TITLE: Objects In The Rear View Mirror
PART: 1 of 1
RATING: PG (Adult thematic material, breastfeeding and all of its discomforts, if that freaks you out)
SEQUEL TO: Emily's "We Did It"
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SETTING IN TIMELINE:
SPOILLER/SUMMARY: Three weeks after she's given birth, Laverne tries to take stock of her life.
NOTES: Non-productive drabble sidestep to Emily's universe.
Her nails are completely transparent in the light - not even the faintest pink hue shows through the thin cuticles. Laverne minds their sharpness as the little fingers flick up and down against her thumb as she feeds her daughter for the fifth time that day.
She watches Theresa's curious eyes as they scan her mother's face. She looks like Lenny, to Laverne. Everyone else - her grandfather, aunt Shirley, uncle Carmine, uncle Squiggy, Daddy - say the baby resembles her mother. Maybe, Laverne thinks, she's a mix of the two of us. In the third month of her life, in her pink-flower spackled onesie, she resembles to her mother nothing but beauty and fragility.
On the curb below, a horn honks. Instinctively, Laverne draws the baby closer against her stomach, causing a mewling noise of discomfort to wrench its way out of her daughter's full mouth. Laverne strokes her head gently until the Theresa's confusion ceases and she began to suckle against her mother's sore nipple. Her mother distracts herself by watching Rhonda make her way from the stoop to the VW Bug double-parked by Lenny's ice cream truck. Laverne smirks, watching her with detached amusement and hearing an echo of her own past. She would tell Shirley about this, after Theresa was down for her nap.
Alone again in the late afternoon sunlight, Laverne leans backward in the expensive rocking chair, a gift from her Pop and an heirloom from the Old Country. Despite her deep love for Theresa and the even truer love for Lenny, she thinks now and again about going back to work. Not, she thinks with a shudder, to Cowboy Bills or to Bardwells, but something...interesting?
The idea makes her stop rocking the chair - and Theresa's hard sucking makes her wince. Gently, Laverne disengages the baby's mouth from her throbbing left nipple, carefully maneuvers the baby to her right arm, reveals her milk-swollen but no less sore right breast, and helps the baby root toward her other nipple. Theresa latches on and continues nursing, leaving her mother to examine her now-cracked and sore tissues.
That's how Lenny finds her when he walks into the room.
She yelps in surprise, covering her bared breast out of instinct as he pivots around on his heel, mouth wide open in embarrassment. As quickly as she can find her voice, Laverne calls out for him to wait.
"You sure?" he asks the wall.
"Yeah," she smiles. Slowly, Lenny turns around and walks back into the bedroom, bending over the low back of the rocking chair to reach his wife.
His hands come to rest upon their daughter's head, barely cupping her fragile limb. Half-shuttered eyes look up, meet his, then drift closed again. "How're my girls?"
"One of us is sore, and one of us is wet," she pulls Theresa's now-lax mouth from her nipple, then hands the baby to her husband, righting her loose blouse and wincing at the raw brush of skin on cotton. Lenny reaches familiarly down to her lap, retrieving a raggedy old pink spit-up towel. He tosses it over his shoulder and begins patting and rubbing Theresa's back. His free arm holds her firmly against his chest, bare forearm coming in contact with her bottom - he winces, figuring out what the next item on the baby care itinerary is. "You're sore?" he asks his wife, nuzzling the top of his daughter's head, hands continuing on in their motions.
Laverne nods. "Cracked nipple." Irony makes her turn red - there had been a time long ago when talking about the horrors of her post-pregnancy body would have repulsed Lenny, but she only receives a worried look from him.
"You got something to put on it?"
"Cream in the bathroom cabinet."
Lenny's steady patting is rewarded by a belch that would be worthy of any Shotz trucker. "Good girl!" he praises, kissing the baby between her light red brows. His reward is a mouthful of spit-up deposited upon his neck. "Eww," he whines, and Laverne masks a smile, reaching over into their the chest of drawers and pulling out three clean towels and a fresh onesie. She rushes off to the bathroom, dampening one of the towels with warm water from the tap. Quickly, she applies the towel to her sore breasts, then withdrew a white tube of cream and applied a light amount to the bright-red left nipple. Satisfied by the chilly tingle upon her flesh, she dampens another towel and turns off the taps. By the time she returns Lenny's taken two steps over to the changing table, pulled off the now-dirty pink onesie, and with no regard to his now-milk-spattered shirt and neck changed his daughter's diaper Laverne places the clean damp towel in Lenny's left hand and watched approvingly as he cleaned the girl of the spit-up, patting her dry with the other towel, then dresses her in a bright red onesie.
