The Danning Beginnings – Chapter Thirty-Eight

Pregnant.

My sister was pregnant.

Again.

She… had done… that… a second time.

With the bastard.

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“What are you doing here?” her voice barely penetrated my thoughts. “How did you even know where I resided?”

“You m–m-m-mean how d-d-did I know y-you l-lived only a f-f-few m-miles from m-me?” I somehow managed to get out.

Jay shrugged one shoulder. “Misha, you have finished bringing me some food. Thank you. Now please return to your crib and begin your nap.”

“Yeh.” Misha stuck his thumb in his mouth and toddled off. The bastard stood in the doorway and when our gazes met he flushed red then picked Misha up to go put him into bed, shutting the door behind them.

I took in a long, slow breath. “I th-thought you were g-g-getting rid of him.”

“Kiev is of high intelligence,” Jay said, tossing the cracker crumbs into the trashcan, wiping her hands carefully. “He is a valuable asset to the labs, and I have given him a temporary position as head of the labs in my–“

“C-condition?” I snapped and she stared, not used to hearing that tone in my voice towards her. “Wh-when?”

“I am due in June,” she replied, rubbing her back.

“Y-you… wh-what?” I hadn’t expected that. “Y-you’re…”

“Showing?” she growled. “Yes. I did not show at all with Misha, however this time I am having twins. My weight has been going up at an adequate rate for someone bearing twins though my stomach looks larger than it truly is.”

I easily did the math. “Y-you c-c-c… co… con…” I cleared my throat, “in S-September.”

“Yes. Shortly after your…” She trailed off, pressing her lips thin, “wedding.”

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The anger left me. I sank down in a chair, putting my head in my hands, feeling rather weakened by all this. “I th-thought you didn’t w-want…”

“I did not use birth control or condoms.” I flinched at the language, especially from my sister. “Misha has proven to be a child one can be proud about. It seems my genes mingled with Kiev’s genes–“

My hand shot in the air, stopping her before she might go into more vulgar descriptions. “N-no, please. No. I g-get it.”

“What are you doing here?” She folded her arms, looking very bored.

For a second I couldn’t remember. Then, “Jacob. As m-my e-mails st-stated. He n-n-needs help. He’s h-having–odd–s-symptoms.” My original intention had been to flatter her incessantly but now I just couldn’t. “He n-needs help. Please.”

“Take him to your local doctor,” she said, turning her head away to face the wall. “I have no interest in helping him more than I already have.”

“H-he’s having p-pregnancy symptoms.”

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It was as if a switch had been flipped. Her head swung back around, her eyes first large then very thin. “Excuse me? That is impossible.”

“He’s g-gained w-weight, has m-morning sickness…” I waved my hand through the air. “S-so on. He s-says it’s the s-same as when he w-was pregnant with C-Calcifer.” My eyes went to her stomach again, the small but noticeable bulge. “I’m s-surprised y-you’re taking a l-leave even wh-while p-pregnant.”

“I am merely taking a leave as head, I am still continuing my research and experiments,” my sister said, jaw muscles tensed. “I have found my pregnancy hormones make it more difficult to deal with stupid people.” Considering the fact she more or less bit the heads off of anyone when she wasn’t pregnant, I couldn’t fathom what she’d be like now. “I’ve decided the best course of action is to retire for the time being, as to not put more stress on my body and risking both my health and the health of the fetuses.”

“You d-d-d-d-didn’t want Misha!” I couldn’t help it. I tried not to, but was unable to stop.

Jay’s lips went even thinner. “I did not, at first. I had misconceptions of what babies would be like. I assumed they were all the same. Misha is developing at a pleasing rate and a willingness to learn, as opposed to gnawing on blocks and babbling nonsense.”

I could imagine Jacob’s reaction to that. He’d probably be resisting the urge to lash out. “And if th-the twins d-don’t sh-show the same d-development r-rate?”

Jay turned away, one shoulder rising and falling smoothly. “Kiev has a desire to raise children. I would not be adverse to children who are perhaps lacking what Misha has. As long as Kiev cares for them when they are in their… young stage. With the… crying.”

It was on the tip of my tongue to ask what would happen if either of the twins (or both) had development issues. Mental health issues. I didn’t ask, since I realized I did not want to know her answer. “In any c-c-case, will you c-come and see J-Jacob?”

