Choice

Author: Kate
Rating: R for graphic content and adult situations
Disclaimer: They belong to Jason Katims et al, not me
Distribution: Please ask
Summary: What if Isabel really DID get pregnant from the dreams?
Dedication: Roe v Wade, all women who are faced with a choice. Jack. My friends, without them, I wouldnít be sane. Thanks to all who pre-read this and encouraged me to write this and helped make it a better fic! http://www.plannedparenthood.org
Feedback: Yes please, positive and negative, constructive criticism and praise, but please donít write just to tell me Iím going to hell, thank you.


***WARNING*** This fic deals with subjects that may be difficult for some to read. Please be warned that this fic deals with ABORTION. If you have a problem with this, please do not read this fic. Thank you. ***WARNING***

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A fetus holding court in my gut
My body hijacked
My tits swollen and sore
-Ani DiFranco
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kerthump. Kerthump. KERTHUMP. ---------

Isabel sprung into an upright position, eyes flying open, staring into the darkness in shock terror. Her hand instinctively clung to her stomach, breath gasping, trying to shake that awful feeling that was hanging over her like a death shroud.

Shakily she pushed back the covers and took a few tentative steps towards the window. Like a baby colt taking its first unsure steps in the world, she teetered a bit, grabbing her chair to steady herself. She swallowed hard, looking out into the blackness of the night, the breeze that rustled her curtains doing nothing to cool the heat that was encompassing her.

--It was only a dream… only a dream--

But the nauseous feeling wouldn´t leave her, the panic inside her, that internal fluttering. And when she silenced her thoughts she thought she could still hear it…the faint kerthump, the murmurings in her stomach that sent tremors up her back and echoed in her ears. The faintest sound. The loudest sound. The sound of putting a shell to her ear and hearing an ocean. The sound of life growing inside of her.

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He felt otherworldly, like the dream still clung to him, the way smoke stays in your hair and clothes even hours after leaving a bar. It was a faint remnant, just a hint, just a shade of what had been, but a piece of it nonetheless. He could feel the dream haze on his body, in the glistening sweat on his brow, in the blood coursing through his veins in overdrive, and in a sound in his ears that was so faint, yet ever-present.

The kind of sound you hear when a piece of electronic equipment has been left on, and you tilt your head and squint your eyes to determine if you are really hearing the hum of electricity or if maybe you´ve just lost your mind. The kind of sound that makes you look around and say to yourself, “*Where* is that coming from??”

But Michael didn´t need to ask that question; his instincts told him the source of the sound. With each step down the hallway the sound ceased to be a phantom butterfly flitting in his mind and emerged as something concrete, something he could actually pinpoint and latch on to.

As he opened the door and saw her silhouette, tall and majestic and glowing in the moonlight, the sound threatened to overwhelm him, filling his ears, crowding his mind, making his step falter.

She turned to face him, eerily calm, face pale with moonshine, like an ethereal goddess. They stared at each other in awe for a few seconds as the sound separated itself into three. One, the heavy jackhammering of his heart, two, the slow deep thump of hers…and a third, quick and light, almost eclipsed by the boom of the other two, but unmistakable nonetheless. Undeniable.

“Michael, I think it´s true. I think it´s all true. I think I´m pregnant with your child.”

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The pregnancy test in her hand felt stupid, like a meaningless formality, like signing the statement at the end of your finals saying you didn´t cheat, because, really, who would cheat and then *not* sign it? It was pointless. She thought about throwing the test away, she didn´t need two pink lines to tell her what she already knew with every fiber of her being. But, she always signed the statements anyway.

So, meaningless or not, she perched on the toilet, holding the test ready for the stream of urine that wouldn´t come. As trivial as it was, her body was seizing up in fear, muscles clenched, heart racing, taken by a new kind of performance anxiety. Finally the release came and she defiantly held the test under the shower until the last drop had trickled out.

She set her jaw, determined to be as blasé about the whole thing as possible, to not give into the fear that was threatening to wash over her like a tidal wave and suck her out into an ocean of panic.

