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Author's Chapter Notes:

Everyone waits to hear news on Alyssa and the baby.


Chapter 48 - The Waiting Game


            Nick sighed for what felt like the twelve millionth time since he'd arrived at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center a little over an hour and a half an hour ago. He'd seen Alyssa be whisked in on a gurney to an examining room when he first arrived, but so far there was no word on her condition. He replayed the last chilling few hours of his life in his mind from the moment that Kevin had pulled him and Sean apart to where he now stood. After Brian had told them something was wrong inside his gut immediately had told him it was Alyssa. He'd feared that the stressful situation had maybe perhaps caused her to have early labor pains. He wasn't at all prepared for the truth. Seeing her laying there so lifeless and pale at the bottom of the stairs with a crowd of onlookers surrounding her scared the shit out of him. Nothing though was more frightening than the blood that had began to stain her white dress. That was not a good sign. Blood could only mean that something was wrong with the baby.


            Howie had already been on the phone calling for an ambulance and Shayla was standing at the foot of the stairs in tears. "I don't know what happened!" she had cried. "I was standing at the top of the stairs one minute talking to her and the next she just lost her balance. I tried to grab her arm to keep her from falling, but it was too late. I hope she's going to be okay!"


            Everything had been a blur after that. Paramedics had flocked the scene and immediately gotten Alyssa onto a stretcher and carried her out to the ambulance. Thankfully, the reporters present had more class than to even bother snapping any photos. Nick barely remembered who had even driven him down to the hospital. It might have been Kevin and Melanie. All he knew was the waiting room was packed with the rest of the guys and their significant others, plus Sean, Shayla, Izzy, and Tristan. Everyone looked worried for Alyssa and on edge. They'd seen the severity of her fall and mostly everyone held themselves at least a little responsible in their own way.


            "They should be coming in with some news in a few minutes now." Kevin patted him on the shoulder from his seat next to him, trying to ease his nerves.


            "Something's wrong with the baby Kev... I know there has to be. There's no way Alyssa could've gotten through a fall like that and not hurt her in some way," he fearfully stated.


            "You've got to think positively, little man. God has a mysterious way of working sometimes."


            "I can't lose her... I can't lose her or Alyssa," he repeated as he rested his forehead in his hands.


            "What did you say?" Kevin asked, frowning a little bit. "You're talking like it's your daughter that's in danger instead of Sean's. You're not making sense Nick."


            "Nothing," he quickly replied, remembering that none of the other guys knew that Alyssa was carrying his child. He sighed again, the minutes ticking away like hours. Out of the corner of his eye, he snatched a sideways glance of Sean who was being consoled by Izzy and Tristan who looked just as concerned as he did. Then he realized that Sean still had not figured out that he was not the father of Alyssa's baby.


            He looked up and leapt to his feet when he caught sight of Alyssa's OB/GYN, Dr. Spencer approaching them, her blonde ponytail swishing as she walked. It had been a relief to him that she had happened to be at the hospital that night and had just gotten finished with a delivery when Alyssa had been admitted. It did at least help a little bit to have a comforting face at hand. "Dr. Spencer?" he called out to her. "Do you have any news on Alyssa, yet?"


            "Hello Nick," she greeted him, recognizing him from the few doctor's appointments he'd attended with Alyssa with a tight lipped smile that could only mean grim news. "I do have some news for you -"


            Before she could finish her sentence, Sean had approached the two of them and stuck out his hand to introduce himself. "You must be Dr. Spencer, Alyssa's doctor. I'm her husband, Sean."


            "Pleased to meet you Sean," she greeted.  "I wasn't aware that you were home from Iraq yet."


            "I just got home a little over two weeks ago," he explained. "Is there any news on my wife?"


            Dr. Spencer nodded her head looking very serious. "From an initial examination it appears that Alyssa may have several injuries, but the extent of the damage has yet to be determined. Obviously our primary concern right now is the hemorrhaging and the health of the baby. We've managed to stop most of the bleeding which is a good sign, but we're not out of the woods yet. We performed an ultrasound and although we were able to still locate a heartbeat it wasn't as strong as I would've liked. Based on the ultrasound and the hemorrhaging it looks like to me that Alyssa's placenta has ruptured."


