The cheer championship went so well to bring cheerleaders and zombies together. It was like they could actually coexist and be happy with one another. Then Zombietown hosted the Block Party and even the adults of Seabrook were partaking in the integration.
"You guys go ahead home! I'll come home later after I help clean up!" Addison assured them with a smile. Missy and Dale nod their agreement, though hesitantly, before leaving Zombietown to head back home.
After they are done cleaning up the streets of Zombietown and the group of zombies starts to slim as curfew approaches, Zed gives Addison as smile before leading her away to the Zombie Light Garden. Her favorite place.
He had paper flowers decorating the walls and hanging from the ceiling, a blanket and pillows in the midst of the soft glow of the lights.
"Oh Zed." She gasped, he came up behind her and wrapped his arms around her waist while resting his head on her shoulders, kissing her neck gently. Their first time was beautiful and filled with love and passion.
It's been almost a month since then. And this is the third day that Addison's missed school. Zed was really worried. She kept telling him she had a stomach bug or something.
"Is that was normal for a human? To be puking for 3 days?" He asked Eliza, she looked it up online and furrowed her brows in concern.
"No. It says a stomach bug should only last 24 hours." Eliza told him with a worried look. Zed was really hoping for the opposite answer.
"Maybe, you should go check on her. I mean, I think it might be serious." Eliza suggested. Zed nodded in agreement, then zoned out for the rest of the school. Too worried about his girlfriend to focus on anything as mind numbing as algebra.
Zed walked to Addison's house after school. His backpack slung over his shoulder and a small bouquet of colorful flowers he grabbed from a shop on the way. He ran up the porch steps two at a time and knocked on the door with a cheerful pattern. After anxiously rocking back and forth for a few moments, her mother Missy opened the door, her lip curled in disgust. Zed was confused by this greeting but offered a smile anyways.
"Hello Mayor! Is Addison, uh, here?" He mentally kicked himself for the stupid question.
"Of course she's here. She's been home sick for days, because of you." She sneered in reply. Zed's smile dropped.
"I'm sorry, what?" He asked for clarification as to how he had gotten her sick. What in the world was she talking about?
"Oh she hasn't told you?" She gave him a mocking shocked look.
"Told me what exactly?" He asked, his tone become more irritated by the second. She scowled then stepped back to let him in.
"She's up in her room." Missy said coldly. Zed was so confused but he wasn't going to refuse the chance to check on Addison.
"Thanks." He said flatly, sliding past her and hurrying up the stairs. He could hear her crying from the hallway.
"Addy?" He called as he pushed the door open. She wasn't in her bed. He heard her sniffle.
"Z-Zed?" She asked from the bathroom. He rushed across the room to the attached bathroom and found her sitting on the floor in front of the toilet. She was wiping her eyes of her fresh tears and she looked exhausted.
"Addy!" He exclaimed. He ran to kneel beside her, discarding the flowers to cup her cheeks.
"What are you doing here?" She asked, reaching up to put a hand over his. She closed her eyes and inhaled a shaky breath just from his comforting presence. She's missed him so much these past few days.
"I came to check on you since I've barely been able to even talk to you in three days. Are you ok? Can I get you anything?" He frantically asked. Addison nodded and sadly giggled.
"No, I'm fine, really." She answered, smiling up sadly at him. "You being here is exactly what I needed." He gave her a worried look but then tried to smile like nothing was wrong. He reached over and grabbed the discarded flowers.
"I brought you something to feel better!" He said, offering them to her.
"They're beautiful. Thank you." She smiled as she took the flowers and gently petted the petals affectionately, then looked back up at Zed was her sad expression returning. She took his hand and stood off the bathroom floor, he did the same.
"We need to talk." She said, leading him into the bedroom. She sat the flowers on her desk before sitting them both on the edge of her bed.
"What's going on? Your mom was saying some weird things about me making you sick when I got here." Addison looked like she was a kicked puppy after he said that.
"Zed, I-I didn't want to tell you like this." She said, grabbing his hand as she looked him in the eyes. "I'm- I'm-" She stuttered, scared to say the word out loud to him. "pregnant." She finally said, waiting anxiously for his reaction. Fearful that he would reject her and the baby. It wasn't a second later that he pulled her back against him.
"Oh my Z, Addison! This is great!" He enthused happily. He pulled her back to look at her, a big smile plastered on his face. Her face shifts to match as another wave of tears hit her.
"You mean it?" She asked. Zed placed his hand against her stomach gently.
"Yeah! This is amazing Baby!" He said with glistening eyes.
"Oh Zed!" She smiled, placing a hand over his on her belly where their baby was growing. She leaned up and pecked his lips then place her forehead against his. "I was so scared. My parents said you'd abandon me." Her teary eyes leaking a few strays down her cheeks. Zed pulled back and looked at her in astonishment.
"Abandon you?! How in the world could I abandon you? I love you too much Addy! I want to be with you forever!" He told her sincerely, cradling her face in his hands and wiping her tears away with his thumbs.
"I love you too Zed!" She agreed happily. Zed grinned from ear to ear, hugging her again. Then a sudden thought struck him.
"Are you feeling sick? Do I need go get you something? Any thing you need! Just tell me!" He said frantic like when he first got there. She shook her head and smiled.
"I think I was more sick with worry about telling you than morning sickness." She admitted.
"So how'd you figure it out?" Zed asked.
"After I hadn't gotten better in two days, my parents made s doctors appointment for me this morning." Her eyes saddened and turned to the floor. "They were so upset." She looked up at him again with new tears. "They're saying I won't be allowed to see you." Zed scooted closer to her on the bed and wrapped his arms around her.
"They won't be able to keep me away from you, Addy. I'll stay by your side for as long as I live." He assured her. She smiled and snuggled into his chest.
"Yeah." She whispered softly. Maybe her parents were cooling off about the whole thing since they even let him in to see her. Or maybe they just figured he had the right to know of his child before ripping her away from him. Addison frowned and hugged tighter to Zed. She wouldn't let them. She would fight to stay by his side. For them. And for their unborn child.
6 months. It's been 6 months since she's seen Zed. It was horrible. Her parents had gotten a restraining order placed against him. He wasn't allowed within a 100 yards of their house. They pulled her out of school to homeschool her so she wouldn't see him there either. Addison was miserable. Not only was she 7 months pregnant and felt like a cow, but basically kept prisoners by her parents.
Bree and Bucky were allowed to come visit her but no zombies were allowed past the front door. Eliza and Bonzo had tried to stop by to give her some gifts for the baby but her parents just took the gifts for her and sent them away, not even letting her accept them herself to thank them.
She smiled at the memory of opening those little boxes. One was a mobile Bonzo made with pretty paper flowers dangling from the spray painted hanger. The other was extra special from Eliza. It was an old walkie talkie that had a note from Zed with it.
'No matter how much they try, I will never be too far away. Love always, Zed.'
Eliza had synced the frequency of the walkie with Zed's Z-band so she could call him whenever she needed to. And she did. Like every night. He didn't mind, just glad to hear her voice.
Addison's smile faded as she sighed. But she missed seeing him.
"Addison!" Her mother called from the bottom of the stairs. Addy rolled her eyes but made her way to the kitchen where she was waiting. To Addison's surprise, Bree was there as well, talking nicely to her mother.
"Hey Addy!" Bree greeted as soon as she saw her, rushing up to hug her best friend.
"Hi Bree!" Addison said enthusiastically. "What are you doing here?" She asked curiously. Bree gave her a subtle wink before explaining.
"I was talking to your mom and thought you might need some fresh air! I wanna take you shopping!" Bree said excitedly. Addison smiled wide. It's been months since she went shopping and she was growing out of all her clothes already. But she also had a feeling Bree had something else amazing up her sleeve.
Missy smiled at how happy her daughter looked. She hadn't seen her smile this much in many months.
"Go have some fun with your friend Honey!" Missy said encouragingly. Addison nodded with a smile and pulled Bree by the hand to go back up to her room to get ready.
Addy put on a sundress and fixed her platinum hair before the besties headed out.
"So what's really going on?" Addison asked with a sneaking suspicion. Bree giggled.
"Well, I am going to shop for clothes for you." She replied. Addy raised a brow at her in question.
"And me?" She asked.
"You have a date with a certain zombie who's been dying to see you!" Addison's face fell.
"You know we can't go out in public together. If someone sees us, he can go to jail from the restraining order." Addison sighed. Bree giggled again.
"Duh Silly!" She teased. Addison looked up at her in surprise. "You won't be in public. We're going to the mall where Eliza will take you out the back and to your destination with your baby daddy!" Bree gently elbowed to go with her teasing. Addison smiled.
Maybe this could work.
Just as planned, they got to the mall and met up with Eliza who took Addison back through the employee hallways where no one would see them and out the back doors of the mall. They didn't go far but to the old Library that not many people used anymore.
"You doing ok with all the walking? Sorry we couldn't figure out another way to get you here." Eliza apologized. Addison gave her a smile.