She sighed heavily. “I suppose I must, but you should begin preparing your annulment. He’s cheated on you. As I suspected he would.”

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In the blink of an eye I jumped to my feet, arms tight against my sides, anger coming back at a rapid rate. “H-h-h-how d-d-d-d-d-d… d-d… d–d…” My face darkened and I stomped my foot in the same way Calcifer often did. “D-d–d-d–d–“

“Dare I?” she asked, looking back at me with a bland, smooth look. “It’s simple. He is most likely pregnant.”

I took in a sharp, painful breath. “Wh-what m-m-m-m-makes th-that–ch-cheat–he w-w-wouldn’t–he d-d-didn’t–you–“

Her fingers twitched a bit. “It would seem my experiment was successful, although I did not expect to discover such a thing. I had dreams a few years ago on possible ways to have the male body naturally get pregnant. I tested the initial changes on Jacob during his surgery, although that was merely to make sure I could put the organs and chemicals in correctly, as I never suspected he would have anal sex.”

“You u-u-u-used h-h-h-him?!”

“His contract states that any future experimentation involving the furthering possibilities of male pregnancy is permitted, if you do not recall.” She pushed back a minute wisp of hair back. “I knew it would be safe.”

“It’s g-g-given him s-s-sickness!”

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She scoffed lightly. “No, his pregnancy is giving him sickness I would imagine.”

Suddenly it hit me. Pregnant? Jacob could possibly be… pregnant? I staggered back and sat back down, breathing heavily. Then back onto my feet I went. “Th-that–wh-why would you s-s-say he ch-cheated on m-me then?!”

“Because, in order to get pregnant he needs a male to ejaculate into his anal canal or rectum. Therefore, he has cheated on you.”

My brain felt as though it might implode. It took nearly a full minute before her words finally settled in my head. Oh. My. Watcher. I began chuckling, then laughing a bit insanely. My sister did not look at all amused. “H-he c-c-can get pregnant? He–he’s p-pregnant!”

“It would seem so. You may stay here, I can send Kiev to get your things.”

I covered my face, laughing even more. “N-no. No, th-there’s n-not–he’s n-not ch-cheating!”

“It is very obvious he–“

“N-no–J-Jay–I’ve–w-we’ve…!” I just laughed more and then wanted to cry. Pregnant. Jacob was pregnant. I was going to be a father again–a–a proper father. One there. One not bound by contract to stay away from. “W-Watcher!” Down into the chair I went once again, wheezing a bit. “A b-baby, w-we’re g-going to have a b-baby…? T-truly? You–he c-can get p-pregnant n-naturally?” I managed to focus on her face, terrified she might tell me now that it wasn’t true.

She slowly pushed her glasses back up the bridge of her nose. “He has cheated on you.”

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“W-we’ve… d-done… we’ve… I–I…” I burned red. “I’ve d-d-done… th-that.”

“Impossible.”

“If you c-c-can–c-c-c-c-c-copulate–wh-why is it I c-can’t?” Jay just stared blankly at me. “W-we h-have… d-d-done… th-that. In th-the w-w-w-way… erm… uh… n-needed… for–for h-him to… y-yes.” I began picturing his face when I told him. He was going to be so happy! “It w-would seem w-we will need s-some of your h-help, at l-least access t-t-to your lab so I c-can keep examining h-him and make s-sure everything g-goes smoothly; I c-can do that, at least. He sh-should be g-giving b-birth in July at th-the very least, so you sh-shouldn’t be p-pregnant anymore s-so if y-you’re able to h-help with delivering–“

“Stop it!” she hissed. “Stop! You cannot have had sex with him!”

“I’m n-n-n-n-not asexual!” I snapped right back. “You kn-know p–perfectly w-well I am h-h-h-homosexual!”

“He forced you–“

“I–LOVE–HIM!” I panted rapidly as I glared at her and she continued to stare blankly. “I l-love him. I w-wanted to. D-do that. And I li-l-like it. And d-don’t you ever s-s-say he f-forced me. Ever.” I sucked in some air through my teeth. “If y-you don’t w-want to involve y-yourself, th-then don’t. J-just allow us access to your l-labs and the ma-machines needed. Wh-when it is t-time, we n-need to f-figure out s-someone to g-give him the C-section if y-you will not.” I got back up, legs trembling.

She remained silent so I headed to the door. Angry, exhausted, in pain, excited, afraid–too many emotions to deal with.

