Caring Christopher

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#64 First ultrasound

Abigail

Something is off about Jagger, but I can’t put my finger on it. He’s quiet, polite and withdrawn – three treats he’s never possessed before this morning. He even agreed to dry the wine glasses from the party while I take care of washing them, which is so unlike him. Yoah is the only one around here who does chores without complaining. Jagger didn’t even roll his eyes this time.

“What’s wrong?” I ask, handing him another glass. “Come on, Jag, I know you. Something is on your mind.”

“No, it’s fine,” he says without conviction. “Where’s Chris?”

“At work,” I say, smiling at the memory of last night. Getting engaged, deciding to start trying for a kid, and having amazing sex… Yeah, that was one hell of a night. “Why? Do you need to talk to him?”

Jagger shakes his head. “Just wondering.”

“Come on,” I press. “I can tell something is bothering you. Talk to me.”

“Nothing is wrong!” he yells, throwing the glass onto the counter, causing it to shatter.

We both jump back when glass splinters fly our way. None get me, but he curses when his hand starts bleeding. He jerks out the shard of glass and grunts in pain. From the looks of it, the cut is quite deep. He allows me to look at it and clean it, but it won’t stop bleeding.

“You might need stitches,” I tell him, already moving to get the emergency kit Chris always keeps in the kitchen. I start rolling a bandage around his hand to stop the bleeding momentarily. “We need to go to the ER.”

“No,” Jagger grunts. “I don’t want to.”

“We need to,” I insist, running to the hallway to yell at the other kids. Yoah and Davy come down with Celeste right behind them, wearing one of Jagger’s baggy shirts and a pair of my yoga pants that are too big on her. “Get your asses in the car,” I tell them. “Jagger cut his hand and needs some stitches. No big deal, he’ll be fine, but we need to go. NOW.”

“You go,” Celeste says, her eyes filled with worry for Jagger. “I’ll watch Davy and Yoah.”

I’m not sure how I feel about that, but I trust her enough to know she won’t put the kids in jeopardy, and it will save us a lot of time, so I nod and drag Jagger into my car, racing to the ER. I call Chris the moment we’re in the waiting room, and I pace up and down while I wait for him to pick up.

“Hey,” he says after the millionth ring. “I’m a little busy, baby. Is it important?”

“Jagger cut his hand, he’s in the ER.”

“I’m on my way,” he says without missing a beat, hanging up immediately.

That’s my man. His family comes first, even before his patients. And he doesn’t waste time. A nurse examines Jagger’s hand and tells me that he indeed needs stiches. Chris walks in right when Jagger curses from the sting of the nurse cleaning his wound.

“I’ll do it,” he says, motioning for the nurse to let him move closer.

“Dr. Davids, with all due respect…” She gives him a hard look and refuses to move out of the way. “Are you suddenly an ER nurse? And since when is it hospital policy to treat your own kids?”

“Just let her do her job,” I tell Christopher, tugging him to a chair and making him sit down while I stand behind him, my hands on his shoulders. He tries to reach out to Jagger, but he jerks his hand away, just like he did when I tried.

“What happened?” Chris asks, his voice tight.

“We were doing dishes and he broke a glass,” I explain, knowing now is not the time to get into the fact that Jagger basically broke the glass on purpose and that there’s obviously something going on with him.

“Where are the kids?”

“Celeste is with them.”

Chris looks up at me in surprise. “She didn’t rush to the hospital with you the second she realized Jagger was hurt?”

Hmm. He’s right. The is strange. I didn’t even stop to think about that in the midst of all the chaos. Just in case, I call the retired lady next door to us and ask her to go over to keep an eye on all three kids. I don’t want to be responsible when Celeste does something stupid or takes off, leaving Yoah and Davy all alone.

When Jagger is all stitched up, Chris insists to inspect his hand, which causes the nurse to huff. I get that she isn’t pleased with a doctor who doesn’t even work in the ER second-guessing her, but that’s not what Christopher is trying to do at all. He’s just worried and medicine is his area of expertise. This is the only thing he can do for Jagger right now.

