Status: Thank you for everything x

Footsteps for a Bride-to-Be

EPILOGUE: London Olympics

A week or two after getting married, Michael and I finally considered our new home a home - since it needed some getting used to as it was a lot bigger than the old place. My Dad bought it for us as a wedding gift, and he lied to us for a long time, especially since he kept saying that it was located in Bolton Hill. It wasn't. When he gave us the envelope with the deed to the house as well as some other paperwork, the address came out to be somewhere in Guilford, which was a twenty minute drive north of Fells Point and from the city, and it was one of the fancy yet classic looking neighbourhoods around Baltimore.

Our new house had two floor house, four bedrooms and two bathrooms, it also had a beautiful walk in closet that made my eyes sparkle at the sight. There was a fenced backyard but there was enough grass on the front lawn for Michael and Baby Phelps to run around.

My Dad never told us because he knew how I would be when it came to surprises, and I always tend to ruin the surprise. He gave us the keys with a big grin and we moved in a few days after we touched down in Baltimore again. Saying farewell to our love nest was quite a sad moment, since there were plenty of memories that made me want to stay to keep remembering them, but Michael told me we needed a new place to start the new chapter in our lives, so I nodded and continued on. Though we kept the love nest as an investment, and it didn't last long before other couples lined up to rent out the lovely little home in Fells Point. At least the drive to our new place was around twenty minutes from the old love nest, give or take.

Also, Michael's Mom surprised us a couple of days after, when we had our house warming dinner with our family, she had her favourite portrait of Michael and I from our wedding printed onto a large A2 sized canvas. It was the picture of the moment we shared our first kiss as husband and wife in the resort in Maui. I cried when I first saw it, and it was very beautiful to see. We had it hanged above the headboard of our bed in our bedroom with the words 'Happily Ever After' and the date of our wedding underneath it. Another canvas print of the same size was added to the list a week later with a portrait of one day old Baby Phelps wearing Michael's swimming speedo that he wore at his first ever Olympics, and that was hanged in his room above his cot.

August 4th, 2012

The Final Race

The final 100m medley relay was about to start, I waited patiently in the stands with one year old Baby Phelps in my grasp as we both were eager to find Michael. Debbie was beside me, as well as Hilary, Whitney and her two kids. Lia was unable to attend, and as announced on the day of my wedding, she gave birth to a healthy baby girl just a month ago and she stayed back in Baltimore to take care of Baby Ella Grace Fitzgerald - whom she already arranged to wed Baby Phelps when they were old enough. And as I promised, throughout the Olympics, I took photos and videoed Derek during his long distance races to send to his wife at home, and considering he was planning to retire after the Olympics, he went out with a bang and won gold for the 1500m, beating the Chinese Olympian who closed in on him by just one point of a second, but Derek managed to hold on an beat the World Record, which he then dedicated his victory to Lia and their new baby, who he had said gave him his second wind at the final lap when he thought he was losing his momentum. I cried at his interview, feeling too emotional and had to leave early to get back to the stands and support the love of my life.

"Dada," I heard the baby squeal as his little fingers beckoned towards the entrance of where the swimmers came from. "Dada, Dada!" He pronounced so confidently as we both saw Michael walk out right after his teammates, and as usual, he had his headphones over his ears to help him calm his nerves and recollect his focus for the upcoming race.

"It's Uncle!" Connor cheered as he leaped up and down, also pointing towards the Olympian.

I could only stare at awe. Michael needed my support and I was there, and when I saw him swim, it made me just fall speechless at how amazing he was. He told me his target was to defend his medals, but like Derek, he just wanted to go out with a bang. Today was his final race.

I felt my heart race as Michael, Ryan, Nathan and Brendan were all taking their gear off. I saw my husband turn our way, his fingers fiddling with his goggles as he licked his lips. He gave me a smile, one that made the woman behind me scream as she frantically told her friends that Michael Phelps shot her a smile, which made me laugh. I didn't have the heart to break the bad news, so I let her have that smile.