"I'm fine! It feels good to walk!" Addison lied. Her feet were killing her and she was sweating in places that shouldn't be sweating. But she would never tell her friend that. They had planned all this out so she could finally see Zed.
"Ok, we're almost there." Eliza said, leading her up a flight of stairs. At the top there was a wall with multiple doors. 3 to be exact. Eliza motioned down to the last door. "Your prize is behind door number 3!" Eliza teased. "I'll be keeping watch downstairs. Call on Zed's Z-band if you need me." She said with a wink before hurrying back down the stairs.
Addison's heart was pounding. She took a deep breath and walked up to the door, hesitating for only a few moments before turning the knob and gently pushing open the door.
The room was dark but a few candles lined the outer edge lit the room with a faint romantic glow. There he was in the middle of it all, standing there waiting for her with a huge smile. She ran in and hugged him as tight as she could with her swollen belly between them, the door quietly clicking behind her. He did the same, cherishing this chance to hold her once again after so long of being apart. He kissed the top of her hair, taking in a whiff of her scent that he's been craving so much.
"Mmm," he hummed from her sweet smell, "I miss you Addy." He said muffled by her hair.
"I missed you so much." She said through tears. He pulled back to wipe her face and then guided her to a love seat to sit with him. He kissed her lips passionately, savoring her taste. Oh how he's missed everything about this girl. After several long minutes of a sensual reunion, the young lovers settled themselves back against the cushions.
Addison curled up against his side, feeling so comforted being back in his arms. He sat with a hand resting gently on her stomach.
"You've done so good helping our baby girl grow in there." He whispered in her ear. "You look great." She huffed.
"I look like a whale." She responded flatly. Zed chuckled and rubbed her belly affectionately.
"You don't look like a whale." He disagreed. "You look like a gorgeous mother-to-be!" Zed complimented. It made her smile as she placed her hand over his on her belly.
"The mother of a beautiful little girl." She agreed, looking down at their hands over their unborn child lovingly. Zed hummed his agreement as well and rested his head against hers.
"I can't wait to meet her." He said quietly. Addison felt like her heart broke in that moment.
"I'm so sorry Zed." She whispered. He hugged her against his side. He knew what she was thinking. How long would it be before he got to meet his daughter? The restraining order would take affect for her as soon as she's born too. He wouldn't be allowed anywhere near her to even see her.
"It's going to be ok. Don't worry." He assured her softly. "It's not good for the baby if you are stressed."
"I try not to." She sighed. "I just hate this so much. I want you to be there every step of the way."
"I know Baby." His voice giving away how sad it made him. "Just remember I'm never too far away." She nodded and snuggled into his side. The rest of their visit was mostly content silence as they held onto one another and relished in the loving feelings they shared for their growing daughter.
"I'm going to beg." I admit. Eliza leaned forward on her elbows with wide eyes.
"Are you serious?!" She exclaimed as quietly as she could. I'm sure my face showed my heartbreak as I looked at her.
"I don't have a choice. I have to beg them or else I won't be there when Kynzlee's born." It was going to kill me to suck up to Addison's parents after all of this but I've learned these past 8 months that 'I have to do what I have to do' as the old saying goes.
"You can't just let them win like that! You can't just roll over!" She said, but I slammed my palms on the table.
"It's not about winning right now Eliza!" I yell. Everyone in the cafeteria was staring in our direction. I settle back in my seat and sigh. "Sorry." I apologize, her face softens and shakes her head to indicate it's ok and Bonzo reaches across to pat my shoulder comfortingly. "I just- I want to be there for Addison too. She's going to be in so much pain." I trail off as my thoughts shift to worry.
"You're right." Eliza sighed. "You have to be there. No matter what it takes." She said offering me a sad smile. "I'll help you however I can."
"Thanks." I smile, then lean forward. "I need you to convince them to meet with me." Her jaw hangs on its hinges.
"You want me to do what now?" She asked as if she didn't hear me.
"Convince them to meet with me." I say again. She waved her hands dramatically.
"I heard what you said! But how exactly do you expect me to do that?! They don't like me anymore than they like you!" She argued. I raised a brow at her skeptically however and she pouted. "Ok, maybe they do like me more than they like you. But still! They don't like me!"
"Please, Eliza! I know you can convince them. You're the smartest person I know. They won't listen to Addison. Plus if she mentions me, they'll figure out we've been talking." I finish and fold my arms on the table and bury my face in my forearms. "Dear Z, this whole situation is so fucked." I groan. Eliza reaches across and pats my arm.
"You know I'll try my best, Zed. I just don't know how much they will be willing to listen." She said. I lift my head and nod, knowing she's right. This could just be a complete waste of time. But we have to try. Addison due date is getting closer and closer. Each night I talk to her she's getting more and more uncomfortable. So we need to move fast.
I anxiously wait in the Zombies Light Garden for Eliza to find out what they said to his proposal. She walks in and I jump up from my seat on the platform. Her face looks upset, like a mix between sad and mad. My hope drops to my feet and my whole body deflates. Eliza's eye meet mine.
"Tomorrow. 10 am at the coffee shop in Seabrook." She said plainly. I gasp and my shoulders raise from their slumped position.
"What?! Really?!" I exclaim excitedly. This was great! At least I have a chance to plead with them.
"I just wouldn't get your hopes up too high, Bud. You don't even want to know some of the things they were saying." Eliza said, walking up and placing a hand on my shoulder. I couldn't care less what nasty things they said about me.
"If I have to get down and bed on my knees, I'm gonna do it. I don't care what I have to do! I have to be there for my girls." I explain. Eliza smiled sadly and nods.
"I really hope they agree with you." She says supportively. With this good news, I'm filled with adrenaline. I hug Eliza tight for a split second before she can hit me and run off hooting and hollering with excitement.
I barely slept that night. When I told Addison, she was scared for me. But I assured her I just wanted to convince them for one day. For her and our baby.
I was dressed in my best coveralls and sitting at the café a whole hour early, sipping a coffee while my leg bounced nervously and my eyes constantly glancing up at the door in anticipation. A big pink gift bag tucked beside my chair. Almost on the dot of 10 o'clock, in walk Addison's Mom and Dad.
"Hey! Good morning! How are you?" I stand to greet them with a wave. Then extending my hand to shake but they just looked at it. I lower it after not getting any reciprocation. "Ok, um, would you guys like a coffee? My treat!" I offer with a smile. Their eyebrows raise in surprise.
"Oh? How are you paying?" Missy asks. I scratch the back of my head nervously.
"I took up a side job after I get out of school." I admit. Dale then speaks up.
"I have noticed you weren't playing on the football team anymore. Is that how you're spending your free time now?" He asks in surprise. I nod my head then gesture for them towards the counter. They order their coffees and we sit back at the table.
"Thank you for meeting with me. I really appreciate your time." I start. Both of them are sitting with their backs straight and staring at me with guarded eyes, but they nod so I continue. "I just wanted to ask for a one day pass. Just for my daughter's birth." They exchange a look. And I quickly continue. "I really wanna be there for Addison too! I love them both so much."
My voice cracked with my last word and I cleared my throat to re-steady myself. I go to elaborate more but Missy raises a hand to stop me. My chest clenches. Is she about to deny me?
'I'll get down and grovel if I have to.' I think to myself. 'I have to be there.'
"We've actually been talking about this. You have shown interest in being in her life once the restraining order is lifted." Missy says, then Dale chimes in.
"And we commend you for that, at least." He adds, I guess as a compliment? I nod eagerly none the less.
'Of course I want to be in their lives!' I want to scream but I refrain and let them continue.
"We haven't discussed it with Addison yet, if she would want you in the delivery room," I scoff to myself but don't say anything, "but we have decided not to press charges if you are there for the baby's birth." Missy finishes and my heart almost beats. My face breaks out in a wide smile.
"Really?! You mean it?!" I clarify to make sure this isn't some sick joke. They both nod and I don't hesitate to jump out of my seat and rush over to hug them both, even if they don't particularly like it. I don't care. They are letting me be with Addison while she's in labor and birthing my daughter!
"Ok ok! That's enough of that." Missy says brushing off her shoulders as she stands along with her husband.
"Oh!" I exclaim, hurrying back to my chair across the table and grabbing the gift bag. I reach it towards them and Missy takes it. "Can you give this to Addy for me? I got the baby a few things." I shrug then smile.
"Sure." She says. Then they both turn to head for the exit but pauses a few feet away and turns back to me. "You'll get a phone call when she's in labor. Don't miss it." She says.
"Wouldn't for the world." I assure her. She quirks a brow at me and hums an acknowledgment then continues out the door.
Once the door is closed behind them, I turn slowly and exclaim, "Who's the Zombie? I'm the Zombie! Yes!!" The patrons of the café give me some strange looks but I don't really care what they think. This meeting went better than I honestly could have ever expected. I get to support Addison and see our daughter's birth first hand! And I am pumped!
My parents come home from their meeting with Zed that I'm not supposed to know about and I half dread hearing the verdict. I'm sitting in the kitchen nibbling on a bowl of fruits when they walk in.
