It was nearly midnight before Sam was allowed to see Caitriona. To sit beside her bed. Hold her hand. Shed tears of fear and relief, regret and resolve.
It had been, thus far, the most frightening day of his life.
Threading his fingers gently through her own where they rest on the firm swell of their child, he watches the fetal heart monitor like a man hypnotized.
Doctor... What'shisface had said a whole lot of things that Sam couldn't recall but the one that branded across his mind was that Cait couldn't leave this bed until the bleeding and contractions stopped. Feeling like a python had taken hold of his chest, Sam struggled to draw a full breath at the implications.
Resting his chin on his arm, he stares at the monitor until his eyes burn. He fears the up and down blip of the green line would halt if he looks away. As he watches, drawing comfort from the steady rhythm, he begins to replay the events that brought them here.
Cait had insisted on rehearsing a scene. It was a physical one, where Claire is railing at Jamie for some perceived wrongdoing. It escalated into an argument and their tempers flared. When Cait began pushing and shoving at him, Sam drew back to disengage but she was caught up in the scene. She didn't stop. Without a thought, Sam's hand came up and the next thing he knew, his pregnant wife is bouncing off of the wall and falling to the floor. His heart stopped.
Sam had never understood what it meant to feel the world drop from under his feet before that moment. "Oh my God. Oh fuck, Cait. I'm so sorry. Are you ok?" Going to his knees beside her, his voice was shaking as hard as his hands while they ghost over her body; across her shoulders, down her arms, coming to rest on her belly.
She just sat there, as if dazed, until her knees drew up and she whimpered. Her hands gripped his as he felt a great heaving motion and her belly harden.
"Oh Jesus. Was that a contraction?" He looked at her, fear rolling over him in great crashing waves.
"Get us to the hospital, Sam. Now." She sounded just as scared as he felt and he bolted into action.
Scooping her up, he carried her to their car and, gripping her hand, defied every traffic law along the route. Thankfully, traffic was light and the trip not far. Slamming the car to a halt at the emergency entrance, he gathered her in his arms again to find help.
A blur of nurses with a barrage of questions assaulted his senses. When he saw blood on her leggings, he felt a panic he had never known before explode in his chest and he blurted out, "She's five months pregnant and I shoved her into the fucking wall!" His throat closed before he could finish, choking off any further words of explanation. Before he could recover, make them understand, a firm hand grabbed his arm and dragged him out of the room.
Despite his protests and efforts to pull free from the iron grip, he was escorted to a room that was bare save for a table and chairs. Turning to head back out the door, back to his wife, a security guard blocked his way. "You need to wait here, Sir." The tone wasn't merely a polite suggestion.
Stunned into frozen silence, Sam could just stare at him until he found his voice.
The sound of the door closing was the only response.
He had sunk into a chair, head in his hands and started praying to a God he wasn't sure existed.
Sam spent the next several angonizing hours being interrogated, explaining and re-explaining what happened. No, he has never abused his wife. (The very thought made him want to gag.) He wasn't angry with her, it wasn't even a real fight. They are actors rehearsing a scene. He gave them Maril's number, begging them to call and verify. He offered to take them to his home, show them the script. Anything, just, for the love of God, give him an update on her and the baby. His pleas fell on deaf ears though, and they would start from the beginning all over again.
When they finally left him alone with the promise of information, he rested his forehead on the table, squeezed his eyes shut, and begged this God he didn't know to protect his wife and child.
A hand coming to rest on his head startles Sam from his thoughts. He hadn't realized his eyes had closed until they popped back open at the touch.
"Hey babe," he whispers, sitting up. "How are you feeling?"
Cait's eyes flicker up to the monitors as the hand still laced with his takes them on a slow journey up and down the mound where their baby is sheltered. "Is she ok?" She is whispering, too.
A new kind of lump forms in his throat. A girl? Oh, God... "I think so? I've been watching her heart beat. It seems steady but.... I don't know, babe." A daughter... His eyes are stinging and he can't begin to explain why.
