Author's Note: This is a little ficlet/missing scene type thing that takes place after Sarah helped Allie deliver her baby. Entirely from my imagination and based on my love for Sarah and Xander. If you enjoy it, please let me know!
Sarah shouldn't be here - for many reasons.
The most practical: it's late. Most of Salem is asleep (as they should be). It is possible that he is asleep too. She hesitates at the door, her hand resting flat against the wood as she considers her options. She can turn around now, go back the way she came. She's tired herself after a long day on her feet. She should go home and crawl under her covers. By morning, whatever this is...it will have passed.
One hand moves to swipe any remnants of her tears and the other is knocking before she can think it through. She holds her breath, wondering if she has just made a mistake. Things have been going well; she might derail them in the next ten minutes (classic Sarah Horton if she thinks about it).
She almost runs, which would have been a mistake because he would have caught her dashing through the hallway looking quite ridiculous. Instead she tries to remain passive as Xander opens the door, appearing as he should, which is half asleep and entirely off guard.
(and also shirtless, the baser part of her brain points out)
Sarah presses her mouth into a thin line. "Hi." She sounds quiet as a mouse, a far cry from their usual confrontations as of late (except for the wedding, that perfect experience - well, until it literally blew up).
He looks her over and she can see the concern in her face. Of course he would be worried. It's late and she is here by her own choice. He has to wonder what propelled her this way. "- what's going on?"
Only, she can't bring herself to tell him yet. It's poking at an open wound and she worries that if she truly does that she will spark the anger that has pushed them apart for months. She doesn't want that, not anymore. She just can't help herself sometimes. Grief does strange things to a person (things you regret later but in the moment fully embrace).
"Can I come in?" she asks and she is still mulling which path to take (she is passed running away but that doesn't mean she still won't dodge and weave around the truth).
Xander's face is incredulous, like he may just be considering if he is dreaming or not. Then again, if this is his dream she probably wouldn't be dressed in one of her post shift outfits (leggings, a ratty old t-shirt she should really throw away) with her hair spilling out of the bun she had pulled it up in before she went to work that morning. In the end, he gives her a simple nod and steps aside. She slips past him, brushing her shoulder against her bare chest as she does so (both of them have to pretend that they haven't felt that; the automatic shiver that runs through them).
Sarah stops in the middle of the room, turning back to him. He still moves at a slow pace as if he expects her to disappear when he blinks. She opens her mouth to speak intending to get straight to the point but at the last second diving off that path instead. "I just...I wanted to tell you that I had fun...at the wedding. Well, besides the bomb. That was not at all fun. But everything else was…" She rambles, twisting words together so they nearly fall out all at once.
(he will understand, she reminds herself, he really will)
Xander nods his head. "I did too. I am just sorry it ended the way it did. I was looking forward to dancing with you at the reception," he confesses with a hint of devilish glint in his eyes (she can picture it now, his hands on her hips pulling her close). "Not to be rude, but you came here to tell me this...now?"
Sarah nods her head quickly, pressing a hand to her stomach as if she is trying to keep something from bubbling out. "I know. It's late. But I just got off work and I tend to run on a different schedule," she tells him. "And I just wanted to say that…"
"Sarah," he begins and she takes a deep breath. There is something in his tone, something probing. He steps closer to her and she forces herself to root her feet in place and not dart off. He looks her over again, more critical this time. This time he sees it and his mouth turns downward. He reaches up and his thumb swipes over her cheek. He knows she has been crying, despite her best efforts to hide her. "Tell me," he says quietly.
(he will understand)
She closes her eyes and then lets go of that breath. It comes out as an exhausted sigh. She then shakes her head. "It's kind of stupid," she admits.
Xander's hand finally falls away, tracing down her arm as it goes. It's funny - five minutes ago when her brain had been registering his lack of a shirt she might have read that move differently but now she sees it as comforting.
So she tells him.
"I delivered a baby today," she begins. "Funny enough, not even my first one since I have been back…" She makes a face, and she can't tell if she is mad at herself or wondering if she is justified for what she is about to say. "Actually, it was Allie's baby…"
Xander's features tightened together. "Wait, she had her baby? Isn't that early? It wasn't because…"
Sarah can't help but smile. He's worried about Allie too. "I don't think it was directly because of the bombing but you don't have to worry. He's early but he's healthy."
"A boy," Sarah repeats and then manages a grin. "She might just throw your name into the mix for what you did for her. Little Alexandros Horton."
Xander makes a face. "- poor kid."
The light moment passes quickly and the heaviness seeps back in.
"Of course, I held him first. I kind of had to - given that I was the one delivering him," Sarah says and her eyes shift away from Xander to the wall. "And suddenly I was thinking of…"
"Mackenzie," Xander finishes automatically.
Sarah nods. "Like I said, this isn't even the first baby, and he was a boy but I couldn't help it…"
He reaches for her again, tentatively letting his hands land on her arms. His fingers begin to trace slow circles and she finds herself moving into him. They are so close to fall together but they hold back.
She isn't done getting it all out yet.
"He was so tiny because he was born early but he cried so loudly. It gave me hope right away that he would be okay. But I know that is not foolproof. Mickey cried too, remember?"
He does. "Loudly. Like her mother if I remember." She thinks he is attempting to keep the mood from plunging any lower than it already is. They can hover here and work through it.
(see, he understands)
"You were the first to hold her so I thought you would get it. That moment when you can't help but think of all that life ahead for her…" Her face falls. "I still miss her so much." She breaks now, falling into him. He is, of course, there to catch her, wrapping her up in her arms tight enough for her to feel safe to let herself go.
She mourns for her daughter. She has known there would be moments like this - she could be having a perfectly fine day and then something shifts ever so slightly and she wonders what life could have been like if Mackenzie hadn't died before she truly got to live. She knows that Xander gets that because he loved her too. She had seen it on his face the moment Mackenzie opened her mouth to cry for the very first time.
Part of her has been terrified that seeing him in this moment (when her grief is overpowering) will send her back into the bitterness and anger that has consumed her longer than it should. She doesn't want to step backwards like that. She wants to be able to mourn Mackenzie with someone else that loved her as much as she did. She wants to mourn her daughter with him.
Thankfully, she doesn't feel anger. She just feels safe.
She lets her eyes fall close, her head nestled against his shoulder. She can feel the same sadness in him and hopes that he knows she is here for him just as much as he is for her right now. Together, they can miss Mickey.
She loses track of the time they stay like that (although it is long enough for her limbs to grow heavy).
Xander's head dips slightly, his mouth hovering near the crown of her head. "You are exhausted."
"Yeah," she admits, her eyes still closed. "I should go home, sleep off the rest of this day. It's a new one tomorrow…"
Sarah freezes, her body tensing against his. She shifts her chin so she can look up at him. "I don't…"
"I am not asking you to sleep with me, Sarah," he corrects, looking a bit flustered that she has misinterpreted him. "Well, I am - but just not in the way you think. When I say stay I mean let's crawl in that bed and just sleep."
She shouldn't. In a way, she still feels like they are tempting fate. She wants to continue to go forward. She wants them to have that dinner together and build on whatever has been brewing since the wedding. But at the same time, she wants to curl up with him and forget about this day.
In the end, that is just what she does, her head on his chest and his arm holding her tight.