-------------------

He could hear the seconds ticking on the clock above his head, deliberate and plodding. They moved so slowly, it was like being caught in a moment of eternity, like waiting for the proverbial watched pot to boil.

And yet, when the time was up it felt like the quickest five minutes ever, as if the seconds had hurried by unnoticed. He took a deep breath and reached his hand out to pull the test close to him. She grabbed his arm, the first hints of dread snapping behind her eyes.

“Wait. Not yet.”

Her calm had shaken him, she had been so stoic while his stomach did flip-flops and his brain incessantly chattered at him. He could see now though that underneath her unruffled exterior there was a quiet anxiousness that matched his own noisy one.

He pulled his hand back in acquiescence and looked up at the ceiling, down at the floor, anywhere but at that stupid strip.

Eventually they couldn´t stall anymore, couldn´t spend any more wordless minutes praying and hoping for a miracle, for a piece of plastic to tell them that everything they were feeling was wrong. Her hand took hold of the test and brought it to eye level, trembling slightly. He turned to watch her nervously, heart pounding in anticipation.

He didn´t even need to see the two pink lines to know. Her reaction was enough. Her resolve broke, ice princess dethroned as her face crumbled and her back hunched over in the sobs that wracked her body.

Pain stabbed at his heart as the awful truth hit him, this was no dream, this was real. He could feel the heat rise on his cheeks and he pulled her into an embrace before she could see the tears course down his face.

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His arms around her were warm and strong, comforting, holding up the weight her knees could no longer support. But, they did little to ease her crying, which stemmed from a place so deep inside herself that even she couldn´t find the switch to stop the flow.

The thoughts swirled in her brain, cycling around, chanting at her, urging her to come to their inevitable conclusion.

--I´m only 17…I can´t have a baby. The FBI is after us…I can´t have a baby, not now. What will everyone say, what will my parents think? God, and Max, if he was mad that Michael took the orb out, what will he do now? He´ll kill Michael if he thinks he knocked his sister up… I can´t have a baby. We don´t even know how alien babies work…I can´t have a baby. I´m only 17…I can´t have a baby. Not now. I can´t have a baby. I can´t have a baby. –

She didn´t want to listen to those thoughts, didn´t want to say them out loud and make them true. She wanted to bury her head in Michael´s sweater, breathing in his masculine smell, feeling his breath in her hair, until it was all over. Until she woke up from this nightmare.

But it wasn´t a dream she could wake up from, push aside, write off.

--I can´t have a baby—

She broke away from Michael´s embrace and sank wearily onto her bed, struggling to get a hold of herself, to make the crying cease. She stared at the ceiling, willing herself to calm, ignoring his weight on the bed next to her.

Finally composed, she turned to face him, to look into his shiny red-rimmed eyes and breathe life into the voices in her head.

“I can´t have a baby.”

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Michael laid in his bed, staring at the wall, refusing to succumb to sleep. He hadn´t had a decent nights´ sleep since they had found out for sure that Isabel was pregnant and a choice had been made. The dreams hadn´t stopped and only served as a cruel reminder of what he and Isabel were going to do in little under a week. He woke from the dreams anxious and distressed, mind reeling from the dichotomy of the happy family of his dreams and the stark reality of his life.

There was so much love between himself and Isabel and their gorgeous child, a child that could never be, would never be. When he was in the dream, all he wanted to do was pull them close and never let go, to not relinquish that happiness and love. His conscious mind half ached for the dream to be a reality. But, he knew it couldn´t be, Isabel was right, and he was going to support her decision even as it snuffed out that tiny ember of happiness the dreams had kindled.

He watched her sometimes, observed the way she held her head high, her shoulders squared, fear and distress only showing in her eyes, and even then it was so faint that only he, who knew and shared her fear, could find it there. He was amazed at her strength, her determination, and hoped he would be strong enough to deal with the bumpy road that lay ahead.