            "That can't be good, can it?" Sean asked his eyes wide with worry.


            "It depends on the extent of the damage. At this point in Alyssa's pregnancy it's very hard to tell, but based on the amount of blood she's lost and the fall she took it's highly likely that it could've ruptured entirely."


            "But the placenta is how the baby gets all it's food and oxygen," Nick pointed out, remembering what he had read from the few pregnancy books of Alyssa's he had browsed through. "So, if that ruptured do you mean to tell me that the baby is basically suffocating inside the womb?"


            Dr. Spencer just gravely nodded. "Essentially yes. This is why time is of the essence. I'm going to recommend that we perform an emergency c-section. The sooner we get the baby out of the womb, the better chance it has for survival."


            "But, she's not due for like another nine weeks," Sean argued. "She's not even eight months pregnant. How is the baby supposed to survive being delivered this early?"


            "Right now it's the only choice we have. That's a risk we're going to have to take. Many babies are born prematurely and with the proper care can continue to grow and develop at a healthy rate and be just fine. I'm just going to need your consent before I do anything."


            Sean sighed. "Do what you must. Am I at least allowed in the delivery room?"


            "Considering that this going to be a very complicated delivery, I'm going to have to ask that you wait out here. A lot could go wrong and we don't need an extra body in the room. I'll have a nurse bring over a consent form for you to sign and we'll start prepping her for surgery."


            Nick collapsed back onto the waiting room chair, too stunned to by the doctor's prognosis to have much of a reaction. It took a moment or two for her words to really sink in to his brain, but once they did he was met with a crippling thought. She'd said that it was going to be a complicated delivery. Did that mean that there was a chance that Alyssa might not be able to make it through? He wasn't sure if he wanted to hear the answer, but morbid curiosity forced him to ask the question that was ravaging his thoughts. "Dr. Spencer... Before you leave I just need to know something." He swallowed hard, having trouble even forcing himself to ask the question at the back of his mind. "Alyssa shouldn't have any trouble making it through the surgery, should she?"


            Dr. Spencer gave him a small, sympathetic look, but behind her eyes she looked very serious and bluntly honest. "If everything stays the way it is now, she should have no problem. If she starts hemorrhaging again though, there is a small chance she could bleed out on the operating table." Nick's face instantly paled and she quickly tried to smooth over her last sentence. "There will be plenty of people on hand in the operating room ready to jump into action if need be. I seriously doubt there will be a problem."


            But it was too late. The thought had already been planted into the back of his mind. Nick knew that now that he was aware of the possibility of complication he'd be even more on edge. If he lost Alyssa... Well, he wasn't sure what he'd do. All he knew was that he would have no choice, but to hold himself a little responsible. He sat back and watched Dr. Spencer hurry back towards the examination area to start getting Alyssa ready for surgery. He definitely was not looking forward to long wait ahead of him and he wished that he could fast forward time until after Alyssa's surgery, so he would save himself anymore emotional torture in awaiting to hear the fate of her and his unborn daughter.




            A little over another hour later, Alyssa's surgery had just gotten underway and the whole crowd had relocated to a different waiting area, closer to the delivery room where it was taking place. Tensions were high and every person in their group looked almost equally nervous and anxious to hear some positive news. Everyone seemed to be praying for Alyssa in their own little way. Nick, who normally was not at all a spiritual person in the least bit found himself bargaining with God in his own head. Please let she and the baby pull through this okay... If you just let her get through this, I'll do anything. I'll leave Shayla in a heartbeat.


            He looked over at his wife who was sitting next to him, her eyes bloodshot and an almost catatonic expression on her face. Shayla had not said one word since they'd arrived at the hospital. Nick would've loved to find out what was going in that head of hers, but he knew that now was not the time to pull the information from her. All he knew of her side of the story that she and Alyssa had been upstairs talking near the top of the stairs when Alyssa had lost her balance and fallen backwards much too quickly for Shayla to do anything to stop it from happening. What the conversation had been about, he couldn't be sure, but he supposed that Shayla did feel a little responsible for the incident and perhaps a certain degree of guilt. He knew that she was the obvious source of blame for this whole situation, but as of right now he was far too concerned about Alyssa to point any fingers just yet. He had bigger problems to worry about anyway.