"Addison, Honey!" My mom calls.
"Kitchen!" I call back. They come in behind me and I know they're about to tell me one way or the other when they immediately take the seats beside me. "How are you feeling dear?" Mom asks.
"Fine...?" I answer suspiciously. My mom softly smiled and lightly started to rub my shoulder closest to her.
"Honey, who do you want to have in the delivery room with you while you're in labor?" She asks.
Without a second hesitation, "Zed." I say firmly and outright. Their expressions don't really seem surprised by my answer.
"Ok." Mom says. My eyes widen and my mouth drops open.
"Ok?" I ask for clarity. She nods and smiles softly at me. My face lights up. "Really?!" Both of them smile and nod. I squeal excitedly and, as best as I can with a giant baby belly, throw myself at her for a hug.
"I'm getting a lot of this today." She mutters.
"What?" I ask, pretending I don't know Zed probably gave her a huge hug too. She quickly shook her head.
"Nothing Dear!" She denies. I don't push for it, instead jumping up to give my dad a quick hug and heading towards the stair for my room. "Oh, Addy!" Mom stops me.
"Yeah?" I pause. She walks to the front door and picks up a big pink gift bag and hands it to me.
"Zed sent this for you." She says. I gently take the bag and hold it against me.
'I have to act like I don't know.' I tell myself. "Zed was here?" I ask aloud. She shakes her head.
"No Honey. We met with him this morning. He asked if he could be there for Kynzlee's birth. We agreed as long as you wanted him there." She said, her face looking hesitant but, when she saw my eyes sparkle, also glad that I was happy.
"Thank you Mom. Really. It means a lot." I thank her with tears forming in my eyes. Zed is going to be there when our daughter is born! My heart feels like a weight is lifted off it. The worry of this whole 8 months if he'd be there vanishing in seconds.
"Don't cry Addy." She says wiping a stray tear away from my cheek. "We love you and want what's best for you." She said with a smile. The phrase made my heart a little bitter.
'Zed is what's best for me.' I think, but don't dare say in fear of them changing their minds. I just nod my agreement and head up the stairs.
Once I'm in the sanctuary of my room, I open the gift Zed put together for me. It was filled to the brim. Just looking in the top, I can see a lot of clothes but I pull out the card first, it feels thick. When I open it, over two thousand dollars falls out onto my lap. I stare down at the money for a minute in shock then look back to read the card.
I'm sure you've noticed the money I'm sending you. It's for you to spend how you see fit when Kynzlee is born. For you or her. Anything that's mine is yours and I want you to spend it however you want. I'll keep sending you whatever I make more regularly when she's here. And man, can I not wait till she's here! I'm so excited to meet her Addy. I already love her almost as much as I love you.
I bought her some new clothes and also sent some hand-me-downs for Zoey. I thought you might like them too. We can give her a little zombie swag! Sorry, I couldn't help myself. Anyways, keep our baby girl safe and healthy for me, ok?
I love you, Zed'
I smile and giggle as I read his letter. Picking up the money and setting it safely beside me before pulling out the contents of the gift bag. There was quite a bit of the traditional Seabrook pastel pink or purple baby clothes but also some traditional Zombie coverall baby clothes. I couldn't help but gush over how cute the customized clothing was. It was like what Zed or Zoey would wear but literally a fraction of the size.
I huge one of them to my chest and start to cry again. This time tears of joy instead of sadness. For the first time this whole pregnancy, I feel like things are going to be ok. Zed will be with me when I'm in labor to support me and see our daughter for her first moments of life. I'm sure it's from my hormones but the tears won't stop flowing. I wait for the sun to set before calling him.
"Hey Baby!" Zed answered happily. "Did you hear the great news?" I'm still crying and he suddenly realized I'm a sniffling mess. "Hey! What's wrong? Did something happen? Are you ok?!" He asked in a panic. I giggle through my sniffs.
"Yeah, I've just been so happy today." I say softly. He sighs heavily in relief.
"Me too Addy. Have you been crying all day?" He asks gently.
"Mhm." I admit.
"Please stop. I hate it when you cry." He comforts me. I giggle and wipe my eyes.
"Thanks for the gifts. You know you didn't have to." I tell him, but he chuckles.
"Yes I did. I gotta take care of my family." He says with pride.
"Thank you Zed." I whisper with a small smile on my lips.
"I love you Addy." He says in reply.
"I love you too."
It's Thursday. One week and two days after her due date.
Day after day, I've been checking my Z-band about a million times at school. Anxiously awaiting the phone call that said I could come be with my family. This whole week has dragged. Eliza is the first to say something.
"You really need to stop worrying. You're not gonna miss the call." She assures me. I sighed and lay my forehead flat against the lunch table.
"I know!" I groan loudly. "What if they forget to call me and I don't get there in time? Addy will think I abandoned her!" Bree took the opportunity to reach across and place a hand on my forearm. I glance up at her.
"Don't worry Zed! If they forget, Addy has me on speed dial so I can tell you the minute she contacts me!" Bree says happily. I smile and nod. At least my friends have my back.
It's Friday. One week and three days after her due date.
We're all back at our usual spots at the lunch table, Addy's seat, as always, is vacant beside me. I'm slightly more relaxed after our conversation yesterday. I know if something happens one of them will relay the message to me. For once, I'm actually laughing along with the conversation rather than tapping my foot and checking my wrist.
Bonzo is juggling some apples and Eliza's trying every trick in the book to make him drop one, without touching him.
Suddenly, my wrist vibrates. I look down and see DALE flashing across my screen. I'm frozen for a second. Then Bree's phone goes off.
"Oh shit! This is real!" I exclaim, swiping the screen to answer the call. "Hello?"
"We are taking Addison to the hospital. Her water just broke. You should really wait until school is over until you come here. I will text you her room number." Dale said. I had already grabbed my bag and started walking for the exit with all our friends following close behind.
"I think I'll just leave now. But if I'm not there, please do text the room number. Thanks." I respond slightly less flat than what he had given me. I was too giddy to see Addison.
"Oh kay." He drawled. "I guess we will be seeing you soon then." He finished.
"Yup." I said then hung up. Bree is bubbling to Bonzo about how good Addy sounded over the phone. Eliza comes up beside me.
"So, are you ready to be a dad?" She teased, elbowing my arm. I chuckle and rub my offended appendage.
"So ready!" I reply enthusiastically.
"I know we talked about this before, but have you put anymore thought into fighting this in court? I mean, now that Kynzlee is almost here." Eliza asked as we rode up to Addy's floor in the elevator.
"Of course! I think about it everyday!" I sigh as I lean back against the elevator wall. "But we can't afford it. Even if I keep all the money from my job instead of giving it to Addy, and my dad pitched in, we still wouldn't be able to pay a lawyer."
"I guess you're right. But damn! There's still over nine years you'll have to wait until it's lifted! Kynz will be almost Zoey's age when you can finally be in her life like a real dad!" Eliza ranted. We've talked about this same topic countless times. Mostly because it's all I can think about. But our friends want us to be happy too. Bree is holding onto Bonzo's arm as they both just stay quiet and stare at the floor sadly.
I force myself to smile and step away from the wall. "Come on guys! Let's not talk about that right now. This is a happy occasion! Kynzlee's coming!" I exclaim happily. All of them smile but I can see the sympathy behind their eyes. The elevator dings as we reach our floor and I take in a deep breath. Bonzo puts a heavy hand on my shoulder and gives me a reassuring nod.
"Yeah. I got this." I agree, pumped up to finally see Addison without worry of being arrested.
The doors open and I'm the first to rush out and head for room 407.
This is horrible. How could I have done this to my Addy? Sure I knew giving birth was really painful and hard, but she feels like she's dying! And this is just labor. She hasn't even started pushing yet!
I sit at her bedside and hold her hand tightly, offering her the best support I can. She squeezes my hand as another contraction wracks through her body. They happen every couple minutes now. She's getting close to time.
"I'm so sorry Addy." I whisper, kissing her knuckles softly. Her breathing is labored from the pain.
"For what?" She says with a chuckle but stops short with a hiss of pain. I use my free hand to run up and down her forearm.
"This is my fault. You're in so much pain." I say as my voice shakes. She lifts her hand out of mine and cups my cheek. I press into her palm for comfort.
"This pain is all going to be worth it in a few hours." She assures me. Then she adds with an eyebrow wiggle, "And it takes two to tango."
I chuckle and kiss her palm just before another contraction hits.
"Addison! We brought you a heating pad for your back!" Her mother announces loudly as she barges into the room. Addy squeezes her eyes shut at her loud voice but puts on a fake smile. I scowl.
"Addy would really appreciate if everyone could keep their voices down, if you don't mind." I speak up. Addison squeezes my hand.
"Zed-" She tries to stop me.
"No, Addy. You're more uncomfortable when they waltz in here yelling like that." I argue.
"You should really keep to yourself, Zed." Her mother chimed, saying my name with venom in her tone.
"Tsk." I glare her way and she glares back.
