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The original story can be found here.

Evolution of a prompt: Remember that line in Family Histories about the picture Molly keeps on her nighttable? That picture from Andy and Toby’s wedding, where she’s all barefoot and shoving cake in Toby’s face?

Yeah. That’s what this prompt was originally slated to be written as; I figured, "Celebration? Obviously = Andy and Toby’s wedding." At the beginning of the month, I was all excited to do just that. I wrote exactly four lines, stopped, and didn’t open the document back up until four days before the deadline, at which point I immediately scrapped all four lines. I wasn’t even planning on submitting anything for the month, but then I realized that just because the prompt sounded happy did not mean that it had to be inherently happy. (Which was good, because for me, the Wyatt-Zielgers can get kind of sad with their happy.) Plus, I wanted to try out a new writing style; I really rely on dialogue to move my stories along, and I wanted to see if I could write something with absolutely no dialogue in it at all.

Her friends didn’t throw her a baby shower. They all wanted to, of course, but she quietly explained her reasons, and they understood. The last two baby showers ended in returned gifts, apologies, awkward thank-you cards, and her phone being off the hook for three weeks. Anyone visiting turned away after fifteen minutes of unopened doors.

In my personal Andy/Toby canon, Andy had two miscarriages while they were married, in addition to the one that was-to me, at least-pretty much spelled out for us at the beginning of S4.

This time around, she tries to keep the news to herself as much as she can. With the first baby, Andy told everybody, pretty much as soon as she found out, and went on big shopping sprees, buying all kind of baby gear. And it didn’t work out. The second time, she told herself that if she didn’t tell anyone, it would all be okay. She only told Toby, and hid her condition right up until it no longer mattered. So, with this pregnancy, she’s really trying to keep a balance; she’ll tell some people and she’ll buy some things, but she won’t get too excited, or prepare too much too early, just in case. She still hopes (foolishly, because she knows better than to try to keep a secret in this town) no one will really care, but people can never get enough of good gossip or a burgeoning scandal. Her co-workers know not to congratulate her out loud, but she becomes aware of how many of them seem to always be near if she gets tired and needs to sit down, or how often crackers appear in a napkin on the edge of her desk. I kind of get the feeling that Andy’s co-workers really rallied around her this time, because a lot of them saw just how devastated she was previously. (In my world-in Andy’s world- there’s a heavy percentage of moms and dads in Congress, and they mostly all happen to be super nice men and women.)

They prepare quietly, one thing at a time, and they never announce it to each other. Out loud, they make jokes about tempting fate, but they are both too afraid of this not working out, of having everything ready far too early, and having to return it all unopened and unused. They make jokes because it’s easier to laugh than admit they’re terrified.

The extra bedroom remains ‘just the extra room’ for nearly five months, and even then, it’s never talked about in detail. They paint the walls pale green and put up simple, striped curtains; if not for the cribs (still in their boxes) against the far wall, they could just be re-decorating a guest room. I wanted them to slowly start getting the nursery ready, but I didn’t want them getting attached to it; if they don’t paint it pink or blue, keep fresh sheets on the double bed, and just call it the guest room, they won’t be upset if they end up having to re-decorate in a few months. It’s a coping mechanism for them at this point.

One day, a crate arrives on their doorstep; it sits in a corner of the living room for two days, and then suddenly, her mother’s old rocking chair is between the windows of the nursery, with a hand-knit blanket tossed over the back. They act as though it’s been there for years, but neither of them will actually sit in it. Again, this is both a coping mechanism and not tempting fate. In Andy’s mind, if she sits in the rocking chair before she has the twins, she’ll just end up thinking about the other babies, and then something will go wrong. Andy’s not really religious, nor is she overly superstitious, but in this case, she’s not taking any chances; she’ll throw salt over her shoulder and pray to whoever, just as long as she can have these children.

They do not purchase baby books, choosing instead to keep the ultrasound pictures in a haphazard pile on the kitchen counter, next to an old dry cleaning receipt and a pair of cheap wooden chopsticks. (Neither of them mention that the shirt ended up ruined, stained by sweet and sour sauce on nimble, eager fingers.) They started baby books for the other kids (whom they also picked out names for, which is why I suspect Huck and Molly didn’t get names until they were several hours old), so having baby books for Huck and Molly before they’re born is, again, tempting fate. But that shirt is from the night the kids were conceived, so keeping the pictures with the receipt and chopsticks makes sense. As long as they don’t make a big deal out of it, as long as it’s just dropped there randomly, then it’s okay.

