© Kat Morgan 1999/2000
In Name Only
Chapter 37: My baby
The long hot shower had taken most of the kinks out of Kat’s back, though it left her dehydrated. "How can too much water leave you needing water?" she mused aloud. No one was there to hear her, she could talk to herself all she wanted.
Though it really wasn’t to herself. She’d been talking to the little guy inside her for days now. A running patter. First, trying to tell him that she cared about him, and that all this crying and misery wasn’t his fault. More recently it was more of a "okay, I’ll stop being a slug and start taking better care of you" dialogue. Yes, dialogue. He was VERY good at letting her know when he was displeased.
She pulled on a pair of jeans and a big sweater, shivering after the heat of the washroom. Pulling her hair back into a ponytail, she gazed in the mirror. There were still dark circles under her eyes, but at least the eyes themselves were starting to get brighter. And her face wasn’t as wan as it had been before. This wacky new diet the little person had demanded of her seemed to be working.
She padded down to the kitchen, making herself a cup of tea and some toast. Sitting at the table, she opened the large brown envelope again, pulling the photos out.
"You’re a blurry kind of guy, aren’t you?" she said as she leafed through the ultrasound pictures. "A son," she thought. "I’m going to have a little boy. Amazing."
The appointment had gone well. All seemed to be fine, though if she heard the "you should be taking better care of yourself" speech one more time….
"I should, shouldn’t I?" she asked her little man. "I’ve probably given you a lifetime of psychological problems with the way I’ve been acting. I should stop behaving like this and move on. Concentrate on you for a while. Start writing again. Just get my life back."
She was sure she felt a small, almost imperceptible, kick, and laughed. "I’ll take that as a yes."
The tea was helping, but her stomach felt hollow. She made herself a sandwich, which helped, but Junior obviously wanted more. Fine. Be that way. I’m telling your father!
She picked up the phone and called Howie. He was at the studio. She knew he needed to be focussed on his music and so she hadn’t even told him about the doctor’s appointment. He’ll be annoyed, but she’d needed some time to herself.
She smiled at the brusque tone in his voice. "Hi."
"Kat. Hey, sweetheart, how you doing?" She could hear him move around, figuring that he was moving somewhere private. Away from… No! Don’t even think about him, Kat!
"Okay. I’ve decided I can’t do this anymore."
"Can’t do what?"
She took a deep breath, listening to what Junior was telling her and needing Howie more for it than ever. "I can’t mope. I have to get up and get on with my life. It’s not good for me, and it is definitely not good for the baby."
She heard him sigh, and suddenly realized what he might be thinking. "I promised you I’d stay. I love you, D. No matter what. And you want a son, so this one’ll have to do."
"Son?" His excitement came through the phone clearly.
She chuckled. She could almost see him: the glow in his eyes and the loopy grin on his face. "I just got back from the doctor’s. I suppose I shouldn’t have asked, but I did. It’s a boy. Not surprising considering his, umm, his family history." Kevin’s family was a preponderance of boys.
Howie didn’t comment on that. And she thanked him for it. Though if he continued to chastise her for not letting him know about the doctor’s appointment, she was going to show him just how hormonal a pregnant woman can get.
"Okay, okay. I just want to take care of you," he finally said.
She smiled and gave him a list of things to pick up at the store when he came back. If the little man wanted this stuff, she’d eat it. Wouldn’t like it, but she’d eat it.
"I love you too, D," she said as he hung up.
"That was your daddy," she addressed her stomach. "No, not the real one, but even better. He loves me no matter what stupid things I do. No matter how much I hurt him. A guy like that doesn’t come along very often."
She refilled her tea mug, picked up the photos and walked to the stairs. She dropped the photos on the table by the stairs, knowing Howie’d check there for mail first. Then headed upstairs. "Come on, let me show you what Mommy does for a living."
Kevin sat in his car, staring at the grocery list. If there was any doubt in his mind, it was pretty much gone now. Number one on the list: peanut butter.
