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|06-12-2002, 01:23 AM||#1|
Ice Cube in Heels
Join Date: Jan 31, 2002
A Bleeding Heart - Chapter 2.
Well, I don't know if anyone's reading this or not, but here's chapter two anyway. The first two chapters are just basically setting the tone of the story, though this chapter is incredibly long. The story really begins in chapter three. So, if you're reading, enjoy.
A Bleeding Heart
by Bethany and Lexie
The sound of music played softly in the background, as I dipped my wife gently towards the ground. Her melodic laugh filled my ears as I carefully brought her back up into my embrace. With her nuzzled against my chest, we continued to dance the night away. I looked down to catch a glimpse of her smile. It was breathtaking. She had never looked more gorgeous than when we danced by the firelight, the glow reflecting off her raven-like locks. If I loved this woman any more, I was sure my heart would burst.
As the music faded out, I gazed down at Lilith to find her eyes shut, a serene look plastered across her face. She looked so peaceful, in fact, if it weren't for our feet swaying back and forth, I would have thought her to be in a sound sleep.
This had become a daily ritual to us, perhaps second nature, much like brushing your teeth when you awake. We would wait until we had sent the children to bed, leaving the two of us alone, slow dancing the evening to a perfect close. And perfect it was. Holding her close each night, watching the fire dance in those eyes, seeing her so happy. It was all I needed.
When the music stopped completely and silence filled the room, she pulled away and her hazel eyes held mine captive. She leaned in slowly, pressing her lips to mine. We stayed there for several moments, savouring each others kisses until I could feel her body going limp into my arms. She was exhausted, I was sure. I kissed her forehead as I caressed her cheek. "Why don't you go to bed? I'll be in after I lock up." She smiled, almost in a daze, as she yawned and headed off.
After making my way through the living room, locking the dead-bolt and shutting off random lights, I stopped in my son's room. I stood back in the doorway, watching the dark figure sleep peacefully. I stepped in, moving miscellaneous books from the floor, back on to his desk. My boy was certainly a studious one, but tidiness was another issue all together. His newfound adolescent traits aside, he was the most responsible twelve year old I had yet to encounter. Of course, prejudice may have played a minor role there. I couldn't help myself, I decided, as I continued cleaning up loose ends around his room. He was my son, my first born. He taught me what it was like to truly love another human being unconditionally, the first moment I laid eyes on him. A father couldn't ask for more in a son, and I gave Lilith all the credit she deserved where Frederick was concerned. She had raised him to be a fine young man, one I was proud to call my own.
I took one last look at Frederick, before making my exit. I knew what a disaster would have arose had he woken with me in the room. He was at a sensitive age, and even though his responsible front could be deceitful, he still was very particular about his space and the fact that he was not a "child" any longer.
The room next to his was that of my eldest daughter. Alexis. I sighed as I entered. The room was well kept, yet very simple. Endless times Lilith or Daphne had offered to help her decorate -- at least add some border -- but she would politely turn them down (or not so politely in Lilith's case). It was who she was, and Lilith and I agreed to let her live the phase out, praying it was only that -- a phase.
I carefully moved some blankets aside, and sat on a small portion of the tiny bed. I brushed back some dark strands, and gently caressed my little girl's cheek. And she was, too, I reminded myself. A little girl. I could see that as I stared down at the small figure beside me. It was very easy to forget that, however. I watched her as she rolled over, and made a little grunting noise, shuffling her pillow as she slept. I continued to stroke her hair as I thought about where I went wrong. A tremendous amount of guilt consumed me as I felt I had failed my daughter. Whether she expressed it vocally or not, it was obvious she bore the burden of mine and Lilith's divorce those many years ago. How could I just up and move to the other side of the country, deserting my children in that fashion? God had a cruel way of punishing me, for as a result, I had absolutely no relationship with my daughter. It broke my heart just looking at her. She always looked so sad. As if she were reaching out and there was a barrier between us, preventing me from picking her up. Though she had warmed up to me a bit over the past three years, there was still a great deal lacking in our relationship -- the relationship a father and daughter have a right to. I wondered if we would ever have a shot at that, or if the damage was irreversible.
