Love's Labor - A Crescent Bay Tale, Part 2
Miller awoke with a start. What a strange dream he’d had. The baby—his and Holt’s precious little daughter—was dancing a tattoo inside of him, a sort of vampiric Lord of the Dance, her steps growing increasingly more painful as she click-clacked across his abdomen. “She’s gonna be a soccer player,” he mumbled to himself. As he started to come to awareness, he felt the cushion beneath his head begin to move. What the hell? A surge of panic flowed through him until he remembered he was lying in Holt’s lap. He rolled his head, looking up into his husband’s beautiful eyes.
“Sorry,” Holt whispered. “Didn’t mean to wake you.”
“S’okay,” he reassured Holt. At least he was out of the weird dream now. As Miller stretched his cramped legs, he realized where they were—on the couch in Alexx’s hospital room.
Alexx! How long had he been asleep? Had he missed everything? Alexx would never forgive him. Unless…
“Did Raoul show up?”
Holt shook his head. “No, it’s still too early. I wouldn’t expect to see him before dawn.”
Luckily for them, the hospital was equipped with specially tempered glass that allowed vampires to move freely within, even during daylight hours. At least he would be able to have Holt with him when he went into labor. He felt badly for Alexx anew.
Speaking of which, he raised his head and spotted the inert form of his friend on the large hospital bed. Holt followed his glance. “He’s asleep,” he answered the unspoken question.
Miller glanced at the monitor which logged the contractions. Miller was amazed that Alexx could sleep through them, considering the way he’d been screaming in pain earlier. Guess it only went to show that if you were tired enough, you could sleep through anything.
Maybe Alexx had the right idea. He’d go back to sleep himself. Alexx would holler if he needed him. He mumbled as much to Holt as he repositioned himself, rubbing his cheek on Holt’s firm thigh.
“I don’t know what you said”—Holt chuckled—“but I’ll take it as good night.” He stroked Miller’s cheek gently. “Sleep tight, my love,” Holt whispered. Miller purred contentedly, his body relaxing into Holt’s warmth…
Suddenly, he sat bolt upright on the couch, all thoughts of sleep having fled. At first he thought the baby was kicking again, a return to his former dream, but this was harder than any of her previous efforts, harder than the dream abuse she’d dealt him. Was something wrong?
“Baby, what’s the matter?” Holt asked with concern.
“I… I don’t know,” Miller replied in a panic-stricken voice. He started to rise, but doubled over as another wave of pain sliced through him. And then a warm wetness seemed to flow around him as all his muscles went haywire at the same time. How embarrassing. Was he going to have to buy adult diapers, the kind he saw advertised on late night TV that came in the mail in discreet packaging?
Holt’s next words dispelled that idea, as the truth was brought home to him.
“Miller, I think you’re in labor.”
“Holy shit, now?” Miller moaned.
“It seems that way, love.”
Just then the doctor walked in. She glanced at Alexx, checking the printouts from the various machines connected to him, before she turned to Miller and Holt. Her eyebrows shot up inquisitively at the wetness which surrounded Miller.
“Well, well, I think someone else is in labor, aren’t we?”
“Who’s we?” Miller grumbled. Well, technically speaking, we was Alexx and him. Great. Somebody had a lousy sense of humor and a miserable sense of timing when it came to having babies.
“You and your husband, of course.” She strode across the room, took Miller’s wrist and began to count his pulse. Just then the mountain called Dorothy came in, bearing a pitcher which she exchanged for one on Alexx’s bedside table.
“Can you get this gentleman here a gown?” the doctor asked.”He’s in labor.”
“Yes, Doctor.” The nurse crossed the room, pulled open a drawer in a mahogany chifferobe, and pulled out a chic-looking blue gown.
The doctor finished taking Miller’s pulse and held her hand out to Holt. “I’m Doctor Graf,” she said.
“Nice to meet you, Doctor. My name is Holt Wynne, and this is my husband, Miller.”
“I can’t be in labor,” Miller protested. “It’s not time yet.”
“Your mother did tell you first children can come early,” Holt reminded him. Miller’s mother, besides being a mother, was a pediatrician who knew a lot about babies.
“Yeah, well, I’m not ready. Let’s save this for some other time.”
The doctor winked. “I think someone has other ideas, Mr. Wynne. Let’s get you out of those wet clothes, shall we?”
Before Miller could muster a protest, and with Holt’s help, he was bundled into the blue gown, and he found himself lying next to Alexx in the oversized bed, with monitors of his own. Alexx had awakened by then, when Nurse Dorothy gave him something for his pain. He gave Miller an amused glance.
“What’s so damn funny?” Miller snapped.
“You. In that gown.” Alexx chuckled. “You look pretty silly, dude.”
“Have you looked in a mirror lately?” Miller snarled. Alexx only began to laugh harder, pointing at Miller as loud guffaws erupted.
Before Miller could turn violent, Alexx gave a dreamy sigh and stretched out his legs, wiggling his feet beneath the blanket. “I can’t see them, but I know they’re down there somewhere!”
