"Okay, someone needs to get the clingy cat off Mom so she can get up."
Fliss grinned at her little brother and sisters, handing the hospital bag to her father.
After the disaster that had been Bess being born in a car in a side alley in New York, they were taking no chances this time around - Liv had gone into labor this morning, and no one was going to let the hospital send her home before she produced the babies this time. On the couch, Liv smiled, glancing down at Jasper, who was draped over her enormous bump and purring through every contraction.
Though this was going to numbers five and six for Johnny and Liv, it was, in fact, only the second time Liv had been pregnant and was going to have to go through childbirth. As expected, Johnny was a nervous wreck. Thank the Gods for Fliss, who seemed to have a calmer head than he did at times like this.
"He's just trying to help," Alexei pointed out, as he carefully removed Jasper from his mother's bump.
"Have we got everything?" Johnny asked to no one in particular as he frantically paced the room.
"Relax, Dad, you've got everything," Fliss promised her father affectionately, lifting Bess up out of the way as Beast and Bella trotted through, both dogs infected by the nervous energy to the point of running down the three-year-old in their midst.
As Liv grinned at Alexei, easing herself to the edge of the couch to start standing up, a little hand inserted itself into Johnny's, bringing with it a wave of reassuring calm. Maria was doing double duty being excited and calm for her parents.
Johnny blinked out of his worries to find Maria at his side, drawing him by the hand toward her mother, as if to wordlessly tell him what he needed to do. "Oh, yeah ..." he muttered, sheepishly, struggling to keep a lid on his panic so he didn't turn to flame at an inconvenient time. "Maybe you should drive, just in case," he told Fliss as he helped Liv to her feet, worried Liv might give birth in the car again, leaving him to supervise the twins' birth.
Fliss bit down on her smile. "Yeah," she drawled, drawing out the word for a long moment. "I'm staying here with the rest of the under sixteens, remember?"
Liv chuckled, rolling her eyes. "Someone really should help me stand up," she pointed out. "Pregnant woman who hasn't seen her own feet in two months, right here."
Johnny was working on doing just that, letting go of Maria's little hand to help his wife off the couch, a worried expression evident on his face. "It's okay. It's gonna be okay," he said, more to himself than anyone else.
"You can do it, Papa!" Alex cheered his father on, his face bright with pride and happiness.
"He can!" Liv agreed as Johnny helped her to stand up from the couch, swallowing the desire to groan at the ache in her back. The sooner she was only carrying her own weight, the better - thank goodness they had already arranged for a healer to be part of the birth, so she wouldn't have to deal with the lingering aches and pains afterward. "So, does everyone remember their jobs while we're away?" she added, stroking her hand over Alexei's hair even as she smiled at Maria's worried little face.
Johnny was glad someone believed in him, but he just didn't want to repeat Bess' delivery, even though, all had gone well.
"It will be okay, Papa. You'll see," Alexei assured his father, though it was his mother he was smiling up at. As far as they knew, the boy wasn't capable of predicting the future; he just had faith in his father's ability to take good care of his mother. "I have to help with Bess and the pets!" he told his mother.
"Most especially Lir and the dogs," Liv agreed with her son, hugging him close. It said a lot for how determined she was not to worry the children that she didn't even offer a peep during the contraction that made itself known as she spoke. "And you're in charge of Jasper, Mo, and making sure Bess enjoys her bath tonight."
Maria giggled her silent giggle, raising her hands to sign back. "And you are in charge of having babies!"
"And I am in charge of driving!" Johnny said. "We should probably get going so we don't have a repeat of last time!" he added, trying hard to keep his panic in check for Liv's sake.
"Love you, Mama!" Alex declared, surging forward to hug his mother around her waist, despite her bulging waistline.
Maria was quick to join him, both children wrapped around the bump as Liv hugged them close. "I love you too, darlings," she promised them, bending uncomfortably to kiss both blonde heads. "And I will see you tomorrow, just like last time. Have fun with Fliss, okay?"
"Yes, Mama," Alex obediently agreed. He settled a hand against her bump a moment, quietly communing with the babies who were waiting to be born inside her. "They are ready, Mama! I told them we love them and are excited to meet them!"
Maria turned to squeeze Johnny's waist too, trying to siphon off some of his panic so he would be calmer for the ride to the hospital.
"Well, it won't take them long to come out and say hello then!" Liv exclaimed fondly, squeezing his hand. She paused to kiss Bess and Fliss, knowing better than to remind the eldest that she could call on anyone for help if need be.
"You've really gotta go, Mom," Fliss reminded her pointedly.
Johnny hugged Maria to him, not really noticing that the little girl was helping to calm him, though he did feel a little more clear-headed suddenly. "Yes, we really do, Liv," he said, kissing the top of Maria's head, before making the rounds to give each of his children a hug and ending with a warm kiss to little Bess' cheek. "I'll call from the hospital as soon as we have babies, okay?"
The toddler nodded, still a little at sea with what was actually happening. "Gunna make babies," she informed her father with a firm nod.
"And no blinking to the hospital, young lady," Liv added, tweaking Bess' nose. Their youngest's ability to teleport almost instantaneously was a slight concern, but since she only blinked herself to people she knew, it wasn't that bad just yet.