"Enough!" Addy yells, yelping in pain right after. I bend down and retake her hand in mine. "Both of you stop it! This isn't about your feud right now!" She cries. I feel consumed with guilt immediately. I brush her hair out of her face and kiss her forehead affectionately.
"I'm sorry." I whisper into her skin. She nods slightly. I stand up straight and look back up to Missy. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have snapped. I'm just on edge since Addy is in so much pain." I apologize. She crosses the room with her heels clicking against the tile.
"I'm sorry for yelling, dear. I should have thought of how you were feeling." She apologized to Addison. Of course she won't apologize to me. Dale comes in shortly after, loaded down with large very over-packed bags. He threw the bags down in the corner and saw all of us staring at him.
"What'd I miss?" He questioned in confusion. The three of us chuckle. Her parents and I try our best to be civil for Addison's sake the rest of her delivery.
I'm laying on the side of Addy's bed with her leaning tiredly against my side, our newborn daughter sleeping in my arms. She is absolutely perfect, her dark green hair like mine and warmer complexion than most zombies due to the heartbeat she received from her mother. I turn my head and kiss Addison softly on the lips.
"You did such a good job Addy." I whisper. She giggles, cuddling against me and reaching in the take Kynzlee's little hand into her fingers.
"She seems so small!" Addy says in awe. I rest my head on hers, my eyes never leaving the beautiful baby swaddled against my chest.
"She's perfect, just like you." I reply quietly to not wake the sleepy baby. I turn my attention back to Addy, I have to split my attention between my girls. I have to cherish our short time together. I kiss Addy's snow white hair. She looks up at me with a soft smile on her lips.
"I've missed you so much." I tell her. Her hand comes to rest on my cheek, her eyes warm and soft as they stare into mine.
"Not as much as I've missed you." She leans up and kisses me gently. I shift carefully to face her more, to give us better access to each other's lips. Addy is careful of the baby too, but our kiss is heated and passionately. Her hands fist my hair, her mouth is greedy with need. I don't deny her.
She has my all. And I will give her anything she wants. This is the love of my life, the mother of my child. My arms instinctively tighten ever-so-slightly around the infant I'm holding and a strangled whimper creeps up my throat. Addy separates our lips and presses together our foreheads as my eyes squeeze shut and the sobs escape me. She pulls my head down to cradle it in the crook of her neck.
"It's ok. I'm here with you." She whispers in my ear. Her words catch in the back of her throat as she cries with me. She wraps her outer arm around mine to cradle Kynzlee too. I don't want tomorrow to come. When I have to leave them, unsure of when I'll get to see them again.
I have to be in Kynzlee's life. I already love this little girl so much. It's in that moment that I made a decision. A decision to take my life into my own hands. I'm going to fight this restraining order wether I can afford a lawyer or not. I have to. I have to be with my family.
Eliza was beginning to worry. Zed didn't look good.
"Have you been eating?" She asks quietly as they sat in the library for study hall. He doesn't even lift his head from the thick legal book he was reading when he shakes his head no. Her brows knit together.
"Zed, you have to eat. You're way over working your body." She tells him in worry of his health.
"I don't need anything. I'm fine." He responds, still not looking up from the book he's reading furiously. Eliza's expression shifted from pure worry to angry frustration.
"Oh yeah? What would Addison think if she saw you right now?" She asked with attitude in her tone. Zed stopped and finally looked up at her.
"I'm eating when I get time. Now please stop bothering me while I study." He says, looking back down at the pages opened in front of him.
"Seriously?! Maybe I'll just give her a call and tell her that? And I might add the fact that your not sleeping either? The circles under your eyes are 10 times darker than usual, so don't tell me you have been." Eliza threatened. Zed looked up and glared at his friend.
"She doesn't need to worry about something as stupid as that." He said low. Eliza raised a brow at him as if to say 'try me'. Zed sighed.
"How can you expect me to worry about taking care of myself when I haven't seen my daughter or girlfriend in 3 months?!" He questioned in exasperation, trying his best to stay quiet. Eliza's face softens slightly.
"But what good will you be to them if you're not at your best?!" She pressed. "I'll make you a deal." She says, leaning back in her chair. "If you take better care of yourself this week, I'll help set up another meeting for you and Addy." Zed's eyes widen a fraction. Her offer is just about too good to pass up.
"Fine. But Kynzlee has to be there too." He agreed, closing the book to make it a point that he would hold up his end of the bargain. Eliza smirked and thrust her hand across the table and they shook on it.
I was really excited when Bree gave me a hint that this evening's plans were just a cover. I dressed Kynzlee in her custom zombie coveralls Zed had made for her as I get us ready to go. I dress myself in a long, loose fitting dress that wouldn't draw too much attention from my parents. I pick up our baby girl with a coo and hug her affectionately as I head down the stairs.
I reach the bottom where Kynzlee's car seat was waiting and gently started strapping her in. My mom comes around the corner from the kitchen.
"Are you excited to go watch the cheer squad's practice?" She asked with a bright smile. Her enthusiasm over the trivialness of cheer practice makes me want to puke but I plaster on a smile and fake some excitement as well.
"Yeah! I'm way fired up!" I smile, clicking the last buckle on the car seat. Just then, a knock comes to the front door. I quickly hop to my feet. "That must be Bucky! See you later Mom! Don't wait up in case I hang out with the squad to catch up till late!" I tell her cheerfully.
"Don't keep the baby out too late Addison!" She calls as I picked Kynzlee's seat up and headed out the door. Sure enough, Bucky was waiting and offered me a smile as we walk to his van.
"How's it going Cous?" He asks me cheerfully, helping me get the car seat buckled in safely.
"Kynz has been doing really well! She's already starting to sleep more at night!" I tell him excitedly. Once we're sure the baby is secured to the seat, we hop in and Bucky quickly pulls out of the driveway.
"I was actually asking about you." He clarifies. I glance over at him and see his sympathetic expression. "How are you holding up? I overheard my mom talking with Aunt Missy saying that you're having a lot of breakdowns."
I drop my gaze to my hands folded on my lap. I didn't want it to get out that I was struggling. I wanted to seem like I was stronger, so it never got back to Zed that I need him so desperately. I don't want him to feel bad that he can't be there with us. It's not his fault.
"I'll get through this. My hormones aren't completely back to normal yet." I explain quietly. Bucky reaches a hand over and grabs mine, his eyes not leaving the road of course.
"I know how hard this has to be for you. I'll be here if you ever need someone to talk to." He tells me sincerely, glancing over to give me a reassuring smile. I return the gesture and nod. I'm so lucky to have such great friends. And even though most of my family sucks, Bucky is definitely my favorite family members.
The rest of the ride is pretty quiet and it doesn't take long before we pull up to the school. I jump out quickly and try to unbuckle Kynz as fast as I can. Bucky laughs.
"You don't have to rush! You're gonna have all evening with him!" He teases as he clicks the button I've been fighting with easily. I let out an embarrassed laugh but try to brush it off.
"I-I know! I'm just a little, anxious." I admit, picking up the car seat and closing the van door behind me.
Bucky laughs, taking the car seat to carry in for me. My pace is quick and I almost pass up Bucky as we walk in the front doors. All the cheerleaders are just inside and rush towards us to coo over Kynzlee who laughs and staring intently at the shiny pompoms a couple of them were holding.
My eyes meet the one set I've been longing to see though. Zed is smiling from ear to ear. I take off in a sprint in his direction. His arms eagerly wrap around me as soon as I'm close enough and he holds me tight against him, burying his nose in my hair.
"Hey Gorgeous." Zed whispers, muffled by my scalp. I giggle but don't respond, afraid the tears will fall if I speak. He pulls back and smiles down at me, then his eyes glance over to the car seat surrounded by pink and green uniforms then back to me.
"Go see her!" I encourage with a smile. His face brightens even more, if that's even possible, before he hurried over to his daughter. I watch as the crowd parts for him and he slowly bends down in front of Kynzlee. Then I feel a hand rest on my shoulder and look over to see Eliza watching with a grin as well beside me.
"He's missed you guys so much." She tells me. I smile, watching him again. But Eliza then turns me to look at her more directly.
"I guess I'm breaking our deal, but I think you need to know." She says, her eyes showing her worry and her smile faded. "Zed hasn't been taking care of himself. I bargained with him that if he took the time to eat proper meals and sleep well then I'd set this up. But I'm worried he'll go right back to depriving himself after tonight." I was surprised by her words.
Zed always seems fine over the phone at night. I look back over to him and now I can see how much slimmer he looks. He glances my way with a smile as he holds Kynzlee against his chest and I can see his dark circles around his slightly more sunken in eyes. His smile falls when he sees my expression and I motion for him to come to me.
"Thanks Eliza. I'll talk to him." I thank her, leaning in to hug her before Zed walks up with Kynzlee in one arm and her car seat in the other.
"What's wrong?" He asks, glancing between me and Eliza. I smile sadly up at him.
"Let's go somewhere more private." I say softly. He nods and I hold onto his arm as we walk to the Zombie Safe Room.