Kissing the back of her head, I shut off her little night light before leaving the room. Last and final stop before returning to my wife -- Bethany's room. I tip-toed into the chamber fit for a princess. And that she was -- a little princess. I made my way over to the four-post canope bed, adorned with pale-pink material and little roses dancing their way up the bed polls. She was all girl. My little girl. In fact, I clearly remember the day we were in the store and her tiny little hand pulled at my sleeve. "Daddy..." She looked at me coyly, the look that so constantly tugs at my heart's strings and that sing-song voice that makes me melt on the spot. "Look..." she pulled me to her destination and jumped on the duplicate of the bed she now owns. I bought it right on the spot. Lilith always scorns me for it, but I can't deny her anything.
"Daddy..." The same small voice perked up, as I looked to find those big blue eyes starring up at me in the darkness. She reached out to me as I went over to her, craddling her in my arms. "Shhh... go back to sleep, Angel."
"Sing to me, Daddy." Her eyes closed slightly, as she nestled her head against my chest, finding comfort and solitude in my arms. I softly started singing "You Are My Sunshine," as she drifted off into a peaceful slumber. It was our song, since the day she was born. I'd sing it to her every night until she fell asleep. And it had gotten to the point where she would fight sleep with every ounce of her being, until the soft lyrics echoed in her ears. I placed gentle butterfly kisses against her forehead, and rocked her as I stared at that angelic face -- the carbon copy of her mother's. I held my daughter tightly and thought back to the very day she was born.
I had missed the births of my eldest two children and I would be damned if I’d missed this one. The moment I learned of Lilith's pregnancy after our latest fling, I insisted she move out to Seattle until our daughter arrived. The pregnancy had been very hard on Lilith, and she was quite ill with Toxemia for most of it. She was violently sick most days and severe headaches and blurred vision prevented her from doing much of anything. As a result, there had not been very much we could do together, except sit and talk, or in a comfortable silence, which had worked out very well, in a roundabout kind of way. We had effectively rediscovered each other, becoming closer and closer, until I found myself totally head over heals in love with her again. Not that I'd ever been out of love with her, but this time was different, we really knew each other now, and I'd already lost her once. No way was I going to do it a second time.
I also spent this time doing my best to get reacquainted with my other two children. Freddie warmed to me quickly enough, enjoying the time we spent together. He was smart and responsible, and was always there for his mother, liking to be kept informed of her condition. He was old enough to understand what had happened between his mother and I all those years ago and, though he was happy that we were a family again, he liked to be regularly reassured that I wouldn’t leave her again.
Alexis had been another matter. She hardly ever spoke to me, a trait, Lilith assured me was true to anyone. She was right of course, Lexie has never spoken much at all, but I wasn’t just anyone -- I was her father and I was more then desperate to make up for our lost time. I might as well have been bonding with a python though, because she never lost her edge around me, never let her guard down. She would occasionally creep up next to Lilith and lie in her arms but she never did it to me nor responded politely to my questioning.
Those endless days all blurred together, and the pieces of the puzzle were becoming complete. As for that one day, however, no matter how cliché it sounds, I still remember it as if it were yesterday.
Two years previous.
Lilith had been feeling awful all day, her usual symptoms being coupled with some unusually extreme back pain. Daphne had offered to take Freddie and Alexis out to the zoo, to give us some time alone, which of course we had readily agreed to. Dad must have felt particularly uncomfortable at the idea of being left alone with us because he jumped at the chance to go too, despite the fact the weather had forecast a huge electrical storm heading our way.
By about midday Lilith and I were sat on the sofa in the living room, watching a favourite movie of ours. She was moving about quite a bit and I noted with dismay that the Tylenol she’d taken earlier must have had little or no effect. Saying nothing, I gently pulled her to me and began rubbing her lower back, hoping to relieve some of her discomfort. She seemed to relax a little and leaned back heavily. Soon after that the storm started, and after about forty-five minutes, all power in the building went out. Although it was only two in the afternoon, the storm had darkened the sky and the air had become chill. Lilith shuddered against me.
“Ok, wait here a second.” I went to the cupboard and came back with a lighter and several candles, which I lit and placed around us on the tables.
“Thank you.” I smiled and kissed her softly.
Since the film had gone off with the power Lilith and I talked for a long while over the storm, about everything and nothing, until a comfortable silence had befallen us and we sat in each others arms. Me still massaging her back.
Suddenly, she tensed in my arms and cried out, clutching her stomach. I was about to ask what was wrong, but quickly felt my legs beginning to get wet. Her waters had broken.
“Oh God.” She whispered.
