Labor of Love

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Labor of Love

*an Emery&Chris fan fiction*

By avenger-nerd-mom

Word Count:  2363

Summary: Chris and Emery finally welcome their new little one into the world.

April 2019

Walking back to his trailer, Chris fumbles for his phone, nearly dropping it in the bright sun. He squints at the screen, wishing he had his sunglasses with him. The sunlight is deceiving- it’s not as warm as it appears. But since the weekend is supposed to be warmer, he promised his nephews a day at the park Saturday. Watching them play soccer. He chuckles, remembering all the “hot soccer Dad” comments Emery told him about after the weekend press conference.

“Call Emery,” he speaks softly into the phone, waving at a group of fans standing across the street. His handler opens the trailer and he steps inside, flopping in the seat closest to the door. He waits to see her face, surprised when she simply answers as a call, rather than a video chat.

“Hey, Jellybean!” Emery weakly exclaims. “You about done on set today?”

Chris reaches for the call sheet on the other end of the couch. Glancing over it, he replies, “Yeah, about another hour or two. They wanna reshoot one scene, but it shouldn’t take long-”
“Was that an actual ice cream shop, or a set? You know I want ice cream.”

“Fuckin’ internet… You’ve already seen fan photos, haven’t you?” Chris chuckles. “Yes, it was a real store.” Ice cream has been one of her pregnancy cravings, along with steak and Capn’ Crunch Peanut Butter cereal.  He can’t keep track of her favorites from week to week. Hell, it’s probably changed in the few days while I was gone to LA for Endgame promo. “What do you want me to bring home?”

“Something with toffee, and pecans.” She says the word in her funny little Southern drawl, ‘pea-CANS.’ “Buttery, vanilla, not chocolate. But, babe, don’t bring it home.” She clears her throat. Stronger, she tells him, “I need you to bring it to the hospital.”

Chris sits up tall, dropping both feet to the floor, ready to jump up in action. “Hospital! Emery, are you in labor? Why didn’t you call me!”

“You’re a nervous Nelly. And I knew you were looking forward to today’s shoot. Labor’s gonna take forever. The only thing you’ve missed so far is me throwing up, more than once, and sleeping.” She yawns, making a little puffing sound. “Real exciting stuff.”

Dammit, she would keep it to herself, not to worry me… Throwing open the trailer door, he waves the closest staffer over. Holding the phone between his ear and shoulder, he grabs the man’s clipboard and scribbles, ‘Labor. Leaving. Top Secret.’ Pushing the board back to the shocked man, he lunges for his keys on the counter, exiting the trailer in two large steps and slamming the door behind him. “Tell me everything,” he growls into the phone.

There’s a pause, and he can’t hear her over the sound of the crowd yelling at him. “Chris, relax. If you rush outta there like a mad man, it’ll be all over the Internet before you can even get here. I don’t want fans or press showing up here. We talked about that. Call me back when you get to the car. I promise, you’re not gonna miss the birth of our baby.”

She sounds tired, worn out. “Em? Is everything okay?”

“Just get here.”

The phone line goes silent. Staring at the phone, he can’t believe she hung up on him. Or called him a ‘nervous Nelly.’ What even is that Southernism? He shakes his head, and makes a beeline to another staffer, trying to remember his plan of attack if this situation came about this way. Quickly explaining his predicament, he asks the man to get the ice cream, telling him to come find the unmarked sedan on the back of the lot. Chris smiles wryly at the man’s confused expression as he turns towards the car that’s been provided to get him to and from set with little recognition.

As the man jogs away, one of the executive producers walks up to Chris, pointing him in the opposite direction. “I heard. Congratulations,” he offers, clapping his hand on Chris’s shoulder. “Tabby’s gonna drive you. That’ll help you pull yourself together. I’ll send John over with the ice cream.” He speaks into his walkie talkie, relaying a new delivery point for the pint. “You can get outta here in just a few minutes. She doin’ okay?”

Chris shrugs his shoulders, his face expressing his unease. “No clue. She hung up. I’m guessing Ma is with her, but no one told me anything. That’s pretty fucked up,” he mumbles.

“Man, relax, women been havin’ babies for centuries. At least it’s early, and you’re not on another continent…” Chris bows his head, realizing how lucky he is for this small favor. “Call me with the news, and we can shift some schedules around. Take the family time you need.” He pats Chris on the back, passing him off to Tabby, the set intern.