Kynzlee slept soundly in Zed's arms as we sit on one of the stretchers in the Zombie Safe Room. He sat contently just watching her sleep as I mindlessly played with the hair on the back of his neck with my head rested on his shoulder.
"She's so beautiful." Zed whispers. He leaned his head against mine then peaked his eyes up to look at me, a teasing grin on his lips. "Just like you." And just for good measure he adds a wink. I can't stop myself from giggling at his flirting.
"Easy there tiger, you already got me pregnant once." I tease back, using my finger to gently push his forehead off mine.
"But you were so cute when you were pregnant!" He gushes. I give him a glare and slap him playfully on the arm. He chuckles and leans back in to give me a soft kiss. "That's not a lie." He says a little more seriously, but still smiling. "You always look beautiful."
Every time he says things like that it takes my breath away. I lean in for a more passionate kiss, holding his face in my hands. But then I pull back reluctantly. Zed's brows furrow from my troubled expression. I let go of him and sit beside him, my hands folded on my lap.
"What? Did I say something wrong?" He asks nervously. I shake my head and reach up, taking Kynzlee out of his arms to lay in her car seat next to us. I sit back up and Zed is patiently waiting for me with a very concerned look on his face.
"You haven't said anything wrong. You just, you keep telling me I look beautiful but, you look, tired. And skinny. I'm a little worried." I look up to see his reaction. He looks surprised by my statement at first then it shifts to shame. "Are you taking care of yourself, Zed?" I ask.
"No." He doesn't lie to me. I wrap my arms around him immediately to selfishly comfort my own breaking heart. He gladly accepts my embrace. "I can't focus on anything other than you and Kynz. I distract myself with work and studying. How am I supposed to sleep at night without you there? And knowing you're struggling with taking care of her by yourself? I want to be there for you Addy." He spills his heart out for me. And I don't know how to pick it all back up.
I kiss his temple gently then pull back to look at him. His tired eyes look even more so. "I want you there too." I assure him. "But I need you healthy. What happens if you over work yourself and do some permanent damage? Kynzlee will need you someday." I tell him. His lip twitching upwards from my use of a certain word.
He brings a hand to cup my cheek as he softly sings, "I know it might be crazy, but did you hear the story?~" I smile and I know my eyes are sparkling.
"I think I heard it vaguely.~" I sing in reply.
"A girl and a zombie.~" He quirks an eyebrow teasingly.
"Oh tell me more boy, sounds like a fantasy,~" I run my hand up to rest on his chest, our lips getting closer. Oh how I've missed singing this song with him.
"Oh what could go so wrong with a girl and a zombie?~" Our voices harmonize so perfectly and my eyes start to water just as he kisses me softly. Our mouth moving together like our voices had, in complete synchrony. His hands finding my hips to pull me closer. It feels so right to be with him. How could my parents not see the love we share?
Bree went running down the hallway frantically, knowing exactly where the couple had disappeared to. She turned the corner and sighed in relief when the big metal door with big red lettering that read 'ZOMBIE SAFE ROOM' came into view.
"Guys! We have a big probl- Oh my god! I'm sooo sorry!" She burst in the door and immediately averted her eyes. Zed quickly jumps off of Addison, pulled up his pants, not even bothering to take off the condom, and adjusted his belt while Addison just frantically covered herself with a sheet.
"Holy shit Bree!" Addison cursed. "What the hell?!" Zed tossed Addy her dress and threw on his shirt.
"Um! Yeah! Big problem! Your parents are here!" Bree exclaimed in a panic. Addy's eyes go wide and her heart nearly stopped.
"Oh fuc-!" She almost screamed but Zed covered her mouth before she could be too loud. He removed his hand and held her face comfortingly.
"It's gonna be fine. Just take a deep breath." He talked her down from having an instant panic attack. "Bree, what's going on?" He asks, still stroking Addy's cheek with his thumb.
"They randomly showed up to watch the cheer practice! They were looking for you! Bucky said you just left to the restroom and to changed Kynzlee so he sent me to get you! We gotta hurry!" She rambled out.
"Damn it!" Zed curse through gritted teeth. He looks up at Addy from his kneeling position in front of her petting her hair back into place and brushing his thumb over her lip. "Hey, are you alright?" Addy looks like she's about to cry but nods quickly. Zed stands and pulls her to her feet as well, giving her a quick tight hug before leaning down for one last kiss. "I love you so much, ok?"
"I love you too." She whispers against his lips. He smiles sadly at her and then rushes to buckle Kynzlee's seat for safe keeping and lifting it to offer to Addy. Bree is bouncing anxiously by the door as Addy joins her.
"I'll talk to you soon." Zed says just before she walks out of the safe room to hurry back to the gym, leaving him alone in the Safe Room. He sighs heavily and plops down on the stretcher, head hanging low. "Fuck." He mutters in defeat.
"Geez, language." The unexpected voice makes Zed jump but quickly relaxes when he realizes who it was.
"Shut up." He continues to mutter. His best friend slowly comes up to sit beside him.
"Sorry your conjugal visit was interrupted." She proceeds to tease. Zed's face goes paler and his eyes go wide.
"How'd you-" he starts to ask in fear that they were too loud but Eliza lifted the empty condom wrapper off the floor and waves it jokingly. Zed groans and face palms.
"I swear to Z, if you don't stop E." Zed threatens. Eliza laughs and pats him hard on the back.
"I know it sucks Z, but it will work out. From what I could hear, her parents didn't suspect a thing. Just selfishly wanted to ruin Addy's time away from them." She states bitterly. Zed sighs in relief.
"That's at least good. If we get caught sneaking around, it'll be over before I can even put up a fight." Eliza's brows furrow.
"Then we'll have to be more careful." She insists. Zed sighs and nods.
"Yeah. But we need to lay low for a while. We're getting too comfortable." He scrubbed his face with his hands. "I hate to say it, but we can't see each other so often." Eliza's jaw drops.
"What do you mean?! It hasn't been 'often' enough!" She argues in disbelief that those words were even coming out of his mouth. Zed lifts a hand to calm her.
"I know! Trust me, I know!" He groans again in exasperation. "But it is for someone who has a restraining order against them." Eliza felt like crying or screaming in frustration for her friend but held it in. Instead, throwing her arm over his shoulder for a supportive half hug.
"However you wanna do this Z, I'll help where I can." She assures him. He gives her a sad smile and nods.
Addison sat up against her headboard with Kynzlee sleeping peacefully next to her, anxiously awaiting a call from Zed. It was getting late and she wondered if he wouldn't call tonight since they were almost caught.
A ping of disappointment hit her heart. She laid down with her head next to her daughter's, curling her body around her like Kynzlee was a lifeline, as the tears well in her eyes and sobs threatened to creep up her throat.
The sudden vibration on the bed behind her makes her jump. She quickly reached back and wiped her face as she answered the makeshift cellphone Eliza rigged for them.
"H-hello?" She sniffed. The line was quiet for a second before Zed finally responded.
"Addy? Is everything ok?" His voice sounds deeply concerned.
"Y-yeah! I was just," she wiped her nose with another sniff, "I thought you might not call tonight. I'm ok. I-I don't mean to worry you."
"Babe," Zed started gently, "how could I not call you after the amazing time we got to spend together?" Addy scoffs.
"Yeah, that got rudely interrupted." She said bitterly making Zed chuckle.
"Yeah, very rudely." He agreed. "But that doesn't change the fact that I cherish every second I get to spend with you and Kynz." Addy smiled.
"Yeah." She whispers her agreeance.
"Yeah?" He asks for further confirmation that she's ok.
Addy giggle lightly. "Yeah."
"Good." He sighs in relief. "I love you Addison." A chill ran down Addy's spine. He doesn't usually use her full name anymore, but it always sounds so good when it comes off his tongue.
"I love you too, Zed." She whispers.
Addison watched her back as she walked, making sure no one was watching or following her. She's learned to be extra cautious over the years. Then suddenly, she was pulled into an alleyway by the waist, a hand over her mouth to keep her from screaming.
The next thing she knew, her back was press to the brick wall and a tall, solid body against her front. Zed quickly removed his hand and kissed her lips passionately. She melted into his arms.
"Oh god Addison. I've missed you so much." He sighs as he holds her close and kisses her.
"I've missed you too Zed." She whispers between breaths. They continue like that for about a minute before he finally pulls his face from hers and looks around.
"But where's Kynzlee? Didn't you bring her?" He asks disappointment evident in his voice. Addison giggles.
"Of course I brought her. I told my parents I was going out with Bree, and I wasn't exactly lying." She said and Bree came walking around the corner with the little girl in her arms. Zed smiled wide.
"Hey Baby Girl!" Zed greeted quietly as he let Addison go to approach Bree and his daughter. The little girl look at him wearily for a moment, she was 2 and only seen him a handful of times since she was born. So she was still a little hesitant each time. Even if Addison would show her pictures and tell her stories every night, seeing him in person was different for the toddler.