I began to panic, (a lot more then she was at that point) I made sure she was comfortable and breathing through the contraction before grabbing the phone and quickly dialling 911, only to be met with the disconnected tone. Of course, the phones had been taken out by the storm. I grabbed by keys from the side and said I’d take her to the hospital myself, but as I went to help her up, another contraction hit and she clutched my hand tightly. I held her to me and whispered encouraging words as she breathed heavily and struggled to get through it. It abruptly finished, and I went to help her up again but she shook her head.
“No time.” She moaned.
“What. Honey, there’s plenty of time. It’s only just started.”
“No,” she clenched her teeth in an attempt to cope with the pain. “It must have started…hours ago…” she cried out “…why my back was so bad…Frasier!” She nearly screamed as the strongest contraction yet took hold. I smoothed her hair down, as beads of sweat began to appear on her forehead. Inside I was panicking like a five year old, it’d been ages since my medical training and I didn’t remember much. Also, I was unsure of how the Toxemia was going to affect the birth, what would I do if something went wrong? I tried not to think about it, knowing I had to be strong for Lilith. I made up my mind to get her more relaxed and prepare for having to do this myself, inside I prayed that the phones returned soon.
“Okay, baby.” I said, soothingly “Let’s get you to the bedroom, it’ll be more comfortable and there’s more room.” I tried my best to sound reassuring. She nodded quickly and I picked her up gently, carrying her as fast as I could towards the bedroom and hoping we’d get there before the next contraction hit. We made it just in time.
As I set her down she grabbed hold of the blankets and squeezed them tightly in her fists. Despite my obvious concern for her welfare, I couldn’t help but be glad that that wasn’t my hand. I ran my hands over her shoulders and gently reminded her to breathe. When the contraction finally ended I knew to act quickly.
“I’ll be right back.” I whispered and ran into the bathroom and grabbed some towels off the rack, as well as a flannel from the basin. Hurrying back to Lilith, I found her kneeling on the bed with her hands against the wall, crying her eyes out. I went up behind her and kissed the back of her neck.
“I can’t do this, Frasier.” She shook with the effort it took to remain kneeling.
“Oh sweetheart, oh course you can. I know it’s hard but it’s gonna be okay, I promise.” I kissed her neck again and held her to me as she fell backwards when the hurt grew more intense. She screamed and I felt the tears stinging the back of my eyes at seeing her in so much pain. When it relented a little, I pulled the blankets from the bed onto the floor and placed two towels on the bed. She held my hand for support and I carefully laid her down on top of them.
The labor was difficult from then on. I was wiping the sweat from Lilith's face every other minute, trying to cool her down with the wet flannel. Feeling ultimately helpless, I constantly whispered soft words of encouragement, rubbing her back and so forth, knowing full well that the safety of both mother and child was all on my shoulders. Petrified didn’t even begin to explain what I was feeling. When the final stage came, I sat in front of Lilith, rubbing her legs, and yelled at her to push. About five minutes later, (as well as a good deal of tears and swearing from Lilith), I was holding my tiny daughter in my arms as she took her first glimpses of the world around her.
Lilith's tears turned to those of sheer joy as I wrapped our little girl in a towel and placed her into her mother’s arms for the very first time. She looked up at me with a loss for words, and I pressed a faint kiss against her forehead. "She's beautiful." I marvelled, “Just like her mother.” I pulled one of the blankets up off the floor and wrapped it around Lilith’s bare legs and over her stomach. I kissed her again and we both starred down at our daughter.
Just then, the front door slammed and I heard the sound of raised voices, followed by running feet approach the room. I took the child into my arms, just as the door was flung open and Daphne and Niles ran into the room. One look at the three of us on the bed and it was kind of obvious what had occurred. They stood in a stunned silence for a minute.
“Is everyone, okay?” Niles asked rather timidly and at length. Holding my beautiful wife and gorgeous new baby girl in my arms, I beamed back at them both.
“We’re just fine.” I felt like the cat who’d got the cream as I beckoned them to come closer. “Come and meet Bethany Sternin-Crane.” I said, motioning to the squirming bundle wrapped in the towel. They bent down and smiled, making baby noises, fawning over my girl. I handed her to Daphne.
“Oh, Doctor Crane, she’s beautiful!” She gushed. “Doctor Sternin, she looks so much like you!” I looked down at Lilith, concern marring my face as I took in her pale complexion and watery eyes. She was looking up at the ceiling with a pained expression her face.
“Sweetheart, are you okay?” She turned to face me with tearful eyes.
“Frasier?” She sounded weak and disorientated.
