A/N: Hi, everyone! I just wanted to update this little filler chapter to let you all know I'm alive lol I've gotten a few reviews asking. I'm ok! As I've mentioned, I work at a mortuary and this pandemic hasn't been easy. And well, we recently had a wave of covid hit through my mortuary and I was one of the unlucky few to become sick. I always wore my mask and practiced safe distancing and other procedures but the nasty virus still got me. I'm going on two weeks sick now but today I finally have enough energy to update a little something. I guess that's the risk of working at a mortuary haha

I can assure you I haven't abandoned these! Just a mixture of work exhaustion and then getting sick kept me from working on my writing. I hope you're all doing well. This whole year has been pretty much insane but I just want to give you all my undying thank you for your support. Many of you, if not all, have been reading my work from the very beginning so thank you!
Please stay safe out there!

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TWENTY-EIGHT

Brave Little Soul

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He stepped over the cobblestones of the main city park with the big frog-like steps of a toddler with a mission. His cobalt eyes were focused on his little red sneakers, careful not to step on certain cracks. His little face was scrunched in great concentration but his steps were still clumsy and unsure. One of his laces had become undone but he had wiggled out of his mother's grasp when she tried to tie them.

Now at the age of two, Johnny had wielded a very "I do it" personality. He seemed to be very opinionated for such a little person and his grasp of the english language wasn't up to par to express all the big feelings he was holding inside.

Alas, the boy presorvered with a bravery that left both his mothers in shock and a stubbornness that could only be blamed on Lana. They said the apple had not fallen far from the tree, but in Johnny's case, the apple was still hanging from the branch.

At one point, he stopped and looked behind him with a mischievous little smile. He reached his hand out to her, "Come Mommy!"

Lana gazed up from her muddled thoughts to the little boy in overalls that walked a few steps ahead of her. The Boston day was fresh and Lana couldn't bear to be indoors that afternoon. Lana looked at her son and exhaled the breath she had been holding; seeing him melted her anxieties. He lived life as if the world was a safe and perfect place. A part of her wished he would never lose that innocence.

She unwrapped her arms from around herself and extended her hand, taking a hold of Johnny's. His little chubby hand was always so warm and for once, non sticky but it fit so perfectly in her grasp. She tried not to think about how one day, his hand would be bigger than her own.

Lana was a stickler when it came to the boy's cleanliness and appearance, refusing to let him run wild and rampant. Wendy was a little more carefree about those things and often didn't mind if he had a stain on his shirt. Children were children in her book. They would only have that freedom for so long.

Johnny giggled and tugged Lana along, happy to be wherever she was and of course, out of the house. Lana noticed those untied laces and frowned, "I see those laces, Johnny. So much for doing it yourself, huh?"

Johnny kept tugging Lana along with those big steps of his, "Johnny do it!" He then stopped and his eyes widened along with his smile, "Das' Mama!" He pointed ahead and let go of Lana's hand to dash forward.

"Whoa!" Lana snatched the back of his overalls before he could dart off. She gazed upward to see Wendy coming towards them. She smiled and released the boy.

The toddler was off in a second, running straight to Wendy.

"Oh my goodness!" Lana heard Wendy call out as she knelt down to catch the boy in her arms before he tripped on his untied shoelaces.

Lana couldn't help to smile when she saw the two. She admitted it quietly in the safety of her own thoughts that her mind had begun to wander. She sought validation of her feelings and fears in another being that was not her lover but she would never dare to stray or be unfaithful. No matter how much that lust burned inside of her. A part of her just couldn't learn to fully forgive and forget what had transpired in the past.

"Look who finally decided to show." Lana approached her, leaning in for a kiss on the cheek. She was sure Wendy could handle something as simple as that.

Wendy seemed to almost blush as she settled Johnny on her hip. "Sorry, student parent meetings will be the end of me." She then looked to Johnny and smiled in that way she only did for him. "And how are you today?"

"Good." Johnny answered, nestling into her arms.

Lana shook her head sheepishly, "Like butter."

"Oh, what's wrong with that?" Wendy asked.

The two continued to walk through the park, "You spoil him too much."

"And you don't spoil him enough."

Lana huffed, "I spoil him just enough."

Wendy grabbed Johnny's foot, "His laces are untied." She lowered him down to the cobblestones of the path and knelt down to tie his shoe. Johnny did not put up a fight about it.

Lana, however, made a face and looked at her son as if he had betrayed her in some way. Alas, she just ran her fingers through his hair.

"Yabbit years." He pointed at his feet.

Lana laughed, "Wendy, just call them what they are. What are you even teaching him?"

Wendy stood back up and grabbed Johnny's hand, "What? It's fun to make a game out of it. It makes it easier for them to learn."

Lana sighed heavily as they continued to walk again, "Fine. But let's be a little more professional when it comes to anatomy. He shouted "weewee" in the coffee shop this morning."

Wendy tilted her head back and laughed, "Wow. Ok, so I'm guessing you'd prefer him to shout penis instead?"

Lana's cheeks grew a shade of red and she looked away, "No! I'm just saying it wouldn't hurt to pronounce things by their correct terms."

Wendy looked down at Johnny, "You hear that Johnny? You have a penis and Mommies have vaginas."

Johnny just smiled, unsure of what she was even talking about.

"Wendy!" Lana nudged her, biting back a laugh, "Are you high? Stop playing."

The two women sat on a park bench as Johnny meandered around the empty playground. It had been a good day so far and neither women had chosen to be facetious with one another. Lana just wanted a peaceful day for once.

"What do you think we'd be doing if we hadn't kept him?" Wendy broke the peaceful silence.

Lana closed her eyes and tilted her head back with a groan, "Why do you do that?"

"Do what?" Wendy asked curiously.

"You always have to ruin the moment." A small laugh escaped Lana. "Why?" She looked at Wendy.

"I'm just saying what crossed my mind." Wendy answered honestly as she kept her eyes on Johnny.

"You shouldn't obsess over that. We kept him. End of story." Lana too looked at her boy. She thought she would regret that choice but she didn't. Not even when Johnny made an expression that looked like his father.

Lana was filled with regrets but her child was not one of them.

Wendy sighed, "No, you're right. I'm sorry. I guess I just tend to overthink things."

"You do." Lana agreed with her.

Wendy suddenly felt awkward, "Are you mad?"

Lana tried to relax herself as she kept her attention on the boy, "I just wish we could forget that part of the past. No "whats" no "ifs". I just want to look forward. That's all."

Wendy placed her hand on Lana's and smiled, "Okay."

Lana returned the smile, "Okay."