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Warm Hearts

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Sam opened the door to the house carefully, mindful that its other occupant was probably asleep. Andy had been coming down with a cold for a couple of days now and he'd finally convinced to her go home halfway through their shift today. She hadn't wanted to take leave, but he convinced her it was for the greater good. He half-expected she'd lying on the couch, surrounded by half a dozen activities, unfinished, in a bid to continue to be productive, even after being sent home. But he could see up the split-level stairs that the living room was empty and the television off. There were no used tissues, blankets or other indications that she'd spent the afternoon there.

The house was dark, save for the light above the stove. The sun was beginning to go down, and the west-facing house was awash in the waning afternoon light that seeped through the venetian blinds. Sam quietly toed off his shoes in the entryway, pulling off his coat at the same time. He placed his work bag carefully in the corner, trying not to make a sound, before ascending the stairs, heading for the master bedroom. Andy was ordinarily a light sleeper and he didn't want her to startle awake if she really needed the rest. Stopping in the doorway of the bedroom, he leaned up against the door frame to watch her sleep. As corny as it sounded, he loved coming home to her. He was still working on making it permanent, but he knew better than to push her. They'd gotten very serious, very quickly, and he knew she need some time to catch up.

 

Sam jogged up the last flight of stairs to Andy's condo, trying to work off his nervous energy before their fancy date. The tiny, black velvet jewelry box was burning a hole in his pants' pocket, and he knew he had to stop reaching in to touch it every five seconds if he wanted to preserve any of the surprise factor. Andy had been a bit suspicious about the upscale restaurant reservations, since their dates tended to favor takeout at home instead of five-star cuisine. But they had been on opposite shifts again this week, leaving her little time to interrogate his motives behind their extravagant dinner plans.

Taking a deep breath to calm his nerves, Sam knocked on her front door, but there was no answer. He listened for a second, trying to hear her blow dryer or other evidence that she was still getting ready and couldn't hear him knocking. But there was silence on the other side of the door. Reaching into his coat pocket, he pulled out his keys, letting himself into her condo.

"Andy? You ready?" he called.

Only silence greeted him, but then he heard retching coming from the bathroom. Shedding his suit jacket on the back of the couch and loosening his tie, Sam quickly made his way to her bathroom. He found Andy, dressed only in a matching black bra and panties and black stockings, with her back leaning up against the side of the tub, breathing heavily, clearly willing herself not to throw up again. In any other circumstance, Sam would have had a hard time not ravaging her on the bathroom floor. But one look at her face and he knew that she was feeling miserably. Sam slipped off his shoes and padded into the bathroom, coming to sit beside her on the bath rug. Andy made no outward acknowledgement of his presence, but she did lean toward him infinitesimally, bumping her shoulder against his.

"If you didn't want to go out for a swanky dinner, you could have just told me," Sam said, trying to make her smile. "No need for the pyrotechnics."

He glanced to his left to see if he had succeeded and noticed the mascara running down her cheeks. Cursing himself for making her feel worse instead of better, he used his thumb to wipe away the tears. "Sweetheart, don't be upset. Atelier will still be there next weekend." It had taken weeks to get the reservation, but if Andy was sick, there was nothing he could do about that.

Andy swung her head toward him, clearly wanting to respond, but her stomach had other ideas. Her eyes widen as she instead reached for the toilet again, vomiting into the bowl. Sam gathered her hair in his left hand, holding it off her neck, while stroking his right hand up and down her back, slowly. When she was finished, he helped her ease back to lean against the bathtub again, and then he flushed the toilet. Andy let her head fall back, resting it on the edge of the tub, eyes closed.

Sam stood up to fill a glass of water for her to rinse her mouth. Andy's makeup was spread over the countertop; she had clearly been in the middle of getting ready to go out when she had started feeling sick. Setting the water glass down, he started to gather her cosmetics to put back into her make up bag, while keeping an eye on Andy in the mirror. That's when he noticed a piece of white plastic near the edge of the counter, closest to the toilet.

A home pregnancy test. With a tiny pink plus sign in the middle.