"Where have you been? I was so scared." Christ, he didn't think his heart could ache any more than it already was. To think of her alone and frightened when he should have been with her...
"They thought I..." A strangled cough and a deep breath later he tries again. "They thought I beat you, Cait." God, just the idea turns his guts over.
Her eyes grow wide and he can see her tears gather even through his own haze. The hand on his head, the one without IV's and wires, runs down to his shoulders, tugging him toward her. She wraps him in an awkward, one armed hug. He burrows into the warmth of her neck, speaking against her pulse as he confesses. "I've never been so scared in all my life."
"Me, too." She threads her fingers back through his hair, nails scratching across his scalp in the same rhythm she uses to put him to sleep each night.
He moans at the sensation, tension melting from his frame at the familiar, comforting touch. Pavlov's dog, indeed. He tucks his chin so he can see down the length of her body. See their child's hiding place. "What have they told you? Is... Is she ok? Are you?" Their intertwined fingers continue making long strokes across her belly. Silently willing the contractions to cease, for everything to be well. Are you there, God? Please...
"They did an ultrasound, that's when I found out. I heard them talking about her." Cait shifts her hips and legs, trying to ease some discomfort and Sam moves to lie beside her, never taking his hands off of her. "They think there's a pinched nerve in my lower back that is triggering the contractions. They gave me something to make them stop but I want to see my chiropractor, too."
As if on cue, her belly hardens under their joined hands. Sam watches and counts, holding his breath, until he feels it relax and turn pliable again. They are the longest five seconds of his life. "Does it hurt?"
"No, not really. They aren't strong and seem to be less frequent." She doesn't look entirely convinced, but he refuses to upset her by doubting her word.
"Tell me what happened. Where did they take you?" She asks again.
He shrugs and changes the path of their hands, moving around her belly in a circular pattern. "A room down the hall, I think. I wasn't paying attention, I just wanted to get back to you. A man and woman came and asked me a bunch of questions about what happened. They made me tell it over and over again, like they were wanting me to change my story or catch me in a lie. I just kept telling them the truth and asking them to find out if you both were ok. They started asking about our relationship, if I ever got angry with you. How I handle my temper. Did I have a history of violence..." He closed his eyes, turned his face into the pillow and gave a great shuddering sigh as his emotions became too much to contain.
The fingers in his hair keep scratching, centering him, calming him. "They finally left and I sat in there alone and prayed, Cait, like I haven't done since I was a little boy." His voice wobbles at this and he takes a deep breath to ease the ache in his throat. "Did they come talk to you?"
"Someone did. I told them what happened. They asked if I felt safe with you. I told them the only time I feel safe is with you. They left soon after." She smiles gently at him. "It's true, you know."
He kisses her then. Softly. Carefully. A kiss of apology and regret. Wishing he could heal them with his love. Wishing he could roll back time and never agree to play out that scene. Pulling back just enough to whisper against her lips, he pours out his heart as his tears start to fall. "God, Cait. I am so sorry. I don't know why I... I was just trying to deflect... I never meant to push you like that. I will never forgive myself if she..." He jerks back, looking at her in alarm.
"What about the blood? The Dr said something tore?"
Nodding, Cait gives him a sad smile. "They said it is likely placental abruption. When I hit the wall..." Seeing the horror and guilt play across his eyes and face, she pulls him to her. Foreheads together, she forces him to meet her eyes. "Don't. Don't look at me like that. This is not your fault. This is OUR fault. Ok? Together. I will not let you shoulder this alone. I knew you didn't want to do that scene."
He stares at her. Studying her gaze. He can't find any of the blame he knows he earned. All he can see is sorrow and pain and, most of all, the great love they share for each other.
"Ok." He acquiesces.
Apparently satisfied with his response, she continues. "Anyway, they think it is a minor tear that will heal on its own as long as I rest. If the contractions and bleeding stop soon and she remains stable, we might be able to go home."
He looks at her, disbelief and relief warring across his face. "For real?" For the first time today, hope starts to take root in his heart and he can't stop the grin that follows. Oh God, thank you.