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the provider of that constant sting they call love

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A part of her knows, before the kitchen timer even dings, what the answer is going to be. Call it mother’s tuition, call it a sixth sense- call it whatever you like, but Norma Bates knew before she even flipped the thin white sick over that a bright blue plus sign would be staring up at her.

The myriad of emotions that filter through her throws her off balance; she’s pleased and nervous and terrified and nauseous and overwhelmed all at once. She’s pregnant with Alex and she’s so happy she feels incandescent and lit up inside. It’s almost shocking how happy she is- she’s not exactly the youngest woman on the planet, and her life is probably the example you’d find next to “fucked up” in the dictionary, but she loves Alex so much she can hardly breathe sometimes, and she’s going to make him a dad.

There’s a bang as the front door shuts, and Alex’s voice calls out, looking for her- she rushes to wrap the test in toilet paper, washing her hands and splashing water on her face before she looks in the mirror. Her cheeks are flushed, eyes bright- she bites her lip to hold back the smile that threatens to burst across her face, joy bubbling in her chest, and she dries her hands before she leaves the bathroom, finding Alex just reaching the top of the stairs.

“Hey,” he says, voice low and warm, lips curling into that slow smile at dragged up the corners of his eyes when he catches sight of her. Her heart feels ready to burst as she wraps her arms around him, burying her face in his neck and inhaling; he smells like pine and gun powder and his aftershave, rustic and clean.

“Hi,” she says, voice high and soft, smile pressed into the hot skin of his neck, nose brushing against the collar of his sheriff jacket. “Have a good day?”

“Lots of paperwork,” he answers with a shrug, hands sliding warm against her back through her shirt, fingers flirting with the waistband of her skirt. “Went to the shooting range.”

Alex leaned forward until his nose bumped hers, bringing another smile to her lips. “Missed you.”

A delighted giggle leaves her throat and she feels her cheeks flush with color as she dips her head before she cuts her eyes at him, biting her lip at the smile his lips have turned up into. She’s about to tell him- can feel the words bubbling in her throat to say it, pressing against her tongue, rattling around her teeth- when a door down the hall slams, and she knows that means Norman is ten seconds from joining them.

She and Alex part rather unwillingly, and Norma is fixing her skirt when Norman spots them; he gives them a dour look before he starts down the stairs, throwing his words over his shoulder. “I hope dinner’s nearly ready, Mother.”

“Just a little longer,” she manages to say in a mostly-steady voice; Alex’s fingers find hers, and she squeezes them. She takes a breath and offers her husband a smile, pressing a quick kiss to his cheek before she follows her son downstairs to finish preparing supper.

She has Alex sit at the table while she finishes; he tells her about some of the cases he’d closed up, and a joke one of the deputies had told him. She hides her smile in the sauce she’s stirring, because this is domestic and easy and they’re going to have a baby.

Alex sets the table as she finishes the food; she calls Norman and they sit down together. She manages to pull a few sentences out of her son about school, but he’s surly and silent for most of it, picking at his spaghetti until he finally asked to be excused. Norma is too tired to argue, so she lets him go- moments later, the front of doors slams as he leaves. She scrubs a hand down her face as Alex takes her other hand in his, fingers warm and solid as they laced through hers.

“You sit; I’ll clean up,” he says when she starts to get up; he presses a kiss to the top of her head before he collects their plates, running the warm water and rolling up his sleeves. She rests her chin on her hand, just watching him as he does the dishes; it’s something so small- it’s the damn dishes, for chrissake- but the ease with which he’d offered to do them, without her even asking, still astounds her.

Her previous marriages hadn’t been about partnership- lust, maybe, and a kind of love, but never like this. It’s just so simple with Alex. She loves him, and he loves her; she wants to do things to make him smile, and he so willingly goes along with what she asks of him with that smile of his. He looks over his shoulder and catches her eye, giving her said smile, and her stomach warms as she gives him a smile back.

“You’re awfully quiet tonight,” Alex says casually, rinsing off another dish as she fiddles with her ring. She watches the muscles in his arms flex as he grabs another plate out of the water, and she swallows, thinking about those arms holding their baby and she can’t hold the words in anymore.