            It was finally slowly beginning to sink into him that right at that moment, behind the double doors that led towards the delivery room, his daughter was about to be born. This was an event that Nick had been totally unprepared for. He wasn't expecting this to happen for at least another two months. Unfortunately, these circumstances were nothing like the one's that he had imagined. He'd always thought that Alyssa would carry the baby to full term and then eventually when the time was right, go into labor naturally and have a pretty standard, routine birth. This was not the case. Because of something that had happened in literally a blink of an eye, Alyssa was being forced to give birth almost a full ten weeks ahead of schedule in an emergency operation where almost anything could happen. His daughter was in an extremely perilous situation and she hadn't even yet left the womb. It pained him that already she was fighting for life. This wasn't how he had intended for her to make her entrance into the world. There was a very good chance that her life could be over for it even got a chance to begin. Then even if Zoey did make it through the delivery, she'd have to continue to fight for survival in an incubator as her small, underdeveloped body continued to grow stronger. This wasn't what he had wanted, but at this point he just wanted her safe and alive.


            Then there was Alyssa herself. He knew that as scared as she was about the actual birth that she wanted to be awake to experience it. She actually wanted to go through all the pushing and the breathing, just to be able to say she did it. She wanted to be able to hold her baby in its first few minutes of life. She wouldn't be able to get any of that now. She was still unconscious. Nick wasn't even sure what other injuries she'd sustained in her fall. She had to have done some damage to her body. It was unclear when she'd even get to see their daughter. It was also unclear if she'd ever get to see her daughter.


            Don't think like that, he quickly chastised herself. Dr. Spencer said that the chances of any complications during the delivery were minimal. Still, it was hard not to consider the possibility. He wasn't sure what he'd do without Alyssa. He was sure that he wouldn't be able to raise their daughter on his own. He refused to let his mind go any further down that route. She was going to make it through.


            Then on top of all of this was the reminder that Sean was still present on the other side of the waiting room, and still convinced that this child belonged to him. At first, when Sean had crashed his party earlier that evening, Nick had assumed that not only did he know about the affair, but the pregnancy as well. Luckily, Nick had caught on pretty quickly that he was still in the dark about that detail. Now with the baby on its way and the affair beginning to come out into the open, he knew that it was only a matter of time until that bombshell was dropped. He wasn't looking forward to Sean's reaction to that one. Meanwhile though, it was very frustrating for Nick to sit back and watch Sean play the role of the frightened father. He could tell just by looking at him that the thoughts going through Sean's head were many of the very same ones that he had as well. Unfortunately, unlike Sean, he had to keep everything bottled up inside even though it took almost every fiber of his being not to stand up and announce the truth to everyone. Out of all the guys, Nick hadn't confided his secret to any of them, but he knew that Alyssa had told Tricia and Teri. Had they let word slip to AJ and Howie? Nick hadn't spoken to Kevin in months, but from the way Kevin kept looking at him he knew that Kevin was probably beginning to pull together the pieces. Thankfully though, if he had figured it out yet, he hadn't bothered to question him about it. Now simply was not the right time.


            Across the waiting room, Sean nervously fiddled with his fingertips while his eyes seemed to remain glued to the clock hanging over the entrance to the area. Little was he aware that Nick could completely relate to exactly how he was feeling. He had to admit that he'd definitely been enraged at Alyssa earlier that evening after finding out that his suspicions about her relationship with Nick were true, but all of that seemed insignificant now. He still wasn't sure what he intended on doing about their marriage. That was something they needed to discuss together. Now that he'd calmed down some, he realized that Alyssa deserved the chance to be able to defend herself and tell him her side of the story. He just hoped that she'd make it through this delivery to be able to do that.


