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Four months

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Colby turned over in his sleep and pulled Charlie closer. He shifted his knee a little and felt something wet and warm cling to it. Groggily he pulled away and rolled over just enough to turn on the bedside lamp. A few specks of dust whirled through the sudden light.

At first the light blinded him, making what he saw seem unreal and a little blurry. Colby pulled the covers out of the way. He blinked, pushed away from Charlie and out of bed in one fast motion. His eyes glued to the crimson blood staining the bed sheet.

“Charlie?!” he finally managed to croak as he knelt down on the bed taking Charlie’s pulse. Charlie’s boxer shorts were soaked in blood, “Charlie!” He put his hand over the slight soft curve of Charlie’s stomach.

Charlie was deadly pale, his lips a thin colorless line, making his dark curls seem pitch-black.

“No, no,” Colby quietly chanted as he fumbled for his cell phone on the bedside table.

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Simon was sniffling against Colby’s shoulder. The paramedics scared the little boy with their imposing presents in the suddenly small bedroom. The gurney took up almost all the free space in the room.

“How far along is he?” one of the paramedics, her nametag said Ramirez, looked up at him from where she was helping her partner move Charlie to the gurney.

”Four months,” he heard himself answer.

”Okay,” Ramirez started talking into the radio attached to her uniform, ”Patient seems to be miscarrying…”

Colby didn’t pay attention to anything else she said. He just leant against the wall and concentrated on the heavy weight of Simon against his chest.

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“Is Charlie all right?” Colby asked, his throat dry.

“He lost quite a lot of blood but should recover completely,” the blond doctor explained, “The fetus…” she stopped when Colby flinched. She pulled a chair over from one of the tables in the middle of the waiting room, sat down and continued, “The baby,” she put emphasis on the words, “I can’t tell you why Charlie had a miscarriage. Sometimes the reason is chromosomal abnormalities in the baby but we don’t always know the reason. Carriers are a high risk group…”

Colby cleared his throat, ”He was scanned two weeks ago. Doctor Lebedev said everything looked fine.”

”These things,” the doctor sighed and patted Colby’s hand, ”Sometimes they just happen.”

”When can I see him?”

”The nurse is getting him settled,” she stood up, ”The second everything is ready you can go see him. But,” she looked down at Simon, the little boy was sleeping, his head resting on Colby’s shoulder, ”Charlie isn’t up for much and it might be best if you could find someone to take care of your son for a few days.”

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Larry puttered around the kitchen an old mug, with the Princeton University logo on it, in his hand. He seemed to be looking for something, his eyes scanning the room and then coming back to focus on Colby.

”But he’ll be all right?” the physicist asked and looked down at the mug in his hand. He frowned, put it down on the table mumbled something quietly and turned his attention back to Colby.

Colby just nodded and sat down on one of the kitchen chairs, ”I know you’re busy with your new students and everything else but I don’t have anyone else I can ask.” Colby felt strangely fuzzy around the edges. He hadn’t slept more than a few hours for almost 2 days now.

He’d already been badly sleep deprived, before Charlie had been hospitalized, because of the case the team was currently working on, “And,” he continued, “Simon knows you.”

“We’ll be fine,” Larry promised, “I’m sure I can handle taking care of him for a few days… I’ll make sure someone takes my classes and I’ll clear my calendar,” he looked around the kitchen, “But what about your job, Colby?”

“I told my boss I had to go see my mother,” Colby watched as Larry picked up the mug again, “I have enough sick days to cover at least a week or so and then I’ll have to get back to work.”

“Well,” Larry poured coffee in the mug and then abandoned the yellow mug on the counter

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Charlie was sleeping when Colby arrived. The carrier was curled up under the white covers, his face calm and pale under the unforgiving fluorescent light. Colby pulled the plastic chair closer, making as little noise as possible, and sat down.

He took Charlie’s slack hand and rubbed his thumb along the carrier’s knuckles. Charlie looked so small and fragile sleeping in the bed.

“Colby?” Charlie croaked and took a deep breath.

“Hey,” Colby stood and helped Charlie drink a little water from a cup, left there by one of the nurses.

Charlie swallowed and closed his eyes, “What happened?”

The question made Colby sit back down on the plastic chair, “You almost bled out, Charlie.”

“What about…” Charlie’s throat worked and Colby helped him drink again, “the baby?” Colby closed his eyes and shook his head. He opened his eyes the second he felt Charlie push a hand against his chest.

Colby was taken aback by the sight of Charlie trying to get out of the bed. The IV was nearly pulled from his arm and only Colby’s fast reaction saved the carrier from falling out of the bed and down onto the cold hard floor.

“Charlie!” Colby pressed him back against the bed.

Charlie just crumbled right in front of Colby. The carrier’s shoulders shook, his left hand was clutched at his stomach, the white knuckled fingers wrapped around the hospital scrubs. Colby had never before heard a human make the quiet broken sound coming from Charlie’s lips .

A nurse came through the door. She reacted immediately, pushing the call button. The nurse tried to make Charlie lay back but the carrier didn’t even seem to acknowledge her presence.

“You need to calm down, Charlie,“ the nurse said in a clear and commanding voice, “You’ll pull your stitches if you keep on like this.