“Alex, I’m pregnant,” she says in a single breath, heart racing; the dish slips out of his hands back into the water, and he turns to look at her, dark eyes wide. His lips are parted, and she can’t help the smile that bursts forth as he takes a step forward, hands still dripping wet.

“Pregnant?” he whispers, voice barely audible as she stands. “A baby? You and me?”

She nods, curls bouncing against her shoulders as she touches his cheeks, memorizing the joy that cracks his face. His hands grip her hips and she can feel the dishwater soak her shirt but she doesn’t care, just brushes her thumbs over his cheekbones as she smiles up at him. “We’re going to have a baby.”

“I didn’t think…” Alex starts and Norma shrugs, arms looping around his neck.

“We’re not that old,” she murmurs, fingers threading through his hair. “Are you happy about this, Alex? I know this isn’t what you signed up for, but-”

Alex cuts her off with his mouth on hers; it’s a hard kiss, but she can feel the love and joy that pours out of him in the embrace. She sighs, melting into him; his hand finds her hair, twining through the blonde strands, keeping her close to him as they sink into the kiss together. When they finally break for air they stay close, noses touching as his lashes brush against her cheek. “I am so happy, Norma. I told you- I’ve never been a parent. And you’re going to make me a dad? This is more than I ever thought possible. I love you.”

“I love you too,” she whispered, eyes brimming with tears that Alex kisses away before he hauls her into a tight hug, arms around her and chin on her shoulder. “I don’t want to tell the boys. Not yet. I just want it to be ours for a little while.”

Alex’s hand drops to cover her abdomen, palm warm through the fabric of her skirt, and she covers his hand with hers. “She’ll be our little secret. Just ours.”

“She?” Norma asks, amused, and Alex shrugs.

“I just have a feeling.”

_

She can’t keep the smile off her face for the next few weeks.

She passes it off on the spring weather and an influx of customers at the hotel and being a newlywed, but when she’s alone, she’s pouring through the old baby books in the attic and planning out which room to make the nursery. Norman’s room is ideal, obviously, as it connects to her and Alex’s room, but she can’t imagine her youngest son having any level of excitement over another member in the family, let alone giving up his room.

She’s pulled from her thoughts by the slamming of the front door; Norman doesn’t even acknowledge her before he barges up the stairs, mumbling angrily to himself. She frowns, standing to check on him, when she’s overcome with dizziness; she steadies herself on the table for a moment before she rushes towards the sink, heaving.

When the spell passes she straightens, wiping her mouth; she frowns at the taste of bile, rinsing her mouth out with water before she makes her way to the bathroom. She brushes her teeth, and doesn’t hear the door open over the running water; she jumps a little when Alex appears in the doorway, placing a hand over her heart.

“Sorry, I thought you heard me come in- everything okay?” his eyebrows crinkle together in worry, and she nods, giving him a small smile as she touches his arm.

“Just a little sick- it’s been happening every few afternoons. It’s normal,” she assures him, smile growing at the concern creasing his face, her free hand coming up to cup his cheek. “We’re fine, I promise.”

Alex doesn’t say anything, just crushes her to him, tucking her under his chin as his arms wrap around her, holding her securely. She sighs, sinking into him, letting her eyes slip shut as she revels in the safety winding around her. “How do you feel about pizza for dinner? I don’t really feel like cooking tonight, and Norman has been locked in his room since he got home from school.”

“I’ll call it in and head into town to pick it up- I’ll grab some ginger ale too?” he asks, a question, and she nods, pulling his head down to kiss him.

“Thank you,” she murmured, fingers stroking his face lightly. “I called Emma- she said they have a spare room we can use while we go up for our appointment, so we don’t have to deal with a hotel.”

“You’re sure Norman can watch the hotel while we go up for a few days?” Alex asks quietly, and Norma sighs, shrugging as she adjusts his lopsided collar.

“He’s going to have to be in charge for a lot more than a few days once there’s a baby in the house, Alex, so I have to believe he’ll be okay,” she answers just as soft, tilting her head up to look at him. “He…he seems better, some days, doesn’t he?”

