Ripples - Chapter 3
John followed me into the house, while I carried D'argo despite feeling terrible. That last box-canyon turn had not agreed with me. When I put our son down he grabbed my legs.
"So glad you are home mommy," he said in his squeaky voice.
"Were you worried?" I asked.
"Uhm, yeah," John answered. "We both were getting somewhat concerned."
The aroma of what was set for dinner assailed my nostrils. "Excuse me. I ought to go use the refresher." I got to the toilet just microts before I had to heave once more.
I was washing my face when John asked through the door, "Hon? You okay?"
"Yes." I dried my face and hands, and opened the door to see his downcast face. "What?"
He gave me a wary look. "Nothing."
I pushed past him and sat at the table, trying not to look at or smell the food that sat there. D'argo picked up his eating utensil and started to eat, watching me slyly.
John sat down and toyed with his drink. "So, how was town?"
I picked up a roll and tore it into pieces, then stared at the bits like I had no idea what I was doing. "Fine."
"Uh, huh," John replied.
I dropped the bread, suddenly having an irrational urge to cry. "John, I told you it was f-ine."
He held up his hands. "Don't shoot sheriff. I give up."
I looked over at our son who had a very serious look about him. D'argo smiled at me in the sweetest way, and that's when I broke into tears.
Blubbering and bawling I dropped my head into my hands, and John was there again; right by my side.
"Aeryn," he said softly, "talk to me. Are you sick?"
I blew out a shaky breath, wiped my face on my sleeve and looked at my husband. "No, I'm not seriously ill, if that's what you're asking."
His head rocked back. "Whoa. Not seriously ill? Oh my God! What in good gravy is that supposed to mean?"
I pushed him aside and ran out of the house.
John caught up with me when I got to the end of the dock. I looked over my shoulder at him saying, "I'm not going swimming if that's what you think." I did sit down, with my legs crossed, right at the edge. I drew a shaky breath knowing that John would sit next to me and he did.
"Aeryn," he asked after settling himself. "Tell me what is going on. Please?"
I drew a deep breath. 'I have been pretty awful towards you the last few…"
The usual evening breeze was blowing, taking warm air from the land downriver towards the sea. I brushed my long hair away from my face and John gently took my hand. I glanced back to the house and saw D'argo sitting on the porch watching us. "Is he alright?"
"Just ah Aeryn?"
I turned my head to face John. "And you are worried as well."
He kissed my fingers. "If anything would happen… uhm… to…" he gulped. "What would I, uhm, me and D'argo do without you?"
I breathed deeply and the fatigue lifted somewhat.
"Why did you go to town?"
"Something I had to attend to."
"Attend to." He sighed. "That it?"
This was what I had been dreading and it felt worse than facing an angry Scarron in the heat of battle. "Yes." My pulse was racing and I was certain John felt it as he held my hand.
"Well for God's sake tell me woman!" He choked as he said it then added. "If something's wrong then there must be a doctor, a diagnosian, a healer! Somebody who can help!"
I took a deep breath and told the tale in a few words. "I had not been feeling very well, that is, unsettled."
"Yep," he snapped then he started rubbing the dock planks with his other hand. "I… this is all new to you, and I appreciate it. Living on a planet; all of this. Being a mother, erh, and having to live with me. You'd rather be out there," his chin pointed to the evening stars which were just emerging in the twilight with a toss of his head.
My turn to sigh.
"But that's okay, if you have to go…" he tore a splinter off a board and threw it into the smooth river. Ripples grew around it. "But I won't have little D hurt. You hear? Hurt me all you want, but we'll – we'll have to have to work that out. And you can visit anytime… well, anytime you're in the area; the… quadrant, or whatever."
I shook my head.
"You humans; you can be so dense. So easy to hurt."
He sighed. "Just tell me what the frell is going on."