"It's ok, Kynz. You know your Daddy." Addison encouraged behind Zed. At hearing the word 'Daddy' Kynzlee's face lit up and she reached for Zed. It warmed his heart.
"There's my girl!" He said hugging her tightly. "Hi Bree. Thanks for helping us out." Zed thanked her sincerely. Bree smiled at him sadly.
"Anything I can do isn't enough, but I'll do what I can!" She said. Zed nodded and turned back to grab Addison's hand.
"Come on, we don't have a lot of time." He indicated for them to follow him. "Bonzo and Eliza are going to keep watch for us just in case anyone comes by looking for you." Zed lead Addy into the small building only lit by candles to keep it looking less inhabited.
Bree went to sit up on the second floor and keep watch with Bonzo and Eliza to give the broken little family their alone time. All their friends hated this situation more and more each time they saw them reunite. Just to be ripped apart again. They could see how much pain they were in.
Zed has started a little fire in the fireplace, much to Bonzo's dismay, to keep them nice and warm while they bonded as a family. He sat on the floor with Kynzlee to show her some of the toys he had brought from her aunt Zoey to play with. Including her most prized stuffed dog Zander. Addison sat on the bench seat and watched them quietly.
"I feel bad Zed." Addison finally admitted. He looked up at her with questioning eyes. "I've ruined your life. You've quit football, you can't have a normal love life, you work your butt off to support Kynzlee and I." She paused. "I don't want this for you." Tears were brimming her lids.
This was a conversation they frequently had, but it continues to bother her no matter how many times they had it. Sometimes, she wishes she could break it off with him, to set him free of the burdens she's become to him. A soft sob escapes her.
Zed sat up from his spot on the floor next to Kynzlee and came to kneel in front of her, placing his hands on either side of her face to look her directly in the eye.
"You've done nothing but give me everything I could want in life." He whispered, glancing at the beautiful, green pigtailed, warm complexioned little girl in front of them. Then he turned back to Addy, gently cradling her cheek against his palm. "If anything, your parents have ruined my life by taking you two away from me. I love you girls more than life itself." He leaned up to gave her a soft peck on the lips. "And I'm going to get you back someday. If you can wait for me." Addison smiled sadly and nodded.
"Of course I will." She whispered. Zed smiled at her words and pulled her in to hug her close.
Phew! This is the last chapter! Well, I still have an alternate ending, but this is the true ending. Hope you like it!
"I can't believe she's going to turn 3 in a few months." Zed commented with a sigh of depression.
He'd missed everything, every monumental event in her little life. Her first words, her first steps, her first everything. Except breath. His heart swelled proudly in his chest as he remembered her first moments of life and how he was able to be there beside Addison as she slept in their arms that night. But then his chest deflated again. How much more was he going to have to miss before this nightmare was over?
"Yeah. And you'll be graduating." Addy commented quietly. They had to keep their calls to each other a secret from even Kynzlee since she could accidentally slip while talking with her grandparents. So Addison would wait to call Zed after Kynz was asleep and whisper while they talked. Zed groaned from her comment.
"Don't remind me! Everything about school is monotonous anymore." He scoffed. Addison giggled.
"You're just too smart for it anymore." She corrected. He scoffed again.
"Yeah right! I'm not smart at all!" He paused. "If I'd been smarter, I would have been able to prevent this entire situation." He mumbled to himself. Addison frowned sadly.
"Don't say that, Zed." She said firmly through her whispered voice. "I know our situation isn't ideal, but if we hadn't messed up back then, we wouldn't have Kynzlee now."
"You're right Addy. I'm sorry. I didn't mean it to come out like that." He apologized sincerely.
"It's ok. I know you love her with all your heart." She smiled and he could hear her softened tone though his Z-band speaker, causing him to smile too.
"I love you just as much." He added. She giggled again.
"I've never doubted you for a minute." She teased. He chuckles on the other end. "But I love you more than I can put into words." She replies in a soft whisper.
"Mmm." He hummed appreciatively. "I love hearing you say that to me." He admitted.
"I love you Zed Necrodopolous." She whispered seductively. Zed shivered.
"Ooo, you're giving me chills baby." He breathlessly whispered back. A wave of want and disappointment washed over Addison all at once as tears pricked her eyes.
"Oh, Zed. Why does it have to be this way?" She cried, putting a hand over her mouth to keep quiet. His heart broke as he once again had to listen to her sobs with no way to comfort her.
"Hey, don't cry baby. This won't last forever!" He told her confidently. She sniffed and wiped her eyes as she listened. "I promise, Addy, I'm not giving up on getting you and Kynzlee back." He assured her. "Do you trust me?" He then asked.
"Mhm." She agreed without hesitation, but not trusting her own voice.
"Good. Because someday I'm going to give you my last name! Maybe we can have another baby? One I can help you raise from day one!" He exclaimed excitedly. Addison smiled at the thought but didn't interrupt him. "We could move far away from Seabrook and start over, or stay here and get a little house. I don't really care! As long as I have you and Kynzlee, I'll follow you anywhere." He could rant to her all night about how much he loves her and their daughter, but sighs. "I know that these are all just words and I can't exactly prove any of it yet but, if you'll wait for me, I promise I won't let you down Addy." He vowed. Addison closed her eyes, taking all his words to heart, and smiled.
"I couldn't dream of a better life than to be with you again." She breathed. Zed released his held breath and smiled wide.
"I'm gonna make it real. Someday." He said. Addison smiled.
"Someday, this could be, this could be ordinary.~" Addy sang in reply, earning a laugh from the zombie.
"Someday, could we be something extraordinary?~" He sang back.
"You and me side by side.~" She continued.
Zed join her as their voices harmonize. "Out in the broad daylight.~"
"If they laugh, we'll say,~" Zed cues before they sing in harmony again softly and allow their voices to fade at the end.
"We're gonna be Someday.~"
"I'll make sure of it." He added as a promise to his love. Addison believed him with all her heart.
"Someday, for sure." She agreed.
A few days later, Missy and Dale found Zed in the old library after school.
"Hello Zed." Missy said behind him. He jumped in his seat, looking up from the book he was just reading and turned to roll his eyes at them.
"Geez! I figured people with zombiephobia wouldn't 'sneak up' on an unsuspecting zombie." He sarcastically said as he looked back down to the book he was interrupted from reading. They didn't seem to get his hint to leave him alone since they ignored his comment, sat down in the chairs across from him, and continued talking to him.
"We just thought you'd be interested in hearing about how Kynzlee is doing." Dale said. Zed looked up at the mention of her name.
"Oh yeah? Since when are you so willing to tell me how my daughter is doing?" Zed accused with narrowed eyes. Missy chuckled unhumorously.
"If you're not interested, we can just go." She said while they stood. Zed stood as well.
"Ok, wait." He sighed. "We can walk and talk. There's another book I need to grab." Addison's parents nodded as they started rambling on about Kynzlee, things Zed's already heard from Addy so he was half listening as he searched the shelf for the book he needed. He briefly wondered if they'd realize they were in an isle with law books lining the shelves. If they did, they didn't mention it. But one phrase caught his full attention as he whipped around the face them.
"Which preschool?" He asks. Missy got a smug look on her face, as if to say now that I have your attention.
"Silver Wings Elementary." Dale replies.
"Hmph." Zed snorts. "You're sending your own granddaughter to a mediocre school because she's part zombie, huh?" Missy and Dale look at each other in surprise. Completely caught off guard that Zed would make such an assumption just based on the school's name. Little did they know, Zed had done his research on the local schools and knew the good from the bad. Zed continues.
"If I were still in the picture, I would have picked a school like Fenwick Preschool. Their elementary school has produced the highest test scores for over 25 years. If she went to their Preschool, she'd almost be guaranteed to get into their elementary school!" He ranted, then glared at the adults in front of him.
"I want what's best for my daughter, that I'm not even allowed to see. While you, who get to see her everyday, treat her like a mutt because of who her father is. I wish I could be there to teach her that she doesn't deserve to be treated that way. That she's her own person and she matters." Zed's eyes shifted from angry to pride and his back straightens.
"Lucky for me, Addison saw that in herself before you tore us apart, so I'm sure she is showing our baby girl that she's worth more than this." He said, looking them up and down. He then turned away from them in case his eyes started to water. "Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go to work. I plan on continuing to support my family even if I can't see them." He said, tucking the book he'd been searching for under his arm and stomping past Addison's stunned parents to grab his bag.
Zed had spent all his time strengthening his case. Using every hour he wasn't working or sleeping to research, study, educate himself in the laws and the system.
Then the day came.
He'd graduated from Seabrook High and had turned 18 that past winter. And even though everyone told him it was a bad idea without a lawyer, he filed for an appeal.
"Are you sure about this, Zed?" Addison asked.
"Absolutely! I know every allegation they could possibly throw at me, I've got our friends who'll testify, and they have no evidence that would indicate you or Kynzlee would be in any danger with me around!" He explained excitedly.
Tomorrow was the big day. He would fight tooth and nail, figuratively of course, to get his family back. And he was confident that all his hard work would pay off.