She can’t keep the worry out of her tone, and Alex’s thumb brushes over her hip softly in comfort. “He’s been going to his appointments, but he just seems so much angrier these days, and nothing I say seems to help much.”

“He hasn’t hurt you, has he?” Alex asks at the helplessness in her tone, and she rushes to reassure him, palms flat on his chest.

“No, no, he hasn’t, I promise. He just…mostly talks to himself, and I’ve noticed he’s stopped doing his schoolwork. His teachers have called a few times to say he refuses to do work in class- just sits and stares out the window, or asks to spend time in the shop room doing god knows what,” Norma replies, chewing on her lip before she sighs, shaking her head. “It’ll be fine, Alex. Really. Let’s just have dinner and try not to worry too much, okay? You can tell me about the plans for the Memorial Day Parade the station does every year once you get back with the food.”

Alex regards her for a minute before he nods, relaxing a little. He kisses her once more, a little deeper than before and with a promise for more later, before giving her a gruff goodbye and slipping out the door, phone already to his ear. Norma sighs, sagging against the sink and rubbing at her temples, a tension headache making itself known as she took a few deep breaths.

She was still safe with her own son. Wasn’t she?

Chapter Text

“Relax,” Alex’s voice is soft in her ear, and she sighs, letting his fingers weave through hers as she rests her head against her husband’s.

“Maybe we shouldn’t have left Norman alone, maybe I just should have told him, maybe I-” she’s cut off from her nervous rambling by Alex’s mouth on hers, and she sinks into the kiss, letting him leech her worry away with his lips.

“It’s going to be fine, Norma. I promise. It’s just a weekend,” he reminds her, thumb brushing over the apple of her cheek in a small, soothing circle. “And we get to see this little girl tomorrow.”

Alex’s other hand slid down to cover her midsection, fingers spread out over the non-existent swell there, and Norma clutches him closer to her, turning to bury her face in his neck.

“I just want everything to be okay,” she whispered, fingers tightening against his skin. “I want our baby to be okay and I want Norman to be okay and I just- Alex I’m scared.”

“It’s okay to be scared,” Alex reassures her, pulling back until he can nudge her chin up gently. She looked up at him, eyes damp. “I’m scared too. We’re having a baby, and everything is going to change. I’ve- I’ve never been a dad. I don’t know how to be a dad, let alone a good one. But I’ve got you, and we’re in this together. I promise, Norma. And I won’t let anything happen to you- to either of you. Okay?”

“I love you- so much. You know that, right?” is all Norma can say in response, hands coming up to cup Alex’s face, heart in her throat. Her husband’s face creases into one of his rare, full-range smiles, lighting up his eyes, and her own lips tug into a smile before she leans forward, kissing him again until her head spun from lack of oxygen. “Come on. Emma and Dylan are waiting.”

Alex makes her sit in the passenger seat until he can come around to help her out, and she wraps her sweater tighter around her. “Stop worrying. You’re not even showing yet.”

“Emma has superpowers,” Norma mutters as she grabs her bag, glaring when Alex tries to take it from her. “I can carry my own bag, Alex.”

“Fine, fine,” Alex says, locking the car as they headed up to Emma and Dylan’s apartment. Norma fiddles with her wedding ring in the elevator, and Alex takes her hand in his as the doors open, easing her nerves.

Emma’s waiting for them, leaning against the door frame with a half-smirk on her face, eyebrow raised. “Were you afraid I’d bite? You’ve been sitting outside for twenty minutes.”

Norma flushes and Alex just laughs as the blonde embraces the younger woman, hugging her tightly. “It’s so good to see you, Emma, you look wonderful.”

“Not as good as you, Norma,” Emma tells her, giving Alex a smile over her shoulder. “Marriage suits you.”

Color floods Alex’s cheeks, and Emma smiles as she welcomes them into the apartment. It’s small but homey; pictures of Emma and Dylan hang in frames on the walls, and Norma’s heart warms at how happy her son looks in them.