I recalled something I told him a long time ago, so I repeated it. "I had this life. I liked it. It had rules, I followed the rules; that made everything right. And then you come along and you frell everything up. This strange human - arrogance, stubbornness..."
He laughed. "Oh my."
"Now, let me finish. You are like a plague John Crichton and you have ruined my life. And yet I just keep coming back."
He stared at me. "What are you saying?"
I turned slightly so I could take both his hands in mine. "John, you have frelled me once again, and more thoroughly than you realized so I decided to do something about it."
He looked like he was going to cry, but his lips pursed together. "Just say it." His head drooped. "I suppose I have it coming."
I gulped. "I had to find a Sebacean, a former Peacekeeper medic – because - I hoped he could help me."
His head came up. "A Peacekeeper medic?"
"To do just what?"
I looked down at the splinter floating on the water. The ripples made when John threw it in continued, getting larger and larger. I glanced at him and thought that his module was the splinter, a particle dropped into this part of the universe and he had caused so many things to happen.
I looked hard at John and no doubt he was trying to prepare himself for the worst. Hadn't I frelled up his life? If I'd stayed behind on the commerce planet after we'd escaped from Crais' custody? Well, Aeryn, you'd be dead and gone, executed by your own regimental mates as a deserter and a traitor. I felt his hands in mine; they lay lifeless and I gussed that he'd be dead as well.
I looked at the small figure behind us waiting at our house. I loved that child, and I loved his father – alien concepts which had contaminated me through and through right to my core. And speaking of core… I moved his hands until they were pressed against my belly. "John, I was moody and terrible and awful to you and I didn't know why. I suspected of course."
A slow light built on his face. "Oh my goodness!"
"Yes John. I had a conceptus inside me in stasis, but it felt different this time and it made me very grouchy. The medic told that foods grown on this planet interfere with normal Peacekeeper female processes. Reproductive processes."
He started to smile.
"So yes, John I am pregnant with a viable fetus, your fetus; one that you and I made."
"When you said I'd frelled up your life…" he sniffed. "I was afraid that you meant you were dumping me."
"I meant it in the strictest possible meaning of the word. Frelled as in frelled – but unlike other times this time we actually made a baby."
He pressed his lips to mine and we kissed. "Wow," he said into my ear when we broke the lip lock. "But why are you sick? It looked to me like you threw up everything you ate since last week."
My turn to sigh. "It seems that living down here on a planet makes this pregnancy more like what Sebeceans mothers experienced naturally. So not being on a command carrier…"
I gulped for I felt acid reflux churning below. "There are others – like me – the medic said. His medical records predict that this pregnancy will not be geometric, therefore taking around 260 solar days in all."
"Ah," he mumbled into my neck. "So more like what a human mother might expect."
"Fatter and longer, yes," I moaned. "Not something to look forward to."
He quit kissing my neck and looked me in the eye. "You'll be fine. We'll be fine. Peace then."
"Yes John." I hugged him tightly. "Now help me to stand."
We got up and started walking back to the house.
"We'll need a name for it."
"Yes John, but it's not an it, it's a she."
He smiled. "Wow. Oh wow."
"I was thinking that perhaps Olivia Chiana Zhaan Susan Jool Noranti would work."
He grinned. "Have to think about it."
"Unless you want to name her after your mother Leslie."
His face went dark for a moment. "Uhm." He winced. "Maybe."
I touched his cheek with my palm. "That's alright John, we have time. The medic's scan indicated 259 more days, roughly."
He put his arm around my waist. "Time, is good; really good. Time heals all wounds. Einstein said that; not the real Einstein but the other one." Then he laughed. "We'll have to tell D'argo that we're good – I mean – at peace with each other."
Peace sounded so nice. "Yes, John. We are good." We were good I knew it, although seeing the spaghetti would make me throw up once more. Oh well. If John wanted more children, then so did I.
He kissed my hair. "Love you woman."
"I love you John." I squared my shoulders. "Now let's tell our son he will have a sister."