“I’m fine,” Jagger bites out. “Go back to work.”

“I already pushed by surgery back, so I’ve got an hour before I need to be back,” Chris says, getting up and offering a hand to Jagger to help him up. “Let’s go get a cup of coffee.”

Jagger gets up without taking Chris’ hand, rolling his eyes at him. “I don’t need coffee, I need a smoke.”

Chris grimaces at that, but he follows Jagger outside anyway, thanking the nurse for taking care of his son. The woman smiles tightly, shaking her head and muttering something about doctors always thinking they know better.

“He’s just worried,” I tell her, not wanting her to think that Christopher is a jerk. “He’s always saying how amazing all the staff here is. He didn’t mean to offend you.”

She sighs. “Okay then.”

I take off after the men, finding them in the designated smoking spot for staff at the back of the hospital. Jagger offers me a cigarette, lighting it for me, and I accept without even thinking about it, taking a drag.

“Abby!” Chris says, appalled.

“I know, I know, I’ll quit,” I grumble, taking one more drag before putting it out.

When Chris’ eyes drop to my belly, I realize how stupid I’m being. Chances are slim I’m actually pregnant right now, but I need to start thinking about this stuff. No more cigarettes or alcohol for me. And I should probably start eating healthier and work out at least a little.

“Sorry,” I tell Chris with a rueful smile.

He doesn’t seem mad, just surprised to see me smoke at all. He turns to Jagger, his brow furrowing. “What’s going on with you?”

“Nothing.”

“Jagger…” I put a hand on his arm, but he shrugs me off. “Come on, Jag, we’re past this. You push us away, we don’t give up, and eventually you open up. Let’s just cut the crap and go straight to you opening up, okay?”

“I promised her I wouldn’t tell you,” he says, raising a trembling hand to his mouth, unable to even get the cigarette between his lips properly. Cursing, he puts it out and pulls his hands through his already messy dark hair. “She’s scared that Edward won’t let her move in anymore and she knows you guys don’t want her to stay with us.”

Celeste. Of course.

“We promised both of you that we will find her someplace safe,” Christopher tell Jagger, their eyes locking. “Abby and I keep our promises, Jag, you know that. Now spit it out.”

Jagger takes a deep breath, closes his eyes and leans against the wall, looking like he can’t even keep himself up anymore. “Celeste is pregnant.”

I gasp and grab the wall for support as well. Oh shit. Pregnant. I genuinely thought she and Jagger were being safe, but I guess they weren’t. Well fuck.

“How far along is she?” Christopher asks, sounding calm and collected. His doctor side is kicking in, and I can see a million scenarios going through his mind when I look into his deep blue eyes.

Jagger grunts. “Fuck if I know.”

“I’m going to pick her up right now,” I decide, pushing off the wall. “I’ll drop the kids off with Aston or Francesca or the neighbors or something, and I’ll drive Celeste straight here for a pregnancy test.”

“I’ll get her in with the OB-GYN right away,” Chris agrees, already pulling out his phone. “I’m sure I can sweet talk Dr. Gio into fitting her in.”

I turn to Jagger and pull him into my arms, squeezing him hard. “It’ll be okay, honey,” I promise him. “We’re not walking out on you, okay? We’ll do whatever we can to help you and Celeste.”

“You’re not mad?” Jagger asks, his voice tight. “You don’t… you don’t regret…?”

“I will never regret adoption you,” Chris cuts in, his arms going around the two of us. “This isn’t ideal, and we need to have a serious conversation about birth control, but we’ll get to that later. I love you, and whatever you and Celeste decide to do, we’re here every step of the way.”

“Of course,” I agree, not wanting Jagger to spiral. He was doing so well. If he starts acting out now… I don’t even want to think about what he might do and what kind of trouble he could get himself into. It’s not just Jagger anymore, he’s going to be a dad now. He needs to step up, and I know he can do it, but he’ll need all the help we can give him.

