PLEASE SEE INDEX PAGE FOR DISCLAIMERS & OTHER CHAPTERS
Chapter Notes: Written for the schmoop_bingo prompt "Bubble bath".
Chapter 15 :: National Women's Hall of Fame Day
By A. Magiluna Stormwriter
++ Monica ++
The heads up call came just after I'd put William down for the second time tonight. He's been distressed most of the night, probably because he really hates it when his mama works overtime into the night shift, and just wouldn't go to sleep easily. But Doc Robbins needed the extra help, so Dana offered to take an extra shift to help him out. And now, she's on her way home after a really long day that ended in a horrific accident that she got to handle for him.
Baby monitor clipped to the back of my belt, I begin running the water in the tub and hope I've timed her drive home correctly. Without hesitation, I reach under the sink for the pampering kit that we have set aside for situations like this. Rummaging through the box, I pull out the vanilla bubble bath that Dana adores and set it on the edge of the tub. The candles come out next, waiting and ready on the counter; the scent of lavender and beeswax is already wafting around the room, and they're not even lit yet. Heading back into the main room, I grab the iPod and its speaker station to draft into use, as well. Last, but certainly not least, I head out to the kitchen to pour a glass of the 2005 Ravenswood Sonoma County Syrah that she'd opened last night for dinner.
I no more than get the wine poured and ready to go back into the bathroom, and I hear the front door opening. One look at Dana's haggard face tells me everything I need to know, and I'm crossing the room to her side in half a dozen strides. She tries a tired smile, but fails miserably, and I can almost smell the lingering death and decay from her night in the morgue. No matter, she's home now and I'll make sure that she leaves that grisly horror behind her.
Hanging her coat and purse on the coat tree, her briefcase is casually set aside on the desk, and I pull her into a tight embrace. Dana just clings to me for a long moment, and I can feel the bone-deep fatigue settling into her body.
"Come on, baby," I murmur softly, and tug at her hand as I head toward the bathroom.
She follows me quietly, and stands there as I finally add the bubble bath to the water and light the candles. Immediately the room is suffused with the mingling scents of lavender, vanilla, and beeswax. Taking a deep breath, Dana sighs heavily, and I can sense the tiniest release of the negativity clinging to her like so much dirt. Settling on the toilet, I pull her close to stand between my spread legs and rest one of my hands over her heart for just a moment or two.
Satisfied she's not going to bolt -- or fall over -- I change tactics and begin to unbutton the white blouse I'd watched her put on this morning. Tugging it out of her waistband, I let it fall from her arms to pool at her feet and stroke my arms gently from her fingertips to her sternum. Once again, my hand rests over her heart for a moment, taking reassurance in the steady beat of her heart. Leaning in, I press a gentle kiss to her sternum and reach behind her to unhook the utilitarian bra she always wears when she's working in the morgue. Dana shivers slightly as the cotton and satin material falls from her body, freeing her ample décolletage. But I don't tease and stroke those beautiful breasts of hers; this is not yet the time for that sort of sensation.
Continuing to disrobe my beloved partner, I ease the leather belt from her pants before easing the gabardine down her legs. This leaves her in panties and heels; under normal circumstances, I'd be a slavering fool for her at this point, but not tonight. Her hands grip my shoulders as I ease pants and heels off, taking the time to lightly massage each foot before setting it back on the floor. This elicits a soft moan of appreciation, and I know I've done the right thing to help restore her equilibrium. When she's down to just the panties, I press another quick kiss to her stomach, just above her navel, then slide the material down off her body.
Taking a moment to drink in the sight of her before I stand up, I mouth "I love you" to her and get a small smile in reply. She sways slightly on her feet and I'm on my feet to pull her close. Her head falls onto my chest, the red hair standing out in such sharp contrast to the worn, white t-shirt I'm wearing. Offering her my body's warmth and every energy reserve I can spare, I just hold her there for a couple of moments. Only when Dana lifts her head to meet my gaze do I loosen my hold on her body.
"Thank you," she murmurs roughly. "I just--"
"You're welcome, mi corazon. Now, into the tub with you and I'll bring in your wine."
I watch as she slips into the water, groaning as the hot water covers her body. Pressing the iPod into life to play our favorite relaxation playlist, I head back out into the kitchen to retrieve the syrah. Pausing only long enough to grab the bottle and fill a plate with some grapes and cheese cubes, I head back into the bathroom and settle on the floor next to the tub.
Already, she looks a hundred times better than just a couple of moments ago, and I know there's more relaxation to come. She smiles gratefully at the sight of the tray in my hands. She takes a long sip of the wine, pauses a moment to savor it, then repeats the sequence three more times to drain the glass. Without hesitation, I refill her glass, but hand her some of the cheese first.
