Chapter Twenty-Three

September 1, 2006

General Hospital: Locker Room

“Do you have a second?”

Robin stilled in her motion of buttoning her shirt and turned to look at an apprehensive Kelly Lee. She smiled faintly. “You waited until Patrick left for the day.”

“Yeah…” Kelly shifted. “I owe you an explanation, Robin,” she said softly. “And I’m counting on your generosity to let me give it to you. You don’t have to forgive me, you don’t have to let me off the hook but I feel like I have to explain myself.”

Robin sighed, and started to sit down–which was starting to be more difficult than it used to be. In the month since the wedding, her little bump had grown and suddenly Robin found many things just a little harder–sitting, standing, lying down. And the finish line was still a distant spot on the horizon.

Kelly held out a hand and Robin gripped it gratefully. “Four months to go and I feel like a house,” Robin sighed. “Why is that?”

“You have a very petite frame,” Kelly remarked. “Any extra weight is going to feel like a ton.” She cleared her throat. “I should start by telling you that my mother died of AIDs.”

Robin’s head snapped up and her eyes filled with sorrow. “Kelly…I am so sorry–”

“She’s been gone for ten years,” Kelly continued, looking away. “I’ve mostly–I’ve mostly come to terms with it. She received it through a blood transfusion before they knew to test the blood. She lived with it for a full decade and well…you actually remind me a lot of her. Courage, grace–not letting it rule your life.”

Robin nodded. “Thank you, I guess.”

Kelly sat down and stared at the ground. “About five years before she died, in 1991, she became pregnant. And despite the doctor’s advice to terminate the pregnancy, she went through with it. I thought–I was sure it would be okay because something like that–” her eyes filled with tears. “Something like that could never happen twice.”

“Kelly…” Robin murmured.

“My brother was born with AIDs,” Kelly continued in a hushed voice. “And for a while, we thought he might still live a full life, like my mother. He was a really sweet boy. Always smiling, always laughing.” She wiped her eyes. “But his body couldn’t fight it and he died when he was four. My mother was devastated and she just…” she sighed. “She lost the will to go on. She died a year later and by the time I was nineteen years old, I was completely alone in the world.”

“Kelly…” Robin reached out and took her hand. “I am so unbelievably sorry for your loss–”

“In the years I’ve been practicing, you were my first patient with HIV, so I panicked.” Kelly swallowed. “I didn’t think I could–I really value you and Patrick, as friends. And I didn’t think I could sit and watch history repeat itself. Even though I know the odds are your baby will be completely healthy, that research has come a long way in the last fifteen years. But I’m sorry and I hope you can forgive me–”

“There’s nothing to forgive,” Robin said softly. “I wake up every morning terrified that I’m going to pass this disease on to my child. But with the advances that have been made, it would have been wrong not to take the risk, take the chance.” Her lips curved into a smile. “This baby was conceived against the odds–a one night occurrence with all the protection in the world. I have to believe that it happened for a reason.”

“I really appreciate you being so nice about this–” Kelly started but the door flew open and Patrick strode in.

“Robin, you’d better be ready go–” he stopped at the sight of Kelly sitting next to his wife and took in the tears in her eyes. “What did you say to her?” he demanded.

“Whoa–” Robin started the laborious process of standing and without thinking about it, Patrick held out his hand to pull her to her feet. “Patrick, Kelly and I were just clearing the air–”

“I thought I told you to stay away,” Patrick began but Robin pinched his arm. “Ow!” he yelped. “What was that for?”

“It’s very sweet that you want to protect me from everything but please believe me when I say that Kelly wasn’t bothering me.”

“Then what she doing here?” Patrick demanded. “What could she possibly have to say–”

“I should just go,” Kelly said awkwardly. “Thank you again, Robin, for accepting my apology. Please–feel free to tell Patrick what I said. Though I don’t blame him for disliking me.”

“You’re damn right!” Patrick called after her as she scurried from the room. “Robin–”

“Patrick, you cannot attack first and ask questions three months later,” Robin rolled her eyes. “You jumped all over those poor nurses last week–”

“They were talking about Liz again and then they said that thing about you–” Patrick shook his head. “I’m not going to let people talk about you like that. You should just accept it.”

“Mmm-hmm, but you have to accept that this is a hospital. It’s life, death and gossip and everything we do is grist for the rumor mill, okay?” Robin gripped the lapels of his jacket and tugged his face down so she could kiss, unable to make it to the tips of her toes anymore. “Now, I thought we agreed that I was still allowed to drive myself home for at least another six weeks. What are you doing back here?”