“When did you find out?” Chris asks when he pulls out of the embrace and looks Jagger in the eye.

“Last night, at the end of the party. We went up stairs to…” He trails off, glancing at me. “Well, you know what we were going to do. And I noticed that she was a little… bloated, I guess. We hadn’t been… intimate the past few weeks, so-”

“You haven’t been intimate the past few weeks?” I repeat, surprised to hear that. “But you spend almost every single night together and it’s not exactly a secret that you’re sleeping with each other, so… why not?”

Jagger shrugs. “She didn’t want to, and I’m not going to pressure her.”

Oh, the boy is so sweet. He may act like he’s a tough guy, but hearing him say that like it’s the most logical thing in the world makes me so proud to be raising him.

“Last night, she did want to, and we started to… you know… but then I noticed her belly and I asked her about it, and she told me that she’s pregnant.”

Chris looks surprised. “She’s already showing? And you haven’t had sex in weeks?” His eyes lock with mine and I know we’re both asking the same question: how far along is she?

“I’m going to get her,” I say resolutely. We need some answers and we need them now. “See you guys soon.”

I take off and head back home, rushing in to find Celeste watching tv while our neighbor, Mrs. Catsia, is playing cards with Davy and Yoah. The moment Celeste looks up at me, her face falls.

“He told you,” she says, getting up from the couch.

“Yeah, he did,” I confirm. “And you’re coming with me.” I talk to Mrs. Catsia for a moment, asking her if she’s okay staying with the boys for a little while longer. She assures me she’s absolutely fine with that, and only a few minutes after I arrived, Celeste and I are on our way to the hospital.

“How far along are you?” I ask Celeste, glancing at her bally. She’s wearing a baggy shirt – probably to hide her bump – so there’s nothing to see. She looks as skinny and boney as ever.

“I don’t know,” she grumbles, looking down at her hands in her lap. “I told Jagger not to tell anyone.”

“Celeste, this is not something either of you should be keeping a secret. I get that you’re scared, but we’re here to help. Me and Chris will be there for you, whatever you and Jagger decide to do.” I reach out to squeeze her hand before putting it back on the wheel. “We’re not letting you go through this alone.”

She sniffles. “Edward will never let me live with him now.”

“Fuck!” I curse. “I forgot to call Edward!”

I try to talk to her some more, but she doesn’t really respond, so we fall silent after a while. After I’ve parked the car in the hospital parking lot, I immediately call Edward and tell him to come over to the hospital right away. He curses when I tell him that Celeste is pregnant, I can’t help but wonder if he’ll think that me and Chris are to blame, We are, after all, liberal with sleeping arrangements, as Eddy put it when he told Celeste about his three rules.

I lead Celeste into the hospital, where Jagger and Christopher are waiting for us. Jagger wraps an arm around his girlfriend, whispering something into her ear that makes her sag against him in relief. He holds her up with ease and leads her after Christopher, who is a few steps ahead of us.

We have to wait in the waiting room for twenty minutes, and I watch Chris pace while I sit down with Celeste and Jagger. After a while, I can’t take it anymore, and I get up to hug him. He buries his face in my hair and allows me to comfort him for a moment. I’m freaking out as well, but it seems like while I’m slowly getting calmer, he’s starting to feel the stress. We take turns freaking out, just like we always do. It’s weird how well we balance each other out.

“Hey!” Edward runs into the waiting room, and he heads straight for Celeste, sinking to his knees in front of her. “How are you holding up?”

She looks at him with a guarded expression. “Why are you asking?”

He looks over his shoulder as us, a shocked look in his eyes. “Erm… because you’re pregnant?”

“Yeah, but what do you care?” she bites out. “Obviously, I’m not moving in with you now.”

“Why not?” he asks, reaching out to take her hand. “We’ve got some things to figure out, but my offer still stands. Freddie has been helping me clear out the guest room so you can stay there, and I’ve even bought girly shampoo and everything.”

