AN: Oh dear... Not another one, I know :/ Anyway, just a three part spin off. However, I think I've explained it enough for those who haven't read anything else to understand it. Enjoy.
David's Point Of View.
I woke to the sound of Amber retching, coming in the direction of our ensuite bathroom. I groaned, rolling over and glancing at the clock on the bedside table. The bright red digits stood out starkly against the dark, early morning shadows of the rest of the room. Six forty five am.
As a sob echoed in my ears, I quickly kicked off the tangled sheets from around my legs and threw back the duvet, climbing out of the warm haven of my bed. Staggering through to the bathroom bleary-eyed, I found my wife curled up beside the toilet bowl, tears streaming down her face as she bowed her head and gagged once more.
I knelt down beside her, raking her long, titan hair out of her face and wrapping it in a coil around my wrist, softly kissing her ear. The cool tiles felt freezing against my bare feet, but her pale skin was flushed with heat and burnt against my fingertips as I slowly rubbed them over her shoulders in a soothing motion.
I reached over and took a flannel out from the laundry pile, flicking the tap on with a finger and running it under the icy water before wringing it out. She leant into my body, shivering as I gently wiped it over her forehead and mouth. Throwing it back into the sink, I sank backwards against the wall, pulling her thin body fully against me. She rested her head on my shoulder, clutching my t-shirt with one hand, quietly shaking. I absent-mindedly twisted a strand of her hair around my forefinger and thumb, pressing my lips to her temple. "Dodgy food for dinner last night?"
She slowly shook her head. "You'd have it as well then. It would also have also taken an effect sooner than this."
"I guess... Stomach bug then? There's meant to be one going round at the moment."
Her fingers ran along my forearm, making me look down at her as she sighed. "I don't think so. It's a lot like... No, it doesn't matter."
"A lot like what?" I questioned her, raising an eyebrow.
"Well, morning sickness. Stupid idea I know."
I regarded her for a moment, a small feeling of shock coursing throughout my body. "No, it's not stupid. It is possible."
She pushed her head against me, burrowing her face in my neck. "No. It's too rare. I can't be pregnant again this soon after having a baby."
"Honey, there's still a chance, no matter how small the probability is."
As much as it's the truth, I could see why she didn't want to believe it. She was exhausted, as was I, from the constant twenty four seven care of a four month old infant. Now just wasn't the time, but I couldn't help but feel a glimmer of hope bloom deep inside. To build a family with the beautiful woman whom I love is what I'd wanted ever since I met her. She'd already given me two of the most amazing children in the world, but a third on the off chance from the one physically intimate moment we've had in the past few months is something truly remarkable and I couldn't help but grin.
"I should have known that that would be your response." She darkly muttered before sighing and pulling herself upright, swaying a bit as the blood rushed from her head. I sharply stood up, steadying and then steering her back through to our bedroom.
Once back in bed, she curled up beside me, her head lain out upon my chest, nervously biting down on her lip. There was no point in going back to sleep for the forty minutes we had before we actually needed to get up, and it was nice just to lie there in a companionable silence without any immediate stress. As expected since Quinn's birth, we'd been distanced from each other slightly due to every scrap of spare time been taken up, but I felt that now maybe, that gap was beginning to close. This whole thing, although completely unexpected, could bring us closer than ever before.
"Yes?" I glanced down at her worried expression.
"Do you really want this to happen?"
I considered it for a few moments, gaging her own thoughts and response before my own feelings. "...Yeah, I do."
She nodded, running her fingers up and down my arm again, tracing patterns onto the skin. I hesitated slightly. "Don't you?"
"In all honesty, I don't know. It's our baby - if it exists that is, and of course I want it. But I just don't know if now's the best time, that's all. We're both so exhausted as it is."
I could understand why she was so doubtful - both times she had been pregnant it really took a knock on effect upon her. But that was what I was there for, right? Unlike most men, I liked the responsibility of being a sole head of my family. It let me feel in control - to be able to take care of and love them all to the full extent which was actually possible.
