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Dinner And The Hospital

 

By: Jamie Sommers

 

Email:  jamiesommers23@hotmail.com

 

Rated:  PG-13

 

Date: 12-28-03

 

Synopsis: With the baby’s birth coming near, Jamie is determined to find out who donated the bone marrow that saved her life. 

 

 

Dinner And The Hospital

 

 

 

They argued for two hours; he was certain that she was just a bitch and she was positive that he was an idiot. 

 

“Listen Trace,” Dean took a deep breath and released it slowly.  “We can’t keep doing this.  We’re either going to figure this out and get married or we’re going to let this consume us and go our separate ways.”  He pushed his hands deep into his pants pockets and hoped for the best.  “Personally I’d like to work it through.  I…I love you Trace and I want to be with you, but I can’t keep doing this.” The tone in his voice was soft and comforting.  Something unusual for Dean.  “Guess it’s up to you now.”

 

Tracey listened to his plea and felt her heart break as she said, “Then I guess we go our separate ways.”  She couldn’t look at him.  She knew she was breaking his heart but she had no choice.  What good was she?  Why would he want to be with her?  She was damaged goods now.  “I’m sorry Dean.” She walked out of their apartment without looking back. 

 

~ ~ ~

 

“Landon?  Did you get the drill from downstairs?”  Jamie asked as she lifted the pastel colored mobile to attach it above the baby’s crib.  “We’re going to need it for the changing table.”

 

“Right,” Landon slapped his hands against his denim clad thighs and said, “Drill.  Be right back.”

 

Jamie’s belly was getting rounder and such getting in her way more and more often.  She attempted once more to lean over the crib and attach the mobile to the wall mounting above the infant’s bed, but her protruding belly continued to be a hindrance.  “Well for goodness sake,” she softly complained.  “This is unbelievable.”  She stretched her fingers and came within an inch of the wall attachment’s bracket. Giving up for the moment, she stepped back on her haunches and said to her belly, “Okay, you’ve really gotta give me a helping hand here.  Now how am I supposed to put up this beautiful angel mobile that Grandma bought you if you won’t let me hang it?”  She tiptoed and tried again, but to no avail.  The bracket seemed to be just out of reach.  “Come on honey,” she said softly to the baby.  “Just move down a little so mommy can reach this.”  She tried to rub her hands over her belly and gently maneuver the baby’s position then stood up on her toes one last time.  She stretched until she felt the burning sensation of her muscles pulling in her legs and under her arm.  “Juuuuuust a liiiiiiiiittle close….ugh!”  The mobile crashed to the ground as Jamie dropped to her knees in pain.

 

“Jamie!!!”  Landon dropped the drill and ran towards his wife.  His arms were around her in a matter of seconds.  “Jamie??  Jamie??”  He continued to call out to her but he could see that all too familiar glaze come over her eyes: the look of her losing consciousness. 

“Please God… please.” He begged silently.  “Don’t take her from me.”  Her eyes were closed and her breath shallow as Landon laid her gently back on the carpeting.  Rushing towards the phone he picked it up and dialed 911.

 

~ ~ ~

 

Jamie’s eyelids felt heavy as she tried to open them.  She looked around the room and closed her eyes, then opened them again trying to focus on her surroundings.  “Where…” she choked and swallowed. 

 

Landon’s mother jumped out of her seat and ran to the edge of Jamie’s bed.  “Shhhh, sweetheart.  Shhh.  I’ll go get Landon.  Don’t move.”  She hurried out the door to find Landon speaking with the doctor next to the nurse’s station.  “She’s awake.  She’s awake.”

 

Landon rushed into her hospital room and stopped dead in his tracks.  He stared at her and in a rush of air he said, “Oh God baby you scared the shit out of me.”

 

“Lan..”  Jamie’s throat was dry as she tried to speak.  “Qu..quit…swe…swearing.”

 

Landon let a burst of laughter out and said, “Sorry babe.  I didn’t mean it.” He captured her hand in his own and brought it to his lips.  “I just got so frightened.” 

 

She swallowed and nodded her head as if saying, I know.  Closing her eyes she shook her head back and forth trying to clear the fuzzies away.  “I...” she cleared her throat.  “What happened?” she whispered.

 

Landon stepped back as the doctor and nurses starting working on his wife.  “You passed out.”

 

“From what?” Jamie asked.  Her throat had started to feel lubricated again.

 

“Well Jamie,” her doctor said.  “We’re going to figure that out.” She walked over to the fetal monitor and ripped the paper off that had been leaving a printed trail of the baby’s heartbeat.  “At first I thought it was just a side effect of being pregnant, but most women wake up within twenty minutes or so.  They usually don’t stay unconscious for three hours.”

