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They Say That The Road Ain't No Place To Start A Family

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Jen    136

Story Title: They Say That The Road Ain’t No Place To Start A Family

Type of story: Short/Medium Fic - Two shot

Main Characters: Aden/Nicole

BTTB rating: G

Genre: Romance (Baby!fic)

Does story include spoilers: No

Any warnings: The cuteness that comes with babies?

Summary: When Aden turns up on her doorstep, face pale, eyes red, asking her for a huge favour, she doesn’t even think about saying no.

A/N: My first story for this particular pairing and it was pretty fun.

Title comes from ‘Faithfully’ by Journey.


they say that the road ain’t no place to start a family

Part One

When Aden turns up on her doorstep, face pale, eyes red, asking her for a huge favour, she doesn’t even think about saying no.

Now she’s sitting, passing him a steaming cup of coffee, waiting for him to speak.

His brow is furrowed; eyebrows knitted close together as he silently takes the cup, clasping both his hands around the porcelain. He opens his mouth, and then thinks better of it. Nicole just waits.

“It didn’t even mean anything,” he begins.

It turns out her name is Renee (he found out later), and he met her in some seedy bar in Yabbie Creek. She’d walked in and sidled up next to him at the bar and he’d bought her a drink. It had gone on all night. It was anonymous, no names, no reasons, just two people, going glass for glass, shot for shot, until the lights dimmed and the room was spinning.

He never thought he’d see her again. Until just over eight months later when she knocked on his door at four in the afternoon with the news. She didn’t even need to say anything, he recognised her chocolate eyes, the ones that reminded him of her, and his own orbs drifted down to her hand, placed gently over a bump in her stomach. He gulped down the bile that had risen in his throat.

She wants him to make the decision, just like that. She wants him to make the choice, because she has already made hers. She’s not going to keep the baby.

“Where is she now?” Nicole asks.

“Staying at The Sands. She’s going to be there for two days,” Aden doesn’t meet her eye, just focuses on the rim of his mug. “Then she’s leaving.”

“Aden, I -”

Aden just shakes his head, letting out a final breath. Defeated.


It feels like a punch to the stomach when she sees her for the first time.

Renee opens the door to her hotel room and Nicole can already see why Aden was attracted to her. She was beautiful. Long straight dark hair, eyes to match, but there’s something missing. Her lips are thin, face drained of colour, and she doesn’t smile. Her white summer dress flutters over her round stomach when she moves out of the way, letting them come in.

“This is Nicole,” Aden says, “Nicole this is Renee.” Nicole turns her lips upwards, forcing a friendly smile. But there is nothing friendly about this scenario.

Aden and Nicole share the lounge, and wait as Renee tries to find a comfortable position on the single arm chair. She angles herself carefully, stomach protruding outwards from her small frame.

“So?” She certainly doesn’t waste any time.

Nicole glances at Aden, but he’s not even looking at her. He tugs at an invisible thread on one of the cushions, letting the question hang in the air.

“Why now?” Nicole finds herself asking. “Why not when you first found out?”

Nicole can see Renee’s eyes dart between her and Aden, trying to work out if Nicole is going to be doing all the talking. Whether there is something between them she should know about. She’s eyeing them both suspiciously, which Nicole finds ridiculous, because if anyone should be suspicious, it should be them, not her.

“I’m not here for some sort of payout, if that’s what you’re implying.”

“I wasn’t implying anything.”

Renee pauses, considering Nicole carefully.

“I was never going to keep the baby,” she begins slowly. “But I figured Aden should be allowed a say in things.”

“And this is the only way you thought you could tell him?” Nicole finds herself getting defensive, aggravated, because this girl shouldn’t be allowed to just show up and start calling the shots. Nicole can see Aden falling to pieces before her very eyes, and she’ll be damned if she’s going to sit by and do nothing. So she does what she can. She’s going to fight.

