Early morning, alarm going off.
Lili lay on top of a strong left arm, with a powerful chest behind her that was breathing regularly. She opened her eyes and followed the arm to its wrist and hand and fingers, to the wedding ring she'd given Doug a year and a half before. It was a dull grey metal, a plain but tall band, “'Morning,” she said softly.
“Ah, here, the alarm's on my side,” he said, “Lean forward a sec,” he took his arm away, rolled over and shut off the alarm, “Got, I think a little while before Joss and Yimar are up.”
She kissed him, “I've still got a little sleep in my eyes,” she rubbed them.
“Can I wake you up a bit more?” he asked.
“Sure,” she said, “But I think we'd better be a bit quick about it, before someone gets it in his head that he wants breakfast.”
They kissed. “You first,” she said.
“Yeah,” she smiled at him, “Unless you object.”
“Nope,” he said, lying back and folding his arms behind his head.
Doug thought to himself, even a bad one of these is good.
There was a chime at the door.
“Damn,” he said.
They straightened up in bed and made sure the blanket was around them, “Uh, come in,” Lili said.
“Sorry, we, uh, he's hungry,” Yimar said.
Joss got onto the bed between them. He patted Lili, “Milk?”
“No. We have to save that for Petey. Petey's going to be very hungry when he comes out,” Lili said.
“Joss, do you know where Petey is?” Doug asked his son.
“Uhhh,” Joss thought for a minute, then touched Lili's belly.
“That's right,” Lili said, “And he'll be here in five months. I know that's a long, long time from now,” she glanced at Doug, “but the time will go by quickly. And then after that you'll have a playmate. Would you like that?”
“I don't know how much of that he got,” Doug said.
“Well, maybe not much,” Lili admitted, “He just needs to know this is a good thing that's happening.”
“I'll, um, I can take him to breakfast,” Yimar offered.
“It's okay,” Doug said, “We're getting up anyway. Gonna see Doctor Phlox this morning,” he got up and hustled himself into the bathroom. The shower started running.
“He's the cleanest human I've ever known,” Yimar said, “Not that I have a lot of experience with such things.”
“Yes. Very clean,” Lili said.
Shift change on the NX-01
. Oh eight hundred hours.
In Engineering, Tripp Tucker and Jennifer Crossman replaced José Torres and Josh Rosen, “EM radiation is still climbing. We can't quite find the cause,” Torres said.
“Okay, you're on that, Crossman,” Tripp said.
“Yes, sir,” she replied.
At the pilot's station, Travis arrived to relieve Melissa, “Hiya,” he said.
“Going steady,” she said, “That radiation doesn't seem to be affecting our course or our speed.”
At Tactical, Malcolm replaced Aidan MacKenzie, “Ensign, stand down,” Malcolm said to MacKenzie.
“Yes, sir. Hull plating is still polarized, with no fluctuations.”
At Security, Deborah Haddon relieved Azar Hamidi, “All is secure,” he said to her.
“Thank you,” she took her usual place several meters in the back, with a clear view of the Captain's chair and the remainder of the Bridge.
At Communications, Hoshi greeted Chip, “Nothing much is happening,” he yawned, “It's just radiation. No one's trying to talk to us. We can still ping the closest buoy in the Lafa System.”
T'Pol got up from the Captain's chair when Jonathan arrived, “EM radiation is increasing steadily but still within acceptable tolerance limits. Etiology remains unknown. I can perform an analysis later.”
“When you get a chance,” he said, “Thanks.”
Sick Bay was lively with active animals. Lili sat on a bio bed, fiddling with her bracelet.
“Ah, how's my favorite Obstetrics patient?” Phlox asked.
“You mean your only Obstetrics patient,” she replied.
“Well, I didn't want to say,” he smiled at her, with that slightly too wide Denobulan grin that was a tad unnerving to most humans, “Having any troubles? I have your records from your Calafan physician, Doctor Miva.”
“I'm really, really er, interested. All the time. And so is Doug,” Lili said.
“Well, for some human males, the pregnancies of their partners can be quite stimulating,” Phlox said, “You must enjoy the fact that you're responsible for her condition,” he said to Doug.