"Do you feel pregnant?" I softly asked her.
She closed her eyes, sighing. "I really don't know. I'm so hormonal as it is, I can't tell the differences apart anymore."
She rolled over, away from me then but I simply wiggled up behind her, wrapping my arms around her waist, my palms spread out on her stomach. She got that message alright - I rarely hold her stomach in such a way other than when she's been expecting in the past. Interlinking her fingers through mine, she relaxed fully against me, gradually breathing in and out more deeply. Whilst she eventually drifted back into a slumber, I lay still but wide awake as ever, simply amazed.
Living under my palms could be my baby - our baby. It was the complete awestruck wonder which I'd felt upon discovery of both Duncan and Quinn. The sort of manliness pride of I'm – in – enough – working – health – to – actually - conceive. Granted, it hadn't been exactly confirmed, but as I looked at her ashen face, she had the same peaky look as before, and the more I thought about it, the more certain I'd became. The occasional weepy moment, sudden bouts of angry frustration, random urges to eat ice cubes and the complete lack of sexual interest. Ice cubes were a special favourite when she was carrying Duncan. I'd formerly put it all down to neonatal hormones, but then it all pointed in the complete opposite direction.
I could feel myself grinning as I hugged her more tightly to me, never wanting this perfect moment to end. I was quite easily the luckiest guy in the world; the woman who I loved more than anything was lying in my arms, both of my children were asleep down the hall and yet, I had seemly gained enough good karma to gain another. My job was going brilliantly, the money I had invested in stocks was booming and every person who I loved was in perfect health.
There was nothing which could make me happier, and maybe then I should have realised that something had to change - a terrible thing at that. It was life; the rise and fall of grace. But yet, I didn't even remotely think of such a thing. I was blinded by my joys and didn't notice the threatening storm raging behind me, gaining seconds of space with each passing moment. My visions were set though; I didn't turn around in order to spot it. Maybe if I had, I could have ran away from it, escaped from the looming oppression which was bearing down. I'd like to think that I would have been able to, but deep down I know it was beyond my power. That scares me though; it reminds me that I'm not in the driving seat of my life and that I never will be.
But for now, the only damper was the interruption of my thoughts by a crackly cry coming over the baby monitor, and even that couldn't be considered a downcast to me. Gently, I extracted myself from her hold and slid out from under the covers, gradually making my way to the nursery next door. Quinn was lying on her back in the crib, the sheets kicked back and crying in hiccupy bleats. Just getting over serve colic, and let me tell you what a relief that was. I scooped her up into my arms and within a few moments of gentle hushing, her wails soon calmed, if only for a moment. A nappy and clothing change later, she was still grizzling into my shoulder and like most fathers, I realised far too late that she was hungry. I was tired okay? And had very pressing matters on my mind... But yeah, no excuses, I know.
After sticking my head round the bedroom door and discovering that Amber was fast asleep, I decided that the formula milk would be a safer bet than waking her up. Downstairs, I slotted Quinn into her highchair and cracked open the pot of rarely used powdered stuff that was seemingly meant to pass for nutritious food. One part power to four water, microwave for a hundred and twenty seconds on eight hundred and fifty watts, then test on the inside wrist. A regime I knew oh too well.
Settling back into one of the kitchen chairs, Quinn nestled in my arms and latched onto the bottle, I read this week's newspaper which was spread out over the table. Once she had finished, I burped her, was, typically, of course vomited over, and went back upstairs to wake Duncan up. He moaned at me to go away and just to let him sleep more. I swear five year olds aren't meant to do that. Isn't it a teenage thing? Children of his age are supposed to be high as a kite at this time in the morning, right? They normally have trouble going to sleep. Mind you, what with my genes, it's hardly a surprise that he's not typically normal.