"I'll be cheering you on." Addison whispered supportively. "I believe in you."
So far, so good. He's been able to hold his own against everyone in the room, lawyer or not. He knew what his rights were and he knew the system like the back of his hand. He wanted to be with his family, and he was going to fight to get them back by every means necessary.
Addison was sitting across the courtroom next to her parents and their lawyer with her 3 year old baby girl in her lap. Though, none of them didn't seem to be putting up much of a fight against Zed's defense.
He was a sight to see. He'd argue ruthlessly with her parent's big shot lawyer as if he'd graduated from Harvard Law instead of Seabrook High. Addison was smiling as she watched him. While the little girl stared at him intently the whole time.
"Can I go play with Daddy soon?" Kynzlee whispered in her mommy's ear. Addison smiled sadly at her.
"Maybe not today, Sweetie." Addison whispered back.
So Kynzlee's eyes stayed glued to Zed as he argued with the lawyer, not understanding what they were saying, but knowing enough that he was trying to be with her all the time.
A handful of people were called to the stand, even Addison at one point. No one had anything too bad to say about Zed. Their lawyer brought up his past a lot. Like when he'd hacked his Z-band Freshman year, or when he'd been caught out past curfew for Zombie Mashes. But overall, nothing too bad. Even Bucky stuck up for him. He hated how miserable his cousin was and wanted her to be happy.
After everything was laid out on the line, the judge dismissed them for a recess while he deliberated his final judgement on the case.
Zed was escorted out first, followed by his father and Zoey from the front row behind him, then Addison's parents with her and Kynzlee in tow. The large room separated the two parties.
Zed glanced over at Addison and Kynzlee with desperate eyes. They were so close, yet so far away. He wanted so badly to just run over and hug them, but he couldn't. At least, not without being detained for breaking the restraining order. But his attention was drawn back to his family as his sister tugs his arm as she bounces beside him.
"You did great Zed! The judge is sure to drop the order now!" The almost teenage Zoey excitedly exclaimed. Zed couldn't help his glances back over at his daughter and Addison, the love of his life. Zoey caught it this time and her expression saddens. "They still love you just as much. You know that right?" Zed looked at her and nodded.
He knew they loved him, but how much longer could Addison wait on him? If the judge kept the order in place for the remaining time, would she wait 7 more years for him?
Zoey could see his inner turmoil and hugged her brother, squeezing him reassuringly. Zed sighed and returned the gesture.
Bonzo, Bree, and Eliza walked up to the embracing siblings with bright smiles. "Wow Zed! That was impressive in there!" Eliza compliments. Zoey lets go of her brother and gives his arm an encouraging pat before heading to sit beside their father.
"Za!" Bonzo agreed in excitement while the energy radiating off of Bree was almost visible with floating pink hearts.
"And the passion when you talk about Addy and Kynz! I'm sure the judge can see the love you two share when you look at each other!" Bree gushed. Zed felt a bead of sweat trickle down his forehead.
"Easy Bree. I'm sure the judge isn't as much of a hopeless romantic as you are." Eliza said flatly.
The three friends continued their light hearted bickering to keep Zed optimistic.
Across the room, the three year old watched her father. Kynzlee tugged at her mother's hand. "Can I go play, now?" She asked impatiently.
Addison bent down and whispered 'not now' before glancing up at Zed just as his eyes glanced her way as well. His eyes met hers and it felt like a spark ignited in her chest. She wanted to just run up and embrace him, say screw the legal bullshit and take her lover back. But she forced her eyes away before her heart could break any further because she knew she couldn't. The consequences would be far worst than the pleasures she'd selfishly receive.
Kynzlee caught his eyes looking their way as well and excitedly squealed, waving frantically at him.
"Kynz! Shhh!" Addison scolded picking her up quickly. She could see Zed chuckle and wave back. Unfortunately, her parents didn't miss how Kynzlee reacted to Zed.
"Have you been sneaking around to see him?" Missy asked, already knowing the answer. Addison's expression angered.
"What would it matter? It's not like Kynzlee knows her father the way she should! He's completely willing to be in her life and take care of her, us! But you've denied her that! She needs him in her life and I'm going to make sure she has him. One way or another." Addison says her last words threateningly in a low voice. She turned with Kynzlee in her arms and runs past her parents down the nearby corridor.
Zed heard her yelling at her mother then saw her run off. His face reflecting his worry something else had upset her. He started to chase after her but Zoey quickly grabbed his wrist to stop him.
"You can't Zed." She told him sadly. He pulled his wrist free.
"I have to." He said, pained that all his work to do this the right way may have been for nothing. But he couldn't let Addison suffer alone anymore, she's done that enough.
He ran after her.
Missy and Dale watched on as he took off in the direction of their daughter.
She stopped in a deserted hallway and leaned her back against the wall. Kynzlee hugged her mother around the neck as she sobbed. A big hug that could usually help her mother stop crying.
"Are we not gonna see Daddy anymore, Mommy?" She asked quietly. Addison choked back her next sob to try and compose herself for her baby's sake. She put on a fake smile.
"I hope we can, Sweetie." She said brushing her green bangs from her face.
The sudden sounds of quickly approaching footsteps made Addison turn her head, expecting to see one of her parents, or even her friends, coming to check on her. But her eyes widen when she sees Zed round the corner. Their eyes met.
"Z-Zed." She stuttered out in a quiet gasp. She knew what this could do.
"Addy!" He didn't hesitate to run towards her and immediately engulf both his girls in his arms. Addison buried her face in his chest, inhaling his scent that she always missed so much. Kynzlee wrapped her own arms around Zed and giggled with excitement.
"Daddy! Do we get to come home with you?" She asks looking up at him with hopeful eyes. Zed pulled back to kiss the little girl's forehead.
"I'm not sure yet Baby Girl!" Then he cupped Addison's face in his palms and looked her dead in the eyes. "Are you ok? What happened?" He asked in a rush, knowing their time was short. She nodded quickly.
"Y-yeah. I'm fine. Just an argument with my mom. Nothing new." She said, then she looked up at him in concern. "You should go before-"
"Zombie! Freeze! Get your hands were I can see them!" An authoritative voice ordered. Their bodies stiffened as their heads shot in the direction of two Patrol Officers.
"Oh no." Addison gasped. Zed raised his hands in surrender. The officers rushed forwards. Addison stumbled back slightly, clutching Kynzlee for dear life, as the officers grabbed Zed away from her. The officer wrenched his arms behind his back and tightened the cuffed to the point of discomfort.
Kynzlee started crying when she saw her daddy being arrested. Addison pulled her head to rest on her shoulder so she couldn't see what was happening. She saw the growing crowd behind them from the commotion created by the Zombie Patrol and her heart pounded fast in her chest. Her parents, their friends, Zed's family. All of them watching in horror as they roughly handled Zed and separated Addison from him.
"No! Wait! Please! This is all a misunderstanding!" Addy begged in a panic. The other officer raised his hands to calm the young woman. Her head darting back and forth to look around his form.
"Stand back. He's being detained." The officer informed firmly but she interrupted before he could continue.
"No! He-he didn't do anything wrong! This is a mistake!" She insisted, stepping forward again to make sure Zed was ok.
"Daddy!" Kynzlee cried into Addison's neck.
"Miss. I won't ask you again." The officer's voice reflected his irritation and Zed didn't miss it. He pulled slightly to face her.
"Addy! Kynz! It's ok! It's ok." Both the girls looked up at him with watery eyes. "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry I was selfish. But do what he says, ok? Please." His eyes pleading for them to comply. He didn't want Addy to get in any trouble. He'd take the fall. He'd take it all if she could be safe.
With fresh tears spilling down her cheeks, she reluctantly took a step back and nodded, never breaking their eye contact until they forced Zed to walk. She saw the faintest sad smile on his lips as he was turned away from her.
The officer Addison had been arguing with escorted her along as well. They passed the murmuring crowd with their stunned friends and family. Kynzlee was quietly hugging her mother around the neck but Addison knew she was still very upset and rubbed her back soothingly.
Addison's eyes fell onto her parents for a brief moment, were they happy now? Seeing what they've done? Such an innocent act treated like a crime? If they were, their faces didn't show it. But Addison just shook her head and focused on her path behind the officer shoving Zed forward.
They stopped, switched his cuffs to the front and the officer forcibly pulled Zed down to sit in a chair just outside the courtroom. Addison's hand reflexed in his direction but quickly replaced it on Kynzlee's back before either officer would notice.
"Sit here until the judge is ready for you." The officer behind her instructed towards a seat on the other side of the door. Addison put her head down and sat where she was told, like Zed wanted her to. She cradled Kynzlee in her lap and glanced over at Zed.
He was leaned forward with his elbows resting on his knees and the heels of his hands pressed against his eyes. Addison glanced around, the officer that detained him was talking to another officer a few feet away. She'd take her chances. Zed needs her.
"Hey." She whispered softly. He turned his head to rest his temple against his hands. He gave her a sad, small smile.