Each day, as the date drew nearer, Michael had grown quieter and more introspective, wracked by his feelings of fear and guilt, guilt for not controlling the dreams, for not keeping this from happening, guilt for putting Isabel through this. And so he did not sleep, just stared at the wall, in a silence that was only marred by the faint kerthump that he could almost write off as his own heart beating in his chest, were it not just out of sync enough for him to know that it was not.

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She´d been able to coast through school, pretending nothing was wrong, just the Ice Princess going about her daily routine. But, it was an act. Superhero Isabel, who wasn´t afraid of anything, was just a front, a front that hid a very scared girl. She kept up the façade, because if she didn´t she knew her resolve would break and she would just run to Michael´s arms sobbing, she needed that front, she had to be Ice Princess Isabel.

But there in the car at 6:30 in the morning on the way to the clinic, she couldn´t keep up the false bravado. She looked out the window, half watching the scenery fly by as they left Roswell, half staring at her own drawn reflection, trying to keep her thoughts from what she was about to do.

Subconsciously she placed one hand on her stomach, the other on her head, trying to block out the echoes in her ears that stemmed from deep within. She exhaled a deep, shaky sigh, trying to push all thoughts away and quiet her noisy brain.

Michael reached his hand out and rested it on hers, its warmth immediately grounding her and clearing her mind of all its fuzziness.

“It´s gonna be ok, Is.”

Isabel looked into his eyes, big with concern and care, and felt all pretenses wash away. She couldn´t pretend with Michael, he knew how she was feeling, he knew her too well, knew that Ice Princess Isabel was a fake. At the tender sound of his voice and the reassuring warmth of his hand, Isabel let her guard down completely.

“I´m so scared, Michael. I´m so scared.”

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Isabel had always strode around confidently; whether at a brisk or leisurely tempo, there had never been a hint of tentativeness, her gait always flowed with grace. But now her step was cautious and he had to hold his pace back to walk evenly with her. And she had always looked tall and statuesque, with her shoulders squared and head held high. But, next to the beefy security guard, she looked so small, like a lost little girl.

He could tell that she was disturbed by the presence of the guard, by the fumbling way she showed him her ID, and the heave of her chest, the shortness of her breath as he scanned her with the metal detector.

His own heart was pounding as he held out his arms for the guard. He turned his eyes off of Isabel´s pale face and let his curiosity get the better of him, asking the guard the purpose of the check. The man´s reply spoke of fake appointments, of guns and bombs brought into the clinic. Michael tore his gaze away from the man´s chiseled face to look back at Isabel, whose eyebrows were knitted together in concern and fear. He tried not to let his face mirror her own fright, instead giving her a nod as the guard buzzed them into the clinic.

--Oh my god…What are we getting ourselves into?—

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She had been staring at her own hands for an eternity, staring at Michael´s knee bouncing up and down in nervousness, staring at the floor. There were only so many times she could outline the pattern of tiles with her eyes though. Finally, she lifted her head to see the motley crew of girls in the waiting room.

She turned her gaze on a skinny girl with red hair and freckles, younger than even she was, eyes big and wild, slumping in her chair. Next to her was a woman sitting rigidly straight, clutching her purse so tightly her knuckles were white, eyes staring straight ahead, lips drawn in embarrassment, anger and determination. She did not reach out to her daughter, make any attempt to comfort the obviously terrified girl, her disapproval and disappointment visible to even the casual observer.

Isabel thought of her own mother. What would Diane Evans say about her daughter´s “situation”, her choice? Would she offer Isabel her strength, or would she shrink away in disgust? Her mother meant everything to her, the thought of shattering her mother´s dreams, of ruining the image she had of her baby girl scared Isabel almost as much as the procedure she was about to face. She couldn´t bear to think of her mother´s face full of dismay. She forced herself to tear her eyes away from the mother and daughter pair, turning instead to survey the rest of the room.

She shifted her gaze from woman to woman, the older Hispanic woman with her son, the college girl with her friend, the 20-something woman with her boyfriend…She added herself to the list, two teenaged aliens. Not stupid or careless or unlucky or raped, but impregnated by something completely improbable, something ridiculous, unfathomable, something that shouldn´t be happening, yet undeniably was.