“Family,” Chris sighs, his heart swelling with pride.

***

Settled in the back of the car, ice cream rested next to his thigh, Chris calls Emery again.

His mother in law answers the call. “She’s sleeping, Chris. The medicines make her fall asleep at the drop of a hat, mid-sentence. Want me to wake her?”

“Anita, just tell me. What’s wrong? I’m trying to get there as fast as I can.” He calculates quickly. “Traffic, this time of day, I can make it over there in about thirty minutes.”

“Believe me, son. You’ve got time. This little one is gonna be just as stubborn as it’s Daddy. Baby E doesn’t wanna say hello just yet.”

He nervously wipes his beard, watching out the front window as the driver maneuvers around traffic.

“Chris, she’s okay. Her amniotic fluid started to leak while we were on our morning walk. She wasn’t really having contractions or anything, but we decided to call Dr. Puckett. She was already at the hospital and told us to come in.” She breathes out slowly. “Emery’s having contractions, small but not enough to move the delivery along. Because of all the troubles she’s had, the medical team decided to give her Pitocin to speed things up, not put any more stress on her body.” His mother in law sighs. “She’s strong, honey. She’s gonna be okay. The medicines made her sick, but she’s walked around some-

“Why didn’t anyone call?” He swallows hard, trying to hold back his irritation.

“You know her, she wouldn’t let us. Said you were working, and Dr. Puckett said things were going to be slow. She begged your mom and I not to call you-

“Let me talk to Ma,” he barks, hitting his head back against the seat.

His mom’s soothing voice immediately calms him. “Chris, sweetheart. Everyone’s fine. She wanted you to work. The doc agreed it was gonna be several hours. You’re gonna be here. Baby E will be a week or two early, but healthy, and it’ll give you something to talk about on the the press tour besides spilling Marvel secrets.” There’s noise and a low moaning, almost a whimper. He taps the back of the driver’s seat and motions to drive faster. When his mother speaks again, she tells him. “The doc just came in here now, and it looks like they’re gonna attach a monitor around her belly. She’s waking up and you’ll be able to see her when you get here.”

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With only the sack of ice cream in his hand, he jogs down the long hallway. He tips his hat low to avoid recognition. Other new fathers carry flowers or stuffed animals, and somewhere down the hallway, a small baby cries. Normally the activity in the maternity wing would make him smile, but today he can only focus on one thing. His wife.

His love. His life. His whole world.

Nearing the room, he spies Dr. Puckett ahead, looking over a patient chart with another nurse. He stands back, leaning against the wall, clearing his throat and waiting for her attention. She lifts her head at the sound, smiling. With a small, delicate motion of her hand, she waves him over. “Chris, good to see you.” She shakes his hand, and nods to the nurse at her side. “This is Amber, she’s the best. She’s been with Emery all day, and plans to stay through, all right?” He nods. “Have you seen her yet?”

Crumpling the bag tighter in his hand, he shakes his head no.

“She looks a little pale, but she’s tough. Her body isn’t responding to the Pitocin, and she’s only dilated about four centimeters. With the amniotic fluid leaking, she does run a risk of infection-”

“Doc, is she going to be okay? I don’t wanna be an ass, but we can make another baby or adopt, but God help me, if anything happens to her-”

Placing her hand on Chris’s arm, Dr. Jamie Puckett’s exhaustion shows on her face. “Emery is fine, I promise, but the baby’s heart rate is dropping. The nurses are going to come in soon, and prep her for a C-section. I know that wasn’t really the plan, but in order to keep baby and Mom safe, I think it’s best.”

“Does she know yet?” Chris asks, trying to keep his voice steady.

The doctor shakes her head. “No, I was waiting till you arrived. Why don’t you go see her for a few minutes, and then I’ll be in and we’ll go get Baby E. You’ll be holding your baby within the next few hours.”

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Chris stirs from his chair as the nurse comes in, the morning rounds just beginning.

“Sorry to wake you,” she whispers.

Wiping the sleep from his eyes, he stands, his old bones creaking. Shit, maybe I’m too old for this Dad stuff, he thinks. “Didn’t get much rest.” The gravel in his voice is proof. He’d spent the night watching his wife and their tiny little one sleeping.