Renee huffs. “We never exchanged numbers. I certainly never thought I’d need to see him again. You’re lucky I even decided to bring you in on this. I could have given birth in some hospital and neither of you would have ever known.”

Nicole can hear the sneer in Renee’s voice. The condescending tone, and way she’s holding this over them, and it just makes her blood boil.

“Don’t pretend like you’re being the bigger person in all of this -” Nicole starts.

Aden’s voice cuts through their bicker. “So, you’d really give,” he pauses, wrapping his mind around the enormity of it all, “it - the baby, up for adoption?”

Renee looks at him. “Yes.”

Nicole just stares, trying to understand. To put herself in Renee’s shoes. A young girl, no more than a couple of years older, carrying around this little person, having this responsibility always weighing down on her shoulders (or stomach). Being not only responsible for herself, but for someone else too. Nicole doesn’t know what she would do if it were her, but what she does know for certain, is she wouldn’t be able to walk away.

“It’s a girl,” Renee says finally, “if it makes a difference.”


They don’t talk about it again, just ignore the giant elephant, or rather, giant pregnant girl in a hotel room across town, that is looming over them as the due date inches closer.

Nicole resides herself to making sure Aden keeps eating, because she can see it’s gnawing away at him from the inside out. It starts out with simple things like forgetting to meet her at the Diner for coffee, then she turns up on his doorstep at four in the afternoon and Aden is lying on the lounge still in his ratty old white t-shirt and boxer shorts. So Aden isn’t coping, really. And no matter how many times Nicole thinks about talking about Renee and the baby, she never actually says anything, because this is Aden. And if Aden doesn’t want to talk, he won’t. He just goes and sleeps with random girls. Which is, yeah, kind of why they are in this position in the first place.

So Nicole decides he should at least be eating. It’s really the only thing she has control of right now.

She takes Aden her left-over’s from dinner, watches him pick at them for a few minutes before sighing and shovelling a couple of mouthfuls in, then pushes the plate away. It’s a small victory, but Nicole will take anything right now. It beats thinking about a young woman, no more than five kilometres from where they are, calling all the shots. Controlling every aspect of both their lives.


Nicole hears her phone buzzing frantically at 9:57 pm and knows it’s time.

When she picks up she can hear Aden’s ragged breaths down the line, as though he’s just run a marathon.

“I’m coming,” is all Nicole says.

She’s sitting in the passenger seat of Aden’s car staring out the window, watching the world pass in a blur. Aden had been waiting for her when she arrived, so she’d only had to make a quick dash across the lawn and into the idling vehicle.

It’s going to take them about an hour to get to the city, and right now they are sixteen minutes into the trip and neither of them has said a word. Nicole thinks she should probably be saying something comforting, something to ease the tension, but. But she has no idea. What could she possibly say to make this somehow easier? Honestly, there isn’t anything.

The only consolation is that Renee had her obstetrician in the city, and didn’t want to give birth anywhere near Summer Bay. So, that’s why they are driving. And the only silver lining in this storm cloud is that the city is a big place and the probability that they will run into anyone they will know is very slim. The last thing Nicole or Aden (especially Aden) want is someone seeing them at the hospital and starting to ask questions.

When Aden finally pulls into the parking lot he turns off the ignition and sits there. Nicole looks across at him, hands still gripping the wheel so tight his knuckles are turning white, face drawn of all colour.

“You okay?” she finally asks. And it’s probably the dumbest thing to come out of her mouth right now. Aden is obviously not okay.

But Aden, being Aden, sighs and says, “Yeah,” before stepping out of the car.

The hospital is a blur of white wash walls, squeaking linoleum and plastic chairs. Doctors, nurses, strangers alike all rush up and down the corridors not even taking notice of Aden and Nicole. It would be really easy to slip by unnoticed, and for a moment Nicole revels in the fact that no one here knows them. No one.

It’s not too late to back out, Nicole thinks. They could slip away without anyone batting an eyelid, but Aden is now looking around at the chaos, before making a beeline for the reception desk. Nicole follows. She always will.

