A/N: Time to resolve some stuff! Things are getting hectic as it winds down to the end of another semester (my last one in fact!), so I’m not entirely sure how frequently I’ll get to update, but I’ll try my best as always to get these out! =D Enjoy!
I woke up the next morning feeling as if I had been barreled over by a rampaging llama. A quick glance in the mirror confirmed that I looked just as bad as I felt. My eyes were red and puffy, my hair was tangled and sticking out every which way, and I looked unhealthily pale and miserable. Who knew that a fight with Noah would impact me so negatively? After all, hadn’t we had loads of tiffs before we even got married?
Yes, but none like the one you had last night, a small voice in the back of my head reminded me. My throat tightened uncomfortably as I remembered every horrible thing that was said—and the fact that Noah was still nowhere to be seen.
I wanted to take a shower to wash away every vile word that had been exchanged between us, but it seemed that it was already occupied. Buttercup must have woken up early.
Wiping my eyes, I took a deep breath and walked into the children’s room to check on Reed, but I found that they were both actually still sleeping soundly–Buttercup in her bed and Reed in his crib.
My heart twisted painfully in my chest. That meant either a robber had snuck into the house and was now using the shower, or Noah had come home. For once, I wished that it was the former, because if it was the latter it meant that Noah had returned without even acknowledging me or letting me know.
Anxiety ate at my brain—I needed to distract myself. So, I walked into the kitchen and began to prepare some apple pancakes. My ears seemed to burn with the sound of the shower though, distracting me so thoroughly that I nearly put a fish into the pancake batter. Yeah, that really would have turned out well.
Finally, the shower turned off and my heart twisted painfully in my chest once more. I tried to push the feelings away and concentrate on the pancakes I was making, but I guess I wasn’t paying enough attention because I stirred the batter a little too vigorously and it splattered across the counter. Great. This day was starting out fabulous.
Without warning, I burst into tears, burying my face in my hands and leaning against the refrigerator for support as my legs weakened beneath me. Why was everything going so horribly now?
“Mom?” a small voice asked, sounding a bit scared. I felt a little hand tug at my pajama sleeve and I immediately forced myself to stop crying, wiping my eyes hastily and sniffling.
“Hey princess,” I said, turning around and forcing a smile. “Good morning!”
“Why are you so sad?” Buttercup asked, looking up at me with shiny eyes that also looked like they were on the verge of tears.
“Oh, it’s nothing, sweetie. I just-” I faltered in my speech as Noah walked out of the bedroom, freshly showered and dressed.
“Daddy!” Buttercup squealed happily, running over to Noah. Noah laughed and bent down, giving her a big hug. I took this time to try and compose myself more fully, wiping my eyes again and setting up mental blocks in my head. I wasn’t going to let myself break down over this. “Dad, mommy’s sad,” Buttercup said as soon as they pulled away.
“No, I’m not, sweetie,” I interjected quickly, smiling. “I- I just stubbed my toe and it hurt,” I lied quickly. Wonderful, I was lying to my own child. I was a great role model.
“But you were crying!” Buttercup protested, clearly not one to give things up easily.
“It hurt a lot,” I responded quickly, refusing to look at Noah at all costs.
“Oh,” Buttercup said. I looked up for a moment at her, seeing a very confused look on her face. “Okayyyyy, if you say so!” she said in a sing-song voice. She ran over then and sat at the table happily. “I smell pancakes!” she cried out happily.
I gasped and quickly turned back around to the stove, relieved that in that time the pancake I had started to cook hadn’t turned into a blackened char. I hadn’t heard Noah say a word yet and actually, since I was too afraid to look at him, I wasn’t even sure if he was still in the room anymore.
Suddenly, I heard Reed start screaming and crying.
“MOM, DAD! REED IS CRYING!” Buttercup announced loudly, even though she was in the same room as us and even though we could obviously hear anything she could.
“I got him,” Noah said hoarsely, the first words I had heard him speak since our fight. I couldn’t help it, I turned toward him. He was staring down at the carpet as he ambled into the baby’s room. I was startled to see the pained, miserable look on his face, but as soon as I saw it it was gone as he disappeared to attend to Reed.
Part of me wanted to run to him now, wanted to sob and hug and kiss him and tell him that all was forgiven, but the other part of me wanted to punch him in the face for being such an asshole last night. I tried to suppress both of these desires, but all it resulted in was an unpleasant, anxious feeling in the pit of my stomach. I felt like I was going to be sick.
“MOM! SMOKE!” Buttercup suddenly cried out. I gasped and noticed the pancake I had been cooking had begun to blacken and smoke in my neglect.
“Sorry!” I said hastily, immediately taking the pancake off the stove and throwing it out.
“Are you sure you’re okay, mommy?” Buttercup asked, looking at me funny.