Sam picked the test up off the counter, staring at it with disbelief. He pivoted to his left, his eyes coming to rest on Andy. Her eyes were still closed as she breathed deeply, oblivious to his observation. He scanned her body, looking for any changes. They'd made love that morning before he'd gone to work, and he hadn't noticed anything different about her body. But then again, he hadn't been looking for a baby bump.

"Andy?"

She wearily lifted her head off the edge of the tub, opening her eyes slightly in response to his voice. Noticing what was in his hand, her eyes opened wider and she struggled to sit up straighter.

"Sam…"

She looked stricken, like she was waiting for him to start yelling. Her color had not fully returned and she had pulled her legs up to her chest. She looked impossibly young, curled up in a ball on the bathroom floor. Setting the pregnancy test back on the counter, Sam moved to sit next to her again. He put his arm around her shoulder, pulling him to her. Bracketing her body with his legs, he wrapped both arms around her middle, anchoring her to his chest. Andy sighed, leaning back against him.

"Andy, what's going on?"

Sam sat back and listened as Andy told him about how she'd been throwing up near the end of shift every day that week. She'd assumed she'd been getting the flu, but aside from feeling tired all the time, she'd had no other symptoms. Yesterday, Traci had found her in a stall in the locker room, losing her lunch and suggested she might be pregnant. After all, Traci knew better than most about unexpected pregnancies. Andy vehemently denied the possibility to Traci, but today she'd done the math and thought it might be true. Andy had texted Traci and while Leo was at soccer practice, Traci had brought over the test. Andy hadn't been able to bring herself to take it and they'd spent an hour just staring at the pink box, sitting innocuously on her bathroom counter. Finally, Traci had to pick up Leo and left Andy alone with it. She'd finally peed on the stick about an hour before Sam arrived.

"Between actually seeing that little plus sign and the vomiting, I haven't been able to stop crying, so I've probably ruined my makeup. If you can give me another 20 minutes or so, I can just wash my face and finish getting ready. Maybe we can push back the reservation. I'll just get dressed and we can go…" Andy started to pull out of Sam's lap, clearly planning to do just that.

Sam tightened his arms around her, trying to keep her in his lap. "Andy, just sit for a second. We should talk about this." He could feel her stiffen in his embrace.

"I know, I know. I'm sorry. I always take my pill every day, I swear. I don't really know what happened." Andy started to ramble again, still clearly afraid of Sam's reaction.

"Sweetheart. Stop. I'm not mad. Shocked. Surprised. Scared out of my mind. But not mad, okay?" He turned her head to look back at him. "We're gonna figure this out," he said, smiling slightly at her.

Andy smiled tremulously back at him, some of the color returning to her cheeks. "Okay."

 

Andy shifted in her sleep, wrapping her arms around his pillow, pulling it tighter to her face. Sam was pulled from his memory, smiling to himself for a moment, before his eyes landed on the small jewelry box on the nightstand. Like the small lamp and her alarm clock, the tiny black velvet box had stayed on the table for the last few months, both literally and figuratively.

 

After they had grown sore from sitting on the bathroom floor, Sam helped Andy change into more comfortable clothes to lay down. Usually, there was nothing he enjoyed more than helping Andy undress, but she still seemed spooked from their earlier conversation. Once she was comfortably dressed in yoga pants and tank top, Sam tucked her into bed. He didn't have any clothes left at her place, so he settled for removing his tie and unbuttoning the top buttons of his dress shirt before spooning behind her. The ring box was digging into his thigh, reminding him of his initial plan for the evening. He knew he couldn't propose now; she'd never believe he wasn't doing it out of "the right thing to do," even if he was already prepared with ring in hand. Surreptitiously easing the box out of his pocket, he placed it on the night table behind him.

Though comfortably snuggled in her bed, they lay awake for hours, talking about what the next steps were, how this would affect their careers (especially hers, as she was just starting out) and how to move forward. At one point, Andy had turned over to face him, propped up on her elbow. Like the bright copper she was, she noticed the tiny black velvet box that had appeared on her nightstand. "What's that?"

Sam smirked, not needing to turn around to know what she was looking at. "What does it look like?"

Andy's eyes widened as she continued to stare at the box before turning her gaze to Sam. "So, at this classy dinner tonight…"

"I was going to ask you to marry me," Sam finished her thought quietly.

Andy inhaled sharply. "But you're not now?"