“Excuse me,” Aden says when he reaches the desk. The woman looks up, her dark eyes piercing, lips thin, wrinkles deep. She cocks an eyebrow and stares at Aden, waiting for him to continue. Nicole watches as he swallows, wipes his palms on his jeans and stutters out, “Uh, I’m Aden. I’m here for ... uh, Renee. I’m not really sure of her surname, she’s pregnant. Or not anymore, I don’t know. She’s meant to be ... having a ... our ... my -”

The woman holds up her hand, and Aden sort of tapers off. “You’re looking for maternity. Get in the lift, second floor. Ask at the nurse’s station.” She looks poignantly at Aden. “Think you can handle that?”

“We’ll be fine,” Nicole interjects, placing a steadying hand on Aden’s arm and steering him away.

Nicole hears Aden mutter something under her breath that sounds like “I’m pathetic”, but it’s not loud enough for her be sure. Nicole just concentrates on getting Aden in the lift and on the right floor.

All the corridors appear to look identical. White washed, highly sterile, smell of disinfectant, people constantly pushing past them with straight faces and an air of determination.

Aden seems to have gained some sort of second wind, because this time he strides up to the counter and asks after Renee.

“Are you the baby’s father?” the nurse asks.

Aden only flinches for a moment, and it’s so quick that Nicole’s not even sure it actually happened. “Yes.”

A wash of sympathy seems to come over the nurse, who says, “Renee’s still in labour, and it looks as though it could be a while.”

“We’ll wait,” Aden replies.


And so they wait.

Sitting on those uncomfortable plastic chairs, Aden is hunched over, hands clasped together, head bowed. It’s as though any confidence Aden gained between the ground and second floor has seeped out of him and into the stale air. With every minute that passes Aden seems to become paler, more sullen. Nicole is beside him, she bites nervously on the edge of her bottom lip.

People pass them by, never giving them a second glance. They could be there for any reason, and no one cares enough to ask. For that, Nicole is grateful.

“I can’t do it, Nic,” Aden says, voice hoarse and low.

“Do what?”

“Take your pick,” he says, forcing a laugh. “Any of it. All of it.” He looks over at her, and it’s only now that Nicole notices the dark circles under his eyes, the creases along his forehead that weren’t there before.

“I know it’s scary,” Nicole replies quietly, softly. “But you’re doing the right thing.”

“Am I? I don’t know the first thing about babies. Belle and I never had a chance to –”

Aden stops, but Nicole knows. Being a family, having children, was something Aden always envisioned himself doing with Belle, in the future. A few years after they were married, when they had their own house with a white picket fence and a backyard, and when they were ready. Not like this.

“I can’t even look after myself, Nic. Look at me!” He gestures to his plaid shirt that has a hole in the sleeve, and the fact that his buttons are misaligned. “What if I’m –”

“What if you’re what?”

Aden sighs, shying his face away. “What if I’m just like my father? I could never live with myself.”

Nicole can hear the break in Aden’s voice. The way he’s straining to keep it even.

“Aden,” Nicole says as she blinks back her own tears. This is the first time Aden’s really spoken about this. The first time he’s admitted his own fears, the first time he’s acknowledged Belle, or rather, her absence.

“Aden,” Nicole says again, “Look at me.” Slowly, he turns. “I know that this is big and scary and you pretty much feel like you’re drowning from the enormity of it all. But you are nothing like your dad. You are a good person, the best. You care. If you didn’t, you wouldn’t be here right now.”

Aden barely nods, just turns away again and stares at the floor.


A nurse opens the door and peers down the corridor. Aden immediately stands up, and Nicole can see the tension and panic radiating through his body. His whole body is stiff, hands pulled into fists, mouth thin and tight.

“It’s okay,” the nurse says. “You can come in now.”

Aden gives a small nod, but doesn’t move. Nicole is standing by his side, looking up, and waiting for him to take that first step.

