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Of Love And Football

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A common phrase in the nursing world is that there is no typical day, and for someone who's working in the Nicu, Seth thinks it holds true for them as well. Everyday, he starts his twelve hour shift not knowing what the day will bring but hoping to end it with a sense of accomplishment. This may come in the tiniest, smallest, but most significant ways possible. Like an infant excreting their first poop. Or an 8 ml blood transfusion that can make a world of difference to a premature baby's oxygen saturation and heart rate.

As soon as Seth slides the doors to the Nicu open, he can hear alarms from monitors in one room. There's the sound of a woman crying in the next, another sound captures his attention, the beautiful sound of a baby drinking his milk, and a little cheer from who he guesses is Alexa as she rejoices over the fact that the little one has just finished his first bottle. It makes his heart smile, these are the moments that they all live for, all these tiny successes that too many people may overlook but that mean so much for anyone caring for tiny, fragile beings.

Seth often compares his job to riding a rollercoaster. There are many highs and lows that can change in a mere minute. This morning he was riding that rollercoaster with the family of a precious little girl who was struggling to keep her oxygen saturations within the required percentile. The blood of a preterm baby receiving extra oxygen must be maintained at about 88 - 85%, not higher, to prevent any complications on the baby. Little Aimee-Lee has managed to do just that for three days now, with oxygen levels within the required percentile. It was an emotional high for all of them, that's one obstacle the brave 28 weeker has overcome.

When lunch time comes around, Seth can positively say that today doesn't seem so bad. He always uses the opportunity of a break to get some fresh air though, and to remind himself that he's here, and human, and that some things are beyond his and his team's control. This is very important, because it's not always sunshine and roses in his department. After a quick lunch outside, he goes back to do a few rounds in the nurseries. There's a little boy who just graduated to Nicu level 1, and Seth was personally involved in his care during some of his more critical moments.

As he enters the little guy's nursery, he's pleased to find that it's his feeding session. He loves this part of his job too. "Maliya, hi." He goes to join the young woman, hovering above her respectfully, while watching her prepare to nurse her baby. "How are you doing?"

Maliya beams, all sun and the stars, glowing brown skin and all. You wouldn't say that she's the same woman who looked absolutely hopeless a few months ago, you wouldn't say she's the same young woman who'd looked like she aged a century. "Seth!" Her dimples make an appearance, she's smiling so hard. "Boy, am I glad to finally catch a glimpse of you. It's been a long while, and I wanted to give you the good news. Dr. Orton, the other one, not the cold-eyed one, but his husband. He told me that Brady is healthy to be discharged by next week. Well, we can actually leave, but they want to give me time to prepare for his discharge!"

"Maliya, those are great news! I'm happy for you both. Truly."

"Thank you so much, Seth. For everything. I, you guys took care of my baby. You never stopped being kind and supportive, even when I was being a persistent nutcase. I'll never forget what you did for us."

"Oh, stop." Seth sniffles, dabbing at his eyes, small chuckle escaping. "Look, you're making me all emotional and stuff. I don't want to cry."

"Sorry." Maliya caresses her son's smooth cheek. Her little Brady is such an eater, and with his fantastic weight gain, Seth can't say he's surprised really. "But I just wanted to thank you. From the bottom of my heart."

"Hey, this is what I am passionate about. This is what I love doing, I'll give it 200%. The reward is always worth it. I'm happy that I was part of your son's care team. It's been a pleasure to see him thriving. He's so stubborn, and we both know where he gets it from."

Maliya rolls her eyes playfully. "I'm glad he got that trait from me."

"Me too, Mal, me too."

"Do you...want to hold him? I can tell that he's missed you. Look at how he's wiggling around at the sound of your voice."

Seth is not sure if it's his voice per se but the little one does seem a little overexcited, and it's a beautiful sight to witness. And yes, he wants to hold her baby. He's missed this little one, that's another thing about his job, the attachment. Being fully attached is never wise but so is complete detachment, compassion and care is needed when caring for these vulnerable beings. Overtime, you learn to balance the emotions enough to not be completely heartbroken when it's time for a mother to take their newborn home. From time to time, Seth keeps in touch, finds out the progress and any milestones the babies have reached. He's made a few good friends from being in this profession.

"Maybe for two minutes." He tells Maliya, gently embracing her baby into his arms. Big brown eyes blink up at him, little Brady squirming in his arms. "Hey there, tough guy. I've missed you, yes I have. You miss me, too?" He queries playfully, scrunching up his nose. "Is that a yes I hear?"

"Oops, that's a definite yes." Maliya giggles when Brady releases gas in response to Seth's question.