“Lilith, honey, what is it? What’s the matter?” My voice took on an urgent tone, making Daphne and Niles look up from the baby. Niles moved around the other side of the bed and took her arm, checking her pulse. I kneeled up to move a little closer to her, putting my hand down next to her leg. I pulled back quickly when it touched something warm and sticky. Looking down I saw the blanket I had wrapped her in drenched in a steady spreading pool of blood.
“Oh my God.” My heart seemed to stop in my chest as I realised the blood was hers. I heard Daphne swear behind me and Niles looked like he was going to be sick. We all seemed to regain our senses at once. Niles reached for the phone.
“The line’s down, we’ll take my car.” I ordered scooping Lilith up in my arms, bringing a whimper of protest to her lips. “It’s okay baby,” I whispered to her “you’re going to be alright, just hang in there okay.” We made quick speed to the lounge, Daphne bringing the baby and Niles grabbing my car keys from the mantel shelf as we swept in. Dad and the kids turned to look as we passed through.
“Frasier, what happened, is she okay?” Dad asked concernedly. Freddie and Alexis looked confused.
“Look after the children, I’ll phone and explain when we get there.” I instructed without stopping, heading straight out of the apartment with my precious wife. I didn’t actually explain where “there” was, but from the trail of blood that had dripped onto the floor as we passed I assumed he’d get the picture.
With the elevator’s not working because of the storm we took the stairs, racing downwards as fast as possible. None of us spoke until we reached the car and had all bundled in. Niles drove, Daphne looked after Bethany in the passenger seat and I sat in the back clutching my dying wife to my chest.
“How’s she doing there Frasier?” Niles asked in a concerned voice. Lilith’s eyes were shut, but her frown kept intensifying so I didn’t think she was unconscious yet. Bethany began to cry in Daphne’s arms.
“I’m not sure.” I whispered. “Lilith, sweetheart, open your eyes for me, come on,” her eyes fluttered then groggily opened. “Good girl.” I tried to sound reassuring, giving her a smile I doubt reached my eyes. “You’re gonna be just fine, sweetie, you just gotta stay with me okay.” I felt hot tears begin to fall down my face as I cradled her limp body.
“Take good care of the children.” She whispered, nearly inaudiable.
"You're not gonna die." I said more forcefully then I had expected through my tears.
"And if I do." She sounded like a lost child. I was silent for a moment and kissed her forehead.
"Ask if you can bring a friend." I whispered. Suddenly her breathing became ragged and her eyes rolled backwards. I panicked as she slipped away.
“No, don’t you leave me.” I practically yelled at her. “Don’t you dare leave me, Lilith. Please, please…” I was sobbing like a child. “…I love you. I don’t want to go on without you, I can’t, I need you too much. Stay here, stay, please.”
I barely noticed when we pulled up outside the ER or when Niles ran for help. I felt rough hands pulling me backwards and watched as the paramedics lifted Lilith onto a gurney and wheeled her away. I heard someone asking if I was hurt, noting my blood drenched shirt, I tried to reply that the blood was my wife’s, but nothing but silence came out of my mouth.
And with that, I realized my life would never be the same. Lilith's near death experience and the arrival of my little girl breathed a new-found life into my existence. I knew from that moment on that I couldn't live a day longer without Lilith in my life. I didn't know how I had survived the seven years of our separation. She was my everything, and without her and my children, my life seemed to have no purpose. Lilith had ended up remaining in the hospital for several weeks, thus leaving me to take care of the newborn. Bethany was so small and precious and I felt an extra special bond with her right away, one that we have never since lost.
I sighed and looked back down at my sleeping cherub, placing one last kiss on the tip of her nose as I pulled the blankets up over her. "Sleep tight, my darling little girl. Daddy loves you." I whispered, switching off the light, and finally heading towards my room, where my beautiful wife awaited me.
"Musical theatre -- it's totally American and when it's good, it's like nothing else."
Lilith: I mapped out our dominant and recessive traits on a genome square, applied Mendel's laws, allowed for anomolies, and concluded that you are the best biological choice.
Frasier: I see. Well, enticed as I am by your honeyed words, I'm gonna need some kissin'.
Lilith: Frasier, don't misunderstand. I'm not proposing any change in our relationship.
Frasier: Would we sleep together?
Lilith: I thought we'd freeze your sperm.
Frasier: Is that a yes or a no?
Lilith: Natural fertilization isn't practical. I'd have to fly to Seattle every time I ovulate.
Frasier: Right, okay. So then, your plan is for me to visit some local doctor, freeze my essence, and then bring it home with you.
Lilith: Correct. I'll take mine to go!
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