“Are you going to tell me what Kelly Lee said to you?” Patrick demanded.

“Yes,” Robin said, glaring at him. “What are you doing back here?” she repeated.

“I got a call from the realtor on my way home.” Patrick reached into her locker and retrieved her jacket and purse. “She took me to see a house.”

Robin arched her eyebrows. “I thought we were waiting until after Maddie was born to discuss moving. The realtor was just supposed to get our requirements and wait for us to contact her.”

“Yes, but she found a place that fits all of our requirements but it might go fast so she wanted to give us first dibs.” Patrick bounced on his heels. “So I took a look at it and it’s perfect.”

“We can’t move now,” Robin said, torn between being horrified at the idea of packing up her entire life to move and wanting to bring her daughter home for the first time to her own room in her own house.

“No, we can’t,” Patrick said, “because if you think you’d be doing any of the actual moving, you’re insane. But I can take care of it–”

“You have a busy surgical schedule,” Robin pointed out. “You’ve got one scheduled every week until the baby is born–”

“How hard is it to move from an apartment to a house?” Patrick asked. “We don’t have a lot of furniture and most of our stuff is still in boxes because you never unpacked and I never got my things from storage, so really–this makes sense.”

Robin sighed. He looked excited about it and they had been planning on starting a search after the baby was born anyway. How much harm could it be to at least humor him and go see the house? Chances were it wouldn’t have everything she wanted and she’d be able to talk him out of it.

Twenty-five minutes later, standing in front of the house located at 213 Gardena Court, she fell in love for the fourth time in her life. A two story brick home with flowers decorating the front lawn, ivy crawling up the outside walls, a two car garage and driveway-not to mention the large backyard that she could glimpse even from the front walk.

And a little white picket fence enclosed the front lawn.

“The inside can’t possibly be this perfect,” she murmured. She eyed Patrick suspiciously. “It is, isn’t?”

Patrick nodded and then gestured towards the left. “The elementary school is two blocks in that direction and the hospital six blocks in the opposite direction and, of course–”

“Uncle Mac’s house is three blocks over,” Robin murmured. “How many bedrooms?”

“Three,” Patrick answered. He took her elbow and dangled the key in front of her. “Wanna go see?”

She sighed reluctantly–every woman wanted to spend their final trimester moving, after all. But she agreed and followed him inside, where her suspicions were proved to be correct. The inside was just as perfect. Three bedrooms, two full baths. A large kitchen and adjoining dining room, a front living room and a back room that could be used for anything. And the sparkling water of the lake was visible from the back deck.

“I can see why the realtor thought this place would go quick,” Robin mused. She hesitated. “It is perfect but I’m not sure if we really want to move right now–”

“Look, all we’d really need set up is our bedroom, a table in the kitchen, a couch, a television and of course, the nursery. We can do that in a day,” Patrick insisted. “Well, not we, but I’m sure your uncle and your father would pitch in. And your cousin’s husband. And Liz can probably rope her brother into it, if we need him. And just think–we could bring Maddie home to her own room, instead of a bassinet in our room. I could probably convince Liz to paint fairies or whatever you want on the walls.”

Robin bit her lip. When he put it that way, it did seem like a good idea and she really did want to be settled when Maddie came. “I guess you’d better call the realtor and put a bid in,” she finally said.

Kelly’s: Courtyard

Later, after securing a promise from the house’s owners to have first dibs (they were an elderly couple who were moving to Arizona to be closer to their grandchildren and of course, were suckers for the newlywed pregnant couple who wanted their house), Robin had a craving for Ruby’s chili, so she talked Patrick into taking her to Kelly’s. Not that Patrick required much persuading these days. She only had to make a vague comment about something she might want and it would appear within hours or days of her saying so.

She’d wanted a jar of chunky peanut butter in the middle of the night last week, and instead of pointing out they had the smooth kind in the kitchen like any other sane man, Patrick had put on his shoes and gone to an all night convenience store for her chunky peanut butter.

So, all Robin had to do was merely mention that she was interested in chili and Patrick had made a u-turn and headed for the diner.

Elizabeth and her brother Steven were having dinner there with her toddler, Cameron. She waved them over when they entered the courtyard. “We didn’t order yet, come join us.”

Once, they were all seated and ordered, Elizabeth glanced at Patrick hesitantly before asking, “So, Kelly Lee was looking for you earlier. Did she find you?”

Patrick scowled. “You knew Kelly was looking for Robin and didn’t inform me? Listen, Webber, we’re going to need to discuss the ground rules again–”

“Oh, put a sock in it.” Elizabeth rolled her eyes. “I refused until Kelly told me what she was going to say to you and that changed everything.”