As hurt and betrayed as he felt because of her though, she was the mother of his child, and right now that child was fighting for its life. If there was one thing above all else that had made his relationship with Alyssa worthwhile through all this crap, it was knowing that she was carrying his daughter. Being a father was one of the most precious gifts that he knew he'd ever receive and he that no matter how bad things got between him and Alyssa, they'd always have that special bond of a child between them. He simply could not lose his daughter this way. Over in Iraq, she was the one thing that had kept him going at times.  How many nights had there been where he'd lay awake thinking about her? How many times in combat when he just wanted to give up, he'd remind himself that he had a daughter on the way and it would immediately renew his energy? He'd struggled through hell to be able to make it back to meet her, and it would most definitely be a cruel twist of fate if she weren't able to make it. Please God... Please don't take the one bright spot I seem to have left in my life away from me. If he lost this child and then was unable to work things out with Alyssa, he really wasn't sure if he could honestly go on living.


The only other person in the room who could say that they were almost as worried about what was going to happen to Alyssa and the baby as Sean and Nick, was Shayla and that was only because she had the most to lose in the situation. If anything at all went wrong in that delivery room, she knew that she would be the one held responsible. In all honesty, she had no intention of harming Alyssa when she had chosen to confront her on the top of the stairs. She'd just meant to call her out on the whole affair and give her a few choice words. Somehow though, the situation had escalated and Shayla had let her anger get the best of her. She hadn't even realized what she was doing when she had first put her hands on Alyssa. It had happened so quickly and so naturally, it was almost as if she'd completely blacked out. She'd never known herself to be a particularly angry or violent person, but she supposed that the shock of finding the truth out about the baby combined with her already prior knowledge of the affair was enough to send her over the edge. As soon as her hands had left Alyssa's shoulders and she'd seen her stagger backwards, Shayla's anger immediately had disappeared and quickly was replaced with sheer horror. She'd never forget watching Alyssa helplessly begin to tumble down the stairs and all that she could do was watch dumbly, too frozen in shock of what she'd done to actually do anything to stop it from happening. As much as she despised Alyssa, Shayla would've never purposely pushed a pregnant woman down a flight of stairs. She wasn't a heartless monster. It had just been a very unfortunate accident.


She knew though if either Alyssa or the baby did not make it out of this situation alive, suspicion would float towards her. Everyone knew that Alyssa was a rival of hers and coincidentally enough she had been the last person to talk to Alyssa before she fell. Teri and Tricia had witnessed enough to know that the situation was probably going to be confrontational. She was pretty sure just by the dubious stares that she was getting from everyone else that they held her responsible. For the mean time, Shayla had lied to save her own ass and told everyone that Alyssa had merely tripped and fallen backwards. She wasn't sure how many people bought the story, but no one had questioned it so far. They probably were just too concerned with Alyssa's health to care very much about the details just yet, which Shayla was thankful for. It gave her more time to perfect her story. She wasn't sure whether or not Alyssa would remember the details if or when she recovered. Shayla knew that she'd have to work hard to convince Alyssa that she hadn't pushed her, so it would make it much easier if she could get everyone else to believe her side. It was a sneaky and underhanded thing to do, but she simply couldn't let the truth of what had really happened get out. Not only could it ruin her reputation, her career, and any chance she still had left with Nick, but if Alyssa didn't make it through the delivery she was pretty sure that she could be brought up on criminal charges. Hell, even if Alyssa did pull through she could be charged with attempted murder, right? The act hadn't been premeditated, but what proof of that did she have? She certainly had more than enough motive or so it seemed.


No, no one can find out what really happened or my life is over, she silently swore to herself. If only she could rewind time and stop herself from making such a stupid mistake...


She looked up at the clock and realized now that it was well past midnight. All around her the rest of Alyssa and Nick's friends were already beginning to nod off. It seemed like next to impossible to try to sleep under the circumstances, but the one advantage was that it would make the time tick by that much faster. She tucked her legs underneath her on the waiting room chair and rested her head against Nick's shoulder. Closing her eyes she prayed for sleep to come take her and rescue her from the nightmare of her own thoughts.




            When Nick first heard the ringing noise of his cell phone coming from the nightstand table, he rubbed his eyes sleepily and rolled over to glance at the alarm clock. It was close to three in the morning. Too late for the call to be anything, but bad news. Trying to ignore the sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach he picked up the phone and answered shakily. "Hello?"