“Yes. Definitely,” Doug said.
“As for you Ens – uh, Mrs. Beckett,” Phlox said.
“Please, just call me by my first name,” Lili said.
“Very well. Pregnancy comes with a rush of hormones and a flood of emotions. For some women, if they continue to feel attractive – and if their partners continue to assure them of their attractiveness – those women can become very interested in relations. More so than usual. Stimulus and release probably come rather easily.”
“Definitely,” she said, “But things are frustrating right now.”
“This is a high-risk pregnancy. I've been looking at your records and I see that Miva says while you don't have placenta previa
, the placenta is still rather large and is in a rather vulnerable position. Plus of course you already have a little one running around. Privacy must be rather difficult to come by. I have children; I know what that is like.”
“What's placenta previa
?” Doug asked.
“It's a condition whereby the placenta grows in the lowest part of the uterus and covers all or part of the opening to the cervix. Intercourse is not recommended at all, of course.”
“But you said Lili doesn't have that. So why is Miva telling us we can't do anything?” Doug asked, although he pretty much already knew the answer.
“First, Lili's age. Fifty is not a young age for a pregnancy, although it does not break records for the oldest natural pregnancy. But it is, by definition, high risk. Second, the placenta isn't covering the opening to the cervix but it is close. And, the third part you know. You have issues with controlling your own strength, even under the best of circumstances, never mind during the throes of passion. Plus, as you are well aware, the O'Day Reversal
– the operation I devised to make everything fit properly – it has been temporarily dismantled to accommodate the growth of the fetus. There is no room, the placenta is too close, and you can harm either Lili or the fetus if you puncture either the placenta or the uterus,” Phlox stated.
“Well, it didn't hurt to ask,” Lili said, putting her hand on Doug's arm. The bracelet glinted a tiny bit in the light of Sick Bay.
“Here, let's have a look,” Phlox said.
She lay back and he placed her in the scanner.
“Ah, there it is,” Phlox said, showing Doug on the screen, “There is your baby.”
“Huh. Crossed legs – he must be modest, eh? He's small.”
“Well, he should be. This is only the twenty-first week after all. Very interesting, I would not have believed it myself if I were not seeing it. The placenta is enormous! How much weight would you say you have gained, Lili?” Phlox asked.
“Maybe thirty-five, thirty-six kilos. This happened last time, with Joss. During the first trimester, I alternated between barfing and eating everything in sight – mainly meat. Then I stopped gaining for the rest of the pregnancy.”
“According to Miva's records, your placenta and your son shifted in terms of weight. So if Joss was a quarter of a kilo to begin with, eventually he became about, let's see, ah, over eight kilos when he was born. A rather large baby – I see you had a Cesarean. I suspect you'll need to have another one,” Phlox clicked a control on the bio bed and it brought Lili out of the scanner.
“Yes, I have one scheduled for January,” Lili said, “He's very active, kicking all the time.”
“Well, that's good. But I can see where that would be troublesome,” Phlox said, “It's probably, huh, let's see if we can induce a kick,” he pressed on her abdomen.
“That is rather powerful,” Phlox said, “At twenty-one weeks, you should not be feeling that much. After all, what we refer to as kicking is usually just the fetus turning over. I suspect the enormous placenta is amplifying everything. Most unusual, but you have other unusual things going on.”
“Other unusual things? Bad things?” Doug asked.
“Oh, no,” Phlox said, as Lili got dressed again, “I took the liberty of running an experiment – I do hope you don't mind, but I was rather curious about this.”
“About what?” Lili asked.
“Your age. The chances of having a child with Down's Syndrome is increased. Yet neither Joss nor this fetus appears to have the syndrome. I did an investigation as I still have a sample from you, Doug.”
“Oh?” Doug asked.
“Yes. I mixed your sample with, well, I must explain: human eggs that carry Down's Syndrome and other genetic issues can emit a different hormonal signature than eggs that don't have such issues. I checked. Your sperm only gravitate in the direction of eggs without such issues. Otherwise, they turn tail and die.”
“You didn't make fetuses or anything, did you?” Lili asked, a little alarmed.
