucy will be honored," he assured them. He peered over at the baby at long last, a little shyly. "Would you mind if ..." he trailed off, frowning uncertainly.

Nat hesitated, but only for a split second. Steve had been trusting her with his children for years; she needed to trust him with hers. "Sure," she said, meeting Colin's eyes to make sure he was okay with it as well.

"Yes, of course," Colin replied, only a little reluctant to give their daughter up, not because he didn't trust Steve, but because he was clearly enamored, but there would be plenty of time for snuggles later.

"Are you sure?" Steve asked, sensing Colin's reluctance.

"I guess I just have to get used to sharing," Colin said with a chuckle as he moved to transfer the baby to Steve's arms.

"You can cuddle me instead, Uncle Col," Lianne offered from Nat's arms, producing one of her sweetest smiles for him as she batted her lashes. Natasha snorted with laughter at the blatant childish flirting .

"Well, then, you'd better get over here, Colin said, grinning and opening his arms to Lianne.

Meanwhile, little Alia looked even smaller cradled in the big guy's arms. "Gosh, were the twins ever this small?" he asked of the pair that were already nearing two years old.

As the little girl giggled and scurried over to hug Colin, Nat felt herself smile once again, her tension finally dissipating entirely now she was home and with friends. She looked up at Steve, flashing a grin for his awed expression. "Your twins were smaller than she is."

"Were they? It's hard to remember," Steve said, brows furrowed, though it hadn't been that long ago. Even Martin and Lianne and Jamie were growing up too fast for his tastes. He knew he and Lucy couldn't keep having babies forever, but now that the twins were toddlers, he kind of missed having a baby in the house.

"Well, you could always try and work out how big the babies in Liv's belly are and extrapolate from there," Nat suggested, one hand scratching gently at Coco's ears as the dog wuffled happily next to her.

Steve chuckled, clearly in awe of the tiny bundle in his arms, just as he was with any newborn, not just his own. "Johnny might take offense to that," he said, his eyes still on Alia, but sensing he should probably hand her back, sooner rather than later. "She's beautiful. You're both very lucky."

"She's a miracle," Nat murmured. And it was true. No one had thought she would ever have a family like this; even after she'd fallen for Colin, she had never expected to get pregnant, believing herself to be incapable of it. And here she was, a wife and a mother. "Do me a favor and don't tell Stark I actively ran away from a hospital, okay?"

"Don't worry. I won't," Steve said, moving to lay the newborn in her mother's arms, not even pausing to ask first. "She's precious, Nat. You both must be very happy."

Meanwhile, Colin was whispering something in Lianne's ear, telling her that it looked like her father needed a hug.

"It hasn't really sunk in yet," Nat admitted, still a little awkward in taking her daughter into her arms but smiling.

With a low giggle, Lianne nodded to Colin, scrambling over to swarm up into Steve's arms and kiss his cheek loudly.

Steve laughed, happily scooping his own daughter up into his arms. "What was that for?" he asked, the smile returning to his face, obviously surprised by the sudden show of affection. Colin only smiled and winked over at Nat.

"Because Uncle Col says papas like daughter kisses and cuddles," Lianne explained easily, hugging Steve about the neck affectionately. "And Auntie Nat looks tired, so we should go."

"Uncle Col is right," Steve said, offering Colin a grateful smile, though his hint was probably unnecessary. If there was one thing Steve didn't lack it was love and affection. "And you're right. We should get going and let Aunt Nat get some rest," he agreed.

As if on cue, Nat yawned through the smile she offered her friend and his daughter. "Don't forget to feed us, though," she reminded them, gently shifting Alia to a more comfortable position.

"We won't," Steve promised, though it would probably be a quiet delivery from Lucy, rather than a family visit. "Get some rest. Both of you. You're gonna need it," he told them. "We'll let ourselves out. Say bye, Li!"

"Buh-bye!" Lianne obediently responded, waving her hand to the new parents as she was borne toward the door. Coco barked, loping after them as though escorting them to the door herself.

Nat smiled. "See you tomorrow," she called after them.