"A definite, very blunt one. He has no filter, does he?" Seth asks, brushing beautiful blacks softly. "Is that on you again...or is it Jonathan?"

"Jon, obviously."

"Yeah, right." Seth chuckles, only for panic to set in a second later. The pager has gone off, another baby needs his attention. "Maliya, would you—"

"Yes, of course." She's already taking the baby from him. "Go do your thing, Seth."

Seth offers her a hint of a smile before rushing off toward the hospital’s corridors, emergency bag in hand. With the arrival of the newborn, he already knows what to expect. It's a premature baby that will require their attention, and support. A troop of doctors and nurses are already there, working on adrenaline, all of them with one goal in mind. They have a job to do, a baby to save.

"We’ve got an emergency admission. Twenty-nine weeker, born through an emergency c-section according to the previous hospital. The mother didn't make—” Ricochet, the charge nurse, is informing the team about their new patient. Seth tries to actively listen, Ricochet keeps spilling out information, speaking a mile a minute with everyone hard at task.

The doors to the Nicu slide open, adrenaline rush still pumping. Seth gathers a few bits about the little girl. Little baby Reigns born January 07 2019, at 06:55pm, to a twenty year old mother. Born eleven weeks early, the little one only weighs at two pounds, eight ounces. They get the baby on the warming table, Seth's heart clenches in distress as he looks at the unresponsive baby, he's not surprised when Ollie relays her low Apgar score, a terrifying one. She's all small body and blue lips. Eyes clenched tight, and her pallor very ghostly.

Dr. Woods-Orton bolts in right then, well not bolt, considering his current condition. But it is still quite an impressive waddle, and he is demanding that someone tell him something, give him an update. There is a glossiness in his eyes when he reaches where the fragile infant is, Seth thinks he may be getting a bit personal, but of course it would be hard for him not to. He's a mother to two year old twin boys and is awaiting the arrival of a little girl in less than two months, of course he'll view this in personally.  

Seth stands aside, reminding himself to remain calm, watching silently as they intubate the baby. "Rollins, your assistance please. I have no idea what this lady is doing." Seth hears Dr. Woods-Orton— Xavier, he reminds himself—urge, voice wobbly with emotion.

"Of course," Seth replies.

"How long has she been out for?"

"Two minutes." He hears someone supply, it sounded like Alexa.

And shit!

The panic returns, strong and fast. It's even worse when looking at the small girl's delicate body. Xavier instructs him to do this and that, apply chest compression at about 80 beats per minute to a baby who's heart rate barely lifts to 60 beats per minute. Seth is shaking, almost thinks he's experiencing a seizure while connecting with the little baby's delicate skin. "Come on, little. Fight. Fight." He beseeches the baby, this part is always the hardest, always.

"Enough, Seth." It sounds harsh, but then again, with the critical matter at hand Seth understands. Xavier is calling out orders, moving around with ease for a man looking so heavily pregnant, while requesting doses of drugs to help resuscitate the infant.

Seth hands him the needle with an infant-sized dose of sodium bicarbonate so that Xavier can inject the drug into the umbilical line. "You're going to make it, aren't you, beautiful? Yes, you are. You're so strong, I'm proud." Xavier is speaking gently, probably distracting himself as he works against time to save the baby. Seth will applaud him for how he manages to bring himself down again when too worried, or stressed out. It can't be good for his own baby. It's a wonder his husband hasn't ordered him to stay at home yet, but Xavier's a stubborn one when he wants to be.

There's an eerie minute where they all hold their breaths, looking at the monitors to track baby's heartbeat. Fifty. Forty. One of the nurses fucks it all to hell, and helps to reapply chest compression to the baby. Fifty. "Come on, little one." Seth pleads, gaze glued to the screens.

Sixty.

"There we go." Xavier whispers, watching the little girl like a hawk.

Seventy.

The tension leaves the atmosphere, slowly. Seth can see a glimmer of hope in the eyes of his colleagues.

Beep. Beep. Beep.

The monitor skyrockets to 107 beats per minute.

Seth could cry. His heart clenches to the point of discomfort, out of overwhelming emotion. Letting out a searing ball of air, his gaze finally goes to the little girl, and he's so happy to be able to whisper a grateful, "Thank you."

It's over.


Baby Reigns does not make it out alive unscathed. It's a given, really. Born eleven weeks early, she will be spending quite some time in the Nicu before she can finally get to go home. For now this is her home. Nearly fifteen hours old and a long road ahead of her. 

Seth learns quite a few things about her though. About her lineage and where exactly she comes from.

It's the story that nearly breaks the internet—one of the biggest scandals to hit 2019, and probably the biggest one others may argue.