“Oh, so you know.” Robin nodded. “She did find me, thanks. And we worked everything out.” She briefly filled them in on Kelly’s past. “So, I can’t really blame her for a knee-jerk reaction.”

“It’s unfortunate,” Steven sighed. “The advances that have been made are incredible, but every once in a while, you’re reminded of where we’re coming from. I can’t imagine would it be like to go through something like that.”

“But Robin and Patrick don’t have to worry about it, right?” Elizabeth asked, her eyes dark with concern. “Your tests are all still normal, right?”

“My last round of tests show that my viral load is still at pre-pregnancy level,” Robin nodded. “So barring any complications, it should be okay.” She took a deep breath. “But there are no guarantees, Liz.”

“And I refuse to make them any promises,” Steven told his sister. “But we’re doing everything we can.”

“Good.” Elizabeth nodded and grinned. “Hey, just think–Cameron and Maddie could end up together one day.”

Robin laughed. “Oh, that would be great. I’ve been thinking about that lately–all the kids that are going to be in her generation. Molly Lansing and Skye’s having a baby–she’s due soon actually. And of course, Jax’s son, John. But it would be fabulous if Cam and Maddie–”

“Whoa, whoa, I think it’s a little early to be marrying my kid off,” Patrick remarked. “In fact, Maddie’s not going to be thinking about marriage until she’s at least thirty-five. Or boys for that matter.”

“I hear you,” Steven said sympathetically. “I don’t have any daughters but I know that they’re not getting within five feet of the opposite sex. It’s going to be all girl Swiss boarding schools.”

“You got any pamphlets?” Patrick asked, half-serious. Robin whacked his arm. “I’m just looking out for our daughter’s best interests, Robin.”

“Idiot,” she rolled her eyes. She turned her attention back to Elizabeth. “So, Patrick and I just put in a bid on a house–he talked me into it, but it’s really incredible.” She gave them a brief description of the house and Elizabeth clapped her hands to together in excitement.

“You have to let me paint the nursery,” she said. “I haven’t painted much since Cam was born and I miss it so much. Please, please let me paint it.”

“Oh, Patrick already volunteered you,” Robin informed her friend. “But, of course. How could I turn that down?”

“Fabulous,” Elizabeth sat back, satisfied with the turn of events. “I just have to get my brother married off and my matchmaking work is done for the year.” She turned a speculative gaze on her resigned brother. “Brunettes or redheads?”

Steven frowned. “Whatever happened to blo–” He stopped talking abruptly when Patrick shook his head.

“We don’t acknowledge that hair color in her presence anymore,” Patrick informed the other man. “As far as we’re concerned, it doesn’t exist.”

“Right,” Steven drawled. “Redheads, then. But I make my own choices, Bit, don’t think you can mess with me on this.”

“Hey, I am excellent at this,” Elizabeth sniffed. “I managed to get them back together, didn’t I?” she waved a hand at Robin and Patrick. “I mean, sure they’ll say they did it on their own–”

“No, I’ll admit that you saved me from a lot of irritation by pointing out the stuff I was saying to Robin that, you know, sucked,” Patrick told her. “I don’t know if I’d give you all the credit–”

“Well, I would,” Elizabeth nodded firmly. “I also was instrumental in Nikolas and Emily getting back together this time. I’m very good at pairing up other people.” She frowned. “I’m just not having the same success with myself. But I’m working on that too.”

Steven and Patrick both frowned at this. “What are you talking about?” Patrick demanded and Steven said, “I thought we talked about you not hanging out with Jason Morgan. He threatened to kill me once.”

“Me, too,” Patrick nodded. “What’d you do?”

“Tried to date Carly. You?”

“Hit on his fiancee.”

“Repeatedly,” Robin muttered, glaring at him.

Patrick held up his hand in mock protest. “Hey, that was before you started to give me the time of day. I had to pass the time somehow.”

“Anyway, I thought we talked about how I’m not eight and you don’t pick my friends,” Elizabeth said, picking up the thread of the earlier conversation. “And we’re just friends. He’s still hung up on Sam McCall.”

“Damn right,” Steven nodded. “No little sister of mine is going to date that…that.”

Elizabeth arched an eyebrow. “I’ll have you know that I have been there and done that.”

“Me, too,” Robin nodded. “Twice, in fact.”

Steven shook his head, slightly disgusted. “There’s just no accounting for taste.” He met Patrick’s eyes over the table “Be glad you’re an only child. Sisters are more trouble than they’re worth.”

“So are brothers,” Elizabeth replied, whacking him in the arm.

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