 

“Three hours?” Jamie tried to sit upright, but the nurse held her shoulders down and said, “Not too quick.  We wouldn’t want you to get lightheaded.” 

 

“Landon?” Jamie looked at her husband, then at her mother in law and her father.  “Please?  Someone tell me what’s going on.”

 

~ ~ ~

 

It had been almost two weeks since Tracey had left Dean and it still felt as if she had just slammed the door on him.  He often wondered if there was something he could’ve done to prevent all of this from happening.  Could he have been a little nicer?  A little more patient?  He thought back to all the times he yelled at her, pushed her… “God Dean no wonder she left your ass.” 

 

This had been his routine since the day she left.  He’d wake up and notice her side of the bed was empty, then he’d replay all of the horrible moments of their relationship in his mind, and he’d end it by saying something disparaging to himself.  Today was no different, until the phone rang.

 

“May I speak with Tracey please?”

 

“She’s not here.” He said forlornly.  “Who is this?”

 

“Is this her fiancé?” the strange voice on the other end of the phone said.

 

Without thinking he said, “Yeah it is.”

 

“This is Good Samaritan hospital in Raleigh.  Can you please tell Tracey that her results came back and that the doctor will need to see her immediately?  He’s got an appointment open tomorrow at 11am if that’s convenient for you two?”

 

“Uh… sure.”  Dean was at a loss for words.  “I’ll…I mean, we’ll be there.”  He hung up the phone and jumped into the shower.  He was going to find Tracey and get to the bottom of this.

 

Tracey’s mother Caroline was putting up laundry on a makeshift clothesline just as she noticed Dean walking towards her.  She glared at him as though he had done something wrong, and then screamed towards the house, “Tracey!! Your…Dean is here!”  Caroline dropped the wet shirt she was holding into the laundry basket and met Dean in the middle of the yard.  “Hello Dean.”

 

Dean couldn’t help but think, ‘why are you looking at ME like this?  She’s the one that left.  Not me.’  “Hello Caroline.  How’re you doing?”  He was trying to be on his best behavior.  Caroline had demanded respect with her quiet authority and her pleasant, yet down to earth ways, so Dean never acted towards her the way he did towards others.  “It’s been a long time ...”

 

“Yes it has.” She paused before saying, “I’ve called to Tracey.  With any luck she’ll pull her head out of her ass and come out here and talk to you.” 

 

Dean couldn’t help but laugh.  “Her head out of her ass?” he asked innocently. 

 

“Oh come on now Dean.  You’re not going to tell me that you’re not thinking the same thing, are you?  That girl’s a darn fool.”  Caroline started to walk back to her laundry.  “Come on and give me a hand with this stuff before it gets all wrinkled.” 

 

Dean breathed a sigh of relief when she started to treat him as she had in the past, but he couldn’t help but wonder what that look was for when she had first seen him, so he decided to ask.  “Caroline.  Why…I mean…if you think that Tracey’s acting like, and I’m quoting here, a darn fool, then why’d ya look at me like you thought it was my fault?”

 

Caroline tilted her head to the side and sighed, “Because it took you two weeks to smarten up and come after my girl.  Besides,” she bent down and retrieved another item of clothing before slapping it into the air and saying, “I’m supposed to be on her side.  I’m her mother.  Now that doesn’t mean that I’m not a realist and I don’t know when my girl is making a mistake, but I’ll support her no matter what her choice is.”  She hung up a pair of jeans and turned to Dean who was putting a pair of socks on the line a few feet away.  “Even if that means saying goodbye to you, Dean.”

 

“Let’s hope it doesn’t go that far.”

 

“Dean she’s living with me and not her fiancé.  I’d say it’s already reached that point wouldn’t you?”  Caroline turned the empty laundry basket over and started to walk towards her back door.  Stopping as she reached the entrance she turned to Dean and said, “Well??? You coming in or you gonna stay out here all afternoon and wait for that stubborn girl to come to her senses? Because if you’re gonna wait… lets just say, you could be old and gray before she comes out of that room.”

 

Dean’s lips lifted in a half hearted grin as he accepted her invitation.  He really didn’t have a choice.  If he was going to make it to that doctor’s appointment on time in Raleigh he needed to convince Tracey to take a ride with him within the next fifteen minutes.