He needs coffee, in an IV, stat.

Memories of the night before flash through his mind, like a movie montage, nothing settled in place to seem real yet. The quiet afternoon, watching her sleep. Her strength and string of expletives when the epidural was administered. The rush to the operating room as both Emery’s and baby’s heart rates dropped. Suiting up in his new favorite uniform. Standing helpless, not wanting to see on the other side of the curtain. Holding their baby for the first time. Calling the mothers in for their first peek. The first attempt at breastfeeding.

The nurse checks some readings on the monitors, making notes in her charts. She quietly addresses Chris. “The pediatrician will be in soon, to check over the baby, and the lactation specialist. When your wife wakes-”

“I’m up,” says a sleepy voice. “Bring me my baby. And coffee. Can I have coffee? Like in an IV. Just inject it into my veins.”

Chris’s laughter draws her attention. He can see her struggle to turn to him. The drugs are still in her system, making all her movements sluggish.

“Hey, sexy Daddy. You thought the same thing, didn’t you?”

With tears in his eyes, he leans over and caresses his lips over her forehead. “You are mine, you know that, right?” The strong actor chuckles, weak in the knees. “You were made for me.”

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Grabbing the collar of his t-shirt, she pulls him close, tenderly kissing his plump, inviting mouth. “Yeah, and together we made something special, a baby. Ours-” She kisses him again. “I want it, and I want coffee.”

The nurse giggles, “Now, Miss Emery,” she says calmly, like talking to a petulant child. “We talked about that yesterday. No coffee yet, not if you’re going to breastfeed.” She smirks at Emery’s huffing. “But you can take a sip or two of his.” She tilts her head to Chris, as he gently climbs into the hospital bed next to his wife.

“Fine. Bring him one. A big one. Thank you,” she says as a second thought, remembering her manners. The nurse drops the chart in the holder by the door. “Oh, can you get me a cheeseburger?” Emery calls out as the nurse leaves the room.

“Babe, it’s barely eight am.” Chris teases, cautiously lifting her upper body from the bed to tuck her to his side, his arm resting gently around her shoulders.

“Don’t care.” She scratches her cheek absently. The skin is swollen and red from an allergic reaction to the mask placed over her face during her surgery. “I had a baby last night. I want what I want.”

Sitting on the bed next to her, his exhausted, amazing wife settles against his chest. He breathes deeply, inhaling her scent, and he feels his world fall into place.

“I’m gonna be hearing about that for months, years, aren’t I?”

She pokes him in the ribs. “Big enough they had to cut it out. You made a tiny monster.” She giggles, loopy from medications. She rubs low across her belly, wincing as her hands near the bandages covering the incision. “Almost seven pounds. How was that even inside me? How is that even possible? No wonder complete strangers stopped to ask if I was having twins!”

“You know,” he says, twisting her fingers into his hand and raising them to kiss the back of her fingertips, careful not to bump her IV, “it’s not an ‘it’ now.”

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“‘It’ has Daddy’s eyelashes.”

He chuckles, kissing the top of her head. “‘It’ has Mommy’s red hair.”

Before they can finish their verbal tease, she falls back to sleep peacefully. He continues to sooth his fingers through her hair, enjoying their last few minutes alone.

“Love you, forever, Em.” Squeezing her tightly, he lays back against the pillow, hoping to get some more rest of his own.

after baby cuddle

With the little bundle snuggled in his arms, wrapped tightly in a Captain America blanket, Chris steps into the lounge, full of family and friends. “Hey, everyone,” he says with enough authority to garner everyone’s attention, but not to wake the baby. “Thought you’d wanna meet Kaileigh Grace Evans.”

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Author’s Note: Remember in Surprises Ahead? Emery tells Chris, “Read it with a Southern accent. The first syllable? Rhymes with ‘thai.”

**Images found on Pinterest**

Story will update when Muse strikes. I actually wrote a baby story 3+ years ago, but in the vision I wrote from, I didn’t know the baby’s name or gender. In February 2019, the name just popped in my head one morning while I was in the shower! Until that moment, I had no idea if it was going to be a little boy or girl for the Evans’!