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Her name was called for the last time. He knew this time it was it. They had paid, she´d had her tests, now it was time for the real thing. His heart practically stalled in his chest as she stood up and walked towards the nurse, looking back over her shoulder at him, apprehension etched on her face. He did his best to smile encouragingly, to send out it´s-gonna-be-ok vibes, despite the dizziness clouding his brain. In response, a wary smile spread across her face, a sad smile, a resigned smile, a smile that said, “don´t worry, I´ll be ok.”

And then she was gone.

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Every time they had called her name she had tensed, expecting each time to be *the* time. She had tensed when they called them into the office to pay the three hundred dollars and to affirm that they knew of their other options. She had tensed when they had called her back for tests- urine, and then her brilliant maneuver out of her blood test, and then the cool jelly on her stomach as they did the ultrasound, where she half wanted to ask to look and see the mass of cells in her uterus, but instead gripped the edges of the examining table, eyes and lips pressed closed.

And she had tensed when they called her name and led her to the little room where she changed into the ridiculous gown and booties, put her clothes in the plastic shopping bag that looked like something someone´s grandmother with blue hair and a floral skirted bathing suit and big tinted sunglasses would carry to the public pool, and waited.

She waited to hear her name called one more time, waited to tense again.

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As he sat thinking about Isabel, the walls closed in around Michael, his face flushed, breath shortened, heart palpitated. He tapped his foot restlessly, looking around, until it was too much, too stifling, dizzying. He bolted for the door, to get out of the stilted environment of the clinic, which stunk of anticipation and dread, and into the fresh air, where he could breathe again.

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She was lying on her back, knees bent, muscles tightly clenched regardless of the doctor´s insistence that she relax, a virtually impossible request. The nurse took her hand and Isabel drew a few calming breaths, attempting to center herself.

Then came the pinch of the needle, an injection of anesthesia into her uterine walls, a pinch so violent and sharp that, despite her resolve, tears sprung into her eyes as she bit her lip and winced with pain.

And then the sound. She had understood the whole concept of “dilation and evacuation,” the fact that it was a suction procedure, but nothing had prepared her for the terror that seized her at the sound of the machine that would do this suctioning. The awful sound filling the room, bouncing off of its white walls and tiled floors, rumbling through her body, the only sound she could hear.

But, then there was a sound louder, drowning it out. The sound of her own pain, white hot, filling her head, screaming at her so loudly that she heard nothing but her own internal wailing. Her stomach cramped and lurched, as if it were being split in two, as if all of her insides were being sucked out of her along with the fetus.

She didn´t notice the death grip she had taken of the nurses hand. She didn´t notice the tears that slid out of her clenched eyes and rolled down her cheeks at rapid fire, wetting her entire face and hair. She didn´t notice her voice cry out and plead, “Oh god. Please. God. Please.” She didn´t notice.

She didn´t notice anything except the pain.

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The sun was just starting to reach its apex, climbing to the center of the sky, almost directly overhead, beating down on Michael´s back. His nerves had gotten the better of him and he had bummed a cigarette off another guy nervously pacing outside the clinic, hoping that the cigarette would give his idle hands something to do, give his racing brain something to focus on.

Across the parking lot a group of men and women had gathered, holding signs, wagging fists, pointing fingers, and shouting at them. The posters seemed innocuous enough, proclaiming, “Choose Life” and “Abortion Stops a Beating Heart” and “Every Fourth Baby Dies From Choice.” The words that were shouted from the protestors were of a different nature though.

A woman with frizzy hair and a red face turned her gaze directly on Michael, eyes searing with hate and revulsion as she screamed at him, “Murderer! Murderer!”

He wanted to run up to her and scream in her face, “Bitch! I didn´t ask for this. Do you know what it´s like? Do you know what it´s fucking like?!” He wanted to grab her and shake her until she shut up, to tear up their signs with little fetuses sucking their thumbs, their signs with bloody masses on them.

Instead he inhaled the cigarette deeply, slowly, holding the smoke in his lungs, letting the burn calm him. He forced himself to turn away from them, to not look at their signs and remember the beautiful baby of his dreams that was soon to be no more.