 

When he had gotten the phone call yesterday he was determined to find out from Tracey what was going on, but then he realized that she’d probably shut the door in his face and go to the appointment on her own, if at all.  So he decided to convince her to take a ride with him today and tell her that he just wanted to talk.  To find out what she wanted to do with the things that they had bought together… anything.  He just had to get her into that car and once he did, he’d head over to Raleigh.  Now all he had to do was to get Tracey to take the lock off of her bedroom door and talk to him.

 

~ ~ ~

 

“What is this slop they call food?  Okay I’ll admit the jell-o is pretty good, but the rest of this…”  Landon had been trying to raise Jamie’s spirits ever since the doctor had broken the news to her yesterday, but nothing was working.  She had just lay in bed and kept to herself.  Landon was getting very concerned about her mental well being, not just her physical one.  Before when she had been diagnosed with cancer she had dealt with it.  She lived her life with gusto, but now… “Jamie?” Landon spoke softly.  “The doctor didn’t say it was definite.  She said she wanted to run some tests to rule it out.  That’s a big difference.”

 

“No.  No it’s not Landon.”  Jamie wiped a tear away from her eye.  “If I had known that God was going to take me away from my baby I would’ve never had it.  Never.”  She cried.  “I know what it’s like to live your life without a parent…without a mother.  I didn’t want that for my baby.  I wanted to give it everything I never had.”

 

“No one said that you weren’t going to be here for this baby!  No one!”  Landon countered.

 

“But…but…” Jamie’s tears were streaming down her face.  “I can’t do this again Landon.  I can’t.” 

 

He pushed the cart with her food on it out of the way and took her in his arms.  His tears began to join hers.  “I know baby.  I know.  But we’ll make it through no matter what.”  He placed a light, healing kiss on her lips then held her close to him again.  “Please baby… Please don’t lose faith on me now.  Our baby needs your strength.  I need your strength” He pulled back and looked into her eyes, “I need you to believe Jamie.”

 

She nodded and wiped her tears from her cheeks.  “Okay,” she sniffed.  “We’ll get through this, right?” She said with false hope. 

 

“Right,” he agreed with as much delusiveness.

 

“God wouldn’t let my child spend its life wondering about its mother.  I know He wouldn’t.”

 

“Nope.  He’s just testing us to make sure we’re ready for parenthood.  Wondering if we can handle scrapes and bruises when the baby gets older.  I mean… if this kid’s anything like I was as a kid.  Whoooeeey.  We’re gonna be spending an awful lot of time in the emergency room.”  Landon winked then breathed a sigh of relief.  He had finally gotten Jamie to smile. 

 

“Forgive me Landon.  I never meant to lose hope.  It’s just that sometimes it’s hard keeping the faith.”  She looked down at the floor, and then lifted up her eyes to meet Landon’s.  “Even I’m not perfect you know?  Sometimes I get scared of the future.”

 

“I know baby.  Sometimes I get scared too and God knows I’m faaaaaaaaar from perfect.”

 

Jamie laughed and said, “You’re telling me.”

 

~ ~ ~

 

“Dean where the hell are you taking me?  I agreed to go on a short ride with you, not to leave the state.”  Tracey bellowed from the passenger side seat.

 

“I’m just driving.”

 

“Well drive the other way.  I wanna go home.”

 

“Home?  HOME??”  Dean started to let his anger get the best of him.  “So when you say home do you mean our home? Or do you mean your mom’s home?”

 

“We don’t have a home anymore Dean.  Don’t you get that?”

 

“No Trace.  I don’t get that.”  He took a deep breath as he pulled off of the highway and headed to the hospital.  “Trace, what happened to us?”  He made a left turn at the corner and followed the bright blue signs on the side of the street featuring the big “H.” 

 

Tracey’s heart began to pound when she recognized the area they were in.  “Dean,” her voice started to sound shrill.  “Where the fu…”

 

“Don’t Trace.” He cut her off.  “Don’t say anything.” He pulled into the parking lot of the hospital.  As he parked the car he turned towards her and said, “Your doctor’s office called yesterday and said that your results came back.  Your doctor needs to see you right away.” 

 

Tracey turned her head to look out her window, she couldn’t face him. “I told them that I had a new number.”

 

“What’s going on Trace?  What tests did you take and why does this doctor have to see you right away?”

 

“Look Dean… would you mind waiting out here for me?”

 

“Mind?  Yeah I mind.  I want to know what’s going on Tracey.”  He reached over the car seat and placed his hand on her shoulder.  “You can trust me you know.”

 

“I know,” she sniffed.  “Oh Dean,” she cried as she quickly turned into his arms.  “I…have cancer.”

 

“What??” he shook his head and said again, “What?? What do you mean you have cancer?”