            "Is this Mr. Carter?" a brisk voice asked on the other end of the line.


            "Uhh yea... This is he. Can I help you?" As he grew more awake for the first time he noticed the sleeping form beside him rustling about as she slowly awoke. He recognized Alyssa instantly and then it slowly began to come back to him. Her showing up at his hotel room after the wedding earlier that night... The two of them talking things over and deciding that they were better off with their current partners... The two of them kissing... The two of them having sex... Shit, he cursed to himself. What had they done?


            "I'm from Lexington Memorial Hospital. I'm calling in regards to your wife, Katie."


Nick's breath caught in his throat and his face paled as his heart hammered in his chest. He knew that this couldn't be good. "What's going on?" Alyssa's sleepy voice asked as she sat up in bed, placing a comforting hand on his shoulder. A look of genuine concern etched her face.


Nick ignored her. "What about her?" he fearfully asked.


"She was admitted here not very long ago. She was involved in an automobile accident and is listed as being in critical condition," the woman reported. "I don't have any more information to give you at this time, but it's advised that you get down here as soon as you possibly can."


He didn't need any further explanation. He was already grabbing his boxers off the floor and pulling them back on. "I'm on my way," he quickly told her, before clicking the phone off.


"Who was that?" Alyssa curiously asked. She had also started to pull her clothes from before back on.


Nick sighed, running a nervous hand through his hair. "There was an accident... Katie..." He swallowed hard not even being able to complete his sentence. "I have to get down to the hospital."


Alyssa seemed to immediately sense his anxiety and perhaps felt even a little guilty herself about the circumstances. It was definitely hard to accept that unbeknownst to them while they had been in the throes of passion, a pregnant Katie had been fighting for her life. "Wait, I'll come with you," she offered.


Nick critically eyed the skimpy looking boy shorts and matching camisole tank top she was wearing. "You're going to have to wear more than that if you want to come with me."


Alyssa looked down at her appearance and her face reddened a little when she realized that the rest of her clothes were back in her own hotel room. "We'll just have to stop by my room and I'll throw something else on. If you want you can go down to the lobby and wait for me there. I'll be like two minutes. I just don't want you going there on your own."


The translation was clear. She was worried about how Nick was taking all of this and knew that he could use someone at his side for moral support. At this point, Nick had no idea just how bad things were. He knew no other details about the accident or Katie's condition. The woman he had spoken to on the phone hadn't even mentioned Serena. That alone gave him a very bad feeling in his gut. "Okay... I'll meet you down there," he finally agreed.


A few minutes later he was down in the lobby and asking the concierge desk for directions to the hospital. He looked up just in time to catch Alyssa stepping off of the elevator wearing a pair of jeans and a rumpled t-shirt. "You ready?" she asked as she approached him.


Nick just nodded and they hurried out into the hotel parking lot towards Nick's rental car. Nick's adrenaline was pounding and his nerves were so on edge that it took him three tries just to unlock the door. Picking up on his frazzled state, Alyssa came up behind him and grabbed the keys from his hand. "I'm driving," she insisted.


"But it's a rental," he tried to argue, but Alyssa wasn't hearing it.


"Don't argue Nick. I can tell that you're too upset to drive. It won't do Katie or Serena any good if we can't get there in one piece. I think it's for the best if I drive."


Nick did have the energy to continue to reason with her. He just wanted to get to the hospital as soon as possible and he knew that his emotions were too high right now. Knowing him he'd speed the whole way there putting both himself and Alyssa in jeopardy. She was right. It was better this way. Giving in, he headed back around to the passenger side and climbed into the vehicle. Alyssa popped into the drivers seat, and within a few moments they were pulling out of the hotel and onto the highway.