“I’m sorry Dylan couldn’t be here when you guys arrived, but his shift ends in about an hour, so he’ll bring home dinner,” the brunette tells them as she shows them to the spare bedroom, on the opposite side of the apartment from where Dylan and Emma’s room was. “I’ll let you guys unpack.”

Norma thanks her before she collapses on the bed, sighing softly as Alex sets their bags down before joining her, one hand on her belly and the other under his chin, propping himself up. “Tired?”

Norma nods, eyes closed as she shifts closer to him, drawn to his warmth. “I didn’t feel sick in the car but now that we’re not moving anymore I kind of do. Can you get the dramamine from my purse? Maybe that will help.”

Alex nods, lifting from the bed to rummage through her hand bag, pulling out the blue box and popping two of the pills from the foil along with the water bottle in there, bringing them over to her. Norma sits up and takes the two small pink pills with a few sips of water, curling up with her head on the pillow as Alex sets to work unpacking their toiletries in the half-bath connected to their room.

Norma is dozing when Alex finishes, and he presses a soft, sweet kiss to her forehead. “Take a nap, baby- I’ll wake you when Dylan gets home.”

Norma merely murmurs sleepily, and Alex smiles as he pulls the blanket up over her. He leaves her to rest while he goes back out into the living room, where Emma has a series of textbooks laid out on the kitchen table and is chewing on the end of a pen. “Studying?”

Emma nods, taking the pen out of her mouth and motioning for Alex to sit in the chair across from her; he takes the seat, glancing at the books. “I’m studying to finish getting my GED, since I couldn’t finish school. Then I’m thinking about looking into one of the local community colleges in the fall.”

“That’s a great idea, Emma- I’m sure you’ll do great in whatever you choose to study,” Alex reassures her, and Emma smiles, eyes warm.

“Thanks, Sherriff,” she replies, and Alex shakes his head at her.

“Just, Alex, please. I’m off duty this weekend,” he tells her, and Emma laughs fondly, closing one of the books.

“Want some coffee, Alex?” she asks, and he nods gratefully as she stands, going to the coffee maker. “Where’s Norma?”

“She’s taking a nap- the drive wore her out,” he tells her, and Emma frowns a little as she fills a purple mug up with coffee, bringing it over to him with the sugar.

“Is she okay? Is everything okay? Dylan and I are always happy to see you guys, obviously, but Norma didn’t really give much detail as to why you guys were coming up here for the weekend, and I just want to make sure everything’s alright,” Emma says, worry crinkling her young brow, and Alex touches her wrist gently as she sits back down.

“Everything is fine, Emma, I promise,” Alex assures her, stirring sugar into his coffee. “I can’t say anything more than that, but I promise things are good. Really good.”

Emma looks at him for a moment before she breaks out into a smile, tucking her hair behind her ear. “Good. I just want Norma to be happy. She deserves it. And I can tell how happy she is now. Thanks to you.”

“I don’t think that’s all me, but thank you, Emma,” Alex replies, ducking his head a little. “I like seeing her happy. It’s all I want.”

“I think that’s all Norma needs,” Emma says after a moment, before leaning over to nudge him with the cap of her pen, lifting an eyebrow. “Someone that wants to make her happy.”

Alex brushes his thumb along the rim of his mug, unable to respond, and Emma just gives him a smile before she turns serious, folding her arms and leaning forward. “But if you hurt her, I’ll kill you myself.”

“I don’t doubt that at all,” is Alex’s only reply, an amused smirk crossing his face as Emma goes back to her work. They sit in comfortable silence until the door opens nearly an hour later, and Dylan walks in with two bags full of Chinese takeout and a smile.

“It’s good to see you, Alex,” Dylan says, shaking his hand as Alex stands to greet him; he returns the sentiment, clapping the younger man’s shoulder before the blonde leans down to greet Emma. She smiles up at him before she kisses him back, and Alex takes the time to slip away to wake Norma.

His wife is curled around the extra pillow, her cheek pressed to the fabric; her blonde hair was mused from where it pressed against the pillow, and Alex couldn’t get over how beautiful she was. He took a second to just take her in, standing in the doorway, before he moved to sit on the side of the bed Norma wasn’t spread out on.