 

“I…I have…cancer.”  She let her tears cleanse her of the past few months’ pain

 

“Wait a second… Trace… calm down.”  He stroked her hair and held her for a few minutes.  “Hey,” he said softly.  “Your appointment is in couple of minutes. Why don’t we go in there and see what he says okay?”

 

~ ~ ~

 

“The good news is… the tests came out negative.  You’re still cancer free.  The bad news…” the doctor sighed.  “You have something called pre – eclampsia or toxemia.”

 

“Is it serious,” Landon asked.

 

“Yes, it can be.  Very serious.  However, with bed rest and following my explicit instructions, everything should be fine.” The doctor reassured.

 

“Tell me,” Jamie sat upright.  “What do I have to do?”

 

“Ahhh, that’s the thing.”  The doctor continued as she walked to the foot of the bed.  “Nothing.  Absolutely nothing.”

 

“But you said…” Jamie looked confused.  “You said I had to follow your instructions.”

 

“Yes I did.” The doctor walked over to the side of Jamie’s bed where Landon stood and looked back and forth between the two of them.  “I want you to do nothing.  No cooking, cleaning… nothing.  Just bed rest.”

 

“How is that going to cure this toxemia?” Landon asked with a befuddled look upon his face.

 

“Toxemia is a form of chronic high blood pressure.  There aren’t any medications that can be taken for it.  It’s simply kept in control for the remainder of Jamie’s pregnancy by not allowing her pressure to rise.” The doctor walked around the bed and picked up Jamie’s chart.  “What we’re shooting for here is to get Jamie through her eighth month, and then we can deliver safely.”

 

“Wait.” Landon held up his hand and said, “Wait a minute here.  Are you telling me that she’s going to have to stay in bed for the next two months?”

 

“Yes,” the doctor replied.

 

“Even if I feel fine?”  Jamie asked.  “I mean…what if I’m feeling fine.  Not lightheaded or anything?”

 

The doctor’s head was shaking back and forth, “No.  Nothing.  Absolutely nothing.  I’ve seen too many women lose their babies because they ‘felt well enough’ to do something.  You can’t assume that because you’re feeling better that you’re toxemia is gone.  That’s not how it works.”  She placed the chart on the hook at the foot of Jamie’s bed.  “I’ll be to the point.  If you don’t stay on complete bed rest then you’ll lose this baby.”

 

Jamie and Landon turned towards one another with looks of panic on their faces.

 

“This is not a disease to take lightly.  This is something very serious.”

 

~ ~ ~

 

“Tracey.”  Dean watched her doctor reach out to shake her hand then come towards him.  “You must be Dean.”

 

“Yeah,” Dean shook the doctor’s outstretched hand and got right to the point.  “What’s this about Trace having cancer?”

 

The doctor looked at Tracey and said, “Dean I’m not sure how much Tracey has informed you, but we’ve been doing some tests on her.  It seems that she’s been feeling exceptionally tired, lifeless and having severe pain.” 

 

Dean looked at Tracey as though she were a stranger.  He knew nothing of her being in pain.  Sure he could sense that she was feeling a bit sluggish lately, but who isn’t.  Now that they weren’t in high school anymore they had to fend for themselves.  They were both working a lot of overtime lately… or were they?  As much as dean wanted an answer he knew that this wasn’t the time or the place.  He listened as the doctor continued.

 

“…when we did the biopsy, unfortunately it did unearth cancerous cells.  Tracey,” the doctor walked up to her and placed his hand on her shoulder.  “We’ll want to schedule this surgery right away.  There’s no more postponing it okay?”

“Postponing?” Dean questioned.  “Have you been putting this off?”  He looked at Tracey with a dumbfounded expression and could feel his anger building up inside.  He wasn’t sure how much longer he could keep his temper under control.  First he finds out that she’s been lying to him now she’s pretty much been taking a chance with her life just so she wouldn’t have to tell him the truth.  “How long have you known about this cancer Trace?”  He stood directly in front of her.  “How long Trace?”

 

Tracey lifted up her tear-streaked face and said, “About a month.”

 

Dean took a deep breath and released it.  “Why…” he lifted his hand to his face and covered his mouth with his palm.  He squeezed his eyes closed and told himself, ‘calm down man.  Calm down.’  “I’m just trying to figure this out.  You’ve known you’ve had cancer for a month and you didn’t bother to tell me???”