Nick looked out the window and sighed. All he could do was wonder what had happened and what was going on with Katie and Serena at the moment. He had to admit that he was pretty scared. In all honesty, he'd really never been in love with Katie, but she had gotten to be a good friend of his. His decision to marry her was a stupid, impulsive move on his part, but it had worked out to be a convenient arrangement. It ensured that Katie would be able to stay in the United States and it was the responsible thing to do with Serena on the way. Just because he didn't love her in a romantic sense though did not mean that he didn't care about her. Katie had a special place in his heart. The way he felt about her was much different than the way he cared for Alyssa. He saw Katie as more of a very close friend; someone who had placed in his life for a specific reason. If it weren't for Katie, he would've never been about to become a father for one thing, but furthermore he almost was beginning to feel like without her, he and Alyssa would never be where they were today. He had become pretty sure that if their relationship had developed normally without the interruption of Katie, eventually things would've fizzled out and died. The whole experience had made them stronger, and even though they were no longer together, after tonight Nick had to admit that he was definitely still attracted her. He'd been shocked himself how receptive Alyssa had been to his advances. It had been very clear in her actions that she was also still attracted to him. Of course he had been intimate with Katie, even recently, but it was so different with Alyssa. He definitely felt more of a physical connection with her than with Katie.


It did pain him to realize that he'd been in the arms of another woman when the accident had occurred and he couldn't help, but to feel like it was bad karma coming around to get him. Whether or not his marriage to Katie was one of convenience or not was irrelevant in the situation. She was still his wife and the mother of his future daughter. He wouldn't want anything bad to happen to either one of them and even though he knew that even if he hadn't been with Alyssa at the time, it probably wouldn't have changed the outcome, he still felt responsible somehow. He just wished he knew what he was dealing with here. The nurse had said that Katie was in critical condition. He knew that wasn't a good thing, but a lot of people who were listed in critical condition pulled through, right? He just wished he had more information. He wished he knew more about the extent of her injuries. Did she have internal bleeding? Was she going to need surgery? What about Serena? How had the accident impacted her? It was just so frustrating being so in the dark like this!


As if she could sense his frustration level, Alyssa reached over and placed a comforting hand over his. "We're almost there Nick. Just a few more minutes," her gentle voice soothed.


"I just wish I knew what was going on," he shared, clenching his fingers anxiously. "They didn't tell me anything. Just that it was a car accident."


"I'm sure they'll be okay," she tried to assure him. "Look, there's the hospital up ahead." She pointed towards an upcoming sign on their right with a very large brick building behind it. "Do you want me to let you off while I find a parking spot?"


Nick thought about it for a moment and shook his head. "No, I don't want to go in by myself. I'll wait for you."


"All right," Alyssa agreed as she turned into the hospital complex. They rode around in silence until Alyssa was able to find a parking spot. She quickly pulled into the stall and shut off the engine. Within moments they were rushing into the hospital entrance looking overwhelmed by the size of the building and where they should be heading. "Do you know what floor she's on?"


Again Nick shook his head. "No, they didn't tell me." Immediately he began to panic. How the hell were they ever going to find her in this place?


Thank God for Alyssa though. Being the clearer headed one out of the two of them she approached the front desk very calmly. "Excuse me?" she asked one of the nurses behind the counter. "We're looking for a patient that was just admitted within the past few hours, but we're not sure what floor she's on."


"What's the patient's name?" the nurse asked, sitting down in front of a computer screen in front of her.


"Katie Carter."


The nurse punched Katie's name into the computer. "Mrs. Carter was admitted right into the ICU. Take the elevator up to the second floor and make a left," she directed them.


"Thank you," Alyssa told the woman as she grabbed Nick's arm and led him towards the elevator. "Let's go."


Nick was still stunned as the two of them boarded the elevator. "ICU isn't good, is it? Isn't that where they bring patient's that are like really bad off?" he fearfully asked.


Alyssa bit her lip as if she were choosing her words carefully. "It's where they bring patients so that they can be monitored more closely." The elevator made a dinging sound as the doors to the second floor opened. "This is us."


Nick followed her off the elevator and down the hall past a set of double doors that read Intensive Care Unit. He was very thankful to have Alyssa with him who somehow seemed to know exactly what to do every step of the way. Maybe it was because she had gotten used to navigating hospitals since Meg had been diagnosed with cancer. She went right up to the ICU information desk in very much the same way she had downstairs. "Hi... We're looking to see if there's any information about the condition of Katie Carter? She's a patient who was just admitted here earlier."


