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Various Degrees

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It was the perfect March day in sunny Sweet Valley, California. The sun was out, beaming down brightly on the citizens of the seaside town, and everyone was happily enjoying the first really warm day, that first taste of summer that had finally arrived.

Everyone except the residents of 75 Calico Drive, that was. They were spending the 75 degree day in various degrees of sulkiness, a fact that Mike McAllery was finding to be highly amusing.

"Why is Jessica being quiet?" He asked Steven Wakefield eagerly, wondering how he had managed that miracle. "Did you remove her vocal cords?"

Steven shook his head. "I told her that if she wasn't going to leave Billie alone about her color scheme for the wedding she would be out as the fashion designer and the maid of honor. Somehow that got her to be quiet for once."

"Where is Billie?" Mike asked, noticing that there was no hormonal slamming of doors going on. While there had been a decided lack of that when they were all at Mimosa, his upstairs neighbor's new favorite hobby had found a new location: her future in-laws' house. Not that he could really blame her.

He was starting to wonder if Jessica had really subconsciously wanted to hide her parents and their neurotic habits from him. Mrs. Wakefield sure liked her cleaning.

"She's taking a nap," he replied, sighing heavily. "We've been up since 7 AM."

"Doing what???"

Steven gestured to the pile of magazines and lists on the table in front of them. "Wedding planning. Mom's already pissed off we moved the date back a month. She's scary when she yells. I don't like her yellin' at Bil, it's not good for the baby."

"How is everything going?" Mike asked. "Is she feeling any better?"

His friend nodded, a grin coming to his face. "Yeah," he said. "Everything's lookin' good. She's just tired a lot. But that's normal."

"You must be excited?" Truthfully, Mike was a little jealous that Steven was experiencing all of these things with Billie that he'd never got to experience with Jessica. Even though he knew that their relationship wouldn't have been able to withstand things like children. Or being acknowledged. And he was really happy for Steven and Billie. He really was. Even if it hurt a bit to imagine what might have been.

"Yeah," Steven said earnestly. "I think it's really cool. I can't wait to call Billie my wife and meet our baby."

He used all his maturity to not comment on the fact that he'd wanted to call Jessica his wife too and he'd never ever been believed.

"You should be with her," he said. "What do you have to do here?"

He shrugged. "Just go over the food menu," he said honestly. "I'm already done, really. I was just gonna bring Billie some ice cream up. I've got a mini-fridge up there."

"There's ice cream?" He could go for some ice cream, definitely.

"Yeah," he said. "In the freezer."

 

***

 

Steven had decided to listen to Mike's wise advice before his mother got home and gave him another list of chores to do. All he really wanted to do, after all, was spend time with Billie. Even if she was asleep. At least they could cuddle together and he could talk to her belly.

It was probably stupid that he did that, but he liked to anyways. He loved their baby.

Still, he was really quite pleased when he came into his bedroom and his fiancee was sprawled on his bed, wide awake.

"I brought you your ice cream," he told her. "I figured I had to save it from Mike."

She let out a snort. "Thank you," she said, patting the bed beside her. "I'll share with you."

He flipped the lock on his door -- he could just imagine Alice's reaction to seeing them eating messy melting ice cream on his bed, and it certainly wasn't a pretty one -- and went to join her. He grinned as she snuggled up with him, clad only in his t-shirt. He looped an arm around her shoulders.

"Did you sleep at all?" Steven whispered softly, pressing his lips to her temple. "Or were you just up here bored and alone?"

"I slept for a bit," she replied, taking a bite of ice cream. "I figured it would be safe up here. So I didn't come down after I woke up."

He grinned. "You're a very smart girl," he said teasingly, "you like that?" Billie was making fast work at devouring the carton.

"I love ice cream," his fiancee told him in reply, in the understatement of the century. "But really, I just love you." She kissed him on the lips, and he kissed her back. "I can't wait to be your wife."

She settled herself on his lap and he wrapped his arms protectively around her, covering her abdomen. All he wanted to do was protect her. And their baby. Their baby. Steven really couldn't wait.

"I can't wait to be your husband," he replied, playfully tweaking her nose. "It's not very far away."

She nodded, covering his hands with hers. "This isn't far away either," she breathed. "I can't wait."

Steven grinned down at Billie, at their hands, at the slight swell he swore he saw as they pressed down on her belly.

"What do you think we're having?" He asked curiously, content to spend the whole afternoon together, talking about their baby-to-be.

"I reckon a girl," she said after a moment. "I really want it to be a girl."

He smirked. "We can name her Stephanie."

"Steve!" Billie protested, clearly after processing what he'd said. "No we can't. You're terrible."

He grinned, tickling her ribs. It made her giggle.

***

Alice Wakefield was hard at work cleaning the house -- it seemed that no one else had the respect for cleanliness of ones property like she had -- when she discovered [of all the things] Jessica cooking. Thankfully with supervision, but still.

Alice really did not approve. There was a wedding to plan.

"My kitchen," she breathed, taking in its state. It looked like a bomb had hit it. "What are you doing?"

"Making guacamole," her youngest replied, misplaced pride evident in her voice. "Mike says I make a mean one."

Alice mentally reviewed the number for poison control.

"Don't feed that to your brother's fiancee," she said flatly. "We don't want her getting food poisoning in her state."

"Why would I poison her?" Jessica asked.

She pointedly sighed. "The fish, Jessica?"

"That was one time!"

She pursed her lips. "Yes, well, I won't be the one blamed for another hospital trip," she seethed. "The first one ruined all of the plans I'd made."

Honestly, like she was the one to blame for Billie's stress related bleeding. Steven had really lost his mind.

"I can't believe you said that," Jessica gasped, eyes widening. "She nearly lost the baby, Mom. All you care about is that you were asked to move the date of the wedding back. Maybe you ought to sort out your priorities."

"She's pregnant," Alice hissed. "People will notice and they will talk. We'll be the town scandal!"

"Funny how no one was talking when Steven was up on attempted manslaughter," Jessica snapped. "Face it," she continued. "No one is going to give a flying fuck about Billie showing in her dress except her and Steven and they seem really happy about what's going on so maybe you can hop off."

"Don't speak to me like that, young lady. I am your mother. Treat me with a little respect!"