“Norma,” Alex said softly, moving to brush her hair from her face. She snuffled sleepily, blue eyes blinking open slowly, lips curling into a soft smile.

“Hi,” she whispered, high and sweet, reaching for his hand and tugging him down until their noses were level. Alex brushed his thumb over her cheekbone, frowning slightly at her heated skin.

“Dylan’s home,” he tells her, and her smile grows as she finishes rubbing the sleep from her eyes.

“How long did I sleep?” she asks as she sits up, rubbing at the base of her neck, and Alex just watches her, leaning back against the pillows.

“A little over an hour. I helped Emma with some of her homework,” he tells her, and she leans down to kiss him, fingers on his cheek.

“You’re already dad material,” she whispers, pecking his lips once more before she stands, rubbing at her side and heading to the bathroom to freshen up. Alex is waiting for her when she comes out, and she kisses him again before they walk out into the kitchen. “Dylan!”

Norma’s arms are around her eldest son before Alex can blink, and he watches with soft affection clear on his face as she takes stock of Dylan.

“Are you eating enough? Sleeping? How’s work? Do you have enough money, everything’s going okay? Because, the motel is doing well, I can help-” Norma’s rambling is cut off by Dylan’s hands on her shoulders, his lips curled into a smile.

“Norma- Mom. Everything’s fine- it really is,” he reassures her, thumbs brushing over her shoulders. “I’m happy- we’re happy.”

“Good. That’s good. I’m glad everything is good,” Norma said, almost breathless, and Alex moves to help Dylan get the food out as Norma and Emma set the table.

“So how’s Norman?” Dylan manages to wait until their meal is nearly over to ask the question, and Norma swallows the bite of food in her mouth like its lead. Alex’s grip on his fork tightens but he stays quiet, letting Norma answer.

“He’s seeing his doctor, and taking his medication, and I…I think things are going better,” Norma answers hesitantly, and Alex’s fingers find hers under the table, squeezing gently.

“I’m sure everything is going to work out, Norma,” Emma says, leaning over until her fingers touch the older woman’s wrist reassuringly.

Norma takes a breath, smiling shakily, ducking her head for a moment before she looks up again, moving to tuck her hair behind her ear. She looks at Alex for a moment, and when he nods encouragingly, she turns back to Dylan and Emma, lips curled into a wide, bright grin.

“I…we, we have some news,” she says, looking at Alex again, unable to dampen the light that builds up inside of her as her fingers curl tighter around his. “Alex and I are having a baby.”

There’s a moment of stunned silence before Emma’s wearing a grin that matches her as she stands so she can hug Norma, long and tight. Dylan shakes Alex’s hand, his own face spilt in a smile.

“I’m so happy for you! Do you know when you’re due?” Emma asks, and Norma shakes her head, looking back at Alex.

“That’s why we’re here, actually. To see a doctor,” Norma answers, a hand unconsciously going to her stomach, and Alex’s lips are warm and soft against her temple; reassuring. “From my calculations, though, I think I’m due in less than seven months.”

“Everything’s okay though? You’re okay?” Dylan asks, concern in his voice, and Norma’s smile softens further as she nods, looking at Alex.

“I’m perfect,” she murmurs, unable to look at anything other than her husband’s deep, dark eyes, trained directly on her. “I’ve got him keeping us safe.”

Alex just looks at her, love and affection and gratitude swirling in those dark, soulful eyes of his, and she feels the heat rise in the pit of her stomach, skin flaring with it as she swallows, looking away to avoid combusting into flames on the spot. She takes a sip of her water before she yawns, a little overdramatically, but her point is made.

“It was a long drive- we can get lunch tomorrow, after our appointment? Then maybe you guys could show us around the city in the afternoon?” Alex asks, and Emma nods, beaming at them.

“Congratulations, again, you guys. I’m so happy for you both,” she says, before shooing away Norma’s hands when she tried to pick up her plate. “Leave it- Dylan and I will do them. You’re our guests.”