Celeste smiles at that, her eyes lighting up. “Girly shampoo? What the fuck is that?”

“I don’t know, but it’s pink and it smells like fruit or roses or something.” Edward sighs. “You never get a break, do you, Celeste?”

Before she can respond, a tall woman in a white coat steps out into the waiting room, greeting Chris with a smile. “Seems you’re always bringing in young girls pregnant with other men’s babies, huh, Dr. Davids?” she jokes, grinning.

I cock an eyebrow at him. “Anything I need to know?”

Chris smiles, but it doesn’t reach his eyes. “I was with Franny when she found out she was pregnant with Zachary.”

“Oh!” Dr. Gio says, turning to me. “You must be Abigail! God, I didn’t mean to make it sound like Christopher is anything but an upstanding guy.” She extends her hand to me. “Lovely to meet you. I’m Christopher’s colleague. Amanda Gio.”

“Abigail McCaulin,” I reply.

Her eyes go wide when she noticed the ring on my finger. “Oh wow, you’re engaged? Congratulations!”

“Look, this is all very nice and shit,” Jagger’s voice says behind me, “but if you don’t mind I’d like to get my girlfriend a proper examination and an ultrasound and al that shit.”

“Of course,” Dr. Gio realizes, introduces herself to him, Celeste and Edward. “Come on through.”

There’s an ultrasound tech waiting for us – a young girl with a bright smile – and Dr Gio tells us she’s got another patient, but that she’ll be right back.

“Which one of you is pregnant?” the tech asks, looking between me and Celeste.

“Me,” Celeste says, sounding embarrassed.

“Wonderful,” the girl says, not batting an eye at the fact that Celeste is only 16. “Hop on.” She pats the examination chair for her to lay down on.

Celeste lies down, grabbing Jagger’s hand for support. Me, Chris and Edward are standing on the other side, not sure if we should all be in here or not. None of us are leaving, though, so I guess it’ll just be crowded in here during the ultrasound.

The tech asks Celeste to lift her shirt, and I almost gasp when she does. She definitely already has a slight bump. It’s not entirely obvious that she’s pregnant – more like she had a huge meal – but since she’s so thin, the bump looks bigger than it actually is.

“Do you know when you conceived?” the tech asks while the squirts gel onto her belly.

“No,” Celeste says quietly. “I’m on the pill, I haven’t had a period in over a year, and I didn’t realize I was pregnant until I started showing little over a week ago and I took a pregnancy test. I thought it must be a fluke, that I couldn’t possibly be-” She chokes up, unable to say anything else.

“It’s okay,” the tech assures her, smiling encouragingly. “I get a lot of girls like you in here. It’ll be okay. Is he the father?” She smiles when Jagger immediately confirms that. “The dad doesn’t always tag along with girls your age. I’m glad to see you’ve got your whole family with you.”

“Yeah,” Celeste murmurs, tears in her eyes.

Little does the tech know that none of us are actually related to Celeste. Poor thing. She must be so scared. I bet she has been trying to pretend everything is okay for the past week, pretending she’s not pregnant.

The tech moves the transducer over Celeste’s stomach, taking a moment to get her uterus into focus. It takes a moment before the monitor shows us anything recognizable, but then the shape of a baby blinks into focus, and I grab Christopher’s hand, squeezing hard. I can’t help but hope that one day soon, I will be where Celeste is right now, looking at our own baby.

Focus, Abby, this isn’t about you.

“Oh wow,” Chris breathes, moving closer, his eyes fixed on the screen. “How far along is she?”

The technician glances up at Christopher, recognizing him now. “Oh hi, Dr. Davids. Surely you can see that for yourself, can’t you?”

“I’d say about 22 weeks,” he says, sounding a little unsure. “But that… that can’t be right.”

“23, I think,” she replies, nodding along.

