2007-08-27: DF: P.S. - I Love You


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Through letters and memories, Lachlan remembers another life-changing event. A much happier one.

August 27th, 2009:

P.S. - I Love You

Grand Central Station and then Phoenix Towers

The beautiful Grand Central Station building was mostly devastated in the tornados. The star painted ceiling cracked and badly needing repair. The once busy and bustling station is mostly deserted, footsteps echoing hollowly in the expansive, empty space. The post office is a little niche from the street that, while out of service, has managed to escape a lot of the destruction somehow. The glass on the doorways are cracked, but still holding onto their frames, the doors themselves swinging open with an eerie creak. No matter what, the mail gets through. That is, until most of the mail carriers were placed in camps or fled the country. The post office boxes are an entire wall filled with various sizes, some of them hang open, others bashed inward. The one marked '423' is a medium sized box that looks a little worse for wear, but has yet to be scavenged or broken into. At least, that's what it looks like from the outside.

The instructions were simple enough: Grand Central Station post office, box 423, here's the key. Something about Cass' belongings, her last wishes. Lachlan wasn't about to argue with Ramon. It's only now that the Scotsman, with his singular Doberman and Bonnie accompanying him, limps into the office and starts down the row of boxes for the one that belongs to the key in his hand. Abby was left at the Saints base. After the scare, he's loathe to leave her with just one babysitter at the house. Face still bandaged poorly, he peers at the box a moment, then inserts the key and unlocks it. Then, after some effort, he pulls it out and looks inside.

Inside the box is not just one letter, but dozens. Most of them are bundled into groups, all of them stuffed into the the box in order to make them fit in the relatively cramped space. Apparently Cass has been writing these for awhile. Each envelope, in distinctive Cass handwriting has names on the envelopes. A brief glance would show 'Lachlan' and 'Abigail' and 'Ramon' and 'Elena' and there's even a 'Peter' among others. Other than grouped together by name, there doesn't seem to be any other sort of organization. An unfolded piece of paper at the top in scrawled out, hurried writing is a note. It reads,

'Thank you, Ramon.'

Lachlan's pile is by far the largest with an faded envelope on top that reads, "Read me first, Lach."

After sifting through the letters a moment, Lachlan opts to take the entire bunch and tucks it under his arm. Can't open them and read them here, despite his heavy desire to rip through the envelopes and read every single last one. As an afterthought, he closes up the box and locks it again, then turns and heads off.

After arriving back in the tower, the Scot goes directly to the room he and Abby share, checks on the sleeping girl, then sits on the bed and looks through the envelopes again to pick out the ones with his name on them. The topmost one is opened and the letter inside unfolded so that he can read — as well as he can, at any rate. The rest of the letters can be delivered to their addressees later.

The letter is dated two years ago. A few days after Peter painted his vision of the future, were he to remember exact dates.

Dear Lach,

First of all, once you're done reading this, go burn or maim or do whatever you want to do with that painting. You've been wanting to do it since Peter painted it and now it doesn't really do anyone any good. I can't imagine the world ever looking like what it's supposed to. That it could ever turn into this, but just in case. I want to make sure there's something left behind. It's kind of like that diary we started when we feared I'd be Haitian'd but without coding and all that science stuff. Anyway, there'll be letters here for everybody and I know you'll be able to get them to the people they're supposed to go to.

I don't know how or why you did it, but you managed to fall in love with the most accident prone trouble magnet in New York City. I'm sorry. I'm selfish and can't say I wish you'd never met me because then I'd never have met you and I would be a lesser person because of it. Anyway, these letters aren't anything special. They're just written to remind you of the small things we did together over the years. Just in case it gets harder to remember the normal days as well as the big days. Don't let this stop you from living. Don't let this stop you from staying the Lachlan I love.


P.S. - I ate the last of Elena's cookies that you claimed as yours and I'm blaming it on Bonnie. If you're still upset with her about it, forgive her.

P.P.S. - I love you.

The painting. Lachlan had almost forgotten it. It's still at home in the closet, since he hasn't been back save to get clothes and things for Abby since Cass died. It's a little easier for him to stay away from the apartment. It's painful to sleep there. He'll go back and deal with the painting later. A glance is cast toward Bonnie, who stares back with a big dumb doggy grin and wagging tail. Cookies?

The Scotsman sets aside the letter and goes to open the next one.

The letters don't seem to have much of an order to them for one reason or another. The next one that Lachlan pulls out is dated a few days after Abby's birth.

Dear Lach,

I know I said I'd write about the normal things in life, but we have a daughter now. We have a daughter. I keep going over that idea in my head. Abigail Aldric-Deatley. I've known her all of five days and I know I would do anything to ensure her safety. She's beautiful and she's ours. Something beautiful came out of all this, Lach.


P.S. - I'm sorry if I hurt your hand.

P.P.S. - Abby.

P.P.P.S. - I love you.

Hurt his hand. Had she hurt his hand? It happened only a few months ago, and it's already a little harder to remember. But he does, slowly.