Looking at his Mickey Mouse alarm clock on a shelf, I realised we were already running far behind schedule, and was really in no mood for arguing. So I did what most people would have done; I bribed him. "You can have chocolate milk on your cereal."
I had never seen the kid move so fast. He shot out from under the covers, hair sticking up all over the place, grabbing my hand, tugging me downstairs whilst piping in a high pitched voice "And strawberries. Can I have strawberries?"
"Only if you promise to be good and get dressed quickly this morning."
He nodded. "I'm always good." That cracked me up, I'm telling you.
He sat in one of the chairs, elbows on the table, swinging his legs back and forth. "Where's Mummy?"
"She's not feeling very well this morning. She's in asleep in bed."
"Oh..." He considered this for a few moments as I sliced some strawberries into a bowl. "I don't feel very well either."
"Well, in that case, I guess you're not hungry. I'll eat your breakfast instead. And then you'll have to have some of that yucky banana medicine to make you feel better."
He stared at me, a look of pure horror on his face at the prospect of the banana medicine. "I feel better now."
I placed the bowl in front of him, and as he began to eat in a frenzied manner which would usually signify that he hadn't been fed in a week. Cheeks bulging, he started up one of his normal animated discussions. "I haven't done my reading homework."
"You said you didn't have any yesterday."
"I didn't want to do it then." He scowled, kicking out forcefully at the table leg.
"Because it's stupid and too easy. It's all about Biff and Chip and a magic key."
I laughed at his disgusted expression. "Maybe you should read War and Peace."
"A very long book which even I couldn't read."
"Oh... It must be very boring then. I'll get into trouble for not doing my reading though. I'm already on the purple books. That's the furthest in my class."
"Then you're a very good reader. You can read it to me in the car."
"And you have to sign it to say you listened to me."
Seemingly satisfied, he continued eating, watching Quinn in her highchair. "When can Quinn eat proper food?"
"Oh, in quite a while. She can have rice soon though."
He wrinkled his nose. "Rice is horrible."
"You haven't tasted Chinese rice. It's much nicer."
"Will she be eating that?"
"Oh... What type will she eat?"
"One that's specially made for babies."
"Does that one taste nice?"
"I don't know."
"Did I ever eat baby rice?"
"Yes... You didn't seem to like it much."
He grinned at that. "It probably wasn't very nice then."
"I guess not."
He finished the bowl, clunking the metal spoon down on the side. I took it from him and as he rushed back upstairs, called after him "Be quick getting dressed. And remember to brush your teeth!"
Putting it in the dishwasher, I took Quinn upstairs, dressed her more warmly and put her back in her crib, surrounded by toys of sorts. After checking in on Duncan to see if he was actually getting dressed, I returned to my own room to change into a pair of jeans. Amber stirred as I was doing so, blinking up at me a little sleepily. I sat down next to her, on the edge of the bed, kissing her forehead. "I'm just about to take Duncan to school. I'll bring Quinn with us."
She nodded, sighing. "Thanks..."
I hesitated slightly. "I'll take the day off for care... Whilst I'm out though, do you want me to buy a test?"
She softly laughed, wrapping her arms around my neck and pulling me down for a hug. "No. That's in the top five things which a guy should never have to buy."
"I don't mind."
"I'll go out and get one whilst you're away."
"Okay." I gave her one last squeeze. "Take care."
Down in the hallway, Duncan was standing all ready but his shoes. "I can't find them."
It's a classic trick of his; to try and delay going to school. "Have you looked in the boot closet? Under the sofa? In Tor's basket?"
He scowled at the last one, going into the kitchen and reaching under Tor, our giant of a German Shepherd dog, pulling out his shoes. Tor just gave him a faint look of amusement, as if he understood perfectly what was going on. He probably does, to be honest.
Finally out of the door, I strapped Quinn into her car seat as Duncan climbed into his own booster in the front, perching his book case across his lap. His school wasn't too far away, but the traffic that morning was absolutely awful, so once he had finished reading me the story of the Magic Key and Visit of the Dinosaurs, I parked up on the kerb, signed the book and climbed out, deciding that walking would be faster than the current rate of moving traffic. Quinn in one arm, and Duncan's hand in the other, we hurried up the gridlocked street towards his primary school at the end.
