I decided I had to do a quick continuation of the #FicPromptFriday piece I did yesterday. Same warning applies: potential for typos, and potential for TLC spoilers.
As predicted, it was taking a long time. Her contractions were much closer together now, and the doctor had said it wouldn’t be long the last time he’d taken a peek, but four hours was a long time to be in this kind of pain, in Fox’s company no less.
In the chair beside the bed, he plucked ice chips from a cup one by one and crunched them noisily.
“Those are supposed to be for me, you know,” she said.
He tilted the cup in offering.
“Oh no. You enjoy.”
The next contraction hit her hard, deep rippling waves of pain that went on, and on, and on…
“Hey.” Suddenly Fox’s face was above hers for some reason. His voice sounded faraway. “Chelle. You okay?”
Tears burned her eyes and she pressed her lips together, to keep from letting out the whimper that strained her throat.
His expression softened, all the teasing gone, and he pressed his cool palm to her forehead.
Michelle closed her eyes, swallowed, and whispered, “I want Derek.”
“I know, love, I know. He’s coming.”
Candy had five missed calls and a voicemail from Jinx when he got off his bike in front of the clubhouse. He listened to the voicemail, and his heart leapt halfway up his throat. The baby was coming. Now.
He shoved his phone back in his pocket and slammed his helmet back on his head.
“What…” Gringo started to ask.
“Hospital.” And he cranked his bike again.
It was a sharp, cool night, and he leaned into the handlebars as he rode into town, the wind like a straight razor shaving across his skin. His eyes watered, and he told himself it was only the speed, just the air slipping past his nighttime goggles. He didn’t know or care if any of his brothers followed him. This wasn’t club business. This was…this was…
Maybe it was because he was as old as he was. Young fathers worried about the ways a kid would change their lives: middle of the night feedings, less partying, endless diaper changing, and money scraping. But for Candy, all he could see were the potential disasters. All his worries centered around the moment of birth itself. What if something happened to Michelle? To the baby? What if she had to have a C-section? What if it was backward – breech? He’d learned that word, and an impossible list of others, in birthing class. Because, yeah, he was forty-six, and he was secure, and he could take his girl to class and learn what he needed to learn; he didn’t have to pretend to be too much of a bro for that.
Breathing exercises and back massages cycled through his brain, and nothing could touch the worry that was clawing toward panic. He had to get there. Had to get there…
It wasn’t until he was parked and on his feet, jogging toward the hospital doors, that he realized he was shaking like a newborn foal. He actually tripped on the threshold going in, and a woman on her way out gasped and said, “Are you…?”
“Fine,” he said, and broke into a run, heading for the elevators. There was a line. He took the stairs. He almost had a heart attack when he got to the right floor, heaving and leaning against the door a moment. Fuck.
Fox was in the L&D waiting room, and grinned when he caught sight of him. “Jesus Christ, man,” he said, getting to his feet like this wasn’t the most important moment in the world. “Does someone need to get the paddles for you?”
“No.” His voice was a snarl. “Where is she? Which room?”
“This way.” Fox fell in beside him, and led him to a door painted a soft, unobtrusive yellow, like all the rest on this floor. “Hold on,” he said, when Candy started to push through. “I should tell you–”
The bottom fell out of Candy’s stomach. No. God no. He didn’t wait to listen, instead barged in, and found…
Fox stepped in close behind him, whispering. “She’s asleep.”
And she was. There was a bassinet beside the bed, a little white-wrapped bundle in it.
“He came about an hour ago,” Fox continued. “She did beautiful.” He patted Candy’s shoulder. “He’s healthy, already been to the nursery, already eaten a little.”
His chest squeezed so hard he thought the paddles might actually be a good idea.
“Go wake her up.” Fox gave him a nudge. “She wants to see you.” Then he withdrew and pulled the door shut behind him.
His hands curled into fists and then relaxed. Again. He had no idea what to do with the worry and adrenaline still cycling through his veins. He felt lightheaded, weak. Healthy. Both of them healthy and whole. God.
He made it to the chair beside the bed and fell into it. His hand shook when he reached and smoothed Michelle’s damp, golden hair off her forehead. She had to be exhausted, but her eyes fluttered open immediately.
“Yeah. Right here.”
She pushed up a little, leaning into his hand, and her heavy-lidded eyes came to his face. She smiled. It was tired, but it was radiant, warmth emanating from her skin.
“Fox said you did real good,” Candy said around the lump in his throat. “I’m sorry, baby doll, I wish–”
She shook her head; she didn’t want to talk about what might have been. “Have you see him?” She nodded toward the bassinet.
Only in passing. He glanced over now, and it was a fresh heart attack all over again.
“Pick him up,” Michelle prodded gently.
He got to his feet and hovered over the bassinet, hands suspended in midair. He was so tiny – okay, not tiny for a baby – but tiny compared to his big, gnarled, tooth-taking hands. And so clean, and smooth-skinned, and perfect, and…
“You picked up Jack, didn’t you?” Michelle asked.
“Yeah.” And he had. So with the utmost care, he slowly, slowly reached in and scooped up the bundle that was his son. One hand supporting his body, the other his head, such a breakable little curve settled in his palm.
He eased back into the chair, and leaned against the bed, so the baby was between them. So he could watch Michelle stroke his little forehead with a fingertip. His eyes were still closed.
Candy’s own eyes were suddenly blurry, hot and stinging.
Michelle lifted her hand and laid it on top of his head, wiggling her fingers down deep into his hair. “I know,” she whispered. “Me too.”
And that was meeting TJ for the first time.