Just when Nicole is opening her mouth, ready to coax Aden to actually move, he shuffles forward.

He’s at the door, hand on the knob ready to go in when Aden turns back, looking over his shoulder to where Nicole is still standing.

“Are you coming?” he asks.

“You go. This is your moment,” Nicole replies, voice full of sincerity.

“I don’t know, Nicole. I’m not sure I can do it without you,” Aden says, hand still resting on the doorknob.

The door swings open again, and Aden takes a surprised step back, almost tripping over his own feet. A young woman in a white coat steps out and smiles brightly up at Aden who’s trying to regain his composure.

“Are you the father?” the doctor asks.

Aden nods.

“Are you going to come in and meet your daughter?”

Aden shoots Nicole one last look, reassurance mostly. Nicole just nods in reply.

As soon as Aden steps into that hospital room he barely has time to take in the abundance of nurses, or medical equipment, or the fact that Renee is lying back in the bed with bright red cheeks, hair sticking to her forehead with perspiration, eyelids closed.

The only thing that seems to happen is that this little weight is pushed into his arms, and at first Aden thinks it’s just a bundle of pink blankets, but then he actually looks down and sees a face. With rosy red cheeks and a tuft of black hair on top of her head, his daughter is squirming in his arms.

Aden feels his breath stop, hitch in his chest as he stares in amazement. He’s holding a little person, a baby, but not just any baby, his baby.

“She looks like you.”

It takes Aden a moment to tear his eyes away and look up, but he sees Renee propped up in bed, watching him intently.

He walks towards the bed, slowly. “Do you want to -?” He’s ready to hand her over.

Renee shakes her head. “No. The nurse’s already asked me.”

“Are you sure?” Aden asks. It’s almost something he can’t comprehend. The warmth radiating from somewhere deep inside him, covering him like a blanket, engulfing him and his daughter. Like a light, he can’t seem to stop staring at her, watching as she breathes, her chest rising up and down, her heart beating against his body. It’s a feeling Aden has never felt before, and one he can’t bear to live without.

“I’m not going to change my mind, Aden,” Renee says, and she sounds tired.

There’s a faint tapping on the door and a nurse walks in. “How’s it going?” she asks in a soothing voice as she peers at the little girl Aden is holding.

Aden looks up at Renee who gives him a wry smile.

“Good,” Aden replies.

“How about I take her for a while?” the nurse says. Aden instinctively holds on just a little bit tighter. He’s only just got his daughter, why is someone trying to take her away? The nurse must sense his anxiousness. “Only to the nursery,” she clarifies. “I’ll clean her up, and give you both a break.”

Aden thinks about arguing, but the nurse seems nice and she is already reaching out and taking the baby from Aden’s arms. Almost immediately Aden feels like something is missing, like a little piece of him isn’t there anymore.

“Are you sure about this?” Aden finds himself asking.

“Yes,” Renee replies.

“Where will you go now?”

“Back to my parents, I guess. They said I could stay with them while I get things sorted out.”

Aden gives her a nod. “I’ll let you get some rest.”

For the first time Aden looks over to the clock on the wall and notices the time. 5:13 am. As he leaves the room, he instinctively looks around for Nicole. Expecting her to be sitting in those plastic chairs along the wall, waiting for him. But she’s not there. Aden’s stomach drops.


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Jen    136

Thank you for the wonderful comments Carina, Red Ranger 1, Charlene, El and Amz :).


they say that the road ain't no place to start a family

Part Two

As Aden walks into that room Nicole realises that this is it. Life as he knows it is going to change. In a big, irreversible way.

Aden is a father. And she meant what she told him. He will be the best.

It then occurs to Nicole just how unprepared they are. The fact that Aden’s job is at a bait shop, and she knows he doesn’t have savings because all his money is going into buying food and paying rent. Which he sometimes forgets to do. Even when Nicole is the landlord and sends him a text telling him when it’s due.