“Kaleb.” She spoke as I opened the door. “Wait a moment.”

“Th-there s-seems to be n-no need for me t-to–“

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“I shall help you. If your child is due in July, then I will deliver the child,” she said, sounding quite strained. “You… love your–husband?”

I shut the door. “Y-yes.” She gave me a long look. “You c-care about the b-… Antonov?”

“He has a very high IQ, and has met most my expectations. He has initiative, which most the employees here lack, and has come to some brilliant solutions to many experiments… as well has a very excellent knack for doing research.” I waited a bit impatiently but she remained silent. After several seconds, “I suppose he also has rather enjoyable skills in the be–“

“NO!” I yelped quickly. “N-no, I–I g-get it, th-that’s fine. I don’t mean th-that.” I fidgeted then began messing with one of the buttons on my shirt. “I s-suppose we b-both have, er, preconceptions of o-one another th-that are proving to b-be… er… wrong.”

“Danevbie did not hurt you?” she inquired.

My face flamed red. “No. He–he d-didn’t. And he is D-Danning now. We b-both are. A mix of our l-last names, our p-previous last names.”

“Kaleb Danning.” Jay made a face as if she had tasted something vile. “I see.”

“He really c-could be pregnant?”

Jay raised her chin. “In theory, yes. It seems I got the functionality correct in my first attempt, which is good to know at least. Even though you… Are you quite certain there is a–possibility–you are the father?”

I wished so much I could use coarse language, that I could say it plainly and clearly. Instead I stammered so heavily it took several seconds to manage to talk properly and even then it was merely a squeaky, “Y-yes.” Inside, though, I imagined what I wanted to say. That I had–done that–in his–body.

She smoothed her skirt tight, her belly seeming even larger as she did that. Then she met my eyes once more, utter blankness in her face. “I see. I shall come over in a day or so to examine him, if you wish. If I get to the point where I am unable to move around well, then you may bring him into the labs and continue the examinations yourself. Kiev can help, if you wish, although I do not think he has very much knowledge in that area of medicine. Although, he is learning. To aid me in my labor.”

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I tried not to make a face as I tried to avoid imagining my sister going through that. She had somehow delivered Misha herself, as far as I knew. Though twins might prove to be a bit more difficult. “Th-thank you f-for your h-help. I’ll l-let Jacob know you’ll b-be over soon.”

So much remained unsaid between us, but none of it seemed right to bring up at the moment. The harsh e-mail I sent the previous night… and all the pain she caused me. So much of our life had been spent together, and dependent on one another–I more dependent on her–then those years spent apart, when I lived on my own. I had always assumed I’d either die alone or go back to her, until it happened. Did Jay assume the thing? Of course. Neither of us could have ever suspected I’d fall in love and get married.

Now a baby on the way. One I will actually be able to help raise…!

I considered closing the space between us and hugging her but perhaps it was too soon… “S-see you s-soon.”

I left the labs–avoiding the bastard–and wound up sitting in the car for a very long time, just staring at Rosso Labs until I realized I was already late returning from my lunch hour, and I hadn’t even eaten.

*

I barely spoke back home that evening, just made a few noncommittal responses through dinner. The four of us watched some movie that the kids really wanted to watch. Jacob and I sat cuddled on the sofa while Cal and Penny were on the floor. The movie just went over my head; I couldn’t focus. I debated just telling Jacob now but it’d be better if we were in the privacy of our own room.

Finally, after what felt like ages, Cal and Penny headed to their rooms. Jacob finished up some laundry while I did the dishes. Ten minutes later the two of us were in our room. I threw off my work clothes and pulled on my pajamas before turning towards him. He stood in front of the mirror in his underwear, examining his waist. I began smiling, knowing how happy he would be.

“J-Jacob?”

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“Yes?” He didn’t look away from the mirror.

I went over, standing behind him, looking in the mirror as well. I smiled more at our reflections. “I t-talked to my s-sister today. At–lunchtime.” I rubbed the back of my head, trying to figure out just which words to use. “Sh-she will b-be coming over s-sometime over th-the next f-few days to m-make sure her, er, assessment is c-correct.”

He whirled around. “She made an assessment? She knows what might be wrong?”

I couldn’t stop from grinning. “Sh-she says th-that it is p-possible you’re p-pregnant. More than p-possible; it’s v-very likely. Wh-when she did the surgery on you she did some other th-things to–mmmmph!”