“Yes, I’m fine,” I repeated firmly, feeling a bit impatient. “Here, eat your breakfast,” I said, putting two of the pancakes I’d already made onto a plate and handing them to her. Buttercup looked like she wanted to protest, but seemed to be able to tell that I wasn’t in the mood, so instead she quietly put syrup on her pancakes and left me alone.
I felt bad about it, but at the same time I didn’t want to tell Buttercup that her father and I had gotten into a horrible fight last night. It was a wonder already that she hadn’t woken up and heard it.
I heard a door open then and Noah walked in with Reed, placing him in the high chair. He still didn’t acknowledge me, so I didn’t acknowledge him either, quickly finishing with the rest of the pancakes. I piled them all up on a plate and set them on the counter. I probably should have eaten some myself at that point, but I felt so sick that I just walked out of the room and went straight into the bathroom, which was still slightly steamy from Noah’s shower.
Thinking about him made me sick all over again and I found myself once again vomiting into the toilet, my stomach lurching horribly. I didn’t know if it was the stress or if it was just morning sickness, but either way it was no less miserable.
After I felt a bit more settled, I did end up showering and getting ready for the day, going outside to tend to my garden. I hoped that the hard work would keep my mind off things.
“Mom, dad’s going to take me fishing!” I suddenly heard from behind me. I turned and saw Buttercup practically bouncing on her feet. I glanced up past her then at Noah, who was averting my gaze as he held Reed, setting him down on the ground where he immediately crawled to the play table we set up by the garden. I watched Reed for a moment as he happily chewed on a block and then back up to Noah, who was rubbing his neck and looking awkward now.
“Okay, you two have fun,” I finally said with as much enthusiasm as I could muster.
“Oh we will!” Buttercup assured, running to catch up with her dad.
I guess that just left Reed and I for the day. I looked over at him again and couldn’t help but at least smile a bit though as he gleefully stacked blocks on top of each other, clearly thrilled at his mechanical prowess.
Perhaps having the day apart wouldn’t be so bad. We both needed to clear our heads and besides, Buttercup was getting the opportunity to spend the day with her dad, which she didn’t often get to do because of school. I had to keep looking at the bright side. Everything would be just fine.
After awhile though, I began to doubt this. Noah continued to look miserable and yet completely avoided me, and in turn I avoided him, pretending for the kids though that everything was normal. I made it a point not to bother him because I just figured he needed even more time and space to cool off, but that strategy clearly wasn’t working because we weren’t back to normal yet. Yes, we were civil, and sometimes even talked a bit, but it was all superficial and quite frankly I just couldn’t take it anymore. His misery was killing me, and so was not having him to talk to, and to hold, and to be held by—I missed him so much.
“I can’t take it anymore!” I finally cried out while we were both in the living room, reading. Noah looked up from his book, clearly startled. “Can we talk, please?” I asked pleadingly, trying to meet Noah’s eyes as I looked in his direction.
“I…I didn’t think you wanted to talk to me,” Noah admitted, once again rubbing his neck and looking uncomfortable.
“What? I didn’t think YOU wanted to talk to ME,” I said, looking at him wide-eyed. “You’ve barely said a word to me since, well, since I told you I was pregnant,” I finished anxiously, unsure how he’d take me bringing it up.
“After how I acted…I assumed you didn’t even want to see my face,” Noah said quietly, still looking pained. He said nothing about the baby. “I…I really am sorry, by the way. For exploding like that. I had no right to. I just…lost it.”
“But why did you?” I whispered, staring at him through the dimness of the room. “It scared me, Noah. I didn’t even see it coming. You just- I just- I don’t know,” I trailed off stupidly, feeling my eyes begin to burn again.
“Hey, don’t worry about it, I’m fine now,” Noah said with a reassuring smile. “I’m just relieved you aren’t still mad at me. I felt so bad after our fight, but I was too nervous to bring it up,” he admitted awkwardly. “I kept trying to think out apologies in my head, but none of them ever sounded good enough. I said so many stupid things,” he lamented quietly, his smile faltering some. He bit his lip and then stood up, walking over to me and holding out his hands to me.
I knew I should have stood up as well and taken his hands in mine, but I found myself frozen in place, just staring at him. I studied his hands, held out for me to take; his eyes, regretful and sad; his face, apologetic and hopeful. It all felt like slow motion, I just stared and stared as I tried to figure out…figure out…what? I felt so confused—like I was missing a piece of a puzzle and someone replaced it with a piece from another and then continuously and confidently assured me that it was correct.
“I can’t help but feel like you’re not telling me everything, Noah,” I said quietly, the words flowing freely from my mouth. “I don’t think everything’s fine. You don’t just explode like that when everything is fine. When everything is fine you can talk things out civilly. Everything is NOT fine!” I cried, my voice growing more hysterical with every word. I was on my feet now, staring Noah down.