If you want to know more about Emery and Chris, read the novella Georgia on My Mind, and their additional stories

Copyright © 2019 avenger-nerd-mom. All rights reserved. Intellectual property of avenger-nerd-mom

 

Changes

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Educating Thalia

Chapter 18

Collaboration by @avenger-nerd-mom & @devikafernando

AU FICTION

A collaboration involving Professor Hiddleston and Professor Evans- The two are rivals at a posh New England university and have no idea they both have taken interest in the lovely Thalia Bareo. She’s a grad student with interests in language and history; a sassy full-figured Puerto Rican girl from Chicago.  Story updates are posted on Wednesdays and Sundays.

Word count: 2173

Warnings:  Language, Adult Situations, fluffy, angst, parenting, aftermath of divorce

Summary: Chris deals with the demons from his past and puts his foot down. It’s time to make some changes and move forward.

Click here to the introduction of Educating Thalia

Sitting in the driveway, he waits to see if she’ll answer the text.  He meant it when he typed if she didn’t answer by three pm, he’d knock on the front door.  She still has about twelve minutes to respond.

Leaning his head back, he admires the small craftsman cottage in the peaceful neighborhood. The dream house.  Thinking over bittersweet memories, he remembers painstakingly putting in the rose bushes and placing the pavers just so to create the winding walkway.  Looking at his lightly calloused hands he realizes he’s forgotten how much he enjoyed ‘doing things’ with his hands.  Creating something to last.

The door opens and she walks out in a tight jeans and a sweater shawl wrap.  Rolling the window down, he simply says.  “You look good.”

She freezes, obviously stunned by his compliment, before approaching the car tentatively.  Chris reaches over and turns down the radio, noticing the monitor in her hands.  “Wanna sit in here with me where it’s warm?” he offers.

“Chris, you can’t just come by unannounced,” she responds pulling the shawl tighter and looking around to see if anyone is watching.

“Maura, you didn’t answer my phone calls and texts.  She’s my daughter.  I get to see her.”  He grips the steering wheel keeping his temper under control.

“You smell like a bar,” she replies.  “Stale cigarette smoke,” she sniffs.

“Yea. Because I was pissed as hell you didn’t let me get Avery last night.  I’ll admit, I got a little drunk. Stayed with a friend.  Totally sober now… What was the excuse this time?” he asks bitterly.

His ex-wife kicks at the tire of the car.  “Avery had a birthday party at Susie’s house; they were swimming and it would have been bed time after so-”

“So?  I could have taken her there and brought her back to my house.  We’ve been to Mark and Patty’s house a million times.  And a birthday party, Maura?  You’d have had that on the calendar for weeks. You couldn’t give me a heads up, and we could have changed dates?”  He turns off the ignition and gets out of the car.

“What are you doing?” she asks, stepping back.

“Don’t act that way, like I’d hurt you, in case the neighbors are watching.  I’m not playing games.  I’m going inside to see my daughter.”  Chris pushes past her and follows the winding path up the snow covered steps.  He waits for her at the door.  “May I enter my house?”

She runs her hand through her short blonde hair and sighs.  “Of course.”  She tilts her head.  “Do you want to take her tonight?  Can you get her to preschool before eleven tomorrow?”

His heart beats wildly.  Not expecting a sudden show of kindness, he simply nods his head and blinks back his tears.

“Don’t try to trick me with your beautiful lashes there, Professor,” she says as she steps into his space and pushes up his glasses to wipe away a tear clinging to the long black hairs.  He holds her wrist and gently pushes it away.

“You don’t get to console me anymore, Maura.  I’ll find someone else for that…”  The image of just the right person for that flits across his mind, tanned skin and curves, challenging brain and sweetest laugh…  Crossing over the threshold the smell of fresh paint assaults his nose and he cringes.  “You never liked the beige color, did you?” he scoffs.

Shaking her head, she laughs quietly.  “No, I didn’t; the dining room is now the buttercup yellow I always wanted.” Hanging her sweater up, Maura points to the stairs.  “She’s in her room, probably just waking up from her nap.  Just throw some clothes in her back pack; whatever you’ll need for your place.”

She tries to push her body to him again but he ignores her advance and takes the stairs two at a time to reach his little Avery faster.  Quietly entering her room, he watches her sitting in her big girl bed whispering to her dolls and their dog, Tramp.  Her jumbled words don’t make sense to him and again the tears fill his eyes and he sniffs.  Turning around at the sound, she bounces gleefully and claps her hands.  “Oh, Poppa!  Is ‘at really you, or am I dreamin’?”