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He kissed me so hard that we both nearly fell onto the floor. After the initial surprise I put my arms around him, kissing happily back. After a moment our lips parted and he gazed down into my eyes, cheeks bright pink. “Really? Really?!”

I nodded. “Y-yes! She d-did some things and I g-guess whatever she did makes it s-so you can… your–stuff–can be fertilized or s-something, I’m not sure how sh-she did it but…”

He stepped back, hands clasped together, off in his own world and definitely not paying anymore attention to me. “You’re not joking? I could be pregnant? I–am pregnant? All the symptoms–I never thought I really could be pregnant. Oh my gosh. This is incredible. I–” Suddenly he stopped and studied me as if I might rain on his parade for some reason. He bit his bottom lip. “Are you all right with this?”

“W-what? Of c-course I am!” I put my arms back around his waist. “I w-wished I c-could have been p-part of Calcifer’s life. I’ve b-been very happy since my s-sister told you, I w-wanted to tell you the m-moment I got home but f-felt it might b-be better if I waited t-till they went to b-bed.”

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He kissed me again, and again. This time we did fall but not till we stumbled back to the bed so I landed softly against the mattress with Jacob on top of me, legs moving so he straddled me. My… I… errr… well, I began to grow rather, er, excited. Jacob pressed down, rubbing gently with his–uh–excitement. Out of all the reactions, this wasn’t one I had considered!

Soon we were both naked and…

Well.

Yes.

*

Sometime in the middle of the night I woke up. My body ached from the, um, workout earlier and I had quite a lot of dried sweat and–stuff–on me. After some time I figured out the reason I woke up was because of empty arms. I rolled over, figuring Jacob had just gone to the bathroom, when I heard sniffling. I shot out of bed quickly and hurried into the bathroom where Jacob crouched on the floor, eyes a bit puffy.

“Wh-wh-what’s wrong?!”

“I didn’t mean to wake you…”

I knelt down, anxious. “Wh-what happened? Are you all r-right?”

He began nodding, wiping his tears away. “Yes. Very. I’m fine. I’m just so happy. I’m so happy. I never thought this would happen. I gave up my–my previous dreams, and now I have–have all this! I’m–s-sorry, I’m fine.” He tried to wipe again but more tears just took their place.

I hugged him tightly, pressing my face into his neck. “I l-love you.”

“I love you too!” He hugged back, even tighter than I held him. “I love you so much. I gave up so long ago ever meeting anyone, ever getting married. Having a big family. I love Cal so much but–but–“

“I know, you w-want a big family.” My cheek nuzzled against his warm skin and the lingering scent of our earlier love……making… drifted through the air. “There’s n-nothing wrong with w-wanting m-more kids!”

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“Oh Kaleb. I’m scared. I know that having a b-baby right after getting married might make things hard. I’m scared that…” He trailed off, unable to finish.

I sat back, looking deep into his eyes. “I… love… you.” I had said it very slowly, putting all my effort into not stammering. My knuckles ran along his jawline, just slightly brushing. “I kn-know it w-will be difficult, but I also kn-know you’re an amazing d-dad.”

His muscles tensed at that and I could feel his jaw clenching under my knuckles. Before I could even figure out what I had said wrong he whispered, “Do you really think I am?”

“Y–yes! You are!”

He sniffled loudly then bowed his head, another tear appearing. It rolled down his upper cheeks and onto my finger. I moved my hand to brush it away then slip my fingers under his chin, making him look back up. “I never felt like one.” His voice continued to be very quiet, very low, with a slight tremble. “I always felt like I failed Cal in some way or another. I–I never could give him a lot, and I was fighting with him so much.”

“He’s j-just a very strong-w-w-willed boy. St-stubborn. Thinks he’s r-right…” Then a thought entered my mind, startling me beyond measure. “Actually, he’s a b-bit like my sister in that m-matter only he’s m-more emotional about it instead of c-cold and c-calculating.”

Jacob looked as surprised as I felt, mouth opening and closing in silence. “Ah… ahhh…” he finally breathed out. “Holy shit.” Then he gave a laugh. “Imagine if he ever thought he had something in common with her, he’d flip out.”

“Got you l-l-laughing though.”

“Yeah…” He slid forward into my arms, settling in my lap as I sat on the floor, grateful for the bathroom rug since we were both still bare. “I guess I’m just afraid of losing this.”