Laverne recognizes the outfit as she gathers together the soiled clothing and towels and dumps them into the laundry hamper. One of Squiggy's Christening gifts - and printed all over with the face of Buckaroo Bill, Squignowski's most famous client.
"Gimmie the Peanut," Laverne says, reaching out for Theresa. "You go ahead and change," she instructs him, sitting down at the edge of the bed, feeling her daughter instinctively cuddle against the soft front of her mother's body.
Lenny obeys her with a little roll of the eyes, crossing the room, opening their closet and tossing half of her belongings on the floor until he finds a fresh tee-shirt. She opens her mouth to complain about the mess he's making but finds herself stricken dumb by the sight of his bare torso as it's revealed with a quick gesture and a shrug. For a minute, the baby ceases to exist and she's sucked through the porthole of time to their wedding night - the time they had made the little girl she held in her arms. Memory brought a longing back that she had forgotten entirely in her duties and exhaustion. They hadn't made love for a month before the baby arrived - and after they had been too exhausted by the daily grind, the feedings, the recovery time from her difficult delivery. Because of her delivery - which had involved an episiotomy and forceps - her physician had strictly barred sex until she made her third monthly checkup, and that was a week away. There are other reasons, of course - frankly, she's embarrassed by the way pregnancy had changed her athletic body into something softer, saggier. She catches him watching her, sees a recognizable sparkle in his eye, and grins. When he looks at her like that she wants him more than anything in the world. The idea refreshes and relieves her. He smiles knowingly at the shift in her posture. Whattya know? She still has a libido. And he still wants her, even with her sagging boobs and baggy eyes.
He pulls the shirt downward, covering his head, obscuring his face. Once, his fixed way of watching her had been frightening - now it makes her feel loved and secure.
"Come here," she says suddenly, her voice unmistakably husky.
He pulls the shirt down and on, obscuring the ripple of flesh beneath his taut, milky skin. Obediently, he walks to her. She cranes her head up for a kiss, and is surprised by the warm brush of his lips against her hand, then their daughter's head.
"Let's go down the block for a pizza," Lenny says, taking the baby from her.
Laverne's stomach rumbles. "You just got paid?"
"Uh huh," he watches her dig around beside the bed stand for her purse and baby bag. "I'll go get the stroller."
By the time she's ready, Lenny has the baby in her stroller,
a tiny sunbonnet tied up under her chin to protect her young skin from the
She's trying to remember where "West" is when she's pulled against his side, his lips meet hers, kissing her to a momentary oblivion. He lets go, then smiles cockily and tilts back his chin, pushing the stroller along by himself.
"I miss that part of us, too," he confesses, making her feel a thousand times better.
"Only a little while 'til my checkup," she reminds him.
He shakes his head. "We're both too tired, baby. S'ides. I dunno if I trust rubbers no more."
Fear fills her. "Len, you ain't..."
He shakes his head quickly. "I ain't sorry we had her. Theresa's the best thing that ever happened to me. 'Cept for her mom."
She releases a breath that had been held within, unconsciously. "I could get on the pill - after I finish nursing," she offers.
The idea tempts him clearly. "Sex ain't the only reason we're together, Vernie," he explains, very patiently.
"I know," Laverne grins, "but it's a nice little gift sometimes."
Laverne looks down into the stroller. Her daughter's half-asleep, her plump Kosnowski lips sucking an invisible pacifier, large round DeFazio eyes closed tight, fists clenched as a prize fighter's, little pink fingernails transparent in the sun.
"I want more babies just like her," Laverne says. "Just not all at once."
Lenny chortles, audibly relieved. "She's a good surprise, though."
"Theresa's my favorite surprise," Laverne replies, saying it all.
His hand caresses hers as they lock together. And the rest of the world simply stops existing.