It had happened over breakfast that morning in the usual fashion with contractions and a rush to the hospital and all the joys of labor. Lachlan was nervous as hell, which probably didn't help the situation at all. All those books and advice and small bits of training from the folks in Bat Country? Meant nothing. Cass was here and in pain and there was a baby coming and doctors and nurses everywhere and they weren't helping the pain thing any and oh God is that blood?! Lachlan stood by with a surgical mask and cap over his hair to keep the place sterile. He had his hand held out for Cass to squeeze (totally forgetting that whole 'make a fist' thing that was meant to prevent him from getting his bones crushed to powder), but his pale face was turned toward the people working behind the screen down … down there. "S'it s'posed ta be like this?" he asked in a rather pinched voice.

In a typical movie, Cass would be screaming about how much she hates Lachlan, how he did this to her, how she will kill him when this is over with. But, this is not a typical movie. Cass wouldn't use something quite so cliche as that. Instead, she just squeezes onto Lachlan's pro-offered hand with most of the strength that she has left, trying not to scream despite the fact that she is in a lot of pain. Head dripping with sweat, her jaw clenches. She's not exactly in the position to answer Lachlan.

A kindly nurse with a surgical mask and gown buzzes around, wiping brows and preparing clamps and helping the delivery doctor with whatever may be needed. "Yes, dear. We're almost there. Keep pushing!" The woman is trying to be encouraging for both Lachlan and Cass. "Come on!" Their very own birthing cheerleader.

Which is good, because Lachlan failed Birthing Cheerleading remarkably. The fact that he's getting the life squeezed out of his hand brings his focus back to Cass and he quickly bunches his hand into a fist to help minimize his own pain. She looks like she's in pain, even if she's not screaming (which is a blessing in and of itself). Now he's rather torn. Obviously she needs him there for a hand to hold onto, but there are painful horrible things happening over there behind the screen and if those would stop, then she wouldn't need a hand to hold onto. He's got the urge to walk over there and see what's up, but … hand-holding. So after several lost, terrified glances between Cass and the nurse and the doctor, he swallows and speaks up again in that same strained voice: "Wha's takin' so long? Shoulda been out b'now." Because birth is instantaneous, of course.

"I'M SORRY!" When Cass finally allows some noise to escape, it comes out very loud and high pitched. And she does feel bad about all but killing Lachlan's hand, but right now she's more concerned about the fact that something the size of a watermelon is trying to push it's way out of an opening the size of a lemon. It is not a pleasant time for her. "AAAAHHHHHHH."

"Shh. Shhh." The nurse dabs at Cass' head with a towel and even holds it over for Lachlan should he want to try and do that to calm her down. "We're almost there! The head is crowning! You're doing so good, honey!"

It's not possible to push something that big out of something that small. Doesn't matter how everyone else gives birth, this is impossible and these doctors are all insane thinking that it's going to happen. They are obviously putting Cass through unnecessary pain. If he knew the first thing about birthing children, Lachlan would kick them all out and do it himself because they are obviously doing it wrong. But he doesn't, and that leaves him terrified and lost. There's nothing he can do to stop the pain, so he remains rooted to where he is feeling extremely small and helpless. When he's handed the towel, he stares at it dumbfounded, then at Cass. What's he supposed to do with th— oh. He wipes sweat from his fiancee's brow in a vaguely soothing fashion. "S'a'righ'," he almost squeaks. "Wh— " The hell's he supposed to do? "Yer doin' good." Yeah, just repeat what the nurse says. Another glance to the nurse. "Ye sure s'posed ta be like this?"

And this has been going on for hours. There's nothing for Lachlan to do other than stand there and have his hand crushed while mopping up Cass' brow. It's not exactly easy for new fathers. Nor is it for mothers. Now that she's started yelling, however, Cass can't make herself stop. It's helping with the pushing and it's also easier to focus on the fact that it hurts. The cheerleading from both the nurse and her fiancee aren't really taken into much account, but she has a determined look on her face and when she hears that the baby's almost birthed, well, that's the home stretch.

"Since the beginning of time!" The nurse tells Lachlan chipperly. Though the beginning of time didn't have sterile birthing rooms and doctors in masks and the like, but that's for arguments later. For now, there's a big push and then, suddenly, there's one more person in the room. The doctor gives the bottom a smack and there's an ear-piercing, gasping cry. The nurses quickly go to clean the new baby off and snip the umbilical cord and wrap her up.

"Congratulations! It's a girl!"

The beginning of time wasn't Cass. She's special and different and the normal birthing process is obviously not right for her. This is insane. But Lachlan keeps to his own tasks because it gives him something to do besides stand there and look terrified. Even there near the end, he actually graduates to somewhat competent coach as some spark of the books and bits of information resurface. But then … that's it. His heart goes shooting up into his throat at the cry — whatthehellisthatnoise oh God are they supposed to sound like that?! — and he almost can't believe it at first. That … that's it? And then there's the announcement and he lets out a soft whoosh of air. "A girl?" A girl! Suddenly there's giddiness and he turns to Cass with the biggest, stupidest grin ever worn on a man's face. "S'a girl!" he informs her excitedly before bending forward to give her a kiss on the forehead. "Ye did so good, baby. S'a girl."