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“Of c-course. It’s only n-natural to be w-worried about th-that. It w-will take a lot of work, I th-think. Misha is th-the only baby I’ve ever t-taken care of and you kn-know how bad I am.”

“You’ll make a good father.” He twisted in my arms and kissed. “Amazing father, even.”

“N-not r-really–“

“You will be. I can tell.” His hands pressed against my chest and we kissed again, very slowly and sweetly. “I’ll never get tired of telling you I love you. Or feeling so lucky to have you.”

“You kn-know I’m the lucky one.”

“We can argue about this all night,” he chuckled then began placing the barest of kisses along my neck, making my entire body shiver. “We’ll never agree on who’s luckier, will we?” We kissed a few more times then slowly got up off the cold floor to head back to bed. We curled up together and I put one arm over his waist, my hand resting against his belly.

The Danning Beginnings – Chapter Thirty-Seven

Kay watched with a frown as I threw up into the toilet for the third time in four days, then he made concerned noises as I staggered to the sink to wash my face and brush my teeth. “I don’t know what’s wrong,” I mumbled, slumping. “Maybe I caught something…”

Maybe you’re pregnant, a voice in my head piped up. I closed my eyes, shaking my head back and forth at that thought. Because I could NOT be pregnant. I wasn’t a girl, I couldn’t just get pregnant. So I had to have caught something that just… Just what, gives you the symptoms of pregnancy? the voice sneered. Well… maybe. Yeah right.

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“You n-n-need to see a d-doctor,” Kay said, rubbing my back. “P-please.”

“I don’t like them,” I grumbled, remembering all those times they couldn’t do a thing to help me. They would just find out I was the ‘monster’ from Sunset Valley and it’d be worse now with my sudden drop in age.

“M…maybe you c-could go see my sister…”

I looked up at him, eyes slightly narrowed. “I don’t think she’d appreciate that,” I said stiffly, trying to resist the urge to point out the fact she had not spoken one word since our marriage. Kiev had told us–well, told me that she had no interest in talking to Kay. So I knew she wouldn’t help me. “I’ll be fine.”

But I wasn’t fine. November turned into December and I kept having these strange symptoms. Pregnancy-esque symptoms. I counted on my fingers and easily figured out that the symptoms started just a couple weeks after Kay and I had had sex with me receiving. But it’s impossible!!

Was it really impossible? YES it has to be how could I get pregnant?! But, then why did I have these symptoms? Why did I have morning sickness and–and weight gain? It felt similar to when I carried Cal only worse. Second pregnancies are supposed to be easier so obviously you’re not pregnant, I told myself and felt determined to just… ignore the problem. Except Kay wouldn’t ignore it and neither would Cal. He soon realized I was throwing up daily and begged me to see the doctor.

“We moved here and did all this for your health,” he said with a worried scowl. “And you’re just throwing it away because you’re stubborn! Just fucking go see the–sorry, freaking go see a doctor!”

“You know the doctors never cared about me,” I said, hugging my stomach.

Cal stomped his foot. “We’re not in Sunset Valley anymore, we’re in Twinbrook. Or go to Kiev! He knows… doctor-y things. Doesn’t Kay know doctor-y things? Can’t he take a look at you?”

“He hasn’t got as much medical knowledge,” I whimpered. “He wants me to see his sister. I don’t want to.”

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I figured Cal would be on my side so it definitely surprised me when he said, “Maybe you should then.” I gave him a look and he scowled. “Dad, you’re vomiting like, everyday. Something is obviously wrong. Maybe the surgery she did to you got messed up or something. You’ve had a lot put in and taken out of you.” My dirty mind went to the other day when both kids had been out so Kay had been willing to have sex, and he definitely put it in and took it out. A lot. I tried not to giggle though it wasn’t easy; I felt like a little kid with his dad instead of a dad with his kid.

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Maybe I should just see her, I thought as Cal continued to glare at me. What do I have to lose? Besides hurting Kay if she refused to see me, or even talk to him about me and I didn’t want him hurt. But I also knew him seeing me like this hurt him so either way he’d be upset. I’d have to just… figure out the lesser of two evils really. Whichever one that is.

*Kay’s POV*

When Jacob told me he’d see my sister I hugged him tightly, feeling so relieved. I had been so worried about him, watching him seemingly grow sicker and sicker. I knew he’d want to be well for Christmas at the very least. So I e-mailed my sister, explaining that Jacob was very ill and we really needed her assistance. I received a reply within hours.