We both jump at the sound of William's voice coming over the monitor. I stay Dana with a hand, getting up to head into his bedroom. Without hesitation, I scoop him up into my arms, cuddling him close for a moment before heading back into the bathroom.
"Hey, handsome," Dana says softly when we appear in the doorway. "Did you have a bad dream?"
"Mama," he whimpers when he sees her, but won't lift his head from my shoulder.
Dana studies us for a long moment, chewing at her lower lip. "Mon?" she asks softly.
She doesn't even have to finish the request. I nod and settle on the toilet again to undress our sleep-warmed son before handing him into her embrace in the water. William squirms for the briefest moment as the bubbles tempt him, but quickly settles his little body against Dana's chest, head falling to her shoulder easily. She gently strokes his back and head with a washcloth I hand her, murmuring softly the whole time. I can just make out the words she's crooning as belonging to the song currently playing on the iPod, thoroughly captivated by the sight of his long eyelashes fluttering open and closed several times as he fights sleep to spend time with his mama in the tub.
They lay there like that for several minutes after he's fallen asleep again. The transformation that has come over Dana is poignantly beautiful to me. All of the bad things she dealt with at the morgue have just sloughed off like so much dead skin in the face of the utter love and devotion she feels for our young son. I shift down to sit next to the tub again and feed her grapes and cheese while she lays there.
"We're going to end up a couple of wrinkled prunes," she finally says, and I'm thrilled to hear the note of amusement in her voice.
"But I like it when you're all wrinkly from the water," I say and grab for a towel to wrap William up in when she's ready to relinquish him to me. Not surprisingly, that comes relatively soon. "And before you ask, I have no problems with William joining us in our bed tonight."
"Oh thank you, Monica," she says, eyes going bright with unshed tears.
"You're welcome, baby." I ease back up onto the toilet again and gently towel our peacefully sleeping son dry. "I think you both need the reassurance of being surrounded by the family that loves you."
She grins again and lets the water start to drain from the tub. When it's almost empty, she quickly closes the shower curtain and turns on the shower to quickly scrub down and remove the last of the bubbles from her skin. I could happily sit right here, cradling a sleeping William in my arms as I watch Dana in her perfunctory shower. She dries off quickly and blows out the candles, shutting off the iPod in turn. As I head into the bedroom with William, she grabs the tray with the wine and food, balancing it against her chest to keep her towel around her body.
Once in the bedroom, Dana sets the tray aside and slips into the Thomas pajamas that William and I had picked out for her birthday. Climbing into bed, she gets comfortable and settles the extra pillow for William between our own pillows before I ease him down under the covers next to her. He moans softly, but doesn't wake up, and unerringly scoots over to rest his head and an outstretched arm on her stomach. Smiling at the sight, I head back to the bathroom to make sure everything is put away before grabbing Thomas from William's bedroom.
When I return to the bedroom, Dana is finishing off the last of the grapes and cheese, washing it down with the wine still in her glass. She smiles sleepily at me, and I can feel her eyes watching me as I change into my own pajamas and crawl under the covers. Turning to face her, I gently stroke William's still-damp hair lightly.
"Thank you, Monica," she finally says. "I don't know how, but you knew exactly what I needed." Before I can say anything, she purses her lips and chuckles wryly. "Al called you, didn't he? I told him not to."
"He was worried about you, Dana. And if he hadn't called, someone else from the night shift would have, and you know it."
"Besides, I knew something was wrong. I could feel it and, more importantly, William could feel it. He was cranky and restless all night, and not just because you were working longer than normal. He kept waking up and calling for you."
Dana leans over and presses a kiss to the top of William's head. "My poor baby," she murmurs. "I'm sorry he was so upset and I wasn't here to help calm him."
I shake my head and stroke her cheek. "It's okay. We're in this together, right? We're a family, and family takes care of its own without hesitation. I'm just glad you're feeling better now. You are feeling better, right?"
"Yes, I am. You and William have done wonders to make me feel whole and clean again, inside as well as outside."
When she yawns loudly, I chuckle and stretch over William's body to give her a light kiss, caressing her cheek in the process. "Sleep now, baby. William and I are right here, and you've nowhere to be tomorrow, so sleep in as long as you want. If he gets up early, I'll get up with him and we can go watch cartoons and cook you breakfast. How's that sound?"
"Heavenly. I love you, Monica."
"Love you, too, Dana. Sweet dreams."
It seems like Dana no more than sets her head on her pillow and she's just as deeply asleep as William is. I lay there for several minutes, watching them sleep, keeping them safe from the bogeymen that may haunt their dreams, before finally turning off the light and joining my family in sleep.