"Daddy is going to swim now," I whispered to Baby Phelps as we both looked at the Olympian, who beamed at the sight of his son wearing a similar jacket to his, but instead had 'Team Phelps' written on the back - a gift given from the endorsers. "Blow Daddy a kiss," I added and watched the little guy pucker his lips together, pressing his palm against them and tossed them out, followed by a lagging mwah.

Michael chuckled and caught the kiss, pressing his hand above his heart before he turned back to his team and placed on his goggles. Ryan managed to throw in a flying kiss once he caught sight of me, causing his teammate to nudge him on the stomach and got scolded by the others to focus. There was some hustle between them, Nathan looking the most nervous as the four of them lined up in order of who went to swim the laps. The order for them went Ryan, Brendan, Michael and Nathan. They were up against tough competition this year, and for this finals, they were facing against the Olympians from Japan and Australia.

Debbie grabbed my hand and gripped onto me tight, I could feel how nervous she was just from the touch of her hand, and the vibe she passed onto me was really strong. "Anne, I am going to be screaming my head off, so please forgive me," She gulped as she also apologized to Baby Phelps, giving him a big peck on the cheek which left a light lipstick stain. "I don't know why, but this is one of the most nerve wracking finals I've ever been to. Michael is going to be third, but I still feel like he's the last to swim."

"Everyone has a crucial part, Mom," Hilary laughed.

"I guess it's because she's the Mother, it would be different. I mean, I saw Ryan's Mom earlier and she was telling me how many heart attacks she went through every time she watched him race," I responded. "And to be honest, as the wife of her son, I actually feel the same nerve wracking experience."

Whitney and Hilary looked at me with a cocked eyebrow before giggling. "You have slowly been sucked into Mom's Olympic moments," Whitney teased.

"Hush, hush!" Debbie interrupted us as the intercom announced and introduced the event.

I felt a drop of sweat drizzle down the side of my face, heck, it was like I was part of this race. I watched as all the swimmers got into position, my breathing slowed down, and as the bang echoed through the Aquatic Center, I gasped and stopped breathing altogether. The noise all over building could be heard at once, from the splash of every water as their arms slapped against it to the roars of cheering. I couldn't get a word out of my mouth as I anticipated for the outcome of the race, my eyes even wanted to close as deep down I no longer wanted to watch.

It was always like this throughout all the events I've watched.

Ryan reached the end and Brendan disappeared from sight, I watched as he too arrived in a matter of seconds. Michael was up, when his teammate reached a point, he went into the water in an instant.

Everything was in slow motion. I saw his arm went out of the water and rotated back down, his head occasionally popping out for air, and it was like he was in his element. That few seconds he was in the water felt like minutes, and if I had to put it in words, I really didn't know what to saw.

"Such a fish," I muttered under my breath - I suppose that would do.

Baby Phelps continuously called out for his Dad. Debbie practically killed off blood circulation in the hand she held on ever so tightly. Hilary kept screaming along with the crowd. Whitney held onto her kids as they leaped up and down to cheer for their Uncle.

And in those seconds that went by, Michael amazed me.
He reached the end and Nathan was the last to swim the final 100 meters of the race. I finally found my voice when he touched the wall and the team won the race. Japan followed soon after as well as Australia, but my screams were for my husband. I watched the four American jeer in excitement, and I managed to join in while I was in the stands, and Baby Phelps wasn't really getting what was happening and ended up crying after getting frightened by the sudden cheering from his Mom. I instantly cradled him and apologized, giving him a back rub as he leaned his head on my shoulder and cried his eyes out.

"Oh Mitchie, I am so sorry," I cooed into his ear, as he sniffed and managed to hold in more tears. I didn't notice it, but during that time, it seemed the crowd gathered up in front of me, they were getting wilder and I decided to walk out to get Baby Phelps away from the noise.

"You must be tired," I sighed and turned to Debbie to tell her I was going to leave, but she shook her head, holding onto my extra arm and beckoning to the front of the crowd.

I didn't understand.

