A/N: Long overdue but as promised!

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TWENTY-SEVEN

How Soon is Now

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It was early morning and dawn's light was breaking through the window blinds. The morning light relaxed Lana as her heart gently slowed down from another feverish dream. Trauma. It was such a strange word to her but alas, she endured. She was the first to wake that morning, or so she believed. The house was silent, Johnny was usually yelling to be taken out of his crib around that time but Lana didn't hear him.

Lana looked from the clock on her nightstand, eyes gently brushing over the portrait of Wendy that was now half covered by a picture of Johnny. She shifted her head and landed her eyes on the all too familiar ceiling. She could feel Wendy's arm wrapped around her waist and hear the soft, faint sound of her steady breathing. Lana's heartbeat slowly returned to normal and she felt comforted by Wendy's presence. It was the familiar things that Lana found comfort in like the familiar patterns of the ceiling in her bedroom, the sound of Wendy's breathing and the scent of their fresh, clean sheets. It all grounded Lana, easing her fears and assuring her that she was not back in that basement.

Lana slowly untangled herself from Wendy's arms and slowly sat up. She looked over to her side of the room where one suitcase remained unpacked. The drive back home from their trip had felt like a long one and Johnny's irritable attitude had made it feel even longer. Lana couldn't even blame the little boy for his two year molars had begun to show themselves and she didn't doubt that they were causing him some discomfort. Childhood growing pains had been a burden on everyone.

Lana felt the strongest urge to see her boy and quietly stood from the bed as to not wake Wendy. She wanted that moment just to herself. Lana left their bedroom and wandered out into the hall. She stopped outside his door and listened. Johnny was awake and softly babbling to himself. Lana softly pushed open the door to find him in his crib with a stuffed cat in his hand. He was talking gibberish to it softly while he poked at it here and there with his little finger. His soft chocolate brown hair was cowlicked and his eyes were puffy from post sleep bliss. He always looked so sweet in the mornings; as fresh as a little daisy growing in the spring.

Lana stood there for a moment, remembering the day Johnny was born that very same day two years prior. She stood there in disbelief that two years had flown them by, that it had only been two simple little years since he arrived into her life, changing it for the better. She had accepted that. Lana felt herself smiling at the boy, not wanting to think of where he would be if she had given him up that very same day.

She tried not to let the guilt eat her alive but those ugly words always came back to her. She knew she couldn't take them back but at least she knew she had been mistaken.

"Good morning." Lana spoke softly to him.

Johnny looked up from the stuffed cat and smiled immediately when his gaze fell upon his mother. His face lit up like a shooting star; he dropped the cat and stood to his feet, pointing at Lana, "Muhme!"

Lana lifted him from the crib with a small groan, "Oh, heavy boy." She held him tight, "Aren't we in a good mood today?"

Johnny hugged her and giggled, utterly happy to simply be in her arms. It truly amazed Lana; the unconditional love was so strong from such a little person still so new to the world. It felt like some kind of dream. Johnny babbled a few words while Lana rubbed his back.

"Happy Birthday, my boy." She kissed his temple.

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Johnny sat in his high chair dressed in a nice oatmeal colored henley shirt with dark gray shorts and suspenders. He wore white socks that went up his little legs and stopped right before his knees and a nice pair of new loafers. A little pointed red party hat was placed neatly on his head with the string secured around his chin. He tugged at the stretchy string, unsure about the party hat his mothers had put on him.

"Johnny, sweetheart, look this way." Wendy called to him as she pointed the camera in his direction and took a picture.

Johnny frowned when the camera's flash went off and shook his head, squirming in his seat.

"Oh, Johnny, please don't fuss." Wendy sighed, attempting to take another picture. "You don't want to be crying in all your birthday pictures, do you?"

"No!"

She and Lana had decorated the house with birthday decorations, colorful streamers and balloons in honor of Johnny's second birthday. The radio played doo-wop and the house felt the joy of celebration even though it was just the two women and the little boy enjoying the day. And if they were being completely honest, it was all they needed.

"Well, it is his party. He can technically cry if he wants to." Lana joked when she entered the kitchen. She had blown up another balloon and bounced it off to the side with the others by the kitchen table.

Wendy scoffed at Lana's little joke, "Yes, well, our Johnny here hasn't left with Judy just yet."

Johnny looked down to the balloons and pointed at them, "Loon! Loon!"

"Bah-loon. Can you say bah-loon?" Wendy asked him as she began to fuss over him, fixing the party hat on his head.

Johnny turned his blue eyes her way and stuck a finger in his mouth, stubborn to speak. He then turned his attention to Lana as she approached him and raised his little arms to be picked up. Lana obliged and sat him on her hip, "Oh, Johnny Boy. Is Mama Wendy being pushy again?" She asked him with a sweet smile that only shone when she looked at him.

"Lana, you ass." Wendy chuckled as she lifted the camera again and snapped a picture of Lana and Johnny together, "We have to encourage him to use his words more often."

Lana sighed as her face filled with concern, "I know that. You don't need to tell me." She was growing tired of Wendy repeating the same things over and over.

"I'm just saying."