“What are you talking about?”
“My toes! I haven’t seen them in forever, man, but I know they’re there. They are, aren’t they, Holt?”
“Yes,” Holt assured him. “All present and accounted for, from what I can see.”
Alexx seemed content with that response and smiled happily. That happiness lasted for about two minutes, then he cried out in pain once more.
“Oh damn, that hurts, it hurts, it hurts,” he whined. “Where’s Raoul?”
Beside him, Miller was having issues of his own. His labor pains were already stronger than he thought they should be. “Doctor Graf,” he gasped, “what happened to the early stages of labor?”
“Maybe you slept through them?” she suggested with a shrug.
Miller remembered his strange dream, and suddenly everything made sense.
“Holt!” he ground out, reaching for his husband.
“Here, baby, I’m here.” Holt gave Miller the hand he was looking for, and Miller began to squeeze it, very long and very hard, crying out until the contraction began to ebb and then receded once more. He flopped back against the bed, wrung out. And to think they’d only just begun.
They quickly established a routine among them: Miller moaned and squeezed Holt’s hand, Alexx screamed for Raoul, calling him every name he could think of, and Holt provided what comfort he could to both of them.
During the night, a new shift of nurses arrived, and they exchanged the mountainous Dorothy for a high-spirited young Irishman named Daniel O’Toole. He wore bright green scrubs and had a jade shamrock in one pierced ear.
“Faith and begorra, ya look very snug there,” he commented at the sight of Alexx and Miller in their shared bed, once he’d introduced himself. “Is there anything you be needing?”
“Yes, I need my husband!” Alexx yelled. “And I need this to be over with!”
Daniel winked at him. “Well, I can’t help you with finding your husband, but if you want it done faster, then next time, you should choose the zipper option.”
“The what?” Alexx stopped yelling long enough to give Daniel a perplexed glance.
“The zipper option,” the nurse repeated. “Tis all the rage these days with men having babies. The doctor installs a zipper as soon as you discover you’re with child. Then, when the time comes, pull the zipper down and out pops the wee bairn.”
“Dammit, Holt, why didn’t you tell me about that?” Miller grumbled.
Holt looked between Miller and Daniel, a skeptical look on his face. “We can look into it next time.”
“Next time? What makes you think there’ll be a next time?”
“You tell’im, Miller!” Alexx shouted his encouragement, just before he rode the next wave of pain.
Holt opened his mouth to answer his husband, but whatever soothing words he’d been about to say were lost as the sound of screams came to them from somewhere nearby. Screams, cries of dismay, curses… and the howl of an animal. Moments later, a large black wolf loomed menacingly in the doorway.
Miller glanced through the single window in the room. The rosy fingers of dawn were spreading across the morning sky. He looked back, just in time to watch the wolf morph into a very naked man.
“Raoul!” Alexx cried. “Get your hairy ass over here. Now!
Raoul loped around the bed, reaching out to embrace Alexx, but received a smack on the nose for his pains. Startled, he stood there, a baffled expression in his eyes, and rubbed his nose. The next moment, Alexx burst into tears, and Raoul gathered him into his arms, shushing him.
Miller felt another contraction begin and he arched his back, clamping down on Holt’s hand. His pain was echoed by Alexx’s, and they screamed their displeasure in unison. Once the contraction had passed, they each collapsed onto their respective spouses, panting and spent.
“How long?” Miller whispered.
“I want to go home,” Alexx moaned.
Doctor Graf entered the room, a bright smile plastered on her face, despite the noise and confusion. “Well, well, I think we’re ready to deliver. What do you think?”
She didn’t wait for an answer, and seemed oblivious to the dirty looks she received from the fathers-to-be. Approaching Alexx first, she pulled down the sheet and laid her hand on top of his swollen belly. “Are you ready?” she asked.
“All right then, I’m going to try a new technique I just learned. It’s supposed to cut down on delivery time by quite a bit.” From the pocket of her doctor’s smock, she produced a wand, which she touched lightly to Alexx’s stomach as she began to intone. “Alakazam, alakazoo, bibbidi bobbidi boo.” She tapped the wand again for good measure. “Open sesame!”
To Miller’s amazement, Alexx’s stomach began to slowly open, the skin drawing bloodlessly back until a small baby was revealed inside. The doctor reached for the child, and the gap began to close immediately until the two sides had joined once more, with an invisible seam.
“Congratulations, you have a son!” she announced, handing the baby to Alexx. Raoul howled his joy, before stepping closer, touching his new son. They made a touching tableau.
“Your turn, Mr. Wynne!” the doctor proclaimed, performing the same operation for him. Moments later, he held a squalling baby girl in his arms, and he and Holt wept for joy.
Let us leave the two happy couples there, shall we, with their new additions to the family? Let’s tiptoe away now, very quietly…
And one last thing – April Fool’s! Hope you enjoyed reading this tale that never was as much as I enjoyed writing it!