Suddenly the protester´s shouts were swallowed up by a sort of primal scream that rocketed through his brain. He could barely recognize her voice, it was so distorted with pain. It was the deepest moan, and the shrillest shriek rolled into an intense howl that slammed his brain relentlessly. He staggered a bit under the sheer volume of it. His insides lurching as the pain shot through his gut, he retched and dropped to his knees, vomiting.

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She was still laying on her back, crying. It was not the sort of crying where your entire body wracks with sobs and you hysterically hiccup and wail. It was not the sort of crying where you simply sniffle and the tears do nothing more than hang on your eyelashes like crystal dew drops. She cried the tears that stream down your face unabated, unchecked, in silence, tears of true pain, emotional and physical.

The nurse had placed a box of tissues on her chest, warning her not to sit up yet, stroking the hand that just seconds before had threatened to crush her own with its vice-like grip. The nurse´s words and touch barely registered in Isabel´s mind. Her head was swimming, the pain in her stomach overwhelming, everything else, numb.

Finally the nurse helped her to sit up, instructing her to place a pad between her legs. Isabel complied with resolve, wiping her face and nose, trying to retain any shred of dignity she still had left, refusing to show any more weakness.

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Michael rose from his knees, wiping his mouth, breathing heavily. He strained to hear the familiar kerthump that had been both comforting and distressing at the same time, but no matter how quiet he tried to make his insides, he heard nothing save his own pounding heart, and he knew that it was done.

He felt the heat rise on his cheeks, and was suddenly snapped back into reality by a man´s call of, “Father´s Day is coming up. What´re you gonna do? You´re all fathers. What are you going to do?” He couldn´t listen to their yells anymore, couldn´t take it. He walked back into the clinic and wearily sank into his chair, covering his face.

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The hallway that had taken only a few seconds to cross earlier, now loomed before her, seemingly stretching out into eternity, an impossibly long distance. And feet that had once timidly but quickly crossed the tiled surface now shuffled in painful stuttering steps, each lift of her leg a jolt to her system. She kept her eyes on her feet, as if her sheer will could help them to glide more easily, never making eye contact with the nurse whose arm she clung to for support.

The recovery room vaguely resembled her dentist´s office, with all those half-reclined chairs in a row, and a nurse bustling at a counter off to the side. She was the second girl in the room and she avoided looking at the other girl as she gingerly lowered herself into the chair. She tried to block out the sound of the girl´s snuffles, focusing instead on the light rock softly filling the room from the boom box in the corner.

Suddenly, she felt herself shiver and pulled her arms close to herself, pressing on her stomach to knead out the pain and to draw warmth to her chilly frame, rubbing away the first goosebumps her skin had ever felt. For eleven years she had longed to be human, pretended she was human, but no matter what she did, she was always undeniably not. But now, the one time she could have used her alien strength, wanted that alienness, it escaped her. She felt stripped of her powers, drained, vulnerable. She had neither felt more human in all her life, nor wanted it less.

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He looked at the clock worriedly. The minute hand moved half a full rotation since he had felt the tug and release. His thoughts were eerily quiet since her primal scream had ripped through him. He half wished her cries were still assaulting him, for at least then he could feel her, know she was there. The silence was more terrifying, more deafening, than the painful scream that had brought him to his knees.

With every tick of the clock, he expected her to emerge from behind the door, ready to go home. With every tick of the clock, he expected the doctor to come out and tell him there was a problem. With every tick.

And the minutes lay out before him, a never-ending parade of seconds marching triumphantly by, while he looked on with dismay.

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Finally, after what seemed like hours of sitting in the freezing room, it was time to go home. She had eaten her saltines and drank her water and taken the pills that seemed to numb her mind more than her cramps. She had changed back into her clothes and appraised her pale face in the little mirror in the bathroom. And now it was time. Time to go home.