BREAKING NEWS: NFL PLAYER, ROMAN REIGNS, IS A FATHER.

It's when Seth had taken a fifteen minute break away from baby Reigns, whose side he hadn't left for the first ten hours of her life, to use the bathroom and get a bit of fresh air when the headline screams at him from a television in the canteen. From then on, it doesn't need a genius to fit the puzzles. Baby Reigns is daughter to Green Bay Packers' infamous Roman Reigns.

And maybe, under normal circumstances, these would be considered great news. But when said NFL player was involved in another scandal, and probably still is, because the birth of his child coincides with the scandal he's been involved in for months now, well then Seth can't help but think that maybe Roman Reigns is just a magnet for trouble because the quarterback has just dethroned himself on the 'King of Controversy'  category—again.

Not that it's a surprise, really. From their fans alone, Seth knows firsthand how immature anyone who associates with the Packers can be. Like the women he's seen wearing close to nothing on a less than 20 degrees weather during sporting events. Or the middle-aged men who screech that annoying, 'Go Pack, Go' 'fight song' every other second while spitting on your face as they reminisce about the past. There are too many things that Seth could mention but now is not the time.

The most pressing issue is that Roman Reigns is a new father, to an infant girl born eleven weeks early, weighing under 3 pounds. The pressing issue is that said little girl is not out of the woods yet. With jaundice and other health problems, it really will be quite a tough road to recovery. The most pressing issue is that Seth has been unable to leave her side for fifteen hours now, hating how alone and scared she must be feeling. The pressing issue is that her young mother is not available to nurture her, gone at a tender age, due to a freakish car accident. What's pressing is that her father is not here, to support her, and protect her. She's all alone.

Alone.

It hurts, and Seth is feeling a lot of resentment towards both her parents. He knows in the case of the mother he's being unfair. Young Cameron Lynn succumbed to life's misfortune, it was beyond her control—but that doesn't make it fair for her daughter who is currently fighting against the statistics. Her young, vulnerable daughter who will never get  the privilege of knowing her mother personally. Instead, she will spend all the days of her life relying on strangers' perceptions of her mother and have to take their word for it.

Granted, young Cameron Lynn didn't have the greatest of reputations. Involved in a scandal with her baby daddy who very publicly denied having any romantic relations with her and accused her of being a 'money-hungry psycho', the young woman's tiff with Roman was a very public, very nasty one, probably because Roman had just come off a ten year relationship with another woman not even six months before Cameron announced to the world that she was five months pregnant, and carrying the quarterback's first child.

That was last year's scandal, it's the same one that Roman just outdid himself on by losing his ex-lover and gaining a new child in the process. The media is buzzing, and the infamous Roman Reigns has broken the internet— again.

Seth will admit that he's indulged himself on the scandal, and has tried to keep up. Last he heard, Roman was trying to pay her off, along with their baby, but she'd demanded more money and a brand new car. The same car (bought just two months ago) that just took her life. The irony of it all isn't lost on Seth. But he guesses in the end, Roman got what he wanted—to be rid of Cameron.

The same can't be said for his baby. She's a little fighter—a beautiful little warrior. Seth remembers a time when he honestly feared that she wasn't going to make it, he's never felt such an overwhelming fear before. The only thing that had been on his mind was for the little one to fight harder, because she couldn't die on them, on him. Of course he knows that when it's time, it's time, but he's never had a baby die in his care, with him present—and maybe it's selfish of him but he didn't want that on his conscience.

He's seen how badly it can affect staff. He's witnessed Alexa Bliss break down over a baby she'd formed a close bond with, witnessed a pained expression on Dr. Jax's face. That was just two months after he'd joined the NICU, but their expressions still haunt him. He hopes to never experience that kind of pain, the self-doubt, and self-blame.

"You know you've been at this baby's side for close to twenty-four hours now. You ought to go home, Seth."

A silent sigh leaves Seth, he looks over his shoulder to find Dr. Woods-Orton—Xavier, again he reminds himself—waddling toward him with a careful smile on his face. "You ought to take your own advice, doctor. You should've left for home an hour ago."

Xavier shrugs. Seth stands to help him settle on a cushioned chair in the room. Xavier groans while caressing his large belly, he's a beautiful mess at the moment, the glasses he has on add to it.

"I'm waiting for Randy, he's doing his rounds with a few patients."

"So he told you to wait?"

"Doesn't want me behind the wheel." Another shrug from the beautiful doctor, he looks bone tired, bags under his eyes and wrinkles on his forehead. Xavier really doesn't rest much. Maybe it wouldn't be a bad idea if Randy put his foot down.