Duncan raced into the classroom happily enough, with only a fleeting hug around my legs and a dire warning of "Don't be late picking me up."
I just stood slightly amazed at the sudden eagerness which had left me alone in the hallway, when there was a tap on my shoulder and I turned round to face Gareth. You could probably say that Gareth, being my close co-worker and long standing acquaintance, is my best friend, but I personally think he takes the piss out of me far too much to be entitled to such an honoured role.
His daughter, Summer hung reluctantly behind him, shyly holding his hand and staying far away from me. He pulled her out, laughing and said "Don't be silly; you know Uncle David."
She turned into him, gripping his trousers and still hiding from me. Shaking his head, he sighed. "It's nothing personal; she's just been in a funny mood all morning." Then, kneeling down to her height, looked her straight in the eye. "Now, I hope you're not going to be like this later." She solemnly shook her head. "Good, now go play with Duncan and have a nice day."
She skipped happily off then, joining him at the water trough and immediately starting up what seemed to be a quarrelsome conversation. He glanced in at them. "They're already like a married couple."
"Just imagine if they did get married." I stared at him, aghast. "I'd be like... Related to you. Your grandkids would be my grandkids."
"God help us all then."
"I know. It'd be the world being overrun by this supergene child."
He scoffed then, teasing me. "Yeah, but Summer has taste. She wouldn't pick your son."
"My son has standards. He wouldn't pick your daughter."
We both cracked up. "You know our luck? They will end up together."
"When that day comes, I hope I'm six feet under."
It was then that Duncan's teacher stepped in front of me. At least, I think it was his teacher. Amber normally does the school run, and this one has only been working here for the past month or so. She didn't look like a primary school teacher. Aren't they normally the mumsie, cuddly type? This one was stick thin, with the tight clothes, knee height leather boots and all. She gave me a bleached smile, outstretching her arm to me. "So you're Duncan's father? I don't believe we've had the pleasure."
Quickly moving Quinn, who'd fallen asleep, to my other shoulder, I shook her hand, trying not to laugh at Gareth's raised eyebrows over her shoulder. "Neither do I. It's nice to meet you."
"Yes, very. He talks about you all the time."
"Oh yes, always 'My Daddy says this' or 'My Daddy thinks that'. Extremely adorable."
I think she is, and will be forever more, the only teacher who describes my son as 'adorable'. Oh, sure, he's angelically cute but also holds the demonic genius deep within him. Just another gene he's picked up from me. There was a high pitched screech from the far corner of the classroom, along with a wail of "Miss! He stole my Barbie!"
"Shouldn't you, um, go and deal with that?"
She reluctantly let go of my hand making an exaggerated turn and swanning over to the squabbling pair. Gareth gave me one his Cheshire Cat grins then. "Still have the touch with the ladies then?"
"Of course. I may have found my first grey hair last week, but I've still got it in me."
"You'd think, what with the wedding ring and a baby asleep on your chest and all, that you have 'committed' written all over you and they'd stop trying."
"Oh, but they're both total babe magnets."
"It's not only that.' He had mirth twinkling in his eyes. "You also have your fly undone, dried baby sick down the back of your t- shirt and are still wearing your dog-chewed slippers."
"Oh crap." I groaned, quickly passing Quinn over into his surprised arms and zipping up my jeans. "You could have warned me earlier."
"I was wondering how it'd take for you to notice."
"Far too long it seems. Doesn't stop them from flirting with me though."
"Jammy git." I glanced up at him, realising I couldn't do anything about the slippers or shirt unless I want to go round half dressed. He was grinning down at Quinn who had woken up in his arms and was clasping his thumb in one hand.
"You're such a pansy."
"I know, and I don't care. I've missed holding a baby."