“Aubrey, please, don’t worry about it anymore,” Noah pleaded in a soft voice, taking my hands and squeezing them. He helped me up and looked into my eyes, giving me a handsome smile. “It’s in the past and I’m fine. Really.”
“Even superheroes have their limits, Noah,” I whispered, looking into his eyes and squeezing his hands even tighter. Noah’s grin faltered for a moment, but he forced at least a small smile.
“I know, babe. Hey…I’m okay. I just needed some time. I got a bit stressed is all.”
“That was more than just a little,” I stated defiantly, glaring at him now.
“God, Aubrey! Look, I just don’t want to talk about it! I don’t NEED to talk about it. I got stressed out, but I’ve cooled down now and everything is fine. Please, I don’t want to bring up all this shit again. I just want to move on!”
“You can’t just bottle everything up all the time!” I burst out. “You never want to show any weakness so you just hold it all in day after day after day and you see how well that works out!? You explode and you say horrible things and then you start all over again! I won’t let you do this again!”
“Aubrey, please,” Noah pleaded. “It’s not a big d-”
“STOP IT!” I shrieked, finally losing it and crying. “Stop pretending! Don’t you trust me?”
“Don’t be like that, of course I trust you,” Noah said, sounding annoyed that I would even suggest such a thing.
“Then why won’t you tell me what’s wrong?” I asked desperately.
“I just don’t want to bother you!” Noah snapped quickly, although seemingly without thinking because he seemed to regret it afterward.
“Oh, so do I bother you when I vent to you and tell you how I feel and TALK to you?” I asked, now feeling rather annoyed myself.
“Of course not,” Noah assured, his eyes wide with surprise. “I want you to feel like you can talk to me. I-”
“What if I want you to feel like you can talk to me, too?”
“I do feel like I can. I’ve al-”
“Then what’s going on?”
“Don’t you Aubrey me! I-”
“Seriously, it’s fine, let’s-”
“Stop lying to me! I hate when you-”
“I’M NOT. Look, Aubrey, you’re really-”
“GODDAMNIT, AUBREY!” Noah roared, throwing up his arms. “I’m never good enough, am I?! No matter what I do it never feels like enough! I work all day long, but we’re still just barely paying the bills. I try to listen to you and comfort you, but you still get mad. I do all I can for Reed, but half the time he just starts screaming. I try to spend as much time as I can with Buttercup, but she still asks why I’m gone so much. No matter how much or how hard I try, nothing is ever enough! Nothing I do is ever good enough! God…” he finished in a hoarse whisper, squeezing the bridge of his nose again, his eyes shut tightly.
“Noah…” I murmured in shocked surprise, reaching out gingerly to touch his shoulder. He didn’t brush it off, but he didn’t seem thrilled at the contact either, stiffening up when my fingers made contact. “You’re more than good enough. You exceed my expectations everyday.”
“I don’t feel like I do,” he admitted in a low voice. My throat tightened and my eyes burned once again, but I took a breath to calm myself, resolving not to lose it.
“Noah,” I whispered, moving right in front of him. I gently moved his hands away from his face and then cupped it my hands, looking right into his soft green eyes. “I don’t say this nearly as much as I should, but I feel it everyday—I am so grateful that you are in my life. I can’t even begin to tell you how much I appreciate everything that you do for me, and this family, everyday of our lives. You always go out of your way to care for us and I always notice it. I love you, Noah, and you do so much for us that I really don’t know how I’d do it without you. You’re my everything—our everything, Noah, and I mean that with every fiber of my being. I just need to remember to tell you this every now and then, so you never forget it,” I finished firmly, my gaze unwavering.
Noah just nodded, his lips pressed together in an effort to, as always, be nothing but brave. But the thing was, sometimes allowing yourself to cry takes even more bravery than holding it in, so I took Noah tightly in my arms, and I whispered this into his ear, and a moment later his body began to shake, he drew in a sharp breath, and he broke down in my arms, sobbing and holding me tight—finally brave enough to admit that everyone needs help sometimes.
And I could honestly say that in that moment, I had never loved Noah more.
We barely slept that night—taking our conversation into the bedroom once Noah had calmed some, where we chatted until the night was so quiet our whispers sounded like explosions. It seemed like we talked a little bit about everything, being entirely open and honest with each other. It was cathartic, and I think we both learned a lot more about each other, and as a result grew more as a couple.
We also worked out a way to relieve some of Noah’s stress. Because he was gone all day, Noah always felt guilty and wanted to get the kids if they needed something in the middle of the night, but then he’d be up half the night and have to set out early in the morning with little to no sleep, which wasn’t at all good. So, we decided that Noah would set out later in the mornings (we had enough funds for him to leave after this peak fishing time now) and that we would swap every other night on who would get the kids, so that we could take turns getting a full night of sleep.