 

“Dean.” The doctor could sense that there was something brewing between the two of them but he also knew that this anger could also be displaced.  “I’m sure you’re upset with Tracey but you must remember she was trying to come to terms with this herself.  As a cancer victim you go through certain stages…”

 

Dean listened to the doctor half-heartedly as he rambled about the different stages of cancer, its treatment and how he had to be supportive and understanding.  All Dean wanted to do at that very minute was punch the guy in the face and tell him to shut up.  “God damn it!!” Dean screamed out in the middle of the doctor’s sentence.  “Why the fuck didn’t you tell me?” He knocked a container full of tongue depressors off of the counter then turned to yell some more.  “What is it with you?  Why can’t you just trust me?  Why can’t you just… just…”

 

The doctor put his hand on Dean’s shoulder and said, “Dean this is what I was speaking of when I discussed displaced anger.” 

 

Tracey looked at Dean and then at the doctor and said, “No doc.  This is just Dean.  Welcome to my world.”

 

~ ~ ~

 

“Seriously Landon,” Jamie giggled as he situated the baby monitor on their nightstand.  “Can’t I just scream for you when I need something?”  She closed her eyes and shook her head as her smile took over her face.  Her wonderful husband, she thought.  Is there nothing he doesn’t think of?

 

“Nah baby.  You don’t wanna scream.  Besides… why do that when we’ve got this really cool baby monitor?  I don’t think the baby will mind.  It’s not like he’s using it or anything.”

 

“Good point.”  Jaime lifted her arms and made a come here motion with her hands. 

 

Landon bent down over Jamie and kissed her gently on the lips.  “Mmmmm, I love your lips,” he murmured against her mouth.

 

“I love yours too.” 

 

Their kiss deepened as Landon sat on the bed’s edge.  He braced one arm on the edge of the bed then curled the other behind her, pulling her closer to him.  Jamie’s fingers curled in his hair as she allowed his tongue to dance upon hers with gentle swirling motions.

 

Landon grunted as he pulled his lips away from hers.  “I’m going to really miss making love to you.”

 

“I’m going to miss it too,” Jamie said with a sorrowful smile.  “I already do.”

 

“Well…”  Landon lifted himself up and stood at the bed’s edge.  “Time to get this monitor fixed up.  Now where are the batteries?”

 

Jamie knew that he was trying his best to make her comfortable and to keep her as well as their baby safe.  She loved him for his efforts and thanked God for Landon’s patience.  “I think they’re in the kitchen drawer next to the fridge, but I’m not sure.”

 

“ ‘kay.  I’ll go look.”  He took a deep breath and began to walk out the door.  As he reached the hallway he turned towards her and said, “I love you Jamie.”

 

“I love you too Landon.”  She smiled at him and thought back to the day that he first talked about his feelings for her.  They were in the cafeteria and he told her that he missed spending time with her.  When she called him on his bluff, it was she that got the shock of a lifetime.  He wasn’t bluffing.  He really did want to be with her.  Enough to chase her out of the building and to confront her face to face. 

 

She rubbed her stomach and felt the baby move within her.  “Oh Landon, how I love you.”

 

~ ~ ~

 

Dean sat in his car and kept telling himself that it would be fine.  Every thing was going to be fine.  The doctor scheduled surgery for Tracey the next day.  In the meantime Dean was going to pick up a few things for her and arrange for her to be off of work for an extended period of time.  After speaking with Tracey’s boss he started on his way to her mom’s house.  Tracey didn’t want her to find out over the phone, but she wasn’t able to go see her mom.  She fought with the doctor about going home that night.  “Why can’t I just come back in the morning so I can tell my mom?”

 

Dean had said that he’d tell her and here he was.  Sitting a block away from her house trying to figure out how to tell her that her daughter had cancer and had to undergo surgery in the morning?  He thought back to his reaction at the hospital.  How angry he’d gotten, but the doctor was right.  He wasn’t angry with Tracey, he was upset with the fact that he might lose her.  He couldn’t survive without her and he knew that now for certain.  He saw her face flashing before his eyes, ‘welcome to my world.’  Was he really that much of a bastard?  Slamming on the steering wheel of his car he tried to let his mind go blank when suddenly it hit him.  There was someone that knew what he was going through.  There were two people that knew exactly what he was going through and maybe, just maybe they could help.  He started his car and headed towards Landon and Jamie’s house.

 

~ ~ ~

 

“Laaaaaaaaaaaaaahnnndon!!”  Jamie called out.  “Laaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahn…oh.  There you are.”  She smiled as she held the phone out to him.  “It’s your dad.”

 

Landon smiled as he took the receiver.  “Babe you really don’t have to scream.  I can hear you with the monitor,” he smacked the bulge in his shirt pocket and said, “Remember?”