"It's therapeutic, isn't it?"
He nodded, before pulling a slight face. "I've just realised we've got another day of Martha rabbiting on about weddings ahead of us." Martha's the third and final doctor which makes up our neurology team at the local city hospital. Having recently gotten engaged, Gareth and I have been subjected to listening about her wedding plans constantly whilst in her presence.
I slid him a sly look. "Have fun with that. I'm taking the day off."
"How come?" He looked appalled.
"Amber's not feeling well. Gotta look after Quinn."
"Oh I wondered why you were here. Send her my love. Has she got the bug that's going round?"
I hesitated slightly. "Nah... We think she's pregnant; she's got the same look about her as before."
He chuckled. "Popping out another one, eh, David? Really getting into this family stuff?"
"It's not certain, so don't go round telling anyone. I'm trusting you here."
He passed Quinn back to me as we walked towards the building exit and into the now somewhat empty playground. "You know, maybe you and Charlotte should try for another. They can grow up together."
"Oh, I don't know. I've tried talking to her about it, but she seems reluctant, what with us not actually being married and all."
"Isn't it the men who normally need persuading?"
"Just another sign of how messed up we are, right?"
"Defiantly." We stopped at his parked car. "Well, have a good day."
He scowled at me, opening the driver's door. "Oh, I'll have a brilliant time; don't worry. Oh, and congrats."
"It's not certain yet."
Looking up at me from his seat now, he grinned. "Well, if it is. I'll see you tomorrow, yeah?"
I stood back as he shut the door and started the engine, reversing out of the spot with a wave goodbye. Quickly half jogging back up the road, I returned to my own car. The journey back was rushed; I had a disparity to return to Amber as soon as possible and I felt a sense of relief when I pulled up the driveway and noticed her car had changed parking positions from when I had left, meaning that she had already been out and come back.
Quinn had again fallen asleep during the car ride, to be a baby, I'm telling you, must be a cushy lifestyle. I put her back in her crib, and hurried through to our bedroom, where Amber sat on the edge of the bed, gripping a sealed pharmacy bag in her hands, staring unblinking, at the wall.
She jumped as I entered, forcing a smile onto her face. "Hey."
"Hey." I sat down beside her, a sudden heavy feeling overcoming me as she leant her head against my shoulder, as if all her negative thoughts had burdened themselves upon me. "You okay?" I murmured into her ear.
"I'm fine." She quickly replied, her face tight. "Was Duncan okay going to school?"
"I'm worried that something's wrong. He's been slightly more reluctant to go than normal recently. Maybe we should go speak to his teacher."
"I had the pleasantries of meeting her today."
That managed to coax a small smile out of her. "Not exactly what you would expect, right? Well, she seems to be doing okay so far anyway."
An anxious, impatient feeling started to bloom in the pit of my stomach. "Yeah... So, um, do you want to...?" I trailed off as a poorly disguised grimace passed across her face.
"Just... Give me a moment to gather the courage."
I took her hand, twisting the dual wedding and engagement rings around upon it. "It'll be okay, you know, either way. As long as we have each other, we'll be fine."
"I know." Her voice was a mere whisper, little more than the volume of a pin dropping to the floor. She stood up, pushing me back down as I tried to follow her. "Stay."
"Stay?! You've got to me kidding me."
"No... You would think after the past times, you would have realised by now that I'm not having you watch me pee on a stick."
I rolled my eyes. "I've seen far worse in my time; remember that."
"I want to be by myself. Please."
The pure desperation in her final word clinched me. "Well, okay... But you have to let me straight in after."
She silently nodded, walking with heavy shoulders to the bathroom. As soon as the door swung shut, I jumped up and started an agitated, territorial pacing back and forth outside of it. I didn't likebeing apart from her at such a time, and every second dragged past at the reverse speed of light. When the lock finally clicked open, after what seemed an age, I pushed it open and practically ran to where she was standing beside the sink, quickly wrapping my arms around her waist and burrowing my face into the side of her neck, letting my excitement overwhelm me for a moment. "What do you want? Boy or girl?" I could feel her tense in my arms, and a minute wave of disheartenment washed over me. "... Amber?"
