A/N: Normally my oneshots are longer, but the idea of an LP baby is just so awesome, and inspirational, I guess. This isn't entirely fluffy, but it's not exactly full-out angst either. Give it a try, and a review would be awesome. :)
Oh, and I have a Maybe Tomorrow update in the works, I promise, to those of you who want me to get back to my chapter fics.
And one last thing – medically, I'm well acquainted with the basics, blood tests, IVs, and I've had an ultrasound, but I have never been pregnant or gone to medical school or had the patience to do really good research so…creative liberty, people. Just run with it. ;)
Dreaming Out Loud
"Storm tries to come and wreck my world;
No, I won't let it."
- Dreaming Out Loud, OneRepublic
She's at Tric when it happens. Just standing there, flipping through her mail idly: bills and offers and junk. She's waiting for Mia, who is standing a few feet away behind the bar, chatting flirtatiously with Chase. She glances over at them and bites back a smile. It's weird, but it's sweet.
They look happy, she's happy; the atmosphere is light and joyful.
And that's when it happens.
It's the same as the first time, startlingly abrupt, stabbing pain that erupts on the right side of her stomach, so painful that her knees shake and her legs give out, her eyes well with tears and once she hits the floor she curls in on herself, wanting to fold into a ball until the pain subsides. She can't catch her breath.
It's the exact same, and yet it's so different. She doesn't give a crap about herself or her own pain right now; there is something, someone much more precious to worry about. It throws her into a panic and everything hurts so much more.
"Peyton! Oh my God!" Mia's voice is high-pitched and chock full of worry, and it sounds far away, almost like it's coming from underwater.
Mia's next to her in an instant, slender fingers landing lightly on her shoulder. Her breathing is quick and frantic – not so much different from Peyton's. "Chase!" she cries over her shoulder. "Call nine-one-one."
She starts to shake her head, and then stops. Normally, she'd say no. Normally, even though she's clearly not fine, she'd insist that she was, try to shrug off that agonizing pain that won't seem to go away. She hates hospitals, she hates illness.
But this is bigger than her, more important than her, and she's not going to let anything happen to her baby.
"Peyton…hey, can you hear me?" Mia's hand finds her, holding on tight. But it's a different hand Peyton wants, a different person she wants there next to her. "You're going to be okay. You're going to be fine."
She wants to say, Call Lucas, I need Luke, but the world turns black before she can even open her mouth.
She wakes up again to see a paramedic's face looming over hers. He barely looks any older than her and his eyes are too bright, too innocent. She doesn't know why that matters, but she just really wants her fiancé.
"Peyton," he says, softly and kindly. "Hey, Peyton, can you hear me?"
She nods weakly. She's lying flat on her back on the cold, hard floor and there are two other people hovering over her around her. There's something clipped onto the edge of her finger – she can recall what those are, but not what they do. Blood, heartbeat…something. One of the other paramedics is holding an IV bag full of clear liquid, attached to a plastic-y tube that travels down toward her, attached to the upper part of the back of her hand by some tape. She's glad she was unconscious when they stuck it into her vein; she's never done well with intravenous stuff.
The paramedic – his nametag is huge, it reads James – says gently, almost cheerfully, "Just electrolytes, we don't want you getting dehydrated on top of everything else."
Despite the fact that they're pumping her body full of fluid, her mouth is really dry, and she has to struggle to ask, "What's wrong with me?" She's shocked by how weak her own voice sounds. Speaking alone manages to cause another shooting pain in her stomach, and she winces, her breath catching in her throat for a moment, and she hears one of the other paramedics murmur something about an oxygen mask.
"I'm sorry, I can't know that I'll be able to tell you," James says regretfully. "It's your stomach that's hurting you, right?"
"Shouldn't you just take her to the hospital?" Mia pipes up. She's standing off to the side, gnawing on her thumbnail worriedly. Chase has his arm loosely around her, comforting her, and Peyton's heart aches right along with her stomach. She needs Lucas.
She takes in a shaky breath and tells James, "I'm pregnant. Is something wrong with my baby?"
James looks surprised – she's not showing, not yet – and Mia's jaw drops as she whispers, "You're having a baby?" Then she clamps her mouth closed and shakes her head: "Wow, this is the worst time to discuss this, I'm sorry. You should just take her, right? And get a doctor to look at her?"
Things get fuzzy again as the paramedics have a quick, whispered discussion over her. She opens her mouth as her vision gets cloudier still, but James cuts her off, "Just give in, Peyton – your body can't handle the pain. We'll take care of you, I promise."