 

“Oh,” she squinted up her nose and said.  “I forgot.  Sorry.”

 

Landon plopped down in a chair with the cordless phone and said into the receiver, “Hey pops what’s up?”

 

“I think I’ve found Jamie’s donor Landon.”

 

“What???”  Landon sat upright in his chair and said, “Who?  When?  How?” 

 

“Whoa, calm down son.  I know you’re excited but one thing at a time okay?”  Worth Carter chuckled into the phone and said, “You’re not going to believe it when I tell you who it is.”

 

“Why?  What’s going on dad?  Who donated it?” 

 

“He found my donor?” Jamie sat up in bed and felt her heart rate increase with excitement. 

 

“He thinks so,” Landon said to her as he listened to his dad tell him who her donor was.  Landon collapsed in his chair as he heard the news.  “There’s no way…”

 

“What’s going on Landon?”  Jamie was getting worried.

 

“Wait a second dad,” Landon held the phone against his shirt and said, “Give me a second baby.  Let me finish up with my dad and I’ll tell you what’s going on.”

 

Landon asked his father many questions and listened carefully to each answer.  He knew about the drive at the school.  How all the kids had gotten tested to see if their bone marrow matched Jamie’s?  He knew she was on the national list but he never in a million years imagined that the answer to his prayers was living in Beaufort.  He hung up the phone and sat with Jamie on the bed.  Staring straight ahead he said in a dreamlike tone, “Tracey.  Tracey saved your life baby.”

 

Jamie’s eyes filled with tears.  She couldn’t believe what she was hearing.  Tracey the girl that she could’ve sworn hated her with every fiber of her being, was the person that gave her life.  “I don’t understand Landon.  How could we have not known?”

 

“I don’t know baby.”  He adjusted himself on the bed into a position that allowed Jamie to curl against him.  His legs stretched out next to hers he said, “Tracey….”

 

~ ~ ~

 

Dean knocked on the front door and waited for a moment then knocked again.  He could hear Landon calling out, “One minute.”  A moment later the door opened.

 

“Hey man!”  Landon’s heart was full of joy as he saw his friend standing in his doorway.  “We were just going to call you two.”  Landon looked around Dean’s form and said, “Where’s Tracey?  Jamie would really like to see her.”  He moved out of the doorway and said, “Come in.  Come in.”  His excitement overwhelmed him.

 

“Tracey’s not here man.”  Dean walked into their living room and stood still.  “She’s in the hospital.” 

 

“What?”  Landon’s joy suddenly deflated.  “What’s wrong?  What happened?” 

 

“She’s got cancer.  Can you believe it?  Cancer.”  Dean no longer felt the desire to hit something.  Instead he collapsed onto a chair in the parlor and cried into his hands. 

 

Landon did what he could to comfort his friend.  He consoled Dean the way that Dean had consoled him not to long ago.  “It’s a bitch isn’t it?  Did they say what type it is?”

 

“Ovarian,” Dean said with a gulp.

 

“What are they doing for it?” Jamie asked at the top of the stairs. 

 

Both men looked up at her in surprise.  They hadn’t realized that she had been listening to their conversation. 

 

“Jamie, you’re not supposed to get out of bed.”  Landon made his way up the stairs two at a time until he reached her.  Taking her shoulders in his hands he said gently, “Baby you’re supposed to be lying down.  Come on.”  He turned her towards their room and began to walk her back to bed.

 

“That explains it,” Jamie whispered to Landon as he tucked her in.  “That night.  Do you remember that night that we were out at that restaurant?  We were supposed to be meeting my bone marrow donor and that’s when Tracey and Dean showed up.  She was so upset with me that night Landon.  So upset.”

 

“Shhhh,” Landon comforted her.  “Baby, don’t worry about that right now.”  He stood up and placed a kiss on her forehead then leaned down and kissed her belly.  “Let me go back down with him and I promise I’ll fill you in as soon as I can, okay?”

 

“Sure,” she said with a sorrowful lilt in her voice.  “Give him my best Landon.  Tell him I’ll pray for her.”

 

~ ~ ~

 

They talked for over an hour about their life just over a year ago.  How everything was so carefree and they didn’t have a worry in the world.  Waking up and going to school…the finals…the gossip…the flyers… none of it mattered anymore.  Sure it’s what molded them into the adults that they were today, but it all seemed so trivial when they looked back at it. 

 

Dean thought about many different things before asking, “Landon?  Do you ever feel like it’s your fault that Jamie was sick?”

