Word Count: 1200+
Summary: Early mornings, new beginnings. And the sun poured in like butterscotch, and brightened all my senses...
There were, and sometimes you think there always will be, mornings where you would still wake up with the abruptness of being doused in cold water at four in the mourning, convinced that there’s an international crisis going on somewhere in the world and you’ve somehow missed it. Once, you were actually out of bed, out of the shower and halfway into a Donna Karen pantsuit when he showed up in the bathroom doorway, rubbing his eyes and looking incredibly confused in the half-light. As you both realized what was going on, he opened his arms and you dove into them, and buried your head in his shoulder and weren’t sure whether to laugh or cry, and did a little of both to be on the safe side. And he dried your eyes with the sleeve of his faded Notre Dame shirt and made you smile, and when you mumbled something about being a mess, he didn’t argue, just smiled and stood on tiptoes to press a kiss on your forehead. He took your hand and led you back to your bedroom, and mumbled a sleepy “I love you” while his eyelids fluttered shut. You lay there in the half-light of a still unfamiliar bedroom for awhile, adrenaline still coursing through your body, his measured breathing not quite aligned with your racing heart.
You do things, during these early mornings, because falling asleep is hardly ever an option, no matter how soothing his deep breathing can be. You slip out of bed and make coffee and catch up on everything you've missed in the past eight years. With the diligence of the Straight A student you never could help being, you bring yourself up to speed on the Britney Spears saga, not because you really care, but because you feel like it's a talking point you should have mastered, and read all the books you've been meaning to for the past eight years. You work your way through cookbooks, too, develop a fascination with Nigella Lawson which Danny claims would make him jealous if he wouldn't find it such a turn-on; one time he wakes up at seven to the smell of roasting meat and finds you cooking a chicken for six people, puttering between pots and pans and antagonizing over whether you'd gotten it right. And it's a breezy May mourning when you take a walk along the beach with the sunrise, stop for a Milkshake and Muffins on the way, and, slurping up the last bits of sugary milk and melted ice-cream before turn back to your street, the last, half-used up package of your pills joins the Dairy Queen cup in a wooden trash can on a Santa Monica beach.
You'd barely slept at all that night. After dinner -he cooked, you watched and resisted the temptation to take notes- and a rented movie -Lost in Translation, which he had liked and you had not-, after arguing over whether Scarlet Johansson was objectively attractive or not and slow, delicious sex, he'd looked at you sideways and said, "Don't freak out when I ask you this, but how do you feel about babies?'
And you didn't freak out, at least not right away. You tried not to withhold how you were feeling, which was completely non-plussed, and you talked about it for a little bit, and you promised him you'd think about it. Like there was the possibility not to think about it, now that he'd planted the thought in your mind. And you thought about it, and thought about it some more, and when you woke that morning at 4:17 AM one hand reaching for the pager on your nightstand and finding nothing but your reading glasses and an unset alarm, you scramble out of bed and into the bathroom and decide that, no matter how good you're getting at the sharing thing, there are things you need to decide without him being around, his papery smell and infuriating wonderfulness making it hard for you to think straight.
You left him a note -I'm thinking, will return with breakfast, make coffee & don't freak out, love, cj- and stepped outside onto your front porch, staring into a graying dawn, and it had helped. The sunrise and the distant sounds of the sea, and walking along the beach, it had helped. And you had not freaked out, and walked to the bakery and picked out the Maple Muffin you knew he liked, and that had also been calming, and somehow, it had all made sense as you sneaked back into the house at 7:30, the sunlight pouring into the kitchen.
A few months later, he wakes up to you actually making pancakes and squeezing out orange juice, and when he reaches for the paper with an amused smile, his fingers collide with a torn-open Clearblue box, and he stares at it and before you can say a word he’s wrapped you in his arms and covered your kisses.
She is your daughter. You call her Eleanor, after Leo, and the crayon-orange fuzz covering the top of her tiny head, and her alert, navy blue eyes and perfect, tiny toes make you laugh more than anything else. She confuses you a little, her helplessness, the way she needs nothing more than a bottle and a diaper change and her Daddy’s scratchy kisses to be happy. You don’t know what’s stranger- that, with no reason and no prompting, you took one look at her and realized that this was a window you hadn’t missed, and you loved here more than you thought was possible, or that she seems to feel the same way about you. Two weeks after you brought her home, you realized you had no idea what to do with her when she wasn’t hungry, and when you confided in Danny, he laughed for about ten minutes and then admitted that he felt the same way.
It’s been more than a year, and still, on a morning a couple of days before Halloween, your eyes fly open and you’re certain, absolutely that your beeper’s beeping, the phone somewhere is ringing, and the Russians are invading Kazakhstan all over again. It takes you a second to take in your surroundings, identify the warm body curled up beside you, the hand entangled with yours. You bury your head in your pillow, and something makes him stir. Without waking up, he shifts his body towards yours and pulls you into a hug. Smiling, you disentangle yourself from his embrace and tiptoe out of the room, the shapes and furniture now so familiar you can navigate the room without trying. You walk through the sleeping house, it’s early but not that early, a golden October sun is spilling into the house, turning the hardwood floors bright orange. You carefully nudge open the door to her room, and have to laugh. Dressed in Pumpkin-patterned pajamas, she’s sitting up in her crib, and as you walk in she raises her arms in the air and squeals with delight at the sight of you.
“Good Morning, baby girl,” you smile broadly as you pick her up and place a kiss on her silky curls that match her pajamas perfectly, and she wraps her tiny little arms around your neck as best as she can and places a clumsy kiss on your lips, and then you both walk towards the porch to greet a new morning.