Title: Conceivable
Author: Elsie
Written: May 2002
Feedback: elsiel@telusplanet.net
Rating: G
Category: V
Distribution: Anywhere
Spoilers: William
Disclaimer: These characters are not mine. No infringement is intended.

Summary: William's adoptive mother reflects on how motherhood has changed her.

Acknowledgments: Thanks to Nadia for beta reading.


"Goodnight, William," I whisper before walking to the door. I turn to look at the sleeping baby in his crib once more before turning out the light. William's the best thing that ever happened to me. I never knew how much love I had to give until he came into our lives.

His parents will be here tomorrow afternoon to pick him up. I don't want to think about it just yet. I am hoping that by the time I realize that I'm just postponing the imminent, I'll know that he'll be happy back at home; maybe it will hurt less then.

On my way to Pete's room to wake him for his shift, I change my mind and head to the kitchen instead. Maybe a warm drink will help my mind relax enough for sleep. I've been thinking too much lately. I fix myself a mug of hot chocolate and sit at the table, trying to concentrate on the sound of the dog snoring by the front door, but my thoughts return to how things have changed in the past several weeks.

This isn't the first time Pete and I have gone undercover as husband and wife, but it is the first time we have had to be parents. When we drew this assignment, I was a little more than apprehensive. Having spent most of his childhood on a farm, Pete welcomed the familiar lifestyle; how I wished some of his laid-back attitude to everything would rub off on me! Being a city-girl, I couldn't fathom having to become Mrs. Van Der Kamp, farm wife. What the hell was I going to do all day?

I don't know what I expected, but it certainly wasn't this house. I suppose I had a stereotypical view of old farmhouses, so I was happy to discover that this particular house was not old, thrilled that we had running water, and ecstatic that we had a dishwasher. Pete was just glad he didn't need to find a dog-sitter this time.

Pete and I have been friends for a long time, and he knew how nervous I was about the baby. I probably complained to him about everything from knowing how to hold a baby correctly to how we would divide up diaper duty. His "we'll be fine"s and "it'll work out"s, coupled with his calm demeanor really helped ease my worries.

I spent the morning of William's arrival cleaning. It was the only way I could keep my mind off the next indeterminate number of days. Pete was working on a project he had started the night before, whittling away on the couch; he wouldn't tell me what it was, but I was just pleased to learn about my partner's hobby.

I had never known him to have any hobbies that didn't involve trucks or fish.

When Pete made a comment about my cleaning, I decided that was a good time as any to get into my role better. Gwen would worry about why a healthy baby was suddenly being given up, wouldn't she? My inquiry prompted him to abandon his painting, settling into undercover mode easily. I was surprised when Pete kissed me, but not shocked. It felt familiar and comfortable, reassuring. I didn't let myself think too much about it.

What's a kiss between two friends? It helped get my mind off the assignment.

I didn't have to pretend to be happy when the women from the adoption agency arrived. I was relieved that the baby had arrived safely and that I'd now have something to do. The time for sitting around and worrying was over; it was time to act.

Expressing my soon-to-be-mother worries wasn't as hard as I'd originally thought; I was panicking inside, wondering whether Pete and I would able to pull off this parenting gig. But when William was put into my arms and he didn't cry immediately, like I'd expected, I was able to breathe normally again.

Pete and I weren't told the specifics; it's less dangerous this way. All we know is that our orders are to keep William from harm until it is safe enough for him to go home. We both have our suspicions about who his parents might be and why he might be in danger, but we know better than to voice them.

I never thought much about being a mother. Motherhood wasn't inconceivable to me; I figured it just wasn't in my cards. I never realized how satisfying it could be until William. Now I wonder if I've missed my chance. If I hadn't been so focused on my career, if I hadn't broken my engagement to Richard, if Pete and I hadn't decided to just stay friends...

I'm tired of all the ifs in my life. Two days ago, when I walked in on Pete giving the baby a bath, I let myself imagine for a minute or two. I wished that they were really my family, that Pete was more than an ex with whom I had stayed good enough friends with to work with, and that William was ours, not somebody else's. I escaped to my bedroom and cried for all I couldn't have, damning my fears of commitment and change.

"Hey, is everything alright?" I scrambled to appear presentable at Pete's casual inquiry, avoiding turning to the door to face him. I only nodded, afraid of what my voice might give away.

I felt his weight on the bed before his hand touched my shoulder. "I feel the same way," he said. "I didn't want to love him too much, knowing we'd have to give him up..."

A fresh torrent of tears streamed down my face at his words.

Pete's arms came around me from behind. I clasped my own hands around his forearms. "I don't want to let him go," I admitted in between sobs.

"But we will because we know he's not ours to have. We love him enough to let him go when the time comes. Don't be afraid of it. You have a lot of love to give."

Pete and I spent that night in the same bed, but we haven't talked about it since. The phone call this evening from our boss signaled an end to this assignment and William's reunion with his parents. We both pretended we were relieved that we'd get to go home soon, but it was hard to act like the family we've become. I'd be holding the baby, wondering when tomorrow I'd hold him for the last time, wondering when it'll be my turn, for real, to hold my own child in my arms. I think my mind tired eventually, because I couldn't continue to contemplate every second until tomorrow changed it all. It was nice to let denial set in.

Tonight, I've decided that I'm not going to regret the past, but start acting for the future. I'm finally ready to admit that I might've been hasty when I plotted out my path a few years back.

I am rinsing my mug at the sink when footsteps behind me alert me to his presence. I turn around to see Pete in his pajamas, scratching his belly. "Can't sleep?" I ask.

"No, I just woke up suddenly and realized it was my night to watch William. I forgot to set my alarm. I'm sorry you had to do double duty. You should've gotten me up--"

I interrupt him by walking across the kitchen and kissing him lightly on the lips. "Thank-you," I say, "for being such a good friend."

From the smile on his face, I can tell that Pete is pleasantly surprised. "You're welcome," he replies, touching his fingers to his lips.

"Since you're up anyway, can we talk?" I ask, fighting to keep things casual.

There's a slight hesitation before Pete senses that I won't be saying anything he doesn't want to hear, and then he pulls out a chair from the table for me. "You got it," he says, his familiar, sincere smile reassuring me.

I sit down, ready for the conversation that will begin a new chapter for me.

The End


Author's Notes: I wrote this to make myself feel better after watching "William." It's just wishing thinking, but I'd like to pretend. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for a better explanation on the finale!

"Gwen Van Der Kamp" is my guesstimate; anyone hear something different?

Thanks for reading! Comments are welcome at

elsiel@telusplanet.net

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