When the day comes (a week and a half early; they still don’t feel ready), it’s all completely surreal until finally (finally), the babies are there. It isn’t until all the fingers and toes are counted (perfectly formed, although far, far tinier than they imagined), that they look at each other amid tiny cotton hats and little flailing limbs. They both smile through their tears, because now it’s all real. Babies come with hats. And I don’t care how stoic Toby comes off otherwise, when the doctor handed him his daughter, and then his son? He wept openly. (But he’ll deny it if you ask him.)

Taking the babies home should be a simple, twenty minute drive. Instead, it’s forty-five minutes, because although they both grew up in big cities, it seems to them that all the maniac drivers they’ve spent years ignoring decided to choose that day to take a drive, not to mention the construction sites that they could swear weren’t there seven hours ago. Yes, I pretty much lifted this from Abbey and Jed's friends, at the end of Commencement. I'm not a mom, but I've betting that this is pretty much a universal truth in new-parenthood. You've stopped being responsible for just yourself, and now you have to watch out for these new little humans, who are completely and totally defenseless. So everything that you previously saw as just a hassle on the drive home becomes huge and terrifying.

They arrive home safely, if both a little white-knuckled, and lock the door behind them. Settling the babies carefully in their cribs, they stand back to watch them a moment; the room seems both much smaller and a lot bigger than it did even three days ago.

When they are both sure that the babies are sleeping soundly (for the moment), they switch on the monitor and head down to the kitchen. They tidy up the pile of pictures on the counter, putting the baby books on the bookshelf, and then start calling everyone they know. Once they put everything away, they know that these kids are here to stay. Also, I’m pretty convinced that they didn’t actually purchase the baby books themselves; Matt Skinner dropped them off –wrapped in nice, but plain, paper-at Andy’s office, but she was in a rush to meet Toby (to go to the house), so she just thanked him and tossed the box into her bag as she left.

By the time the babies wake up hungry an hour later, more than a dozen friends have stopped by, there are two cakes, four kinds of pie, two casseroles and a platter of cold barbecued meats on the dining room table, and while they haven’t done a proper count, they’re pretty sure they won’t need to buy diapers or baby wipes for the next three months. (Also, at least half of the stuffed animals will end up being given to shelters, because they just don’t have the space for them all.) The first time I wrote this paragraph, a lot more stuff got dropped off, and I pretty much listed who brought what. It obviously got pared down, but I still really like the numbering of things; there’s a weird kind of rhythm and balance to it that works for me. (But I still know who brought what. Because I'm kind of a dork like that.)

The party doesn’t really stop for the next three weeks, and they couldn’t be happier.

I know it doesn’t jive with canon at all, but I like to think that both Andy and Toby took parental leave for the first several months of the twins’ life. I don’t even think many people have that luxury in the real world, but...this is fiction. If Andy wants to feed the kids and sing to the kids and watch Oprah and take naps in between helping Toby make dinner and write speeches and have arguments discussions with Josh and Danny about why the Red Sox aren’t going to win the world series (you know Andy cheers for the Sox, both out of state pride and because it drives Toby a little insane), then I figure they both deserve it. They’ve been through enough.

on 2008-08-06 07:16 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] soaked-in-stars.livejournal.com
Who brought what? ;)

I love Matt Skinner appearances, even just in commentary. And I totally agree about why they weren't named until later. What I really like about this fic is the kind of suspended animation they're both in until they know the kids are safe. Everything just sort of hangs there until they can breathe again.

And still, shirt, aww. I love that the pile is their makeshift and unofficial baby book.

on 2008-08-06 07:30 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] amy_vic.livejournal.com
Please do not ask me that, because it is kind of a big list, and I don't want it to throw off the nice rhythm I've got going in the fic. *g*

I love Matt Skinner appearances, even just in commentary.

The thing about Matt, I find, is that he's on Andy's side of the story without any other influences. When I'm writing Toby, I can include pretty much every major character, because they know him. With Andy, because we've only ever seen her interact with Toby (and sometimes CJ), I felt that she needed somebody in her corner, y'know? (Does that make any sense?)

Suspended animation is absolutely right, and when you put it that way, that's exactly the feel I was going for. Thank you. ♥

Also, I really love how it's never mentioned whose shirt it was. I don't even know if I know whose shirt it was.

on 2008-08-06 07:58 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] soaked-in-stars.livejournal.com
Yes TOTALLY about Matt. She so needed someone in her corner.

And awww, yes, totally love that about not knowing whose shirt it is. Because either way is fun to think about.


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August 2011


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