Five Year Plan


sf_nicole_icon.gif sf_zachery_icon.gif

Scene Title Five Year Plan
Synopsis The Millers share a rare uninterrupted evening together and discuss their plans for the future.
Date September 20, 2020

Dorchester Towers: Miller Residence

It isn’t often that the Millers get a proper sit-down meal together, which makes this evening and this dinner a special one. Usually, they take the opportunity to get dressed up and go somewhere nice. Nicole likes the opportunity to be seen out with her husband and prove the strength of their marriage, but tonight is different. Tonight, they’re at home and just finishing up a meal she cooked from scratch.

It isn’t that eating Nicole’s cooking is anything new, of course. She’s one of those types, who dedicates one night a week to meal prep. Planning lunches, portioning them out, and popping them in the fridge or freezer to be consumed throughout the week by them both. What makes this special is that they get to eat it fresh. Together.

Even better, there’s treacle pudding. A rare treat indeed. It’s not even his birthday.

“So, this is my apology,” Nicole says after Zachery’s dug into his dessert, “for being an incredibly bitter bitch all weekend.” It surely hasn’t been lost on him, no matter how little time they actually spent together. Her responses in conversation had been terse and she’d wanted to be firmly on her own side of the bed in those short overlapping hours of rest. “I wasn’t feeling my best, and it wasn’t fair of me to take it out on you.” He may have also noted the bottle of Excedrin had been polished off and replaced with a new one. “So… I’m sorry, duckling.”

"We all have our bad days," Zachery replies, sufficiently plied with food, company and words to where he's leaned back in his chair, foregoing his usual good posture for the comfort of home.

"They don't usually last several actual days," he continues with a lopsided smirk, "but if they're followed with pudding, well…" Casual as he leaves the sentence hanging, they both know it's not just so he can deliver another spoonful of pudding into his mouth. There is something more in the way he looks Nicole's direction, eyebrows raised in idle curiosity.

Nicole lets out a single breath of laughter at her own expense. She’s anxious about something now that they’re on the final course of their meal. Reaching under the neck of the sweater she’s stolen from his wardrobe, she scratches absently at her shoulder. “I’m glad you like it. I wanted to make sure I did something special to make it up to you.”

But he’s asking a question, silently. Seeking an explanation, and he’s entitled to it. Nicole turns her head and looks deeper into their suite, with no focus on anything in particular. “I had my… IUD out on Friday.” She glances back his direction out of the corner of her eye, assessing his reaction to that bit of news.

This mouthful of pudding suddenly takes a little longer to work down.

What's left of the smirk fades to nothing, but his eyes never leave Nicole's face. "Oh," is probably not a sufficient enough answer, and because going for the pudding would be a too poorly disguised way to stall, he grabs for his glass of wine instead, and says over the rim of it, "Go on."

It’s clear that wasn’t quite (at all) the reaction she was looking for. Nicole turns back to look at him properly, brows slanted just a little too much not to betray her disappointment, but he knows well when it’s self-directed. “The election is close, and… We have the perfect window of opportunity to start… Working on our five year plan?”

She means trying to get pregnant. Her lower lip is captured between the rows of her teeth, brows knitting together with her anxiety for his next response.

"Does this mean you're actually going to try for time off?" Zachery's answer comes in a much more timely manner this time. Despite the nature of the question and the sag of his shoulders, there's something slightly warmer in his voice when he says, "I sort of figured, you know, we'd discussed a month's long vacation, but I thought, realistically, we'd have a weekend and I'd lose you to this or that—"

He gestures vaguely with his now empty glass - you know, to work - before setting it down, fingers remaining on the stem. A chuckle leaves him, slightly startled. "Sorry, kitten, I realise that sounds more like I'm chastising you for starting new projects, but I'm…"

He pauses a second too long for comfort and his hand leaves the wine glass so he can rub at the side of his neck, abandoning that last train of thought entirely to ask, "You're ready?"

Nicole clasps her hands in front of her, resting them on the table. “I mean, I’m obviously booked until the election’s over and the results are in.” That’s a given. “But after that…” She smiles faintly. “The timing here is exceptional. We can start right away. Even if we nail it on the first try,” unlikely, “I’ll be eight weeks along by the election. Not enough to take me out of the game.”