Lana closed her eyes and exhaled the breath she had been holding in order not to snap at Wendy. She tried to remember that Wendy was the boy's mother too but Lana wished she'd let her do things her way once in a while. "The doctor said all in good time."

Wendy turned to tend to their lunch. "I'm just concerned is all. We know nothing of his fath-"

"Excuse me?" Lana held Johnny protectively against her. "What were you about to say?"

Wendy whipped around, "Oh, God, Lana. I didn't- I wasn't trying-" She stopped herself and cleared her throat. "I'm sorry. It was not my intention." She knew how the mention of that man sent Lana in a rage. According to Lana, her child had no father. Oliver Thredson was not to be mentioned whatsoever.

Lana frowned at her. "Johnny only has us both. No one else." She turned on her feet and went to the living room with Johnny in her arms. The little boy turned his head to look at Wendy, worried by the sudden shift in mood.

Wendy followed after her, "Lana-"

Lana sat Johnny down on his blanket and handed him a toy ball. "Don't throw it." She warned him gently with a soft smile.

Johnny grabbed the ball and flashed Lana that mischievous smile of his. He looked in the direction of the fireplace and tossed the ball. Lana sighed, "Johnny."

"Babe, hey." Wendy reached for Lana's wrist and stood her back up, taking a hold of her hands, "I'm sorry, okay?" She leaned in and kissed her cheek, "I'm so sorry." She kissed her lips next.

Lana looked into Wendy's eyes. She knew it wasn't Wendy's intention to hurt her by mentioning Thredson. Lana knew Wendy just didn't understand. She wasn't the one tied up in his basement. Alas, she forced a smile, not wanting to ruin Johnny's birthday. "It's fine. Let's just enjoy the rest of his day."

Lana and Wendy looked down to Johnny who had crawled over to the second bottom shelf of the bookcase and was pulling down a couple of books. Lana frowned and Wendy smiled sheepishly. "I mean, it is his party, isn't it?"

Lana went to fetch him, "Oh, you little monkey. Come here."

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There was something heartwarming about singing "Happy Birthday" to a child as he sat with his birthday cake in front of him and an impish smile on his precious face. He looked at the women who loved him and called him their own with brilliant blues and clapped when they finished singing to him.

"Blow out the candles!" Wendy exclaimed as she lifted the camera to snap another photo.

Johnny raised his hand, about to bring it down upon the cake with a heavy smack but was stopped by Lana. "Easy there, Tiger. Let's not burn ourselves." Lana helped him blow out the candles.

"Good job, Johnny!" Wendy clapped. "Eager one, isn't he?" She asked, setting the camera aside on the kitchen table.

"He's got moxie." Lana plucked the candles and set them aside, "Don't you, sweetheart? A tough cookie just like his mother."

Johnny just babbled something as he began to poke at his cake and stick a wad of icing into his mouth. Wendy just smiled proudly at Lana. It was hard to believe that just two years ago she was denying the very child she would now kill for. "That's very true."

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There was something about being back at work that put Lana's mind at ease. The busy pace of the News office settled Lana's anxiety and kept her mind busy. It was truly Godsent and being around other adults was a nice change of pace. That afternoon, half of the office was gone for lunch. The majority of the reporters flushed to the streets to visit the usual spots scattered on their street or in the general area. Lana was usually one to leave for lunch but on that day, she was sitting at her desk ferociously jotting down a couple of notes for her following story.

She had come to an impasse in her thoughts when someone caught her attention. Lana's chestnut eyes gazed up when they caught the blonde haired young woman walking across the room with some manila folders secured in arms. Lana watched as she strutted by in heels and a black pencil skirt. She walked over to Jeffrey, a new intern and placed one of the manila folders on his desk. He looked up at her and thanked her with a smile.

Lana caught herself staring at Rachel, Lou's assistant, and looked back down to her notes. She had lost her train of thought and was just about to catch the reigns once more when she heard the all too familiar sweet voice.

"Ms. Winters, no lunch today?"

Lana looked up and did a double take to see Rachel standing by her desk with those manila folders to her chest and a friendly smile on that pretty face of hers. Lana had never seen eyes so green on a person before. She cleared her throat and bit her bottom lip as she smiled, "No, not today, unfortunately." She had come to be a bit familiar with Lou's assistant since they worked in the same vicinity but their conversations were limited to say the least. Alas, Rachel had always been friendly.

"You must be busy then." Rachel's eyes fell upon the work on Lana's table.

Lana sighed softly, looking at the mess of papers. She was a bit embarrassed to say the least, "I'm afraid so."

Rachel smiled softly and hugged the manila folders, "I'll be stepping out to fetch Lou his lunch if you'd like me to get something for you as well?"

Lana was a bit taken back by her offer. She didn't know how such a sweet person had remained alive in a workplace filled with such sleuths and sharks. "That's very kind of you, Ms. Rachel but I'm alright. Thank you for the offer, it's much appreciated."

Rachel gave her a friendly smile, "Maybe next time."

Lana nodded and watched as Rachel walked away to set the folders on her desk and collect her purse to head out for Lou's lunch. Lana bit her bottom lip in thought. There was just something about Rachel that she couldn't quite pinpoint.