639. - Lucien
I don't really let go of her after that. On the car ride over, I hold her hand tightly in mine. I keep holding it as we head towards the main entrance of the hospital, and hold it even tighter when I can't seem to carry my feet over the threshold. An intense feeling of dread comes over me, nailing me to the ground. Emma, a step ahead, turns to me.
"I know." She says quietly. "You can stay out here, if you want to."
I shake my head. The idea of letting Emma face this alone is worse than having to deal with being inside a hospital again. It causes me to relapse into old habits immediately, of disregarding my own feelings and protecting only Emma instead of both of us, but this doesn't feel like the time to worry about that. If old habits are what it takes for us to get through this, so be it. Together we venture on, hands still tightly clasped together. The elevator, much shorter than the one we take to our apartment, seems to take twice as long. In the mirror, I see Emma's free hand brush over the spot where the little lady bug is hidden beneath layers of clothing. There's a part of me that wants to kiss her temple by means of reassurance, but I'm uncertain how much of our walls has been reestablished through all this.
The elevator dings, and we step out as one. One can't get through this without the other, even if we both experience this in entirely different ways. I can hear how Emma is taking slow, deliberate breaths to keep herself steady, while I just go straight on to survival mode.
"Excuse me," I say in a hushed tone to the woman behind the counter. "We're here for -"
"Emma! Lucien!" My head snaps up; from across the hall Gabriel scampers towards us, clearly having trouble not to just close the distance with a sprint. Even when he embraces us, Emma's hand doesn't leave mine. "She's down the hall. Same room as last time."
Same room as last time. When I talked to Emma for the first time in months, because I was the cause of Kenna going into labour on Christmas Eve. It seems such a bizarre memory now, clouded in all the new ones that I now associate with this place. We follow Brie, who darts into the room, but when we want to enter we get stopped by one of the nurses.
"Sorry, no more than three people in the room." She says apologetically.
Emma's grip tightens. "No, he needs to come in with me."
"I'm sorry, hospital policy. I can let one of you in, but not both."
From inside, we hear a strained groan of Kenna riding through a contraction, and the hushed words of encouragement from both Tom and Brie. Emma's face twists in panic; I cannot begin to comprehent how conflicting this must be for her.
"Go," I whisper to her, peeling my hand away from hers for the first time since we left the apartment. "You need to see her. I'll be right outside, okay? You've got this."
The tense expression on her face tells me she doesn't quite believe that, but she gives me a curd nod anyway. I don't like letting her go there alone anymore than she does. No matter how close we are to Gabriel and Kenna, they'll never truly be able to understand what this does to us. How it feels to be back on the pregnancy ward, surrounded by what might have been ours, but wasn't. A kind nurse offers me a cup of coffee as I sink down in the waiting area, but I decline. With the state I am, on the very verge of panic, I don't need any caffeine in my system.
According to the clock it's been ten minutes when Emma first comes out. A flash of panic crosses her face when she doesn't immediately find me, but just when I'm about to get up, she catches me. I stand up anyway, having a strong idea of what she needs. Without a word she wraps her arms around me; her hands clutch the back of my shirt, while her face gets hidden in the front of it.
"I was supposed to be here." She whispers in a shaky voice. "Next to her. Doing the same thing."
"I know." I mutter, my chin resting on the top of her head.
"This is so much harder than I thought it would be." Against that statement, she untangles herself from me, looking determined despite the distress. "Are you okay to stay?"
"Of course." I promise her. It's not a full truth, but not a full lie either. There's no way I would just leave her here.
Over the next five hours, Emma pops in and out of the room. Sometimes it's just for half a minute, other times I have to hold her for ten before she's okay enough to go back in. Other than affirmations that we're okay - meaning we're surviving - not much is said, both of us too occupied with trying not to crumble. Sometimes instead of Emma, it's Brie who comes out. He tells me how Emma is holding up, trying so hard to be there for Kenna, which makes my heart swell with love for her.
He stays with me longer than he needs to, making sure that I, too, am okay. Everything about this is fucked up. We should just be able to be happy for someone so dear to our hearts, but would it really be our lives if not every little thing was complicated beyond believe?
At some point, both Emma and Gabriel stop coming out for the longest stretch of time so far. Nurses dart in and out of the room, barely giving me a second glance as I pace across the little bit of hallway I can use without disturbing anyone. Light is already creeping through the window, announcing the official start of a new day, when finally it's Tom that comes outside. He looks exhausted, but it's hard to miss the euophoria in his eyes.
"You're good to come in now," He says to me, barely able to contain his grin enough to speak. "and come meet my son."
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