“What?!” Celeste exclaims, sitting up, causing the transducer to slip down her belly and the technician to pull back with a frown. “That can’t be right! I’m barely even showing!”

“23 weeks…” Jagger is looking like might puke. “Celeste, that means…”

“Oh no!” Her breaths are coming in faster, turning shallow. A few seconds later, she’s hyperventilating, her nails digging into the skin of her arms so hard that she’s drawing blood.

We all rush over to her, but Jagger fends us off. “Fuck off,” he hisses, taking Celeste into his arms. “It’s okay,” he says, rubbing her back. “Deep breaths, baby. Slow down. I’m here. I’m right here. And I swear I’m not going anywhere, okay? I’m here for you and the baby. Our baby.”

It takes a few more minutes, but he gets her calm and carefully pushes her back down onto the reclined chair, smoothing her blonde hair out of her face.

“Jagger,” she whimpers. “You know what this means.”

“I don’t care,” he assures her. “I’m in.”

I have no idea what they’re talking about, and from the looks of it, Eddy and Chris are at all loss as well. It almost sounds like… No, I must be mistaken. That can’t be right.

“Ready to take another look?” the tech asks in a soothing tone. “Would you like to hear the heartbeat?”

“Yes,” Jagger answers before Celeste can react. “I’d like to.”

“Okay,” she breathes, closing her eyes and turning her head away from the screen. “Do it.” She looks like she’s physically hurting, and I feel so bad for the poor girl. I move over and take her hand that isn’t clutching Jagger in both of mine, trying to convey to her that she’s not alone.

The sound of the baby’s heartbeat fills the room, and Jagger inhales sharply, his eyes on the screen. “Oh wow,” he whispers, looking at his baby’s heart beating on the screen, the sound all around us.

Dr. Gio steps in, all smiles. “That sounds like a nice, strong heartbeat.” She looks at the screen and takes the transducer from the tech, moving it around a little and turning the sound down so she can talk to Celeste. “You’re 23 weeks and 2 days along, and although the baby is a little smaller than average, it has all its fingers and toes, and the heartbeat is strong. Would you like to know the sex?”

“No,” Celeste bites out, her eyes still closed. “All I need to know is when I can schedule an abortion. Can we do it now?”

Dr. Gio doesn’t show any sing of shock, but the rest of us sure do.

“No,” Jagger says, sounding like he’s about to cry. “No, Celeste, please please don’t.”

“You know why,” she says, her eyes flying open and meeting his. “You know.”

“I don’t care,” he says, leaning in to kiss her, cupping her face in his hands. “I’m in no matter what, Celeste. I don’t care.”

“I do!” she yells the moment he breaks away from her. “I want it out of me!”

“I think it might be wise to have a talk about all your options,” Dr. Gio says calmly. “How about we go into my office for a moment, Celeste?”

The technician is already wiping off the gel and Celeste hops off the chair. She pulls her shirt down, moving away from Jagger.

“Can I come?” he asks softly, his eyes hopeful as he looks at her.

“No,” she says, looking around the room. Her eyes move over Edward, then Chris, until they settle on me. “Can you come with me?” she asks pleadingly.

“Of course,” I say immediately. “Whatever you need.”

“Don’t shut me out,” Jagger pleads. “Please, Celly, I love you. Let me be there for you.”

“Give her a moment,” Chris says, pulling him away from me and Celeste and keeping an arm tightly around his shoulders.

Celeste and I follow Dr. Gio out of the room, and I glance back at Jagger’s distraught face, Chris’ strong frame, his blue eyes following me with sadness in them, and Edward standing there like he was just hit by a truck.

Last night, Chris and I were standing in the kitchen, staring at our engagement rings and throwing out my strip of birth control pills. And now here we are, in the hospital with Celeste and Jagger, who are so not ready to have a baby.

Celeste’s hand slips into mine while we walk into Dr. Gio’s office, and I need to force myself to stay calm and to keep my eyes dry. She was only just getting her life together and now this…

Life is a bitch sometimes.

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