He could tell by the flicker in the nurse's eye that the name sounded very familiar. Nick tried to read her facial expression for any indication of her current state, but he came up unsuccessful. "Are you family members? We can only release information to family."


"I'm her husband," Nick spoke up.


The nurse nodded and picked up a phone that was sitting on the counter. "Let me page her doctor and he can come up and give you more information. You can have a seat over there." She gestured towards a small waiting area to her left.


Alyssa and Nick made there way over to the waiting area and took seats. As soon as he sat down, Nick's knee began to nervously bounce up and down and he found that he could do nothing to stop it. He looked up apologetically at Alyssa and she just gave him a small reassuring smile and a pat on the back.


After ten excruciatingly long minutes of waiting, a tall middle aged doctor approached them. "Mr. Carter?" he uncertainly asked.


"That's me." Nick sprang up from his seat. "What's going on with Katie? Is she okay? What about the baby? Is the baby okay?"


The doctor gave him a pitying look. "My name is Dr. Stevens. I've been overseeing Katie's case since she's been admitted," he quickly introduced before answering Nick's questions. "Katie was brought into us earlier tonight from an automobile accident. The only details that I received from the police and the paramedics were that it appeared to be a drunk driver, weaving in and out of traffic. The other car hit the town car Katie was riding in on the drivers side, killing the driver instantly. The impact sent the car spinning off the road and into a tree. When police arrived on the scene Katie was unconscious and had to be pulled from the vehicle."


"How is she now though?" he impatiently asked. "All I was told that she was in critical condition. And what about the baby? No one has mentioned her."


Dr. Stevens looked somber. "We lost the baby in the crash. Katie was barely hanging on by the time we got her to the hospital. There was quite a bit of internal injuries. We suspect that she may have hit her head at some point in the crash because there was quite a bit of swelling around the brain. We really did all we could, but..."


Nick was completely in shock with how fast he was receiving all this news. He simply could not seem to process it all at once. He was still trying to digest the fact that Serena was gone. Then it finally sunk in what the doctor was trying to tell him. "Are you trying to tell me that Katie didn't make it either?" he asked, almost refusing that this was really happening.


The doctor sadly shook his head. "We lost her only about half an hour ago."


Nick quickly calculated the timing in his head. She had to have passed on only a few short minutes after he had first received the phone call. "No..." he insisted as he finally began to process it all. "No! They're not both gone... They can't be... No!"


"Nick... Calm down," Alyssa's voice gently pleaded. "You have to calm down..."




            "No... No!" Nick muttered in his sleep as his head tossed restlessly from side to side. "They're not gone... They're not!"


            "Nick? Wake up... Nick, you're having a bad dream. Open your eyes," a gruff sounding voice demanded as a hand nudged his shoulder. Since when does Alyssa have such a deep voice, Nick sleepily wondered as he slowly felt himself begin to awaken. His eyes popped open only to see Kevin's familiar face looking down at him and he almost jumped ten feet in surprise.


            "What was that all about?" Kevin asked, sounding concerned at his younger friend's disturbing nightmare.


            "Katie," he muttered. "I was dreaming about the night I found out about her and Serena."


            Kevin gave him a sympathetic look. "I can definitely see why that night would pop back up into your head. The situations are a little bit similar I guess and they were both at about the same point in their pregnancies." He looked around the waiting room and saw that mostly everyone else was sleeping. "Why don't we move down a bit and have a little talk?"


            Normally a talk with Kevin usually was never a very comfortable situation to be in, but he'd be happy with anything that would distract him from his waiting. He wasn't even sure how long he'd been sleeping for and how long Alyssa had been in surgery for. Very carefully unpinning himself from Shayla who had fallen asleep half on top of him, he slid up from his chair and stretched. It did feel good to stand up after what felt like hours of being crammed into his uncomfortable sleeping position on the chair.


            Kevin had already slid down to a seat in the corner of the room far enough away from everyone else in the room to give them some privacy and was patting a seat next to him. Nick reluctantly made his way over and plopped down beside him. "Do you remember the night I told you that I was leaving the group?" Kevin asked him, seemingly out of the blue.