Norma frowns for a moment but lets it go, standing with Alex and giving Dylan a kiss on the cheek before they headed back to the guest room, shutting the door behind them with a soft click. It’s barely shut before Alex is kissing her, deep and messy and wonderful, igniting the coals of arousal in her belly until they’re a raging fire, sending liquid heat from her toes to the top of her head.

“Think you can be quiet?” he asks, sounding desperate, and she nods, dragging him back into her as they stumble to the bed.

Chapter Text

Norma wakes up slowly; it takes her a moment to understand why she feels so warm, and the next moment to realize Alex’s fingers are between her thighs. She moans, soft, and Alex’s free hand comes up to tilt her head back to meet his, mouths meeting.

A shiver runs up her spine and she breaks the kiss to pant against his mouth, eyes squeezed shut as Aex’s fingernail slid over her clit, Norma’s thighs clenching. “Alex- oh-”

“Come on, baby,” he murmured, heat in his voice as he twisted his fingers. “Let go.”

Norma’s breathing increased, soft, high little pants leaving her mouth until Alex had to cover it with his own to keep her quiet. She shivers as she comes down, moaning against his lips, and he can’t help the self-satisfied smirk his lips curl into. “Don’t be an asshole.”

“Me, an asshole? Never,” Alex deadpans, and Norma rolls her eyes, kissing his smug face again. Her hand slid down his chest to toy with the hem of his boxers, but he caught her wrist, bringing it up to press a kiss to the inside of it tenderly. “That was just for you.”

Her blue eyes softened when they met his, and she kisses him once more before he slips from the bed, letting her doze as he turns on the shower.

Emma and Dylan are both gone by the time they exit their room, and Alex makes coffee while Norma pours over some of the baby books she’d brought with her. Her stomach is queasy, but she keeps drinking the water needed for her appointment, grimacing on occasion. “God I may explode before we even get to the doctor’s at this rate.”

“How much do you have to drink?” Alex asks, genuinely curious- it still brings a flush to her cheeks that he wants to know things about her pregnancy and come to appointments and be involved. It’s worlds away from when she was pregnant with Dylan and Norman, and she can’t help but like it.

“They suggest about two full bottles- it’s so they can take a good picture when they do the sonogram,” she told him, watching as he absentmindedly picked up her hand, fingers stroking along her wrist as he listened, taking another sip of coffee. Norma’s free hand drops to her stomach; there’s no real bump there, not yet- but she likes the weight, the pressure.

“Everything’s gonna be fine, Norma,” Alex’s voice causes her to lift her head; she hadn’t even realized her shoulders had sunken. His hand came up to cup her cheek, thumb brushing along the bone- she leaned into the touch, sighing softly.

“You’re gonna be a really good dad, you know,” she murmured, looking at him with big, wet blue eyes; his lips curled into a soft half-smile before he leaned forward. He tasted like coffee, and it’s a little nauseating- but she kisses him back a little harder, sighing against his mouth.

“We’re gonna be late- let’s get a move on,” he says, kissing the tip of her nose before he stands, gathering the dishes. He sends Norma to finish her morning routine as he washes them- she’s just buttoning up her shirt when he walks into the bedroom, pulling his water-soaked shirt over his head. She raises an eyebrow, and he sighs, pulling on another t-shirt. “I had a fight with their sink.”

Norma laughs, shaking her head fondly as she applies her lipstick, watching him out of the corner of her eye. He catches her looking, and comes up to stand behind her, hands spanning her waist as she tilted her head back against his shoulder. One of his hands rested lightly over her abdomen, fingers fanning out, and her hand covered his after a moment.

Alex left a kiss on the underside of her jaw before he went into the bathroom, picking up his toothbrush- Norma watched him for a moment before she went to grab a sweater.

The diner Dylan and Emma had left the address to was a small mom-and-pop joint- they found her son and Emma in a corner booth waiting for them. Norma slid in next to Emma while Alex sat beside Dylan, who both welcomed them warmly.

“Did you both sleep well?” Emma asked, and there’s just a hint of something in her tone that causes Norma’s chest to flush a little while Alex coughs.