I am unable to attend to his needs, I am certain the local doctor will be able to provide aid. J.R.

I reread the few words multiple times before pushing back from the desk, rubbing my eyes. That… hadn’t been what… I expected. I knew she was angry and unhappy, but–she–but… Surely she would help if she understood the urgency? I knew she did not care for Jacob, but I had to try again.

Sister, Jacob is exceedingly unwell. He is vomiting almost every morning and showing other distressing signs. I am quite certain this is a side effect of what we have done. Perhaps a belated result of the surgery? I do not think the doctors would be able to help, they do not have the same ability or talent as you! K.R.

I nearly sent that then, flushing with a bit of happening, fixed my initials to the proper K.D.

Then I checked every half hour, waiting impatiently. No response by the time I got home. When Jacob pulled me into his arms for our usual routine when I got home I decided not to tell him I had messaged my sister and he didn’t ask. I, however, asked about his day and he looked down then said something about dinner being ready soon.

“Are you ok-kay?” I asked, trying as always to control my stutter and, also as always, being unable to.

“As well as can be expected,” Jacob said brightly. I raised my eyebrows at that, and he seemed a bit embarrassed. “It just seems rather silly.”

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“Wh-what is it?” I put my hands on his waist and he gave a nervous squirm. “D-did something b-b-b-bad happ-pen?”

“No! Nothing bad.” He looked up at me with those beautiful amethyst eyes and I wanted to melt a bit, feeling like the luckiest person alive to have him as my… my husband. I still wasn’t really sure how I managed that. “As I said, just silly things.” When I didn’t respond he pulled away, going a bit red. “I’ve gained a bit more weight… and my bladder’s been giving me trouble all day.” He began chewing at his thumbnail, looking more and more anxious. “Kay–Kaleb–these–what I’m having are all signs of–of–something I can’t have. I don’t understand.”

“Wh-what d-d-do you think it m-might be?”

He looked down, going even redder. “Mmmhmhpnn.” He spoke into his hand and in such a low tone I had no clue what he said, not even to attempt to figure out what syllables he even used.

I pushed my glasses up and attempted a smile. “W-well, I’ve never heard of ‘mmmhmphnn’ but I c-c-could go l-look it up.”

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He smiled, as I hoped he would. In fact, he began grinning as he pulled me in for a kiss which happened as Calcifer came out of his room–of course, he complained rather noisily at the sight of us kissing. Then a timer went off so Jacob hurried into the kitchen to attend to dinner before he could tell me exactly what had been on his mind.

Calcifer gave me an odd look then ran back into his bedroom. I felt rather disappointed by that but did my best to ignore it as I went to check my e-mails just in case. I felt pleased to see a response waiting–then more disappointment.

Kaleb, I am unable to attend to his needs. If he is that unwell then take him to the emergency room!

The words felt as stinging as a slap. Then I grew hot with annoyance and anger towards my sister. I rarely felt this way towards her. All the loneliness and sadness dissipated as frustration took over. I began typing out an e-mail without even considering what it sounded like.

I know perfectly well you hate him and probably me as well because we love each other but that is no reason to act like a spoiled child and hide when you’ve made a mess instead of trying to clean it!

Within a split-second of hitting the send button I regretted it and wished I could reach in and take the message back. Any possibility of reconciling with my sister had now been lost forever.

*

That night Jacob seemed displeased with having to strip down, a strange and ironic reversed parody. “I’ve gained a bit of weight…” he muttered when he saw me watching. Then he finally removed his pants. I couldn’t see any difference in his waistline.

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“You l-l-l-look g-g-good.” I moved nearer to him and slid my fingers onto his waist, shaking a bit. I still felt a bit… strange about the… er… the… heh… the, um, physical things. Especially when I thought about his fantastic and incredible body compared to my… less than… desirable one. “You’re v-very… s-s-s…s…sexy.” Now it was my turn to blush, feeling very stupid for not even being able to say that word to my husband without feeling awkward! I was such a hopeless case.