Chris rushes to her bedside and drops to his knees, wrapping his big strong arms around his favorite little package.  “No, Bug, it’s real.  Poppa’s here.  Momma says you can come stay with me tonight.  Would you like that?”

“Oh yes! Yes, please!” she covers his face with tiny kisses and his face stings from the salty tears of happiness.  “Don’t cry, Poppa, you’ll get my fav’rite shirt wet.”

Maura’s voice sounds from the door.  “She wears it all the time.  Refuses to take it off, Poppa.  You’re gonna have to buy more just so she has one to wear when I have to wash the other.”

Chris looks over his shoulder and smiles to his ex, while she starts gathering a few things to put in an overnight bag.  Pulling back from his little one, he looks at her shirt and laughs as he reads, ‘Daddy’s Favorite Girl” on the front with a kitten wearing a crown.  “I can do that, no problem, Bug.”  She jumps off the bed and lands in his outstretched arms and the dog hops down too, barking and wagging his tail.  “Poppa, Tramp misses you too. Can he come?”

The battle over keeping Tramp had been almost as tiring as deciding the best residency for Avery.  And neither are still fully worked out.  Tramp was their first child, the stray they adopted shortly after they bought the house, long before they even thought of having children.  Chris looks to the pretty blonde hopefully, but the words choke in his throat.

“Fine, you can take the dog too.  He actually goes to the groomer tomorrow.  Can you get him there by noon?”  she smiles.

“I’ll just be your taxi service tomorrow, getting everyone where they need to be,” Chris replies, standing up with Avery still in his arms.  Balancing her on his hip, he reaches down for her favorite doll and blanket, making sure those are along for the evening as well.  Eyeing a sparkly dress in her closet he tells Maura to pack that also.  “I’m taking my girl out for dinner.  We’re gonna dress up fancy.  What do you say to that, Bug?”

“Oh, Poppa!  You’ll be so handsome; I wike it!”  The little girl giggles and blows a raspberry against her father’s cheek, giggling louder when his beard tickles her lips.

Maura leads the way out to the hall, the overnight bag in one hand, and another bag in the other.  “Here’s some more clothes and things I’d already packed for you to keep at your place.  She needs to feel comfortable there too, Chris.”

Chris rolls his eyes.  “She does Maura; she’d even feel more that way if you’d let her stay over on a regular basis, like the court papers say.”

She purses her lips together.  “We go back to the mediator early next month.  Maybe we can get it all figured out by then.  It’s just I worry that-”

Setting her down to the ground, Chris leans down to tell Avery, “Hey, run on downstairs and get some cans of food for Tramp, his leash and put your boots on.  I need to talk to Momma for a few minutes.”

The little girl looks expectantly at her mother, who shakes her head in agreement and the little girl and dog slowly take off down the stairs, grasping the rail tightly in her tiny hands.  As soon as she’s out of earshot, Chris hisses to his ex, “You worry what? I’ll have a string of women in my condo?  Maura, you know that’s not true.  I know why you didn’t want me going to the party for Susie’s birthday yesterday.  You didn’t want me to fuckin’ kill Mark or spill your little secret to Patty- “ The angered man ignores the shock on her face.  “Yeah, I know about that affair too, not just the trainer at the gym… And you forget I work with your friend Brianna, and I know you’ve had three other ‘boyfriends’ since the divorce was final.  You fucked up our marriage.  And instead of respecting me enough to ask out, you decided to screw it into the ground.  One date, Maura.  I’ve had one date in nearly eighteen months as I watched my marriage fall apart and I try to rebuild my life.”

“Chris, I-”

Moving down the stairs, he looks over her shoulder at her stricken face.  “No.  I’m not playing games anymore.  I pay the child support, I pay what you need, but I’m not gonna sit back and let you keep me from Avery.  Or the dog, for that matter.”

“I still love you.”  Her pink lips form a pout he once found beguiling but now it just turns his stomach.

“Well you had a fucked up way of showing it, then didn’t you?” he spits out.  His face red with anger, his hands ball into fists at his sides as she descends the stairs and reaches out to him.  He steps back.  “Stay away, Maura.  Your cute little body can’t fix this.  Share it with someone else.”