"See you!" Steve called back, crouching down to give Coco's ears an affectionate rub before disappearing out the door, Lianne still in his arms.
[color=darkred:8340a39584][size=9:8340a39584][i:8340a39584][b:8340a39584]She wears strength and darkness equally well,
the girl has always been half goddess, half hell.[/b:8340a39584][/i:8340a39584][/size:8340a39584][/color:8340a39584]

Natasha Romanoff

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Re: There and Back Again
« Reply #11 on: February 11, 2019, 12:40:19 PM »
"Is it me or was he getting a little sentimental?" Colin asked, once their friends were gone.

Nat's smile was warm with amusement. "Steve melts every time he holds a baby," she told him cheerfully. "Doesn't have to be his to make him melt. I think it's just having someone so small and helpless in his arms that does it."

"Maybe," Colin said, uncertainly. He wasn't going to argue with her; after all, she knew the man far better than he did. "Do you think they'll have any more?" he asked, moving to his feet to get the laundry going.

Nat considered this for a moment, absently raising Alia to her shoulder to hug the baby girl close as she watched Colin start the endless chore that was laundry in a house with a newborn. "I think they might," she mused. "Once the twins are a little more independent, maybe."

"I don't know how they do it," Colin remarked as he emptied Nat's bag and sorted the laundry into piles. "We only have one and we're exhausted!" he said, and it hadn't even been a full day yet.

"Honestly? I have no idea." Nat shook her head laughingly. "I've babysat for them a few times, and that's hard enough work even with just a few of their kids."

"They adore you though," Colin pointed out as he loaded the washer with dirty laundry and added the proper amount of soap. He made a face at the now smelly pajama top that baby Alia had christened with spit up. "Why don't you go get some rest while I get this started?" he asked. It wouldn't take long to get the first load going.

For once, Nat didn't argue. She had to learn to let him look after her, and this was as good a way to start as any. "All right." She rose onto her feet, moving to kiss his cheek. "Did we set up the basket for her?"

"Yeah, I got it ready a few days ago," he said, turning and smiling as she kissed his cheek. "I'll be up in a few minutes to check on you," he promised. "I'm just gonna get this going first."

"All right." Stroking her hand against Alia's back, Nat turned to make her way wearily through the house, more acutely aware of how tired she was with every step. Holding herself on alert despite exhaustion was a skill, certainly, but it had its price, and that price was demanding to be paid right now.

He wasn't going to be long, only a few minutes to get the laundry sorted and the first load started. What trouble could she get into in five minutes? He frowned at that thought, remembering the hospital, but they were home now, safe and sound. Still, he made an effort to work a little faster.

But they were home, and Nat knew they were safe. And by the time Colin got upstairs, Alia was tucked gently into her Moses basket by the bed, and Nat herself was sprawled on her side of the bed, fully dressed, with one boot on the floor, and the other one hanging from her toes, both of them fast asleep.

Colin didn't think he was half as tired as Nat. After all, he hadn't been the one who'd given birth, and yet, the sight of wife and daughter sleeping peacefully was a tempting one. And who knew what the night would bring? He watched them quietly for a moment from the doorway, feeling sentimental himself, before moving over to carefully pull that boot from Nat's foot and set it on the floor. He brushed her hair back from her face and pulled a blanket up over her, leaning in to kiss her cheek before moving to check on the baby.

Before long, the three of them were fast asleep as if it was the dead of night, though it wasn't even dark out yet. Colin was curled against Nat, a protective arm thrown over her, as if to shield her from harm, baby Alia asleep in her basket.

So asleep, in fact, that none of them stirred when Lucy let herself in downstairs, leaving dinner and breakfast securely in their fridge with a note on the table about heating it all up. She didn't need to go upstairs to check on them - Coco was guarding her little family at the top of the stairs, coming down only to eat before resuming her chosen place to defend the sleeping trio that belonged to her. Lucy grinned to herself as she locked the door behind her once more. There'd be plenty of time to see the new baby tomorrow.

Tonight ... the new parents just needed each other and their sleep. If Alia gave it to them.
[color=darkred:8340a39584][size=9:8340a39584][i:8340a39584][b:8340a39584]She wears strength and darkness equally well,
the girl has always been half goddess, half hell.[/b:8340a39584][/i:8340a39584][/size:8340a39584][/color:8340a39584]