Jacob turned a bit in my arms so he could lean backwards into them. “I’ve never been able to put on weight before. I–tried. As a teenager. I tried to, er, bulk up a little bit thinking that might help.” I wrapped my arms tighter around him. “Everyone at school made fun of me because I was so skinny…”

“Y-you… you d-don’t…”

He looked over his shoulder, smiling. “Oh, its all right now. I got over that a very long time ago. But I mean, that’s why it’s so strange to be gaining weight like this and… I don’t know, it’s just really weird.” He snuggled back against me, slumped down low so his head could be against my shoulder. His hair brushed gently against my chest, his hip bumped against my… err… my er… yes. Then I realized Jacob had been talking and I hadn’t been listening. “…pregnancy.”

I jerked back, startled. “W-w-w-what?”

“I said, everything I have points to pregnancy.” Jacob looked intense, his eyes locked on mine. “But that’s ridiculous. I can’t be. I–I can’t be. I know you said I still have a womb, but you have to alter the–the sperm.”

“Yes, of c-c-course.” I smiled, though felt a touch surprised he had even considered such a thing. “Th-there’s no w-way to g-get pregnant unl-less my sister c-crept into the h-house in the middle of the n-n-night and d-did surgery on y-you.”

Jacob blinked then began laughing, throwing his arms around me. “You’re right, it was stupid of me to even consider it! It’s just, the symptoms are all the same as when I was pregnant with Cal.”

“Th-then that further indic-cates it is p-probably something to d-do with the womb and wh-what we did to you.”

“Have you talked to–her–yet?” he asked innocently, not knowing what had happened. I tried to hide the pain from my voice, mentioning I had messaged her. Apparently I couldn’t hide it well enough because Jacob said, “She sent an angry reply?”

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“Sh-she is… c-c-considering it,” I lied. Jacob scowled and slid away, folding his arms. My hand to to the back of my head, rubbing the spot I was surprised wasn’t bald yet. “Sh-she’s c-c-considering–she’s–I’ll t-try again t-t-tomorrow.” Perhaps if I apologized and tried more flattery? “L-let’s go to b-bed for now.”

He studied my face then grinned again, yanking me down into the covers, apparently feeling well enough to–to–… er, well… Yes.

*

Mr. Danning, I am afraid there is a problem here. I know things are strained between you and Doctor Jay, and I think she desires to change things though you and I both know that will not easy for her. I wish to give help for this. I do not want to break trust by telling you like this so please come to the office. Misha, Jay, and I live in the joining home. 383 Goodenough Street, East River Way. – Dr. K. Antonov.

Reading the address, I felt unbelievable pain seizing everything within me. East River Way. East River Way. As in eight miles outside of Twinbrook.

My sister lived and worked about ten miles away from me.

My computer swarmed in front of me, I felt blood rushing to my head. I grew very dizzy and had to take in several deep breaths, fighting off the tears. All this time… how much time? Even when the vampire…? She had–hours to go–and–no. No, that would be absolutely absurd. It had to be a recent move. Even so, even if it had been within the past few months, that felt like a complete betrayal.

“Um. Kay?”

I jerked upright, hoping I didn’t look as awful as I felt. “Y-yes C-C-C-…C-Calcifer?

“You a’right?” he asked, lips curling a bit, eyes very narrow.  “Were you crying? Did something bad happen? Is Dad okay?”

“He’s f-f-fine.” I rose to my feet and brushed the faint dampness from my cheeks. “I j-just–it’s n-nothing, really. C-can I help y-y-you?”

“I had, um, a question. A private one.” He shot a glance at the kitchen where Jacob was busy fixing breakfast. I indicated we move to his bedroom and he didn’t even argue. Once inside his bedroom he looked even more nervous. “If I had to–see a doctor, am I old enough to go on my own?”

I swallowed, the dizziness threatening to come back. Something’s wrong, Calcifer’s sick, he’s sick, something’s very wrong. “W-well, the l-laws here in T-Twinbrook st-state that by l-law you c-can see a d-d-doctor privately at age th-thirteen.”

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“And if I go to a doctor, they won’t have to say what it’s about to Dad?”

OhWatcherhesverysick. “Th-that’s correct, it’s p-p-p-p-patient confid-dentiality.”

Calcifer smiled at that. “Oh. Oh good. What about payment? Will it go on Dad’s card? I mean, will he be informed?”

I wiped my sweaty palms off on my trousers. “You’re on m-my insurance p-plan already. It w-will show up that you h-had a visit, but w-w-will not tell me the n-nature of the v-visit.”