The little blonde curls bounce around the corner with three cans of food for Tramp in her hands and he hides away his anger as quickly as it grew.  Opening the coat closet, he pulls down Avery’s puffy purple and blue coat and her warm fuzzy hat while she plops on the floor at his feet to pull on her boots.  Spying an empty store bag, he takes shoes for school the next day and her silver sequined shoes to go with her dress for dinner.  “Avery!  Did you steal these from Cinderella?”

She giggles. “No, silly Poppa!  They went with my dress for Christmas.  Momma got them for me.  It’s not nice to take things that aren’t yours.”

“Hear that Maura.  Even the five year old gets it…”  He zips up the toddler’s coat, seeing the blush of embarrassment rush over his adulterous ex-wife’s face.

Standing back up, he tugs his coat back into place.  “Are my boxes still out in the garage?” he asks.  She nods.  “I’ll get a moving truck later this week.  Be back to get them.  Sorry it’s taken so long.  But I think this little show, and something a friend recently said to me, makes me realize it’s time to move on, but keep doing the right thing.  Can I go out there? There’s one or two things I want now.”

“Sure.  You know the code.  I haven’t changed it.  Just come get the stuff whenever.”  She sighs, wrapping the sweater shawl around her shoulders again.  “Maybe when you come get Avery Wednesday night, like every week?  I’ll move her to a different dance class.”

“Yes, you do that.  Wednesdays are mine until we meet with the mediator,” he nods.  He knows he’ll get more time then, and things will be better balanced.

“I’ll get her in her car seat while you’re in the garage.”  She takes the little girl by the hand and the faithful dog follows them out into the cold.

Chris quickly finds the boxes he wants and takes them to the car.  Making sure Avery and Tramp are settled in, he walks back around to Maura.  “I want us to be friends.  For her sake.  And because I’ve loved you longer than I’ve hated you.  That hate doesn’t do me any good.  It just makes me old and bitter before my time.  You destroyed me once.  If you ever really loved me, stop all this.  Focus on her first.  But I’m a good dad, and you know it.”

He hugs her lightly and gets in the warm car, backing out of the drive and away from his old life, finally ready to make some changes.

#

A few hours later, as the sun begins to set, he’s on his way to dinner with Avery.  He’s promised to take her to their favorite Italian restaurant, dressed to the nines, but he can’t help himself.  Driving several miles out of the way, he drives down Thalia’s street, absently smiling to himself.   Avery is singing along to the CD he plays and he watches Tina shuffle down the street, a bag in her hand.  He slows when the door to her building opens and by pure coincidence, the latina beauty steps out in her signature skirt and cowboy boots, her hair a wild mess of curls, a pink scarf wrapped around her neck.  She walks to a little junker car and bounces on her heels as she unlocks the door.  Turning his head so she can’t see him, it kinda tugs at him that he’s elated to see she’s not all dressed up for what he’s pretty sure is a date with the other man.

Click to Chapter 19 Night at the Movies

Copyright © 2017  avenger-nerd-mom.  All rights reserved. Intellectual property of avenger-nerd-mom and devikafernando

Mrs. Evans’ Boys

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Mrs. Evans’ Boys

A Mrs. Evans story

*A Chris Evans fan fiction*

By avenger-nerd-mom

Future Chris helps take care when one of the kids is sick and creates a simple solution to a little problem

Warnings: Daddy Chris, fluff, sick kid, breathing treatment

Word count 950

This Mrs. Evans story is told from Chris’s point of view, a change from other stories in the series

Author Note:  I’ve been sick A LOT lately, which accounts for several of my stories lately being about sickness and the healing powers of Mr. Evans.  When I had to get a breathing treatment done, I remembered a family moment from long ago that had slipped my memory…  with author’s license for embellishing a few details, this is really the tale of how my Hubs got Kid to take his breathing treatments.

Through the crack in the door, Chris listens to the cough in the little boy’s chest and it pains him to hear it.  His big Daddy heart just can’t take it when the boys are sick, but he knows it’s even harder on his wife, so he steps up to the plate.

He steps into the room and asks, “Whatchya doin’, Bud?”

He knows she hates that nickname, always telling him the child and the dog cannot have the same nickname.  But it’s too late to get rid of it now.

“Just colorin’, Daddy.  Nonna Lisa brought me a new coloring book this morning.”