The second time she wakes, the person she wanted to see is right next to her, holding her hand loosely, his eyes rimmed with red.
"Lucas," she whispers gratefully, her voice raw.
"Peyton, thank God," he murmurs, and kisses her cheeks, nose, forehead, lips. He strokes her hair gently. "How do you feel?"
"What's wrong with me?" she demands. Her lips shake as she speaks.
"I don't know yet, babe. The doctor said he'd be back soon."
"How long was I…"
"A couple hours." He breaths out slowly. "You don't know how scared I was when I got that call." He kisses her all over her face again, clearly relieved. "You're okay. You're going to be okay."
Her hand, now sore and bruised from her IV, floats automatically toward her belly. "What about the baby?"
"Peyt, I'm sorry, I don't…I don't know." Behind the relief in his eyes, there is just as much worry as she feels. He's trying to hide it for her sake, but he's not entirely successful.
Her eyes water, her chin quivers, and her lips slip into the kind of pout she hasn't worn since she was four.
"Peyton," he begins gently, but she won't let him go on.
"It's not fair," she says, a sob in her throat. "I just want one thing to go right. Just one thing." She's overwhelmed by worry and pain and sadness, and all the anxiety and tragedy in her life is catching up with her. This is the most important thing, the one thing she truly can't bear to lose.
"Shh," Lucas tries to soothe her. Gently, he nudges her body over and climbs onto the small hospital bed next to her, pulling her close. She sobs into his chest, soaking the material of his shirt. She clings to him with both hands, while one of his hands goes to her stomach, rubbing a slow, soothing pattern against her skin, doing all he can comfort both of them, mother and child.
They take her blood, make her pee in a cup, prod gently at her tummy, try to offer up words that will take the devastated expression off her face. She can't even bother being embarrassed about her breakdown. Her face is sore and tight with the remnants of tears, but she doesn't clean herself up, just clings tightly to Lucas' hand. He's there with her for most of it, holding on tight, whispering words that mean both nothing and everything into her ear, against her belly.
Her doctor finally concludes that stress and her small frame are the only probable causes behind her pain. She doesn't know whether to glare at him for putting her through all that unnecessary testing, stress and grief, or hug him for giving her what's probably the best news possible considering the circumstances.
"So the baby's okay?" Lucas asks, his hand resting lightly on her oh-so-slightly rounded stomach.
"As far as we can tell, yes," the doctor says with a smile. "But we'll do an ultrasound to make sure."
She has to gulp down a litre and a half of water in the space of ten minutes, and then wait an entire hour before they can do her ultrasound. At first it's okay, just lying there in peaceful, thankful silence, with Lucas reciting Faulkner quietly to their baby, his hand rubbing over hers comfortingly. And then she has to pee so bad and it seems like torture; this is her worst day in a long while. And while she in unbelievably relieved that her child is alright, she wants to go back, back to her bed at home, the one that doesn't hurt her back, back to Tric that morning, calm and happy, spying on Mia and Chase, admiring the evolution of love.
"You ready?" a nurse asks cheerfully after the painfully long wait, popping in and smiling. She takes one look at Peyton's pissed off expression and laughs. "Of course you are."
Lucas sits next to her once again, holding her hand as always, running his thumb over her knuckles. Peyton watches the nurse, who efficiently tucks a towel into the waistband of her jeans, spreads gel on her stomach, and turns back to her machine. There are a lot of beeps and clicks and the tapping of keys before she finally turns to the couple and smiles.
"Looks like you're okay, honey," she tells Peyton. "You and the baby both. I'm guessing the doctor will put you on bed rest for a while, and you'll have to make sure you stay healthy and relaxed, but other than that…this pregnancy should go fine."
"Thank you," Peyton says in a small voice as Lucas squeezes her hand. She's ready to get out of there, to go home. Bed rest doesn't sound so bad to her right now.
The nurse turns the monitor toward them, pointing to the image on the screen, fuzzy in black and white. There is a distinct, unmistakable shape there; a sound in the room, quick but steady, and Peyton knows what both are before she has to be told.
"There's your baby," the nurse says softly. "And that it's heartbeat."
Lucas makes a sound that's something like a gasp combined with delirious laughter. Peyton can't breathe, her heart is in his throat, and it takes Lucas' lips pressing lightly against hers to revive her.
"That's our baby," she whispers around the lump in her throat, and suddenly the day doesn't seem like as much of a disaster at all.