“Perfectly, thank you,” Norma answers just before a waitress comes over to take their order.

“So, I have to ask- were you trying?” Emma asks once they’re alone again- Alex chokes on his coffee a little and Norma’s eyes widen at the unexpected question.

“Well…no,” Norma finally answers honestly as Dylan studiously examines the laminate tabletop. “Honestly I thought I was too old.”

She smiles a little, ducking her head and tucking some loose hair behind her ear. “It’s a blessing, though, and we’re lucky.”

Alex takes her hand across the table, brushing his thumb over her knuckles; Norma looks up and beams at him, squeezing his fingers.

“Do you think it’ll be another boy?” Emma asks, swirling her straw around her orange juice, and Dylan lifts his head.

“It’d be nice to have a baby sister,” he says, and Norma’s smile is wide and tremulous this time, lifting her free hand to brush underneath her eyes quickly.

“It would be, wouldn’t it?” she replies, and Dylan nods, lips quirking up slightly in the corners as he meets her gaze.

The food arrives and they all eat quietly- Norma mostly picks at hers, still vaguely nauseous and full from the water she’s been drinking. Conversation flows easily- Emma talks about the diner she’s been working at and the psychology coursework she’d taken a particular liking to. Dylan was working at a hardware store, repairing doors and stairs for people, but there was an excellent chance he’d be moving up soon. Alex talked about the sheriff’s department, and Norma just listened, content to be with people she loved.

Alex checked his watch, then looked over at her. “We’ve gotta go, babe.”

Norma nods and stands, shifting uncomfortably. “Thank god they only ask you to do this for the first few appointments.”

Emma giggles, and scoots out of the booth to throw her arms around Norma.

“We’ll see you later. I will want the first picture of my new baby sister-in-law framed,” she tells her, causing Norma to chuckle and kiss her temple. Dylan kisses Norma’s cheek before allowing his mother to wrap him into a hug.

“It’s gonna be fine, Norma,” he tells her, hand warm on her back. “We’ll see you for dinner, alright?”

 Norma nods, and cups her son’s cheek before allowing Alex to guide her away gently, hand at her waist. She slid her fingers into his, twining them together and gripping tightly; her husband squeezed reassuredly, and Norma took a deep breath.

_

“Norma. Stop squirming,” Alex whispered, looking up from the magazine he was flipping through. He himself was agitated- he’d barely made it past the first page of the magazine, and his foot hadn’t stopped tapping. Norma could barely sit still in the seat next to him, not even bothering with the reading material offered by the office.

“I have had two full bottles of water and I have to pee, Alex, you’d squirm too!” she snapped back at him, anxiety and irritation blending together until her patience thinned to nothing. She took a breath, crossing her legs, and laid her hand over his. “I’m sorry. I’m just worried, and I have to pee, and I’m still nauseous. It’s not a great combination.”

Alex softened, setting the magazine aside and brushing her hair from her face, thumb settling on her cheek.

“I know you’re worried. I am too. I just want you and our baby to be healthy,” he tells her, and Norma leans her head into his hand, eyes sinking shut. “But I’m right here, no matter what. Okay?”

Norma sighs, turning to press her lips to his palm with her eyes remaining shut until the last of the tension left her shoulders. Alex rubbed between her shoulder blades with his free hand until they waited to be called back, keeping her as relaxed as possible. “You know, you’re better than a stress ball.”

Her husband snorts, fingers moving to rub the back of her neck lightly without saying a word.

“Norma Bates?” they both look up at the nurse’s call, and Alex follows behind Norma as the nurse guides them down a white hallway.

The nurse points Alex to a room while she does Norma’s preliminary checks; Norma settles on the table once she’s done, paper crinkling underneath her. Alex lifts an eyebrow, and Norma shrugs one shoulder.

“Everything looks good, apparently,” she tells him, and his lips quirk upwards briefly into a knowing smile. “Yeah, yeah I know.”

There’s a knock on the door, and they both look up as the door opens. A brunette in a lab coat walks in, tablet in hand.

“I’m Dr. Shaw,” she says, extending a hand to first Norma and then Alex.