“I’ll,” Colby said through dry lips, “I’ll make sure he sleeps.”

The nurse nodded and shot Charlie a sad look before she turned her ice blue eyes on Colby, “If he doesn’t calm down we’ll have to sedate him.”

“He’ll calm down…just…just give us a few…” Colby’s voice was cut off by Charlie’s mumbled words filling the room. The nurse left, the door closing soundlessly behind her.

“Charlie,” Colby reached out for the carrier curled up on the bed.

“Please, don’t touch me,” Charlie gasped.

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The nurse came into the room holding what looked like a small bundled blanket. The blanket’s blue color seemed extra vivid against the glaring white of the hospital’s walls.

She looked at the couple waiting and asked, “Are you ready?”

The carrier nodded stiffly and his partner stood up from the chair he had been sitting in. He nervously rubbed his palms against his jean clad thighs.

“Yeah,” he said and brushed a hand over his wrinkled t-shirt, “We’re…” he said and then just nodded once, his eyes glued to the blue blanket.

“He’s a beautiful little boy,” the nurse said as she walked over to the bed. The carrier was holding on to the sheet covering his bed. His knuckles almost bone white. “Do you want to hold him?” she asked him.

“Y-yes…please,” he answered.

She leant over and gently put the wrapped baby in his arms. The carrier made a small sound. Half an intake of breath, half a sob.

His partner pulled down the guard rail on the bed. Then he just stood there as if uncertain what to do next.

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The nurse left and Charlie started rocking almost imperceptibly.

“Let me…” Colby reached out and pulled the blanket a little away from the baby’s face.

Charlie took a deep breath, “He should have a name.”

“We never agreed on one,” Colby said, it was almost impossible to get the words past the lump in his throat. He felt as if he was talking and breathing through water.

“Look at his fingers,” Charlie whispered and held his own palm under the stillborn baby’s incredibly tiny hand. The baby’s cool skin was red and small hairs covered it. Charlie’s hand dwarfed the baby’s.

Colby moved closer and settle next to Charlie, “What about Samuel?” he asked and put his own hand over Charlie’s and the baby’s, “I always liked that name.”

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He woke up to the sound of Charlie throwing up in the small bathroom connected to the room. He jumped out of the hospital bed and made his way into the brightly lit room. Charlie was kneeling on the hard linoleum floor, his forehead resting against the toilet seat.

Colby knelt down and pulled Charlie away from the vomit spattered toilet. He grabbed some toilet paper from the roll on the edge of the sink and cleaned Charlie’s face with it. Sweaty curls clung to the carrier’s forehead and Colby brushed a hand over the dark locks.

“Do you want me to get the doctor?” Colby asked.

Charlie shook his head, “It won’t help.”

“Maybe they can give you something to help you sleep?” Colby suggested and kissed the top of Charlie’s head. The carrier’s hair smelt like antiseptic and the hand sanitizer the nurses used.

“When can we go home?” Charlie asked and coughed wetly.

“After the doctor sees you tomorrow,” Colby ran a hand through Charlie’s short curls.

“Who’s looking after Simon?” Charlie whispered, his fingers interlaced with Colby’s.

“He’s staying with Larry,” Colby got up, pulling Charlie up with him, “He’s fine.”

“I want to go home now,” Charlie said tiredly, “Can I go home now, Colby? Please?”

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Colby staggered out into the glaringly white hallway. He leant against the wall and closed his eyes. His eyes felt dry and it suddenly dawned on him that he hadn’t cried yet. Not a single tear.

He walked over to the nurse’s station. A young twenty something black woman smiled up at him, “I’m going out for a few minutes. Charlie is sleeping…”

“That’s all right,” the older nurse from earlier said and looked up from the computer she was working at, “We’ll keep an eye on him.”

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He made it to the parking lot before he threw up and had to sit down on the curb. His chest felt constricted and every breath was pulled out of his lungs in painful hard puffs. His hands tingled and he flexed them trying to get at least some kind of control back.

He got up and stumbled his way across the parking lot, found his keys and unlocked the car. He got in and sat staring at the dashboard for a second, before he just started punching the steering wheel as hard as he could. The plastic creaked under the force of his fists but nothing else happened. When his knuckles started hurting too much, he let his hands fall limply against his thighs and just sat there, breathing deeply.

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Colby returned to the quiet hospital room. Charlie was curled up under the covers. His dark curls peeking out from under the light grey blanket. Colby silently took off his jacket and draped it over the chair next to the bed. He made sure his cell phone was off and then toed off his shoes. Colby pushed them under the bed so no one would fall over them and then gently pushed Charlie a little away from the edge of the bed.

Charlie murmured and then opened his bloodshot eyes. He looked confused.

“Scoot over, Charlie,” Colby pressed down the guard rail and moved the blanket so it wasn’t wrapped around the carrier’s legs.

Charlie moved slowly, making room for Colby on the too narrow bed. Colby crawled up next to him and pulled the blanket up to their shoulders. Charlie turned just a little so most of his side was pressed against Colby and sighed deeply.

“Go back to sleep,” Colby rubbed his hand lightly up and down Charlie’s side, “Tomorrow we can go home. Simon misses you.”