Nicole is re-doing high school. She doesn’t have a job, because well, she didn’t really need one. She lived rent free with Miles and he was cool as long she occasionally did the laundry and cooked dinner. It was a sweet deal. And now. Now they are on their own. They aren’t going back to Summer Bay.

Even though they haven’t spoken about it, Nicole knows. This is why they drove for an hour to the city so they could slip under the radar. Aden doesn’t want anyone back home to know. And disappearing for 24 hours and then returning home with a newborn baby is definitely going to raise suspicion. Nicole noticed that Aden had a few bags in the back of his car as they were driving. It is only now that it all makes sense. Aden knew it would come to this.

They have passed the point of no return.

The door is still closed on Renee’s room when Nicole disappears down the hall.

She stands under a street lamp in the hospital car park, the beginning of a new day creeping onto the horizon, with her phone pressed to her ear.

“I need to speak to Roman Harris.”


When Nicole returns to the hospital she gets directed to the nursery.

She taps lightly on the door and peers in, eyes following the yellow stream of light flowing through the blinds. All she sees at first is a silhouette. The outline of a body, sitting in a large chair, something small being cradled in their big, strong arms. The person looks up as the door creaks on its hinge.

“Hey,” Aden whispers softly, face illuminated in the early morning light.

“Hi,” Nicole whispers in return.

She slowly tiptoes across the room, eyes never leaving the small bundle that Aden is holding. Nicole reaches his side, peering over Aden’s shoulder at the most precious thing she has ever seen. She is sleeping soundly, her little fingers bundled into fists, perfect little nose, and pink cheeks, matched by a pink beanie on top of her head. “She’s beautiful,” Nicole says, completely breathless.

“I thought you had left,” he says, face falling slightly.

“Why would you think that?”

“Because,” Aden replies, almost sheepishly, “When I came out you were gone.”

“Right,” Nicole says with a small nod, still unable to tear her eyes away from the baby. Aden’s baby. “I just had to sort out some stuff.” Aden looks up quizzically, waiting for Nicole to elaborate. “I know you’re not going back to the Bay. So, I spoke to Roman. He’s sold the house.”

“What?” Aden asks, voice barely there.

“I told Roman to sell the house. You can use the money to settle where you want.”

“Nicole, I -” Nicole can see Aden swallow hard, eyes wandering back over his daughter’s sleeping face. “I didn’t expect you to do that.”

“I know. But I wanted to.”

“I don’t know how I would have done this without you.” Nicole tries to shrug it off, by fingering a loose thread on the baby’s hat. “I’m serious, Nic. I couldn’t have done this.”

“You would have managed.”

“No,” Aden says, a hint of sadness creeping into his tone. “I wouldn’t be doing this. I’m terrified, Nicole. But if you’re here, then I think I can - we can, can actually do it.”

Nicole finds herself using the palm of her hand to trap the tears that have trickled down her cheek. It’s been an incredibly long day, long month, but they’ve made it. Both of them.

“I need you. More than you probably realise.”

“As long as you need me, I’ll stay.” Nicole replies, voice thick with tears.

An easy silence falls over them. Baby fast asleep, Aden humming a familiar lullaby under his breath, inching over in the overly large chair so Nicole can sit next to him. Their legs are pressed up against each other, and Nicole can feel Aden’s warmth, sending a shiver down her spine.

A moment passes before Nicole says, “Does she have a name?”

Aden wrinkles his brow, “Not yet.”

“She’s your baby. You decide.”

“She’s ours.”

The way Aden says it, all warm and fond, Nicole can feel the tears beginning to spill over again. He says it like it’s the most normal thing in the world. That this is what he’s been thinking all along.

“We could name her after -”


Aden’s voice is strong, determined. He knows what Nicole is suggesting even before she finishes.

“Sorry,” he says, dropping his voice as the baby begins to squirm. He murmurs something low and soothing into her ear. “Belle was her own person, you know?”