"I think we've had enough excitement for one day, don't you think?" Sam joked, trying to alleviate her anxiety and stop the panic that was clearly building.

"Oh." Andy swallowed hard before smiling too brightly. "Okay. Well, don't worry, I doubt my dad's gonna come by with a shotgun anytime soon." She tried to laugh, but it came out strangled.

"Hey, Andy, sweetheart, look at me," Sam requested. He crooked his finger under her chin, lifting her face until she made eye contact. Her eyes were bright with unshed tears. "Of course, I still want to marry you. But you've been through the wringer today and when I propose, I want it to be a vomit-free, tear-free day for you, okay?"

Andy looked skeptical, but nodded before snuggling her forehead into the crook of his neck. "Ugh, I hate that I can't stop crying. Traci said it's the hormones and it only gets worse." She pulled back to glance up at him, shyly. "So, sorry in advance for whatever crazy shit I'm going to do and say."

Sam laughed, for real this time.

Andy tucked herself back into his chest before speaking again. "I'm gonna say yes."

This time, Sam pulled back. "What?"

Andy genuinely smiled for the first time since Sam found her on the bathroom floor. "When you propose - I’m gonna say yes."

Sam grinned before leaning in to kiss her. Andy McNally was going to have his baby and she had just agreed to marry him - someday.

Andy pulled back first, biting her lip. "I know I'm not ready yet, but maybe we could move in together first? Would that be okay?"

"Yeah," Sam replied. "I think that would definitely be okay."

 

Sam had a house with a second bedroom, so Andy had moved in with him, subletting her condo. The ring box had moved from her night table in the condo to the one in his bedroom. They had continued to talk about marriage, but only in the abstract. Sam was letting her set the pace, but he caught her looking at the box more and more often.

"Hey," Andy called out, her voice scratchy from disuse. She stretched out, arching her back and disrupting the tissues she had piled around her on the bed. Sam pushed off from the door frame, padding over to kiss her hello.

"How are you feeling?" Sam questioned, sitting on the edge of the bed, feeling her forehead.

"Like shit. I haven't done anything all afternoon and I'm still exhausted. I can't breathe, my head hurts and I ache everywhere." Andy pulled a tissue from the box on the nightstand to blow her nose. "Sexy, huh?"

Sam smirked at her. "Oh yeah, baby, you know what I like," he deadpanned. "I didn't mean to wake you though. Have you slept long?"

Andy squinted at the clock. "Couple of hours. Guess I should think about eating soon. The Squirmy Worm is going to start demanding nourishment soon."

"She been active today?"

"He's been fluttering a bit. Not right now though." Last week, Andy had felt the baby move for the first time, but Sam had yet to do the same. She opened her mouth to speak again, but a huge yawn cut her off. "Sorry, guess I'm not quite awake yet."

"Don't get up on my account." Sam turned, so he was lying on the bed next to her. "I could use pre-dinner nap as well."

Andy rolled over onto her side and Sam followed suit, his arm reaching across her body to grasped hers. Andy sighed contentedly and Sam felt his eyes drift closed. He knew he needed to get up to make dinner shortly, but it couldn't hurt to lie here for just a few minutes.

Moments later, Sam heard Andy gasp quietly. "What is it?"

She didn't respond, but moved their hands down to her belly, resting his palm just below her belly button. Sam held his breath in anticipation. Then he felt it. Tiny little taps against his pinky finger, coming from within Andy. Tap-tap-tap-tap. Sam smoothed his hand over the area, pushing against her slightly, trying to feel it more. Tap-tap-tap-tap. "Hi buddy," he whispered.

Sam leaned over and kissed Andy hard. "I love you so much."

Andy had tears in her eyes, a common occurrence these days. "Sa-am, you're going to get sick. But I love you too."

She pulled his arm tighter around her, covering his hand with hers. Sam closed his eyes, concentrating on the feel of the tiny hand or foot, moving inside Andy. Eventually, the kicks drifted away from his hand. Though still congested, he could feel Andy's breathing even out, indicating that she had fallen back asleep. The adrenaline from feeling his son or daughter move for the first time was wearing off and he could feel himself drifting off as well. Ah well, they could always order take out for dinner.