"Who is in the- What the- Michael!?" I tried my best to keep my voice down. I watched as he climbed over the stands, one seat at a time, pushing through the crowd as he made his way in front of me. He wrapped an arm around my waist, the smell of chlorine stinking up my nose and I could feel the water soaking up into my clothes. "What are you-" I felt his lips press against mine, shutting me up halfway.

"I won," He breathed as he pressed his forehead on mine. "I did it for you, baby," He added as he pulled back and took Baby Phelps from my arms. "I did it for us," He continued. Without allowing me to say another word, he wandered back down the stands and to his team, our little guy in his grasp as the two of them continued to celebrate.

I put my fingers on my lips and was still in awe. I didn't know what just happened. "Um..." I sighed.

The Little Gathering

I rubbed the back of my neck as I patiently waited for what would happen next. The Aquatic Center was quiet now, there were no more Olympians, Press and Audience, only me and a few cleaners were left behind. I looked around for quite a bit, wondering if he forgot about me.

Debbie, Hilary, Whitney and her two kids already left, they went to wander around before the dinner booked at a restaurant tonight, and they took Baby Phelps because the event afterwards was for adults only. I let out a sigh and stared at my watch, my eyes following the ticker go as seconds went by.

"Anne," I slightly jumped at the sound of my name being called out. My body stood up automatically as I turned around, looking at where the voice was coming from. I didn't see much before a muscular arm wrapped around me without another word. I could only smell a familiar cologne, a toned figure pressed against me.

"Michael," I cooed, knowing exactly who it was without having to look at his face. My arms embraced him as I leaned my head on his chest. The sound of his beating heart made me less lonely.

"How long did I make you wait?"

"Not long," I smiled in response, lifting my head from against him and looked up at his face. His lips were curved, his hair was slightly damp and the little trickles of water went down the sides of his face. I reached out to caress my fingers along his skin. "You must be so happy with the results of this Olympics."

"I'm always happy. All my training paid off," He grinned. "At least for the next chapter, I get to spend it with you and Mitch. And I don't have to stick to my regime, I get to eat burgers and fries with you," He added, sounding so excited about his upcoming plans. Planting a kiss at the end.

I couldn't help but laugh. "Don't we have to go somewhere?" I asked as I took a quick peek at my watch.

He shook his head. "Nah, I think we can spare a few more minutes." He let me go and sat me back down on the benches, his hand grasped a hold of mine and our fingers intertwined. "Besides, they could start without me," He shrugged as he stared at the calm water he just swam in not too long ago, even winning his final medal in the Olympics.

"What's wrong? Feeling nostalgic?" I teased, slightly shaking his hand that held onto mine. His attention and mind was obviously elsewhere because there was no response, so I just stared at him.

Staring at him made him feel so relaxed. We were in the center for at least twenty minutes, and we weren't really talking either. We just let the time go by on its own, letting the seconds tick away as we were in our own thoughts. I suppose Michael was done with what he wanted to do and turned to me, planting his lips against mine once again. A smile crept up on our faces as he helped me to my feet and led me to the event that we were supposed to be at a while ago.

Arriving there was so overwhelming, there were so many swimmers - some bringing their partners - and they welcomed us with open arms, talking to us and congratulating Michael and introducing me to their partners of whom I haven't met. I hardly ever talk the partners because I hardly went to the swimming meets since I got pregnant and had Baby Phelps, especially since we both agreed to protect our son from the media and public eye.
I got separated from Michael when Derek took him away to go take photos with other gold medalists, and I went to the women who were brought along by their Olympian lovers. I never really spoke to them because the group I was with had only started to date whoever they accompanied, and when they spoke, they were more concerned about my other half instead of me. One of them stood out to me, I didn't know who she was with, but she was really drilling at my head just to get information out of me. I wanted to tell her to stop, and when I was prepared to, my other half whisked me away and apologizing to the ladies before I could say anything. His arm wrapped around me and placing his hand on my waist, using his grip to tug me to walk the same direction.

"Wow, you looked really annoyed," He laughed as soon as we were cleared to be able to talk without being heard from the group. "Which one was it? Was it the one with the pink top?" And he read my mind too.

