Jemma’s nerves pique when Mary exclaims that she knows why they’re here, and a deep blush spreads across her face and chest. She’s not blind, she saw the ring box in Mary’s hands and knows what Fitz’s Mum is thinking. She knows that eventually that will come down the line, she’s certain of it, and while she’d be honored to wear whatever that ring box held, she doesn’t want it to be because she’s pregnant. She doesn’t want it to be because his Mum wants it, or her parents, or the team, or anyone. She wants to marry him and raise this child because they want to.
Her hand tightens around his when he cuts off his mum, effectively redirecting the conversation back to where it’s meant to be and she holds herself steady as he spits it out in one breath. She can feel the way he’s tense next to her, body strung tight and she leans into him, hoping to give him some support but her gaze never straying from Mary’s face, wanting to show her that they’re united in this new twist of life.
Fitz watches as his mother pulls back from him, shock evident on her face as her eyes drop. “Oh. OH,” she softly exclaims, gently extracting her hands from beneath his and tucking the ring box into the pocket of her cardigan. “I see. Tha’… tha’ really is a horse o’ a differen’ color, no?” Her eyes dart up, meeting both his and Jemma’s as she attempts to give them a smile. It doesn’t take, however, and her eyes are redirected downward once more as she stands. “Excuse me, I jus’ need a momen’. I’ll be righ’ back.” Her words are murmured so softly that Fitz isn’t quite sure he heard her correctly, even as he watches her slip out toward the kitchen.
A quick glance at Jemma is all the reassurance he needs before Fitz trails after his mum. He catches her in the kitchen, standing at the sink and looking out the window. He knows she must be lost in thought, and clears his throat as he steps into the room.
“Mum?” His voice cracks slightly as he calls out to her, his feet carrying him to stand just behind her. Unsure of himself, Fitz brings his hand up slowly to rest on his mum’s shoulder. He knows he should say something, desperately wants to say anything, but he’s at a loss. It’s all he can do to stand there waiting for her to break the silence. Eventually, thankfully, she does.
“Ye know wha’ happened wit’ yer father, Leo.”
Mary’s voice is low, and barely a whisper, but Fitz can hear all of her unspoken thoughts. How she had wound up pregnant before getting married, how his father had promised that one day when he had the money he would marry her and they’d be a family, and how one cold, blustery December day shortly before his fourth birthday, Fitz’ father had walked out for good. Fitz had been too young to remember his father, but growing up without the man had still stung. Tightening his grip on her shoulder, he turns his mum to face him.
“Look, Mum-” he begins, only to be cut off by Mary’s hands landing on his arms.
“Leo, i’s fine. Well, i’s no’ fine, bu’ i’s no’ th’ end o’ th’ world, either. Ye’re both adults an’ ye havenae lived in my house for ages.” She gives him a weak smile, patting his arms a bit before fixing Fitz under her gaze. The part of him that will forever be the little boy who watched his mother go from struggling through those first years without his father to being able to buy her own home hangs on her every word, amazed by her as he always has been.
“Jus’… jus’ know tha’ I love ye both,” Mary Fitz continues in earnest. “I mean i’, I adore Jemma. She makes ye a better man, more confident than ye were when ye were livin’ here. She’s good for ye, an’ I’m glad ye two are happy together. Bu’ I know th’ strain somethin’ like this can pu’ on a couple, even a strong one such as yerselves, an’ I have a mother’s hear’. I worry, Leo, bu’ such is a mother’s lot in life, I suppose.”
Just then, the squeak of a floorboard causes them both to look over to the door. Jemma is standing just outside of the kitchen, clearly uncertain if she should come in or not. Fitz can’t help the grin that lights up his face when he sees her, and his reaction is so instinctive that Mary knows her son isn’t even aware of the love and devotion written on his face. It eases her heart, and waves Jemma over.
“C’mere, Jemma, ye should hear this, too.” She waits for the younger woman to approach, and as soon as she’s within arm’s reach, pulls her in close, leaving the three of them standing huddled together at the kitchen sink. “Leo, take this,” she instructs, pulling the small ring box from her cardigan once more and pressing it into his palm. “I’m no’ sayin’ ye need t’ ge’ married now. Havin’ a baby is hectic enough withou’ plannin’ a weddin’ on top o’ everythin’. Bu’ when ye’re ready, tha’s for both o’ ye.”
Mary cranes up, kissing both of their cheeks, her smile wide and full of hope for both of them. “Jemma, welcome t’ th’ family, officially, love. Now, come back t’ th’ sittin’ room an’ tell me wha’ names ye’ve picked ou’.”