Summary: Surprises aren't always happy.

Pairings: Beka/Rhade

Disclaimer: Tribune owns all rights to Andromeda

Rating: PG

Spoilers: None.

Setting: Fourth season.

Feedback: Please! Praise and constructive criticism welcome. Flames will be used to bake cookies (or at least melt the chocolates for them).

Archive: Ask first and I'll probably say yes.

Author's Note: This actually arose from a discussion many many moons ago at the Fanficrants LJ community. The idea sat for a while before it finally gelled into a fic.

"For all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these, 'It might have been.'"

-John Greenleaf Whittier

Might Have Been

By B.L.A. the Mouse

"Rhade." Andromeda's hologram appeared abruptly beside him. "You're wanted on Med deck."

"Oh. I'll be on my way, then, unless…?" He looked over at Dylan, who gestured him on.

"We can finish this later. Go see what Trance wants."

Rhade nodded and set off, getting to Med deck reasonably quickly and wondering the whole way what Trance would have called him down for. When he did cross the threshold, she was standing only a few steps in, sorting through a tray of instruments with quick movements. "You called for me?"

Trance didn't answer verbally. Her hands paused as she looked up and shook her head, then glanced back toward one of the medical beds. A body lay there, a familiar one: Beka. She must have been the one to ask for him. He inclined his head in acknowledgement and moved past Trance toward the bed.

At first he thought Beka must have been sleeping. She was lying still, the head of the bed raised slightly, with her back to the doorway. She was curled on her side, as if she were asleep or in pain, and he wondered not only why she was here but why she had called him down, not being one to ask others to stay by her when sick or injured. As he approached, she made a faint sound, an "ah" of discomfort, and her whole body tightened as if she were fighting off a sensation. In pain, then. He had been walking slowly, quietly, and now he moved faster, drawing near the bed as she relaxed again. There was no visible wound or trauma as she approached, but the smell of blood as he rounded her feet alarmed him.

His second sniff invalidated that, as did seeing her from the front. Again, there were no visible wounds, no bandages, and the blood was not the sharp scent of a fresh injury, nor was it drying or newly dried. Familiar with her body as he was, he had been anticipating it for a while now. He frowned, confused as to why she was in Med deck, and then realized that she had her eyes open and was watching him approach. "Beka?"

"Rhade." She didn't move or say anything else, but she had called him and so he would be there for her. There was a monitor next to the bed and he could see the regular mountains and valleys of her heartbeat, with her comfortably normal temperature displayed. By it was a chair, and he pulled that over to sit by her. When he extended a hand, she reached up to clasp it. The grip was odd, more about his wrist than anything else, but it left him free to gently trace his thumb over her lower lip; it was intended to comfort her, but he drew a degree of assurance himself from her warmth, even if she was paler than usual. She always seemed white to him, genetics and eschewment of all suns combined and especially against his somewhat darker skin, but now she looked chalky. Even her lips were barely tinted. He tilted his head to meet her eyes squarely. They sat like that for long moments, with the only sounds Trance moving at the far side of the room and the quiet beeps of the monitor. At last, curiosity eating at him, he murmured, "What's wrong?"

She sighed. "We weren't careful enough."

As a response it was cryptic, less than reassuring, but he lacked time to ask further as she tensed again, eyes closing and hand tightening on his. As it passed he rose, not relinquishing his hold on her but intending to call Trance over. He never got a word out. Beka said, quietly but with no less authority in her voice for that, "Sit."

He sank back down, seeing the determined set of those so-pale lips. "Trance—"

"Trance will only be able to pump me full of painkillers. I don't want drugs."

And no, she wouldn't, not with the history he'd gleaned from her piece by piece. If all Trance could do was ease her pain, though, he wondered again why she was here still and what had happened to bring her to this bed in the first place. Who else should have been more careful? He'd had yet to see her today, both of them busy in different areas of the ship, but there had been no attacks, no accidents that he'd heard of. "Beka, what happened? Why are you here?"

She closed her eyes again briefly, as if willing something, then met his own. "I was pregnant."

And there was so much contained in that simple statement, but the tense caught him first of all the possibilities. "Was?"

"Was." Her eyes closed again after the weary confirmation, as if explanation and full alertness at once were too much to contemplate.

He gave her the moment, unable to do anything else. Everything that had transpired since he arrived made much more horrible sense, from her symptoms to her comment about not being careful. They had been from the start, him not sure if he wanted children with her and her not sure if she wanted children at all, but obviously not enough. He hadn't worried about the delay, their lives full of fights and dodgings that would disrupt any cycle, and she had made no mention of any concern to him…

"Did you know?" he asked quietly, not wanting to wake her if she had fallen asleep but the question worrying at him once it entered his mind.

She still didn't open her eyes. "No. I came in because I felt so much worse than usual. Trance told me."

"Ah." He put his other hand over hers and felt her grip tighten slightly. "Did she say why?"

"I didn't ask."

He would have. It would be… helpful, if they were to decide in the future to have children together, to know whether it might happen again or if it were just one incident of bad luck. Later he would talk to Trance himself.

Beka grimaced again, and he held her hand until it passed. When it was over, he murmured, "Are you sure you don't want anything?"

This time she did look at him. "I'm sure. But," and she seemed briefly uncertain, "can you stay with me? Trance wants me under observation for a while."

"Of course." He kissed her fingers. The least he could do was be with her when she needed him. Besides— and this was something that he would probably not say to her, something that he could barely admit to himself— he needed some time himself to consider and, perhaps, grieve for what might have been.

The End