“Oh, she did; that was nice, we’ll-”

“Yea, yea, Dad; I already thanked her,” he rolls his blue eyes, already trained well in the art of appreciation from his mother.

Chris holds in his laughter.  “Ok, then.  Hey, son, do you know why your mother sent me up here?”

The little boy throws the covers over his head and snuggles down under the blankets.  “‘Cuz I was bad and it’s time for more medicine.”

Chris’s heart cracks.  He shoves the books to the side and sits on the edge of the bed, setting his package on the floor and pulling back the blanket.  The tiny face staring back at him is like looking through his mother’s old photo albums.  An exact carbon copy of himself at that age.  “You know we don’t say ‘bad.’  You weren’t bad; you just got scared and acted out in a way that’s not okay.”

“Mommy was so mad at me, she was crying,” the tow-headed toddler explains, sitting up and leaning closer to his own personal hero.

Picking the little one up, Chris sets the boy in his lap and wraps the blanket around them both.  “Bud, here’s a secret.  Mommy doesn’t like it when she has to take you to the doctor.  I usually do it, don’t I?”  The little boy nods.  “It makes her sad when she knows you have to get shots and things.  It made her sad today that you didn’t like the breathing treatment.  When you started crying, she was sad with you, not mad at you, and that’s why she was crying too.”

The boy can’t believe what his father says.  His face is incredulous.  “Really?  She wasn’t mad ‘cuz I didn’t wike the medicine?”

Chris chuckles at the use of “wike.”  The little one doesn’t even have a speech impediment but it’s such a part of the family vernacular, he uses it anyway.  Chris kisses the top of his head, and the fever is still raging.  “She was worried about you… I’m worried about you, and your little brother is missing his best friend.  And Dodger is about to go crazy since you can’t run around the yard with him.”

“Daddy, Dodger’s an old man, he doesn’t run and play like he used to,” the boy interjects.

Chris’s heart officially breaks in two.  He chuckles, “Bud, I know, but let’s not say that.  Mommy can’t handle it if I start crying too, and you and Dodger are best buds and the idea… Well. Ok.”

Chris stops himself.  Focus. Kid.  Sick.  Medicine.  Worry about the aging dog later.

Chris changes the subject.   “You know how Mom never lets you watch TV in your room?”  The tired little one snuggles against his chest and tugs on the hairs on his arm.  “Well, this room has TV and I brought you a treat.”

“I don’t wike this room,” he says quietly, coughs shaking his body again.

Rubbing his back, Chris replies.  “I know, Bud, it’s not your room, but you get to stay in the cool guest room for a few days so you don’t get your brother sick.  And I’m gonna stay here with you all night, and I brought a movie you might like.  I watched it with Grandpa Bob when I had to stay home sick when I was a little boy.”  Chris reaches down to the floor, and hands his oldest son the gift bag.

The boy pulls out a movie, Star Wars- Episode IV and a Darth Vader mask- a special one.  Chris took time in the garage to drill a hole through the mask in order to fit the tube for the breathing treatment.  “There’s a guy in the movie and he wears this mask, and he makes a funny breathing sound, just like you do.  And you know since you don’t feel well, you’ve been kinda mean and grumpy?  Well, he is too.  Maybe if he took his breathing treatments, he wouldn’t feel so bad.”

“Daddy, that’s dumb.  Not breathing right doesn’t make you mean.  It just makes me sleepy.  Maybe this guy needs a nap.”

Chris laughs heartily at the child’s logic and the little boy bounces off his lap, falling face first onto the bed and he giggles as his Daddy tickles him, stopping when the coughing takes over.  “Alright, come on.  Sit back up.  Let’s do this.  It only takes five minutes, and then Mommy said we could have ice cream later.”

“Fine.  But I won’t wike it,” the feisty blonde claims as his best friend in the whole world places the Darth Vader mask over his face and gets the treatment ready to administer.

#

Hours later you check back on your boys, and Dodger raises his head as if to say ‘I got this.’ They are sound asleep, curled up next to one another and the Darth Vader mask is on the floor next to the empty ice cream bowls.  Not a peep.  Little one hadn’t fussed once about the breathing treatment when Daddy did it.  Good thing he’s scheduled to be home for the next ten days because you know you can’t do this without him.

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