I knew this meant that Noah would potentially be coming home a little later, but I also knew that it was a much easier schedule to follow, and I was all about relieving some of Noah’s burden. We also talked about consistently keeping an open line of communication, so that we’d always feel like we could turn to each other when things got rough. This was harder for Noah than for me, but I was hopeful that with time he would be more willing to admit when he needed help.
Of course, I’m not going to lie—we didn’t just have an innocent conversation that night. In fact, the later it got, the more kisses were exchanged than words, until we were finally lost to everything but each other.
“Aubrey?” Noah finally panted, after we had er, made up once again.
“Hmm?” I asked, still kind of in a dreamy haze as I tried to catch my breath. He put his hand on my stomach and then kissed my lips firmly before pulling back to look at me once more.
“I really am happy about this baby,” he whispered, running his hand across my belly and then kissing me on the forehead. “I know I panicked at first, but I thought about it and you’re right—we can do this. I can’t wait to meet him or her.”
“You have no idea how happy and relieved that makes me feel,” I whispered happily, leaning against the pillows and smiling. “I can’t wait either.” Noah returned my smile and then disappeared underneath the covers to kiss my belly. I giggled, but the mood quickly changed as Noah’s kisses began to roam.
Oh, and losing all that sleep? 100% worth it.
Since that night, I wouldn’t say that everything went back to normal—no, in fact, I’d say that everything improved. Noah and I communicated better than ever as a team (though we still had things to work out every now and then) and our love had never been stronger.
Noah had also grown to be genuinely excited about the baby and once again made it a point to talk to the baby and rub my tummy whenever he could. Of course, he always remembered to pay me some attention too, which never failed to make me feel warm and happy inside.
Buttercup was doing wonderfully in school, having made the honor roll, and always helped out as much as she could once she finished her homework, fetching bottles for Reed if he was hungry and one of us were busy, or just playing with him to keep him entertained—although I think that she really enjoyed it as well.
“Honey, I’m home!” Buttercup said in a low voice, walking her guy doll into the house.
“Hi sweetie! I made you dinner!” she responded in a high voice.
“I home!” Reed cried out gleefully, holding up another guy doll.
“Who is this!?” Buttercup demanded in her low voice.
“Ohh uhhh, no one! No one at all!” she squeaked.
….sometimes I wondered what they were teaching Buttercup at that school of hers.
“OM NOM NOM NOM NOM!”
“Ahhhhh! No!! Alfred!!”
“I thought you said you didn’t know him!”
On that note, Reed was growing up quickly! After having worked with him for countless hours, he was finally starting to talk pretty fluently. He was even saying mama and dada now, which made Noah and I so happy that we danced around the room, causing Reed to laugh and say our names over and over again, clapping.
He was walking and using the potty all on his own too! We couldn’t have been happier—especially about the potty part. No more dirty diapers! …or at least until this new baby was born, and judging by the size of my stomach nowadays, I took that to be any day now.
…or rather, any night now, as once again while I was working in the garden my water broke and my spine felt like it was being ripped out of my body again and I knew—it was time for baby number three. This time though, Buttercup was with me out in the garden, playing with the sprinkler.
“Mom! Are you okay?! Mom!” she cried out worriedly, a look of deep concern on her face as she watched me double over in pain.
“Yes, I’m fine, sweetie. Could you call up the babysitter? I’m going to call your dad,” I said as calmly as I could manage, trying not to freak her out anymore.
“No! I’m not going to leave you!” she said stubbornly, running over to me and holding my hand. “Be nice, baby,” Buttercup said, placing her other hand on my stomach. “Mommy’s really good—you’ll love her a lot! But try not to hurt her!”
I was amazed by Buttercup’s sweetness, but I couldn’t linger on it too long as I quickly called Noah- telling him to meet me at the hospital and call the babysitter- and then called for a taxi.
As soon as the babysitter arrived, I left Buttercup and Reed to go to the hospital (Buttercup wasn’t too thrilled about this) and met Noah there, feeling incredibly relieved once I saw his face.
“Ready?” Noah asked, looking somewhat worried, but at least somewhat mentally prepared at this point.
“Ready,” I nodded with a grimace, and once again we checked into the hospital for yet another very, very long night.
But every hour was worth it when I gave birth to our third child at 4:36 AM, another precious baby boy.
Welcome to the world, little Aspen Winters. We’re so glad you’re here.
A/N: Another chapter done! I hope you guys enjoyed it =) I know the story didn’t move forward too much, but I felt like Noah and Aubrey needed this chapter. Now they can take on the challenge of raising three kids as a new and improved team! =D Also, apologies on the somewhat abrupt ending…the chapter was getting too long and I couldn’t figure out where to finally end it so, Aspen’s birth seemed as good a place as any, lol. Anyway, thank you for reading, as always, and happy simming!