“Oh! Good!” He licked his lips and began rocking back and forth on his feet. “Now, how much will it be? I’ve been saving up my allowance for a couple weeks now. I can pay for it.”

OhWatcherOHWATCHER. “W-well, there’s v-very little co-p-pay, only a f-few simoleons.” Another swipe of my hands. “B-but I d-d-don’t think you sh-should hide th-things… f-from Jacob.”

And the storm returned to his face. “I don’t have to tell him anything, you just said! And don’t tell him I asked this–“

“P-please, I–I d-don’t want to lie,” I stammered, feeling acutely unhappy.

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He stomped one foot. “Then don’t tell him! If he doesn’t ask, it’s not a lie!” He threw open his door and stood there, clearly wanting me to leave now. I sighed, knowing I couldn’t change his mind. I can’t deal with this right now. I left his room, knees buckling as soon as I reached the couch. So many things swirling around my head. I didn’t want to keep things hidden from Jacob; especially about Calcifer.

No decision had been made over breakfast, other than the fact I would be spending my lunch hour at… at my sister’s lab. Only a few miles away. I hoped my headache would fade a bit before then.

*

My headache still raged as I drove to East River Way. A small area with a few buildings–and then a little ways down the road, a large building. Rosso Labs, the sign declared. Rosso. Italian. Red. My fingers gripped the steering wheel tightly till my knuckles went white. I rather hoped Antonov had fibbed but…

I pulled into the small parking lot and went inside. A young woman sat at the half-circle desk. She opened her mouth to speak then her eyes flew wide open when she saw me. “Oh. May I help you?”

“I n-n-need to see Doctor…” Would she be going as Rosso? “I n-need to see the head.”

“I’m sorry, sir, but Dr. Rosso is unavailable,” she said, giving me another once over. “She will not be making any appointments for several months. If you wish for an appointment with Dr. Antonov, acting head, then I can try to arrange something for…” She flipped open a book. “Two weeks.”

“I’m Dr. R-Rosso’s b-brother,” I stuttered.

“I–I see. I–I’m sorry, Mr. Rosso, but… your sister is unavailable for a–a professional meeting, but I’m sure if you personally contact her…” She trailed off and the tone in her voice made it clear she doubted Jay would see me with a personal call.

“No need, Miss Alvarez.” We both looked over as the bastard walked into the entrance room, a nasty smug look on his face. Sort of. A bit. The bastard. “I will take Doctor Jay’s brother, thank you,” he said, spinning around and clacking off through a door. I followed, acting as if I belonged there. I should belong there, really. If Jay and I hadn’t ended up like this…

We went down a hall and through a door he had to unlock, which led us into what appeared to be a more house-like place than the labs. “Is m-m-m-my sister all r-r-right? The secret-tary said sh-she’s… er, unavailable f-for a few months?”

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The bastard’s shoulders stiffened and I could see his ears turning vaguely red. “Ah, yes. Doctor Jay is taking a leave of absence.”

“My s-sister never t-takes a leave of absence,” I snapped, wondering what the hell happened. This wasn’t right. This wasn’t right at all! “Wh-what did you do? D-did you d-do something?!” I grabbed his arm, completely disregarding the fact he was much taller, heavier, and stronger. When I turned him to face me his face had guilt written all over it. “YOU D-DID SOMETHING?!”

“Ah–brother of Doctor Jay–“

“YOU–“

My accusations fell short when I saw Misha toddling into the hallway, clutching a fistful of crackers–crushing them, leaving a trail. He spotted me and frowned. The bastard went quickly to pick him up. “Misha, is time for being in crib.”

“Mama ung,” he said, sounding much older than he really was. He held up the crushed crackers. “Mama…” He frowned again, trying to figure out the right word. “Me ep Mama,” he said. “Me.” Then he looked at me again.

“Kiev, please allow Misha to bring me the crackers.” I heard my sister’s voice down the hall. “I am aware they will be inedible but it is important for him to learn to follow through with tasks.”

The bastard set Misha back down and Misha toddled off. I shoved past the bastard, not even moving him despite the fact I shoved hard. I just had concern for my sister. What the bastard did to her. He must have somehow hurt her. Or–brainwashed her? She’d never take a leave of absence!

“Sister!” I burst through the door and nearly fell. My jaw certainly fell.

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My sister stared coolly at me as Misha dumped the crumbs in her hands that were cupped above her very obviously pregnant belly.