“I’m Norma, this is my husband Alex,” the doctor smiles at them both, settling on the stool in the corner.

“You’re not from here, if I remember from your chart, correct?” she asks, and Norma nods.

“We’re from Washington. My eldest son lives here, we’re visiting for the weekend,” she explains, and the doctor nods along, making a note.

“So this isn’t your first child, then,” she replies, and Norma shakes her head.

“I have two sons. From previous relationships,” she clarifies, and Dr. Shaw nods, taking another note. “I just want to know everything is…alright. I’m not exactly a spring chicken, doc.”

At that, Dr. Shaw sets the tablet down, and offers a soft smile.

“From what I can see here, you’re very healthy, and even your age isn’t that large of a factor- you’re still fairly young, in terms of carrying to full term without complications. We’ll take some blood and see how your hormone levels are, and the sonogram should give us some pretty clear pictures,” she assures Norma, who blows out a breath, lilting into a small laugh. “Ready to see your baby?”

Norma nods, scooting back on the table and beckoning for Alex, who moves to stand by her head. The doctor leaves briefly to find a technician, and Norma curls her hands around Alex’s, clutching tightly. Once everything’s set up- and she’d forgotten just how uncomfortable all this was, between the paper shoved half down her pants to keep them from getting the gel on them, her shirt hiked up to just below her breasts.

“This’ll be cold,” the technician warns her moments before she squirts the blue substance onto her skin, and Norma fights back the shiver at the touch of it. She begins to wave the wand through it, spreading it over her abdomen. Norma doesn’t try to follow the screen, not yet- it’s merely a dark gray blur until the technician fiddles with a few buttons. “Alright, let’s see what we’ve got.”

She moves the wand around a bit, and then points to a brighter part of the screen.

“See that spot, right there?” she asks, and Norma nods, eyes tracing the oblong shape on the screen. “That’s your baby. About six inches long, from what I can tell- you estimated around nine weeks, correct?”

“Yeah, around nine, nearly ten from my calculations,” Norma replies, her eyes trained on the grainy image on the screen. “Everything looks okay? She looks okay?”

“Everything looks great, Mrs. Bates. Perfectly healthy and on schedule. I can’t confirm the gender though,” the technician tells her, and Norma shakes her head, flushing slightly.

“Just a feeling,” she looks up at Alex, who was staring at the screen in awe. The technician handed her a towel as she stood.

“I’ll go print some copies off for you and check with the doctor.”

Alex was the one to take the towel from her hands, tenderly wiping the gel from her skin before he rested his hand over it. Norma’s hands covered his, and she smiled up at him, cocking her head.

“She’s really in there,” he murmurs, and Norma’s smile widens. “We really- we really made her.”

“Yeah,” she whispers, sitting up slightly until she can touch his face with her fingertips. “We did.”

Alex kisses her then, hand skimming up her torso to cup her cheeks, fingertips in her hair. Norma returns the kiss with equal fervor, sighing into his mouth as her fingers curl into the collar of his shirt, tugging him closer. They break apart when they both need to breathe, each panting, their foreheads pressed together.

“I should probably button my pants back up,” Norma whispers, biting her lip against a laugh, and Alex shakes his head fondly, kissing the tip of her nose before he pulls back, helping her up off the table so she can stand and finish redressing.

The doctor gives her orders for bloodwork to be done the next day, and copies of the sonogram that Norma holds close to her chest as Alex takes them back to Dylan and Emma’s apartment. Norma fought to keep her eyes open, the time ticking closer to when she’d started falling asleep in the afternoons.

“Lie down with me. At least until I fall asleep,” Norma tugs on Alex’s hand once they shut the door behind him, pulling him down the hallway as he shook his head, lips curling upward into an amused smile.

“Fine, fine, twist my arm why don’t you,” he teases, and Norma rolls her eyes, laying down on the bed and looking up at him with a soft smile.

“C’mon, Sheriff. Don’t keep your wife waiting,” she murmurs, rolling onto her back and lifting her arms above her head.

Alex kicked the door shut behind him with a quiet laugh.