"Hey." He whispered back. Addison kissed Kynzlee's head and she lifted it to look at her mother.
"If you stay quiet, Daddy's over there." She said softly. Kynzlee's back straightened immediately as her head shot in his direction. Tears welled up in her eyes and she opened her mouth only to shut it again.
"It's ok Baby Girl." Zed assured her.
"But you're in trouble Daddy." She murmured. Zed chuckled.
"It won't be too bad." He leaned back in his chair. "Maybe I can sweet talk the judge." He said with a wink. Both the girls giggled quietly. Zed closed his eyes, sighing as he soaked in the sweet sound. Who knows when he'll get to hear it again.
Suddenly, the doors opened, all three of them jumped from the unexpected sound.
It was the officer who escorted Addison exiting the courtroom. "All parties involved in case Z67352 report." He announced loudly. Addison stood with Kynzlee in her arms. The other officer yanked Zed up out of his seat by the arm. The three year old fearfully flinched as she clung to her mother.
"He's ok, Baby. Daddy's strong." Addison assured her daughter. Zed heard and his back straightened instinctively. He walked into the room with his head held high.
He saw the judge still sitting at the bench. He glanced up as the zombie is escorted to his seat and roughly seated as before. He gives Zed a raised brow but receives nothing as he looks away in half shame of his actions.
Missy and Dale came up behind Addison. He placed a hand on her shoulder. She jerks away from his touch and followed the officer towards their table. Zed watched her from his seat and she couldn't even force a smile, knowing she might not see him again for a while, looking away as tears prick her eyes.
Kynzlee couldn't smile either. But she lifted her hand to give him a small wave as she was carried past. With a sad laugh and smile, Zed returned a small wave with his cuffed hand.
Once the two parties were back in their seats, the officers opened the courtroom for anyone spectating in the galley. Zevon and Zoey rush quickly to the front row behind Zed and worriedly ask him if he's alright in quiet whispers. Zed hushes them and assures them that he's fine.
When it was clear there weren't anymore spectators, they closed the doors.
"Department One of the Superior Court is now in session. The Honorable Judge Stephen Titus presiding." The bailiff officer announced.
"Thank you Pete." Judge Titus said. The bailiff bows his head briefly in return. Then Judge Titus turned his eyes back to the plaintiff and the defendants.
"Now. Mr. Necrodopolous," he starts firmly, "when you walked into this courtroom without council, I expected this to be a quick open and closed case. But, I was inclined to agree with your appeal!" He said, sounding astonished even with himself. "You were a good kid. A smart kid. And now you seem like a good young man!" Then he sighed and shook his head. "But then, before I can even revoke the restraining order, you go and make physical contact with Ms. Davis and your daughter. Now, I'm basically forced to throw your arguments out and charge you in contempt of court!"
He leans forward and looks at Zed with an earnest expression. "Do you have anything to say for yourself?"
"May I stand?" Zed asks. Judge Titus gestures with his hand for him to go ahead. Zed stands, his hands cuffed in front of him.
"Your Honor, in my defense, I heard arguing between for Ms. Davis and her parents. I am aware that my decision to chase after her myself wasn't the wisest." He paused to glance over at Addison and Kynzlee who were watching him intently. "But I couldn't stand back if she was suffering." He stated sincerely. Addy smiled at him and hugged their daughter a little tighter. He turned back to the judge with a straight and poised back.
"As author Edgar Allan Poe once stated, 'I was never really insane except upon occasions when my heart was touched.' And my fear for her wellbeing overpowered my logical judgement. I love those girls more than anything in the world. Even my freedom, if that's the cost." He said, looking back to Addison with sad eyes. The sound of the judge sighing drew his eyes back to the podium as he still stood before him.
"Those are all good points, but it doesn't change the fact that the restraining order was still in place. I'm sorry, but, as I said before, I have to charge you with contempt of court for not abiding by the court order." Zed was sure he could talk him out of it. He even said he was going to abolish this whole thing. His head dropped in disappointment, his nostrils flaring as tears threatened to fill his eyes. "The maximum punishment for this misdemeanor is one year imprisonment with fines up to $1,000." He paused, thinking over his decision. But the silence was broken by the opposing lawyer clearing his throat.
"Ah hum. Your Honor, if I may interject?" He asked as he stood. The judge raised a brow curiously and motioned for him to continue. "Um, my clients have decided they want to dissolve the restraining order."
Zed's eyes widen and his head snapped in Addison's direction. Her face was a reflection of his so he knew she had no hand in the decision. Sounds of surprise and chatter began to spread across the gallery behind them. Judge Titus slammed his gavel over and over.
"Order! Order!" He exclaimed to calm the courtroom. A hush fell across the room. Zed looked back up at him hopefully. "Well, this has definitely changed things." He starts. "But it doesn't change that you broke the order before charges were dropped."
Addison's heart plummeted to her stomach. Her parents were finally giving in! Why can't this nightmare just be over?!
"However, the charges are being dropped." He added in deliberation, rubbing his chin thoughtfully. "Mr. Necrodopolous, you're being charged a fine of $250 for contempt of court and you're free to go. Case dismissed." He stated quickly then slammed his gavel as a finality.
A roar of applause and cheers erupted in the courtroom. A patrol officer came and released his wrists from the cuffs. Zed turned towards Addison immediately. It only took a second before she and Kynzlee were in his arms. He took Kynzlee in one arm and pulled Addison close by the other, leaning down to kiss her in public for the first time in over 3 years.
Kynz had a death grip around Zed's neck afraid that she might be ripped away from him again. Zed focused his attention on his daughter.
"Hey Baby Girl! What's wrong? Aren't you happy?" Zed asked quietly. She pulled back and looked at her daddy with teary eyes.
"What if they decide to take you away again?" She asked back with a little sniff. Zed presses his forehead to hers and wrapped both arms around her for a tight hug.
"No body's gonna ever take me away from you again. I promise." He told her with a smile. The little girl looked unsure and searched his eyes for a second. "It's gonna be you, me and Mommy from now on." He added for good measure. Kynzlee's face broke out in a grin and hugged him around the neck tighter.
"Zed." The strong voice of Addison's father called their attention. Addison stepped closer to his side and he tucked her under his arm comfortingly.
"We know that we've made things rough for you two in the past. But we hope you can forgive us for our mistakes and let us stay in your lives as well as our granddaughter's." Missy told them professionally.
"How dare you-" Addison started angrily, but Zed kissed the top of her head as stopped her in her tracks. Then he turned back toward them.
"Tensions are high right now, but once we get things sorted out, we'll keep you guys in consideration." He told them with equal professionalism. Missy gave him a grateful smile. He returned a small nod.
"So! You girls ready to go? I have a surprise for you!" He asked. Kynzlee smiled wide at her mother then back to Zed, nodding enthusiastically. Addison gave him a curious look but he just shrugged to not spoil the surprise.
Of course they were bombarded with hugs and congratulations all the way out. Their friends all excitedly telling them how happy they can all hang out together again. Bucky even shaking Zed's hand supportively.
Zed's family meeting Kynzlee for the first time was heartwarming brought tears to everyone's eyes. Zoey was taking as much time as she could to coddle her niece while Addison talked with her a little bit. Zevon took the chance to pull his son aside, giving him a big hug.
"You did great son. I'm very proud of you." He said close to his ear, then pulled back with watery eyes. "And she's beautiful. Reminds me of your mother." Zed choked back a whimper and hugged his dad again.
"Zed?" Addison asked from a few feet away with her daughter back in her arms. Zed wipes his eyes dry and smiled at her. "You ok?" She asked in concern. He chuckled.
"Yeah! I'm better than ok!" He joked. "Ready?" She smiled and nodded.
"I asked Bucky to go get our stuff from my parent's house." She said.
"Cool. I'll just shoot him a text." Zed replied, whipping out his Z-band from under his sleeve and tapping a quick message. Addison's brows furrowed in confusion.
"He knows where your dad's house is Zed." She argued. He gave her a sly grin and shrugged again without answering her. Just leading her out of the justice building and towards his beaten up car with a brand new car seat he'd gotten for his little girl to ride home in.
As expected, they rode into Zombietown but when she expected him to stop in the alleyway beside his father's house, he kept driving. "Um Zed? I think you missed your turn." She commented in confusion.
"I did no such thing!" He teased. Then before she could comment further, he pulled the car to a stop.
"Zed, what-" She started to ask but he leaned over and pulled her into a searing kiss. He pulled back with a wide grin.
"Welcome home baby." He said. Her eyes widened. The next instant she's got a face splitting smile on her face and she's kissing him again.
"You bought us a house?!" She nearly cried. He nodded enthusiastically.
"I couldn't take my girls back to live in my dad's house." He said matter-of-factly. Addison laughed excitedly, then jumped out of the car. Zed doing the same and pulling Kynzlee out of her car seat. Once he had her in his arms, he walked to Addison's side who was looking at their new little home in excitement. He wrapped his other arm around her shoulders.
"Let's go home." He stated in relief that this was finally his reality. He had his family back. And no one would ever come between them again.