When she called it a plan, she wasn’t speaking in euphemism. “I can get through the pregnancy, the breastfeeding, and the baby can be old enough for daycare before the next election cycle. I won’t even miss a beat.” Her fingers unlace from their tight grip so she can reach for her own wine instead. “What do you think?”

A stillness comes over Zachery, a calculative narrowing of his eyes that is usually reserved for work and necessary but not necessarily pleasant matters.

He sits, frozen, until a deep inhale breaks the spell.

There isn't a lot of mathematics to be done, really. He straightens, both palms flat against the table, a thin smile short-lived before it fades into something more alert and genuine. "I may or may not have interviewed a fair amount of nannies quite a bit in advance, two of them personally recommended by my brother, though I haven't met them yet, and we may need to fly them over and house them."

He pauses, if only to crack a somewhat uncertain grin. "Does that answer your question?"

Nicole gasps and laughs with her relief. She pushes away from the table and hurries to the other side so she can grab her husband’s face and kiss him firmly. “This is going to be…” In lieu of a proper adjective, she just laughs again.

“Whatever it takes,” she insists. “We’re going to make this work for us. Because we are awesome, and there’s nothing we can’t do, right?” She dips back in to rub her nose against his with a giddy giggle.

“So!” Nicole straightens up and lets her hands fall to her sides again. “We’ll go over our schedules and figure out when we overlap time together. We can try to schedule lunches, or… Whatever.” It isn’t like her to have difficulty with articulating her thoughts, which speaks to her excitement. “As long as we can fit it in once a day, we’ll be pregnant in no time!”

It's hard not to smile in what is almost literally the face of confidence, and Zachery doesn't try to fight it, still slightly stunned in the processing of it all. But it's when she starts talking schedules that he finds enough wit about him to stand up, and to grab her face right back, palms gently on her cheeks as if holding her still will halt her thoughts a moment.

"Alright, hold on— scheduling, I…" He laughs, his train of thought equally suddenly threatening to derail completely. "'Fitting it in once a day'," he repeats, as though Nicole needs to hear the words again for reasons. "Don't get me wrong, that sounds… lovely," he says with a knowing cant of his head, "but surely normal people don't…"

He stops himself, slowly coming to a conclusion as his eyes focus on something off to the side. "We're not normal people though, are we." His smile flares up again, eye contact reestablished. "We're better."

The hands on her face do cause her to pause, blinking as he seems to try to temper her enthusiasm some. (Surely it can’t be her meticulous planning that needs curtailing here. Surely.) Her smile falls away when he seems to want to contest her notions of how to accomplish this goal of theirs.

We’re better. The light comes back to her eyes, which narrow faintly with her mirth. “Now you got it,” Nicole commends with a grin. “I was thinking Howard for a boy.” Leave it to her to have everything planned out well in advance.

Of course she does. Zachery nods firmly. "Classic, good. Pairs well with Lawrence." This is maybe a joke, given the breath of a chuckle that leaves him as his hands slide downward to Nicole's neck.

But he still watches her reaction all the same.

“Lawrence is nice,” Nicole muses. She hums happily and circles her arms around his waist. “You planning for us to be overachievers and make twins?” She smirks. After all, he is one himself. “That would be very fitting for us, wouldn’t it?” To be so good at making a baby, that they actually make two.

“We are that good,” she pronounces thoughtfully.

The mention of twins has Zachery's smile pull to one side, as if some errant memory pulls at his attention. He takes a breath and holds it, before answering as if he's a mere thought removed from a wince, "Oh, I don't know, twins?"

He lets his hands slip from her neck, letting his arms fall over her shoulders before loosely crossing behind her. With his face close to hers, he finishes his thought in a slightly lowered tone of voice— "I hear they're trouble."

Finally, he takes a step forward, proximity giving her little choice but to follow suit.

Nicole chuckles and leans in for a kiss even as he walks her a step back. “Shall we get started, Dr. Miller?” she asks with a half-lidded gaze and a lift of her brows.

"Oh no," Zachery responds dourly without pause, eyes closing in an instant so he can wrangle down the amusement he really, really doesn't want to show but fails to hold back in any capacity but laughter.

But he doesn't let go, visibly taking a moment to collect himself between this step and the next. It is with reluctance that he recalls his next few words, but with gladness that he kisses her before answering,

"Prepped and ready."

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