            "Yea... How could I forget," Nick told him, not sure where this was going. "That was the night I told you to go fuck yourself and then I proceeded to tear my entire bedroom apart in anger. Not the most mature reaction I guess," he admitted.


            "Do you remember before that though? Melanie and I came over for dinner and Alyssa was visiting from New York at the time."


            Nick slowly nodded his head. "Yea... Melanie was pregnant at the time and she demanded that you go out and buy her ice cream. I came along with you and that's when you told me that you were leaving."


            "And do you remember what I said to you as we were checking out?" Kevin continued. Nick just looked at him blankly. "You know... about Alyssa?"


            Nick grinned lightly as the memory came back to him. "Something about how someday I'd be the one running out to buy her ice cream at all sorts of weird hours of the night." He softly laughed. "Alyssa's more about double stuff Oreo's and dark chocolate than ice cream though."


            Kevin just nodded as he noticed the way that Nick's eyes seemed to light up when he talked about Alyssa. He also noticed how Nick seemed to know so many details about her, right down to which foods she'd craved most. "I also told you that I thought she was one of the best things that ever happened to you, right?" he reminded him.


            "Yea, you did. You said that you thought that I finally found the "one" and warned me not to fuck it up. And what did I do? I fucked it up as usual." He sighed at the realization. "I've always fucked up with her, haven't I?"


            Surprisingly Kevin shook his head in disagreement. "Not always. You had your moments where you were actually pretty decent. Especially recently taking such good care of her while Sean was away in Iraq. I can see how you could compare the situation she's in now with Katie and Serena. You are afraid that history might repeat itself, right?"


            "Sort of..." Nick admitted, finally letting his true feelings rush out. "Sean doesn't deserve her! We just have so much history together and well... I love her. I always have. I've just tried to use other women to move past her, but it never works. I always wind up right back with her. If anything happens to her I don't know what I'd do. She's been by my side throughout so much. I can't picture a life without her."


            His words only seemed to confirm the suspicion that had bothered Kevin all night so far. And he found himself having to ask the question that had been on his mind all night. "That baby that Alyssa is carrying... It's yours, isn't it?"


            Nick looked away finding himself unable to lie to Kevin especially when he'd asked him outright so bluntly. "What gave it away?" he sighed.


            Kevin grinned. "Maybe you grumbling about how you can't lose the both of them for starters. That and the fact that I know you and Alyssa. Then there was the argument with Sean that I had to break up... It wasn't too hard to figure it out. Sean doesn't know, does he?"


            "No, he doesn't," he honestly confessed. "Do you think anyone else knows?"


            "I don't think so," Kevin assured him. "Well, I guess congratulations are in order. Looks like you're about to become a father."


            Nick almost recoiled back in shock. "You mean that you're not going to lecture me about messing around with another man's wife?"


            Kevin just shook his head. "Nahh... I got to save up all my lectures for my son, plus I decided to retire from giving you lectures once I retired from the group. Why? Would you like one? I'm sure I could come up with something on the spot if you'd like," he joked.


            "No, that's perfectly all right," he quickly declined. "You must really approve of Alyssa."


            "She's my cousin's best friend. I know she's a good woman and I see how much she's changed you for the better. Those are all pluses in my book."


            "Thanks man," Nick told him, patting him on the shoulder.


He looked up just in time to see a nurse enter the waiting room. She cleared her throat before she began her announcement. "I just word that they've finished up Mrs. Robinson's surgery. Dr. Spencer should be out shortly to speak you about how it went."


Nick could feel his heart begin to hammer nervously in his chest. One by one everyone in the group began to slowly awake and herd together as they continued to wait. No one dare said a word, but he could tell that everyone else was just as anxious as he was about the news they were just about to receive. Nick himself couldn't help, but wonder if he was officially a Daddy or would he have his hopes crushed for a second time?


Finally after what seemed like nearly forever, Dr. Spencer rounded the corner into the waiting room a serious expression etched on her face. She looked tired and just as stressed out as the thirteen pairs of eyes staring questionably up at her. Everyone could tell it had been a difficult surgery by what looked to be like bloodstains on her scrubs top. "I'm sorry," she began. "We did all we could..."