(Prompt Seventeen - Failure)
That night, she had fallen asleep crying in his arms, and he had carried her to bed without another word. Had kissed her forehead tenderly and wondered why she was so afraid. He thought that they were past this stage. He thought that she was finally accepting the life that she had been given, the life that she deserved. Perhaps, all along, he really had been wrong in believing so. Maybe he didn't really know Alice at all.
When she awoke the next morning, he was asleep beside her, carefully not touching her and sticking to his side of the bed. However he was still faced towards her, and his face was not peaceful as it usually was in sleep, but instead it was a mix of concern and worry. At the back of her mind, she yearned to reached out and massage the spot between his eyebrows, to stop them from furrowing. But she didn't want him to wake up. Not yet. Because right now, she could pretend it was just another morning. As she laid on her back and stared down at her stomach, everything was normal. Her stomach was flat, no sign she was pregnant, and she didn't feel sick at all, no morning sickness. Sure, she was emotionally drained, but for now she could pretend she wasn't pregnant.
But she was. A new life, a mixture of her and Danny, was slowly growing inside her. 9 months- well, not really, she ought to find out how far along she was- until it was born and she would inevitably be forced to face the fact that she had another baby.
When he spoke, it was disjointed and sleepy, and when she turned to look at him he still looked bleary. Freshly awake. She attempted a smile at him and put a hand on his arm. "Danny. Go back to sleep."
"No." He moaned. "Can't sleep without you."
In any other circumstance, she would've found this extremely sweet. But right now it stung. She didn't want to be depended on, to be needed. That was not her. The only one who should need her was Charlotte. The way it had always been. So she tried to hide her flinch, then turned and slipped from the bed.
"Hey- where're ya goin'?" He called out blearily for her, and tears stung her eyes. She couldn't do this.
"Don't... Just don't, Danny." Alice warned him with a glare, and began searching through the wardrobe. Her mind began torturing her, and she knew that soon she wouldn't fit into these clothes. Her clothes. She'd need new ones. Unfamiliar, unwanted.
"Don't what?" He sounded so confused. "I just wanna cuddle you."
Alice growled to herself in frustration and threw a pair of jeans that she'd just pulled from the wardrobe back in. Then she whirled around to him and took a deep breath. "Danny. I don't want to talk, or cuddle, or- or be around you. I want to get dressed and be normal and be alone."
Suddenly, Danny was awake, and sat bolt upright on the bed. "Alice!" He cried, and clambered from the bed to stand in front of her, gripping her forearms in his large hands. "It's going to be fine. I'm telling you. I know it's new and weird but it's good, isn't it? I mean, it's a baby, Alice. They don't bring harm, they bring joy."
Alice ripped her arms from his grip like it burned, and turned her back on him. "You don't understand. You'll never understand." She accused viciously, and regretted the words the instant they left her mouth.
Danny turned her by her shoulders and forced her to meet his eyes. "What don't I understand?"
So, because he was looking at her in that way, and because she couldn't see anything else to do, she found herself confessing the truth. "I'm so scared. It's just another person that I'm going to... ruin. To fail." She whispers with tears glittering in her eyes. "So you see why I can't have this baby, Danny?"
Instantly, Danny's face softened. "You think you're a bad mother." He murmured.
"I know I am. I try my best, but that gets me nowhere." Alice explained, and rubbed at her eyes. Damn tears.
"Alice, if you could go back, would you decide not to have Charlotte?"
Alice glanced up at him, startled and rather affronted. "No, I- Of course I'd never- How could you even suggest that? Charlotte is the best thing that's happened to me!"
He smiled. "Then why won't our baby be the same? Alice, you were on your own with Charlotte, and no matter what you think, you are a fantastic mother. Charlotte adores you and she's perfect and she's happy and that's all that matters, right? Well that's how this baby is going to turn out. Happy. And they will adore you. You'll have me there to support you and the rest of Leoapards Den- your family. We're not going anywhere, Alice. You don't have to go through this alone. I promise."
Completely astounded, Alice stared at him blankly. To be quite honest, she hadn't thought about it in the way Danny had. She'd pictured being alone again. With Charlotte and a baby that was so un-Charlotte to her to look after. But this baby- She would love it like she loved Charlotte, and she couldn't give it up, just like she couldn't give Charlotte up. And she would not be alone. Ever. Never again. Danny would be there when she was tired or worn out and questioning whether it was all worth it (though she secretly would know it was). He would be there when they said their first words or their first smile or their first steps.
So caught up in her daydreams, Alice didn't register the feel of Danny's hands on her cheeks. "Alice? Speak to me, please, Alice."
Slowly, she unfurled from her world of daydreams and smiled at him with a dazed expression on her face. "It's all going to be fine." She parroted him, but with genuine feeling. "Oh, god, Danny- We're having a baby. A baby!" She yelled delightfully, and propelled herself into his arms.
He caught her with a laugh and spun her around, wrapped in thoughts of her with his baby and oh- It would have her eyes and her smile and her stubborn streak and his tendency to just jump into things and it would all be fine.
It was going to be spectacular.