 

 

 

Landon remembered when he had first found out about Jamie's illness and how he had told God that he was sorry for whatever he had done in his life, but to please don't take it out on Jamie.  "Yeah man. I did.  Funny part is that she was sick when we got together, but I still thought it was God's way of punishing me."

 

"Yeah," Dean sighed.  "That's kind of how I feel."  He stood up and paced around the room before confessing.  "I've been a shitty boyfriend and an even worse fiancé."

 

"Aww come on man.  You're not THAT bad." 

 

"No Landon. You're wrong.  I am that bad." Dean sniffled and walked to the sliding glass doors.  Looking out he said, “I’m a son of a bitch to her man.  I talk to her like shit and... Christ!  I can't even count how many times I've pushed her or shoved her or..."  Dean began thinking about all of the things that he'd done to her in the past and hung his head down.

 

Landon worried for a brief second before asking, "You've never hit her have you?"

 

"No, but I'm sure I would've eventually."  Dean turned around and looked at Landon and said, "How'd you do it man?  How'd you change?"

 

"Well," he toed at the ground and lifted his face to look at Dean.  "If you ask Jamie, I was always like this, I just didn't know it.  I on the other hand, think that it was her love that changed me."  Landon walked towards Dean and stood next to him looking out the glass doors.  "I remember once... I told my mom that Jamie had faith in me and that she made me want to be a better person."  Landon turned to face Dean and said, "It's amazing what the love of a good woman can do for a guy."  He grinned and placed his hand on Dean's shoulder.  "Tracey sees something in you Dean, something that you just haven't seen for yourself yet.  All you need to do now is look at yourself through her eyes."

 

"That's the thing Landon.  I have been and what I see I don't like."

 

"No man.  You're not listening to me.  You aren't seeing what Tracey sees.  You're looking at what you've been and what you've done."  Landon was trying to explain this in a way that would help Dean look past his faults, but he wasn't sure if he knew how.  After a moment he knew exactly what to say.  "Dean.  I've known you a long time and during that time I've seen a side of you that most people haven't."  Landon looked up the stairs to make sure that Jamie wasn't in hearing range and said, "Don't get me wrong.  I'm not saying that you haven't been a total asshole at times..."

"Gee thanks man," Dean interrupted. 

 

"But...  if I had thought you were just a jerk than I wouldn't have continued being your friend.  It's the same thing with Tracey.  You can't honestly tell me that you've never done anything good for her."

 

"No.  I've done good things I guess.  But still..."

 

"That's it man. That's all you need to look at right now.  Look at the good things that you've done for her.  That's what she sees Dean.  She sees that man that you really are.  Now all you have to do is see it for yourself."

 

A crackling noise came from his pocket then Jamie's voice filtered through the baby monitor.  "Landon?"

 

Dean looked at Landon with a half-hearted grin and said, "Go on up to her.  I've got to let Tracey's mom know what's going on anyway."

 

"You gonna be okay?"

 

"Yeah.  I'll be fine.  I've just got a lot of thinking to do."

 

"Listen, tell Tracey that we're thinking of her.  I'll call Eric and the gang and let them know so you won't have to.  You've got enough to deal with."

 

"Thanks Landon."  Dean walked towards the front door and turned to him, "For everything."

 

"Anytime man." Landon grabbed Dean in a bear hug and said, "Anytime you need to talk I'm here."

 

Dean patted him on the back and said, "I'll call you after her surgery and let you know what happened."

 

Landon closed the door behind Dean and walked upstairs to Jamie.  When he entered the room he found her bent over the toilet getting sick.  "Baby?  What's wrong?"  He immediately pulled her hair back and started to rub her back.

 

Jamie sat back on her haunches and said, "Oh, it's just me being pregnant."  She grinned up at him and said, "That's the funny thing about morning sickness.  It never comes in the morning."

 

Landon chuckled a bit and helped to clean his wife up before tucking her back into bed.  He curled up next to her.

 

Jamie rolled onto her side and pressed her belly up against Landon's.  "Landon?" she asked.

 

"Yeah baby."

 

"I was thinking... I'd like to ask Tracey to be the baby's Godmother.  What do you think?"

 

"I think that would be perfect."

 

"Me too," she sighed and closed her eyes.  As she adjusted herself under the covers she said, "This is what God planned isn't it?  Tracey gave me life and now we can share our baby’s life with her."  Jamie yawned and said groggily, "It was meant to be."

 

Landon kissed his wife on her forehead and watched her as she slept.