Her voice was forced; almost robotic. "I don't mind. Don't get your hopes up though; there practically nothing backing it."
"I don't care." I muttered into her ear. "How long has it been?"
"I... I can't." She turned round into me, hiding her face, her murmur even less audible than earlier. "I'm scared, David."
My heart restricted in my chest, as I instinctly rubbed her back. "Hey, shush, it's okay. It's normal to feel nervous."
"I'm not just nervous. I'm terrified."
I pulled back to look at her straight in the eye. "Honey, I'm here. It's going to be fine, okay? I promise... Look, you could be worrying over nothing, right?" I took her hand, which was clenched around the test, in my own.
She bit down on her lower lip. "Okay."
"On the count of three?"
She took a sharp intake of breath, but didn't refuse my proposal.
"One... Two... Three." When her thumb didn't move away from where it was covering the result, I gently nudged it away with my own, taking a few seconds to actually register what was underneath.
A single blue cross. Positive.
Whilst an elated beam spread across my face, a sob racked through her and a sudden stream of tears began to run down her face as she pushed her head back into my chest, clinging to me with a new found disparity which took me with even more of a surprise than the news itself. A dark damper dashed my delight, filling me with, perhaps, the first feeling of foreboding.
I cupped her face in my hands, forcing her to look up at me as I wiped away her stray tears with my thumbs. "Love, it'll be okay." I again repeated, like some unsure parrot. I just couldn't understand why she felt so, let alone be able to comfort her.
"I know... I know... I just..." Another deluge came over her as her shoulders shook with a sob in my arms. The tremor ran through me to the very bowels of my innermost being. We just stayed like that until she finally let me pick her up with ease and carry her one more through to our bed. Yet, even then she still clutched at me, as if I was going to disappear any moment, never to return.
When she had finally calmed down enough to talk properly, I brushed the hair out of her eyes and gently said "Tell me what's wrong."
She screwed up her eyes, refusing to answer for a few moments. "I... I just don't think that I can cope."
"Explain to me why."
"God, David." Her voice was sharp, but I decided to ignore it. "Think about how exhausted we both are already. This isn't going to help at all. There'll be a point where I can't do everything for myself, then when they're born, it'll just be yet another thing keeping us awake all night."
"I don't mind."
"I do. Then there's no point in me going back to work, I'll be laid off, be stuck at home constantly, and just become a recluse."
I sighed, running a hand through my hair before sitting up, cross legged opposite her, taking her hands in my own. "Look, I know it'll be difficult, but we'll work it through. You won't have to stop work - not completely anyway. I can take a part-time placement or we can hire a nanny or something. We're lucky that we have no financial problems."
She nodded, wiping the tears away with the back of her hand and forcing yet another eerily fake smile upon her face. "Yes. Please just ignore me; my hormone levels are through the roof. I'm being stupid, I know."
"No, you're not." I lay back, her tucked up beside me as I gently nuzzled the top of her head. I took her hand underneath mine, placing them both upon her stomach, which was still showing the signs of the last pregnancy. "So... It was the day after your Mum's birthday, right?" She nodded, lightly squeezing my fingers in return. "Which was... Um, six weeks ago? Theoretically, eight though... Which would mean that they're due in late November."
"Irish twins." I agreed, tightening my hug. "Just think, Amber; another baby. Another tiny, amazing being which we've created. Another little person which is part of me and part of you."
At last my excitement became infectious and it was a real grin which I received from her this time as she gently whispered "Part of you and part of me." Finally, she looked me properly in the eyes, running her fingertips across my jaw. "I love you, David."
"I love you too. Forever and always." I softly pushed my lips against hers, rejoicing in the moment. In the love which I held for my family.