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Michael stood in the kitchen, pacing, opening and closing the refrigerator door, not quite knowing what to do with himself. He could overhear Isabel on the phone with her mother from his bedroom, lying about where she was, asking to spend the night at a friend´s. He ran a hand through his hair, remembering her emergence into the waiting room, slightly shaky, face ashen, but head held high. It had taken everything in his power not to run up to her and guide her out of the clinic with his hand firmly pressed to the small of her back or grasping her elbow. Instead they had walked slowly, side by side, in silence, to the car. The ride home had been equally quiet, and Michael had glanced worriedly at her every couple of minutes, but she never stopped staring straight ahead.

So Michael had left her alone in his bedroom, while he fidgeted with the stove, the sink, anything, as he listened to her on the phone, smoothly talking to her mother, keeping the pain that had crept in when she had asked to lay in his bed firmly out of her voice, hidden behind a smile. Finally, he just sat on the countertop, head in hands, listening to her voice and his heartbeat. Soon she was silent and there was nothing to listen to but the dull thud of his heart, a rhythmic pounding that lulled him into a daze, forming a pulsating silence. Then another sound began to edge into his brain, shattering the pristine quiet of the kitchen and his mind, rousing him from his trance. He could hear muffled sniffling coming from his bedroom; she was crying.

He tentatively knocked on the door, not knowing whether it was better to leave her alone, or to run in and comfort her. Her voice wavered a little as she bid him to come in. He cautiously opened the door, and stood in the crack of brightness that infiltrated the twilight of his room from the light in the kitchen, looking at her face, half hidden in his shadow.

“You ok?”

He swallowed hard as he said it, barely whispering it out, licking his lips to ease the dryness. She looked at him, trying to keep her gaze steady, but her face began to crack and she raised her hand, covering it, a snuffle escaping. His heart aching, he crossed the room to sit beside her on his bed, putting his arms around her, unsure of what to say or do, how to make it better. She shook her head, crying, as he whispered that it would be ok.

“How could I do this? I want kids. I want a family. How could I… my baby…Michael, what if I never get another chance? The dream…my baby. I´d be a good mother. I would…I want to be a mother. How could…god…what if…”

She was openly sobbing, her voice breaking. Michael felt each of her words in the pit of his stomach, her pain blending with his and causing an ache so great, that it forced him silent, only able to squeeze her tighter, burying his face in her hair.

“How could I do this? What kind of person…”

Finally, Michael found his voice, pulling away from her, turning her tear stained face towards his, looking directly into her eyes, struggling to keep his own emotions in check.

“Isabel. You are not… we…this was the right decision, Isabel. What could we do? You´re only 17…and…you *will* be a good mother…someday, not now. You´re not ready…and me, I don´t even know the first thing about being a father, hell, the only one I ever knew didn´t exactly set such a good example, you know? What kind of parents would we be now? How could we take care of a kid? When I have a baby, I want to do it right, give the kid a good life. I don´t…I don´t want to resent the kid…and we would. And, I don´t want to resent you. This was the right thing to do, Is. We´re not ready.”

He could feel his chest heaving and his throat constricting as he watched her listening to his words, her chin quivering and tears sliding down her cheeks. He reached a finger out to gently wipe away her tears, fighting to keep his own eyes from welling up. She bowed her head into the crook of his shoulder, nodding slightly.

“I know…but…it doesn´t stop the hurt, Michael. I keep seeing your face in the dreams, and the baby, and we were so happy and I…I just…”

He intertwined his fingers with hers, resting his cheek on her warm forehead, stroking her hair with his free hand as he whispered back to her, voice husky with emotion.

“I know, Is. I know…”

He could feel her drawing strength from him, from their shared pain, their bond of understanding calming her. He continued stroking her hair as her breath slowed and became regular, feeling her weight increase against his chest as she exhaustedly slipped into sleep. He looked down at her finally peaceful form, her face no longer marred by a furrowed brow, jaw no longer clenched. As he took in her beauty, the dream image came back to him and he pictured the happy trio in his mind. He clenched his eyes shut, the tears that had been threatening all day finally trickling down.

“I know…”

--END--

3/8/01


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