 

~~~

 

"Dean." The doctor called to him as he walked into the surgical waiting room.

 

"Doc!"  Dean stood up and rubbed the sleep out of his eyes as the doctor moved closer to him.  "Tracey's mom just went to grab a cup of coffee. She'll be right back.  How's Tracey?  Can I see her?"  Dean rambled.

 

"She's in recovery right now.  You'll be able to see her shortly."  The doctor took a seat and said, "Sit down Dean."

 

Dean worried when he saw the doctor's expression.  "How's Tracey?" He asked again.

 

"The surgery went well.  We had to remove...."

 

Dean sat and listened as the doctor told him about the surgical procedure.  The cancer was removed but they still wanted to do radiation as well as chemo therapy to assure that it wouldn't return.  The doctor also confirmed Dean's worst fear.  Tracey would never be able to have children.  He could live his life without them.  He was fine with that, but he knew from Tracey's reaction to seeing Jamie pregnant that she would have a hard time with it. 

 

"I'll check to see if the nurses have Tracey cleaned up so you can sit with her," the doctor said.

 

Dean walked into the recovery room and looked at his fiancé.  He had decided that she was going to marry him no matter what.  He loved her and she loved him and they would spend their lives together.  He wasn't going to give her a choice about it either.  Dean smiled as he looked at her freckled face in peaceful slumber. 

 

The nurse checked Tracey's IV then pulled up a chair for Dean to sit in.  "She's resting now, but should wake up shortly."

 

"Thanks."  Dean sat down next to Tracey's hospital bed and took her hand in his.  He lifted it to his lips and placed a soft hiss on it, then laid it back down on the bed.  "You're going to be alright babe.  We're both going to be alright."  He settled down in the chair and thought about Landon and Jamie and all that they had been through.  "We've got a long life ahead of us you and I and we're going to make the most of it," he said with closed eyes.  As he dozed off he placed his hand atop of Tracey's and whispered.  "I love you."

 

Tracey felt his hand cover hers and his moist lips press against it.  She wasn't sure if she had been dreaming or if it had been real, but she knew that it felt good.  She heard Dean's voice in her head but her eyelids were too heavy to open.  Tired.  Tired, she thought.  I'm so tired.  Dean was whispering to her again this time she opened her eyes and looked over at him dozing on a chair.  "I love you," he'd said.  Tracey's lips lifted in a slight smile as she mouthed, “I love you too."  She willed her hand to turn over and to clasp his.

 

Dean opened his eyes when he felt Tracey’s hand move in his.  “Hi,” he said softly. 

 

“Hi,” she whispered back. 

“I’ve got something for you.”  Dean put his hand in his pocket and pulled out the engagement ring he had gotten for Tracey when he first proposed to her, and then gently slipped it on her finger.  "It's never coming off again," he said with quiet authority. 

 

Smiling at him she whispered, "No it's not."

 

They both knew that they had just taken the first step towards forever and nothing would ever come between them again.

 

~ ~ ~

 

“That’s great Dean.  Really great,” Landon held the phone away from his face and said to Jamie, “Tracey’s doing fine.  She pulled through with no problems.” 

 

Jamie smiled and said, “Give her my best.”

 

Landon continued to talk to Dean for a few more minutes then hung up the phone.  “Well it sounds like the operation was a success.  It’s hard to believe that she put it off for almost a month.  I sure am glad that it didn’t spread any further.”  Landon placed his hand on Jamie’s belly and held it there.  Within a matter of minutes the baby started tapping at the spot where his hand lay. 

 

“The baby knows it’s you.”  Jamie ran a hand down Landon’s face and cradled his cheek in the palm of her hand. 

 

“Ya think so?”  Landon’s grin went from ear to ear as his child thumped continuously. 

 

“Mmmmm hmmmm,” Jamie reassured. 

 

“How does the baby know where to hit?”  Landon was amazed that their child was only tapping the spot where his hand lay.

 

“The heat from the palm of your hand is radiating through and he senses that.”

 

“It’s amazing,” Landon said in awe.  After a moment he told Jamie, “Dean says Tracey won’t be able to have children.”

 

“I figured that would happen.” Jamie said forlornly.  “I wonder if she hadn’t put it off, if maybe…” Jamie trailed.

 

“Yeah I know, but Dean says it would’ve happened no matter what.  The cancer had spread through both ovaries so…”  Landon thought for a moment then said, “I’m really glad you’re going to ask her to be the baby’s Godmother.  I think it will mean a lot to her.”

 

“Well,” Jamie sighed in utter content.  “I know it will mean a lot to me.”  She placed her hand over Landon’s on her stomach and said, “To all of us.”