I sighed and just wrapped my arm around his torso. "Are you done taking photos?"

"Well, kinda, but I want to hang out with you since I haven't been around you, and when I am, it's only for a few minutes and I'm gone again," He was complaining. I let him ramble on for a bit as we made our way to the nearest seats that weren't surrounded by too many people, and once we sat down, he finally stopped talking. I gave him a pat on the shoulder as I simply said, "After your media sprint, need I remind you that you said that you're going to be bumming around at home for a majority of the time? Or at least be going out to play golf with your buddies?"

"Golf," A long pause followed. "Definitely," He agreed. "And Mitch is going to follow me too."

"What do you see in our future now, Michael?"

He took a sip of his drink and looked out towards the rest of the Olympians wandering about, his arm instinctively made its way around me, pulling me closer to him as he calmly answered, "I'm thinking along the lines of having more kids. What do you think?"
I couldn't help but let a light giggle escape. "So you want more kids? And then what?"

"Well, we raise them like awesome parents and yeah," He shrugged. "You could even start writing a book about raising little Phelps," He grinned. "As of now, Mitch and I live of you." He continued to tease as he took another sip of his drink. I really couldn't say anything to him while he went on about what he wanted for the future, especially the part about wanting to be a swimming couch and wanting to take Baby Phelps with him so that they would have fond memories with each other since Michael hasn't always been around since our son was born due to his busy schedule.

"What about me? Where do I fit in all this?" I blurted my thoughts out as soon as he finished, and finding that he didn't mention anything about me except for the part where he wanted more children. "Am I only here to pop out babies?" I sighed. He shook his head and pecked my cheek and his hand on my back with his thumb stroking me to calm me down as soon as he saw my brows furrowed.

"Baby, you're my wife. As soon as I walk in through our front door. You would usually stand there whenever I get home, giving me a hug and a kiss like a wife would," He calmly explained.

I crossed my arms. "Wait, what? Is that all I am?" I tried to hide my frustration in my voice.

Michael pulled me to a hug. "You are so moody. You know I've got big plans for us and I want it to be a surprise, so no matter how much and how nicely you ask, I won't tell you," He whispered into my ear before pressing his lips at the area below my ear, making me shiver. I felt my lips curve on their own, but I managed to take control of my hands and pushed him away, giving him a playful slap on the cheek and said, "I'm thinking you're planning way too far ahead for me."

"And what’s that supposed to mean?"

I playfully pouted and poked at his chest. "You don't love me enough to add me into your life. I think we should just break up-" I teased, but was stopped halfway by a tight wrap around my body by his long arms, the side of my body pressed against his body as I let out a laugh.

"Don't say that,' Michael chuckled into my ear and nipped the lobe with his lips. "The more you tease me, the more you'll get it later."

"Hah, if you'll get out of your busy schedule."

"Hey love birds," Derek waved at the distance. "Stop being so snobby and come and take a photo with us! Especially since this will be our last time with these bunch of fishes!" He called with a very excited tone of voice, he probably had a few to drink and it mixed with his overwhelming joy from the successful results of his final Olympics, he kept waving for us to come closer as the Olympian in my arms accepted the invitation without giving asking if I wanted to go with him.

We wandered to Team America, I was trapped between Michael and Derek, who, by the time the flash of the cameras came, they all cheered for gold. I moved out of the way a few photos and watched Michael interact with his fellow swimmers. They were adorable, their grins so wide and goofy, their gold medals wrapped around their necks and they were in pure bliss.

I don't think this is the last time people will see Michael Phelps in the pool, but for now, his time will be for Baby Phelps and I. Especially three months after the Olympics, I found out we have another little bundle coming to join our little family mid-next year.

♠ ♠ ♠
Long, long, loooonnnngggg awaited epilogue, jebuz.

I wrote the first half of this when I asked for the epilogue voting, and the rest was written earlier today!
Once again, thank you, thank you, thank you for reading, recommending and commenting, it's made me feel so happy and motivated to write all the way to the end - and a confession - I hardly ever finish stories. Thanks so much for everything everyone and all!!