Howie was right; how could he have not realized it. Howie, shit! Howie knew that he and Kat had been together, and he’d still told him. Kevin wasn’t sure if he would have if the situation had been reversed. After all he’d done to hurt Howie over the past while; first their affair, now this one. And the other man had still come forward and told him the truth.
Kevin had a sneaking suspicion that Howie had known for a while, and felt a surge of anger at the thought. But it subsided. It explained why he’d been so short-tempered and aggressive towards him for so long. And then when the chips were down, Howie’d told him.
He walked into the store, quickly grabbing the items that Kat had asked for. God, what he’d said to her. Said about her to himself. She’d never forgive him. He’d hurt her so many times before. What would she say when she saw him? She’d probably…
"Paper or plastic?"
"Hunh?" He looked across at the girl at the checkout, seeing her for the first time. "Oh, right. Whatever’s easiest."
"You’re Kevin, one of the Backstreet Boys, aren’t you?"
He smiled distractedly, "yeah. Nice to meet you." He looked at her, not really focussing on her, still lost in thoughts of what he’d say, what she’d say.
The girl wanted to say more, to get him to look at HER, but gave up as she looked at his serious face. "Here," she handed him the bag of groceries. "Have a nice day."
He nodded and hurried out to the car, driving to Howie’s house. Her car was in the driveway. She was home. She’d been home a lot. Try though he had, he couldn’t manage to stop himself from driving by there everyday. Sometimes three and four times. Always her car was there. Howie’s occasionally, but always hers. He’d overheard from Howie’s discussion with Brian or AJ that she rarely left the house. For doctor’s appointments and so on. But rarely on her own. Brian had tried to get her to come over to his house, to spend some time with Leighanne, hoping that Kat would open up to another woman. She’d always refused.
That part he’d heard from Brian, realizing suddenly how skillfully Howie had always managed to change the subject whenever Kevin came in the room. He hadn’t even noticed it at the time, just been glad to discuss other things, happy not to hear about her and her baby, and jealous of Nick and his ability to get away from it all. The younger man had come up with an albeit lame, but acceptable excuse to spend time with his family in California. The others had expected him to be upset; he hadn’t fooled anyone with his denial of any agitation over Kat’s pregnancy. Kevin hadn’t had a good excuse.
He looked down at the key in his hand. He’d been clenching it there since Howie’d dropped it there, not wanting to let it out of his hand. Just go in, Kevin, he told himself.
"Howie? Is that you?"
He braced himself against the door at the sound of her voice. God, how he’d missed that.
"You’re back earlier than I thought."
He moved towards the stairs. The bottom one squeaked a little and he winced.
"I left something for you on the hallway table. The ultrasound pictures."
His mouth went dry and he stepped back from the stairs. Placing the bag of groceries down, he grabbed the large envelope, practically ripping it to pieces in his hurry to look inside. Black and white. Fuzzy and hard to make out. But… there! There was his child. Their child.
"Not great pictures, but they’ll do for now, hunh? I’m in the study. Bring them up; I’ll show you everything they showed me."
Tears were sliding down his face as he climbed the stairs and walked down to the study. She was concentrating on the computer screen, her back turned towards him. He took a deep breath.
She must have heard him, but didn’t turn. "I thought I’d start working again. No moping, like I said. Get up, get on with it. Did you get the groceries?"
He reached over her shoulder and placed the bag on the table.
"Thanks, sweetie. I…" There was something wrong with his movements. Kat looked at the bag, trying to figure out what it was. Left hand. He’d put it down with his left hand. And there’d been a ring on his thumb. Howie wore rings, but not on his thumb. Only Kevin wore a ring on his thumb. Only Kevin…
She spun around in the chair, gasping when she saw him. He was pale, his face a little thin than before and the green in his eyes seemed almost muted. There were tears on his stoney face.
He dropped the ultrasound pictures on the table, before falling to his knees in front of her. He focussed on her stomach, on the small rise that was forming there and reached out slowly, gently, to place his hand on her belly.
"My baby," he whispered, then broke into sobs, throwing himself onto her lap.