"I can see why." Seth murmurs, feeling exhausted himself, and yawning. "I really don't think it's very wise of you to be working this hard this far up in your trimester, Dr. Orton."

"Dr. Orton, really?" Xavier laughs out loud. "Is that how you're choosing to clothe that insult you just hurled at me?"

Seth rolls his eyes, and protests with a chortle. "Xavier, please. You and I both know I wasn't insulting you. We both know how stressful this unit is, and I'm just saying, you're a doctor, you know that too much stress isn't good for the baby. I remember how stressed you were last night… With this little one."

A bemused pause, and then an exhale. "Randy told me the same thing…just last night."

"See, that means this is something you need to take into consideration. Especially because your husband and I rarely agree on lots of things."

"Don't remind me," Xavier lets out a hearty laugh, caressing his belly in tender circles. Seth can tell that the man's drifted off to the past, possibly remembering every encounter that Seth's had the displeasure of sharing with Randy. They're not enemies, but they're definitely not friends either. Hell, they're not even acquaintances, a surprise really considering how close Seth is to Xavier. Even though they do not qualify to be called best friends, they're still close enough. Not that it's hard to be friends with Xavier, he's a complete nerd, an adorable one at that, despite the fact that he is still five years older than Seth. Thirty, and still the coolest guy that Seth's ever met. "He still can't get over the fact that you couldn't tell a female snake apart from the male."

A sigh. Seth remembers that day like yesterday. He'd left the Ortons home seething, made worse by Randy's contemptuous sarcasm. So what if he had a pet snake and never bothered to determine it's gender? He was ten years old, and his mom thought getting him an animal he feared the most as a pet was a  bright  idea. It shouldn't be a surprise that he never interacted with the reptile much, but he was sad when it passed on...part of him had grown fond of it.

"What can I say? We're not all raised to be snakes."

If Xavier took offense on his husband's behalf, he doesn't show it. Not with the way he giggles like he finds something funny. "This is why I enjoy being in your company, Seth. Fuck, I love you."

"In a platonic way." Seth reminds him.

"But of course." Xavier still can't control the titters.

"We need to put it out there. You're married to a snake, he has this tendency of appearing out of the blue...and looking all predatory like."

"I concur."

"So how are my little champions doing?"

Xavier grins a beautiful smile, like he always does whenever asked about his little boys. He's taking out his phone, giving it to Seth to show him some pictures, Seth accepts it with a small smile of his own. "They're growing too fast. I can't keep up. Gideon hurt Adonis on the eye the other day. And he was shaking in his tiny boots by the time their father came around. He was scared of the naughty corner."

Seth chuckles, dabbing at his eyes. He listens voluntarily, happily, as Xavier goes on a babbling-spree while talking about the twins. Eventually it ends, much to Seth's dismay, when Randy makes an appearance telling Xavier it's time to go home. Seth agrees, not having much of a choice anyway, and sadly watches the two walk away.

Alone, with nothing but the beeping monitors and mellow swishes from the ventilators to keep him company, Seth is drawn to the gentle rise and fall of baby Reigns' delicate chest, under the soothing blue lights. The sight centers him, reminding him that the little one is still here—fighting.

Leaning back on the chair, and ignoring the ache along his spine and rear from sitting in one place for so long, his thoughts travel to the baby's father. In the eighteen hours since his daughter's birth, there has been no word, or trace of Roman Reigns. They've been trying to get hold of him for a while now, and Mandy had hinted that maybe he's not aware of what's happened to which Seth had breathed an annoyed snort.

There is no way in hell the man isn't aware that his ex-lover is dead, ain't no way in hell he doesn't know that his daughter is all alone fighting for her life in some hospital. With how quickly word gets out with the internet at your fingertips, news about Roman's latest scandal are all over the internet. He is easily the most recognizable NFL player, the most polarizing one, too. Seth won't get into his scandals, and just why he's so famous. His point is the heartless bastard is probably chilling somewhere, not giving a fuck about his preterm baby.

Seth can feel himself trembling with a blazing fury just thinking about it. How a grown ass man can be  so...so...heartless.  Yes, it's a known fact that he didn't want to be associated with his baby mama nor their baby but things are different now. Cameron is gone, a little soul needs him, she can't live as an orphan when one of her parents is still on this earth. Seth's not going to lie, he's always disliked Roman Reigns, there's just  something  about that man and no, Seth is not saying this because Roman Reigns usually has something to do with his favorite team losing. He's  not  saying this because Roman Reigns led his team to a 45-0 win against his beloved Bears, it was an embarrassing time, and Seth remembers not even wanting to show his face around the hospital. One of Xavier's best friends, that he's become an acquaintance with, made fun of him the entire time. Seth wanted to kick Big E's dumbass into oblivion.