“I understand. This is the chance for a new beginning.” Nicole pauses. “Do you have any ideas?”

“The only thing I keep thinking about is just how I felt this warmth. Like, I’d been cold for so long, that I’d almost forgotten what sunshine felt like. But then I held her, and she made me warm. She was my sunshine.” Aden seems to think for a moment.

In the distance, a bird begins to chirp. The sun is coming up.

“Sunny? ... Sonny ... Sonny .... Alison?” Aden murmurs. “Alison.”

“It’s perfect,” Nicole agrees with a smile. She reaches down and strokes a finger over Alison’s tiny hand. Alison reaches out and uses her whole hand to grab on to Nicole’s finger. Aden smiles too.

“She must already love you,” he says. “Just like I do.”

It takes Nicole a moment to realise what Aden has just said. But he’s exhausted, and she’s so tired that she doesn’t say anything. Just tucks it away as something to deal with later.


One month later

Nicole is on the cusp of sleep when Alison begins to cry. Almost immediately after she hears Aden’s footsteps padding down the hallway. It’s been the same routine every night since they brought Alison home. She cries, Aden gets up. He feeds her, changes her, comforts her. And while he doesn’t complain, Nicole knows he is exhausted. She hears him tossing and turning through the walls in the bedroom next to hers. She’s offered to help too. To get up for the 2 am feeding, share the nappy changes, take her for a walk to the park in her pram, just so Aden can sleep, have a break. But he turns her down every time.

This is why they get into their first real fight.

Nicole was sick of feeling useless, and Aden was being stubborn while Alison wouldn’t settle for her afternoon nap.

“Do you want me to take her?” Nicole offers.

“No, it’s okay. I’ve got her,” Aden replies, rocking a grizzling Alison in his arms. Nicole sighs, watching helplessly as Aden murmurs sweet words into Alison’s ear. “Come on, Sonny. Be a good baby. Go to sleep for daddy.”

“Seriously, Aden,” Nicole says. “Let me help.”

“I said, I’ve got it,” Aden snaps, raising his voice. Just that one moment of anger sets Alison off. She begins to cry at the top of her little lungs, drowning out the whistle from the boiling kettle or the burglar alarm that wails somewhere down the street. Aden shoots Nicole a weary look that says, Look what you’ve done.

“Maybe if you gave her to me and you got some rest, then both of you wouldn’t be so cranky,” Nicole thinks. It’s only that Aden is staring at her through his bloodshot eyes that Nicole realises she’s said this out loud. “Well, it’s true.”

“And what qualifies you to be the baby expert?” Aden replies coolly. He’s pacing across the floor, Alison’s cries slowly subsiding. One, two, three, turn. One, two, three, turn.

“I didn’t say I was an expert,” Nicole argues. “I just want to be able help.”

“Well, I don’t need your help,” Aden hisses.

“Fine,” Nicole huffs.

She hastily grabs her keys from the kitchen counter and heads for the front door. They’ve had these little disagreements before, when tensions are high and they’re all sleep deprived, that Nicole expects to hear Aden call after her. The pitiful, “I’m sorry,” that always comes. But it doesn’t. Nicole puts her hand on the doorknob and pulls open the wooden door and walks out.

She can still feel the anger in her body, her keys digging into the palm of her hand.

The door slams as it closes behind her. Alison begins to cry again and Nicole pretends she doesn’t care.

She ends up in a coffee shop a couple of blocks away. Nicole orders a cup of strong black coffee from a pimply boy in an apron and sits with it at a back table, letting it go cold.

A truck drives past, its exhaust pipe rattling. There’s the rush of liquid from the coffee machine, and hum from a microwave in the corner. It’s all stuff she should be used to, but it’s not Aden. And the sounds he makes when he’s holding Alison and thinks no one is listening. In the dead of night and she’s sound asleep, Nicole hears him telling her stories and whispering her sweet songs. It’s not Alison’s cry, however high-pitched and loud that tells them that she’s hungry but not sleepy. Or tired and wants her favourite pink teddy.