A girl. A girl. Exhausted, still in pain, Cass leans back against the propped up bed, head and all. For the first time in hours relaxing. Or as much as she can relax with feet propped up in stirrups. The baby still crying, cleaned off, and wrapped in a soft pink blanket somehow automatically getting a matching pink hat, she's finally handed off to Cass, who holds the tiny thing with something akin to wonder and immediate love. "Hi." What else can she say to her daughter. This new part of her life. It's hard to take her eyes off of the little squirming life in her arms, but she does to beam at Lachlan for a quick shining moment. "It's a girl!" She echoes, gleefully. They have a girl!

Look look look look a pink bundle and it moves and makes noises and oh God it's human and tiny and A GIRL. Yes, Lachlan is utterly beside himself and in utter awe. Her hands. They are so tiny. Everything about her is tiny. He beams down at the new little thing — daughter-thing — and then at Cass, letting out an overjoyed little laugh at her exclamation. But his face starts to fall a little, because … well, she looks kinda purple, that can't be natural. A quick questioning glance is shot toward the nurse. Is she supposed to look like that?

Though a little less awed about the fact that it moves, Cass is still kind of awed that this thing was growing inside of her until about five minutes ago. And now it's alive and a person. A little tiny, screaming, purple person, but a person none the less. The nurse just gives Lachlan a reassuring smile and a nod. Yes. It's supposed to look like that. Cooing and tickling the little girl's nose already, the new mother just holds onto the little girl tight. As if anything is going to make her let go. Other than, well, "Want to hold her?" She looks over at Lachlan. "I've had her for nine months. Only fair."

Hold her? She's so tiny, he'll break her if he does. But at the same time, baby! Wanna hold. Lachlan fumbles over his words a moment before finally managing to get out a "sure, yeah" and he holds out his arms. He remembers this part because he paid real close attention to it: Support the head and spine. Baby.

Baby! Cass is a little reluctant to let the girl go, but she does. After all, Lachlan has a right to hold her, too. Slumping back against the bed again, she sighs and looks happily over to Lachlan and their child. The nurse starts to clean things up, the doctor heading off to tend to other patients. "So!" The chipper nurse starts talking to the new parents. "Got a name all picked out?"

"Hey sweetie," Lachlan whispers, still grinning like an idiot at the child nestled in his arms. She's tiny and cute and warm and alive and moving and he's holding her. A tiny person! That is his. When the nurse speaks up, he glances at her as though surprised that she's even present. What? There are other people in the room? Oh, hi there. "Abby." Which he might have come up with just now. A glance to Cass. "Abby?"

Grinning just as much, though perhaps much more tiredly, Cass doesn't look back over at the nurse. She is dimly aware of her presence in the room. "Abigail." The new mother nods. It just seems right. The right sort of name. "Abby." Of course, they'll be calling her Abby for the rest of her life, but she needs a proper name to start out with. "Abigail." She repeats it once or twice, as if cementing it. Smiling happily, she reaches over to bring both father and baby closer. "Abby."

Abby. Abby Deatley. Not bad for the man who once thought that commitment and children was akin to contracting some sort of venereal disease. Lachlan moves closer when he's gestured over and moves in to give Cass an affectionate kiss. All that screaming and pain and horribleness and now there's baby. And by God, he will never put Cass through all that again. After a moment's pause, he seems to remember something and moves to return Abby to her mother's arms. Then, he withdraws a camera from his back pocket and holds it out toward the nurse. "Can ye take some pictures?"

Not bad at all. Lachlan has come a long way from the man she met all those years ago. The one she called a horrible human being and was sure she would never see other than that once. Now they're engaged and have a child together. Isn't it strange how life is like that. Taking Abigail back, she gently cradles her and keeps a support on her back and head. The camera is given a wary eye, but she says nothing. Despite all the pain and blood and horribleness, this is a day that she wants documented. The day she became a mother. The nurse smiles and takes the camera from Lachlan. Stepping back, she aims it. "Alright! Say baby!" Cheesy, sure, but this is probably something she has to do more than once for happy new parents.

Pffff! Lachlan needs no incentive to smile. He's already grinning. He hasn't stopped. The flash goes off …

… what did he do with those pictures? Back in the cold and dreary present, the mangle-faced Scot wipes away some tears that have formed and rises from the bed, setting aside the letter. He must have brought the pictures. That's not something he would have left behind in the apartment. After some digging around, he comes up with a small picture album and flips through it until he comes upon the pictures documenting Abby's birth. There are quite a few, but one of them in particular — he pulls it out of the protective sleeve and stares at it a moment. That same picture the nurse first snapped off. He sets down the album and finds some paper and a pen, then sits down to write a letter of his own:

To me and Cass …

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