Like he's said, he doesn't necessarily dislike Roman for what he's accomplished, there are plenty of reasons actually, part of him doesn't even get the guy's appeal, and why people make such a big deal out of him. He's not even that good a quarterback, certainly not worthy of being in the top five list. And Roman is polarizing for that very reason, too many people don't agree on the same thing, but Seth's with the ones who have their eyes open, who aren't too stuck up in the man's ass like he's a god or something. He's certainly proving that he's the furthest thing from a saint.

Who abandons a newborn?

Fucking Roman ‘I'm a dick head’ Reigns, that's who.

"Careful there, princess. Don't break your jaw."

Seth lifts his head to find Alexa monitoring baby Reigns' wellbeing, while also reviewing her chart. When did she get here? He's too distracted. Seth sighs, encouraging his body to let go of the tension, and watching Alexa move around with silent grace. "Hi, babe."

"What's sneaked up your ass this evening?" Alexa questions, resting her hands on her waist, seemingly pleased with the baby's health thus far.

"Nothing." Seth shrugs, internally chiding himself for being so personally affected, this is why Dr. Orton (the cold one) always advises them to care about the patient but to not be too emotionally attached. It's easy for an emotionless bastard to say that Seth figures because when said patients are as young and innocent as the one before him, well then it's hard not to be attached. It's even worse with this one because she hasn't a single visitor, it's been twenty hours and not one—

"Seth seriously, what's wrong?"

"Oh, nothing. Just thinking about how selfish of a bastard this little girl's father is. Immature, I forgot to add that to the list too. He should be kicked off his team and lose all his endorsements and deals. What kind of human being is he? Twenty hours and still no sign of him. God, he's an asshole!" Seth shakes his head, anger reigniting by the minute. "Why hasn't he come for her? Who does what he does?"

"Why don't we go to the cafeteria for a while, have coffee, my treat." Seth issues no complaint as she leads him out of the Nicu ward. The hallways are silent, not a surprise really, it is just after midnight after all. "So what is all this about selfishness?" Alexa sips her coffee, all the attention on him.

"Well, it's like this—" Seth takes a deep breath and goes on his fifteen minute tirade. He can't be sure how Roman being a lousy football player slithers into his conversation but he doesn't stop, he can't. He voices his thoughts, informs Alexa about all the times that Roman's been featured in the media very negatively, very publicly and why he can see that there's truth behind some of the things that have been said about him. Alexa barely gets in a word, Seth is a babbling fireball.

Being so passionate about his dislike for Roman Reigns, Seth barely registers the ruckus that sounds behind them as he and Alexa make their way back to the Nicu ward. He's too busy talking, but he pauses when Alexa does, surprised why and about to question her when Alexa's eyes go wide as saucers, jaw not far from dropping to the ground.

"What is it?" Seth peers in the direction she's looking, and blinks rapidly, in disbelief.

"Well, what do they say? Speak of the devil…"

Lo and behold, Roman Reigns is here, in the flesh. Dressed in black sweatpants and a jacket, he stands out like sore thumb next to the significantly smaller nurses and doctors crowding him. One physician is rattling off information, while the others stare in wonder and smitten awe. It's disgusting, nothing about this guy even stands out. He's your average gorgeous (yes, Seth will be objective to admit that the man looks like he was carved with the gods) 'I have nothing else to offer besides my good looks' dumb jock who obviously plays for the big leagues. Totally not impressive.

"And right here, Mr. Reigns, Seth Rollins, he's stayed at your daughter's side since her arrival at St. Anderson's." Mandy Rose informs an indifferent quarterback.

Roman Reigns holds his hand out, big looking and all, and offers a hint of a smile. "Pleased to meet you, Seth Rollins."

Can't say the same.  Seth feels something bubbling within, and his anger cloaks him and this son of a bitch stood right in front of him giving him a goddamn grin like he's not bothered that for twenty hours his daughter has had to fight her biggest fight all alone. He doesn't know how fragile she looked, how she still looks. How heart wrenching it is to see her all hooked up to different wires. How she's on oxygen support because she's struggling to breathe on her own and all the bastard can come up with is a demeaning 'pleased to meet you, Seth Rollins.'"

The audacity!

Seth glares, hoping with every hateful bone in his body that his stare down alone will send the man to the pits of hell. And no, he's not going to shake hands with a complete asshole. "Oh, look Alexa, the little boy's finally grown a pair and stopped running from his responsibilities." He snaps out viciously instead, meaning every word he's said.