She thought it would be easy, walking out and not looking back. Disappearing without a trace like they did just over one month ago, with no one even bothering to look for them. But this time there is this little ache in her chest. An ache that wasn’t there before, but seems to be roughly proportionate to how much she wants to go back to Aden and Alison. Needs to go back.

Because even if she wanted to leave, she wouldn’t. Couldn’t ever leave.

Nicole’s mobile bounces along the vinyl tabletop with its vibrations, Aden’s name flashing across the screen.

It’s almost like Aden knows.

Nicole hesitates only for a second, trying to form some sort of comprehensive sentence that isn’t, “I need you like a crazy person, even though you drive me insane and I don’t think I’ve slept properly in forty nights, but I love you anyway.”

But Aden gets in the first word.

“Get some milk on the way home. We’re out,” is what he says, before hanging up.

Instantly Nicole pulls out a crinkled five dollar note from her pocket and slams it down on the table, knocking over her chair as she stands up in a rush. The adolescent worker is staring at her as she makes a bolt out of the coffee shop and sprints down the footpath towards home.


That is what it is. That is what she has. With Aden, and Alison. That is what she was missing.

Aden opens the door before she even has time to get out her key. She’s puffing and can feel her fringe sticking to her forehead, and her heart is pounding so hard that she thinks it might beat right out of her chest.

“Don’t you ever do that again, because I swear to God if you do I might just --” Aden trips over his words, looking just as dishevelled as Nicole feels. His hair looks like he’s forced his fingers through it many times, making it stick up at the back, his shirt that used to be just white has an orange stain on the shoulder that may or may not be baby vomit. “Just for that I’ve saved you the worst nappy change in the history of all babies.”

Nicole rolls her eyes and strides in, pushing past Aden and heading straight for Alison’s room. She’s making gurgling noises from her basinet. Nicole picks her up, cradling her momentarily before placing her on the changing table.

Aden doesn’t follow her, but reappears in the doorway once Nicole has wiggled Alison back into her romper. She notices he’s wearing a clean shirt. Alison seems to sense something and quietens into Nicole’s chest.

They stand there for a moment, Aden in the doorway, Nicole facing him from the centre of the room underneath the butterfly mobile hanging from the ceiling. The same one Nicole bought just after they moved in.

“I’m sorry,” Nicole says.

“What are you apologising for?” Aden replies. “I’m the one who’s been taking advantage of you this whole time.”

“What are you talking about?”

“This.” Aden gestures vaguely around the room. “Her.” His eyes flit down to the baby. “When I told you about her all those months ago I knew exactly what I’d be making you give up. I knew exactly what I was doing and I didn’t do anything to turn you away.”

“No one made me do this,” Nicole replies.

“Yeah,” Aden says, suddenly quiet. “I did. That’s why I’ve been shutting you out. I wanted to do this myself, to show you that I could, you know? That if this bubble was somehow broken that I’d be able to survive. But when you walked out Sonny wouldn’t stop crying. It’s like she knew you were gone, and we didn’t want you to be gone.”

Nicole looks down at the sleeping baby in her arms. This little person who has changed both their lives so much. She sees it now, for the very first time. Aden was feeling guilty for taking her away from her life in the Bay. He was taking it out on himself, trying to distance her from Alison so that if she wanted to leave she could.

The life they’ve created for themselves may not be perfect, may not even be real, but it’s all they’ve got. And they need to stick together.

Nicole turns and places Alison back into her basinet, she doesn’t even stir.

“Do you think we will ever be normal again?” Nicole finally asks turning back to Aden who has crept up behind her, watching his daughter.

Aden leans forward, like maybe he’s going to whisper the answer to all their problems in her ear, but then he’s parting his lips and she’s closing her eyes and Nicole can feel Aden press his lips against hers.

And, yeah, maybe they won’t be normal, but they are going to be fine.



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