“No, I didn't use eggs – just the hormones. But it's a fascinating window into the overall concept of Survival of the Fittest. In the universe where you originated, Doug, there must be very few genetic issues. The figure is likely not to be, absolutely, zero. But the incidence is probably a lot less than we have here. That has carried over, of course, to here, because you are here. It appears that you are introducing a rather powerful bit of evolutionary biology into the human gene pool.”
“I remember you once referred to Doug as the super male,” Lili said.
“Indeed,” Phlox said, “Your sons will likely inherit this tendency from you.”
“That probably explains why I didn't get pregnant immediately after we began to do it again after Joss was born,” Lili said.
“That was a good eight months,” Doug said, squeezing her hand.
“There were probably a few less than optimal eggs in the pipeline,” Phlox said, “Oh and another thing, which probably also should help to explain the huge placenta and the powerful kicking – you are awash in testosterone.”
“I'm pregnant. How is that even possible?”
“Another bit of survival strategy, most likely. Probably makes the mother stronger and faster as needed.”
“I'm waddling around like a whale.”
“You can probably move quickly if you have to,” Phlox said, “And the fetus is awash as well. It's affecting every test and every instrument I've got.”
“The super male makes super babies,” Lili said.
Yimar and Joss sat in the cafeteria. Everyone else had left. He was still struggling a little with a bowl of oatmeal, but was refusing to let her help him.
Brian walked in, “Ah, company,” he said. He had a bowl of his own in his hands, “I usually eat alone after the breakfast rush.”
“Do you want us to go?” Yimar asked.
“No, no, of course not. Is he okay?”
“Oh, sure. He just wants to try to feed himself. And, as you can see, he's not too good at it. But he does try.”
“Yimar, can I ask you something?”
“What's the silver stuff on your arms? And, uh, Lili has some silver on her arms, too.”
“Oh, well, for me, it's normal,” Yimar explained, “It's called calloo. We start off solid silver and then, when we hit about thirty or so, you start to get white spots and before it goes away completely it eventually becomes this kind of elaborate scrollwork. Lili's tattooed like that – she doesn't really have calloo. It's on our legs, too. Wanna see?”
“Uh, huh. I'll take your word for it,” Brian swallowed hard. Girls didn't normally offer to show him their legs.
“Oh, it's no trouble, really,” she said, hiking up a pant leg, “See? All silvery.”
“How, um, how old are you, Yimar?” he was a little uncomfortable.
“Old enough,” she said, “I get night offers. I can act on them if I want to.”
“I don't understand what that means.”
“We sleep with nighttime people,” she said, “Here, Joss let me help you.”
“We go to sleep and we dream of nighttime people,” she said, “Wait, Lili told me you don't have nighttime people.”
“Well, we do have sleeping with people,” Brian said, “Maybe it's not what you're talking about. I, uh, I don't think we should be talking about this in front of Joss.”
“Ohhhhh,” The light dawned, “It's sleeping, not sex. Well, it can be. And I am old enough now. Are you old enough?”
“Uhh, yeah,” he said. Not that that did him any good usually, “I'm, uh, I'm twenty-one.”
“Oh, I thought you were older. It's all that hair. I'm sixteen,” she said.
“Six-sixteen? And you're, um, old enough?”
“Yes. I am,” she said, “Can I ask you something? Since you asked me and all.”
“Uh, I guess so.”
“Why is everybody so hairy? Is this a ship full of really old people?” she asked.
“No. I mean, most of them are older than me but nobody's really
“See, when you're a Calafan, you start off totally hairless like I still am,” she explained, “It's another thing, you hit about thirty or so and you start to get fuzzy. You get really furry when you're really old. My Father is pretty furry. My Mother is still a great beauty, lots of pretty calloo and not too hairy. I feel like I'll never be pretty like her,” she complained.
“I dunno,” he said, “Maybe you just need to grow into it.”
“What about that really tall guy? He doesn't have a lot of hair, or at least it looks kinda thinner in the back. Is he younger than you are?”
“José Torres?” Brian asked, “I think he's around ten or more years older than I am. And, uh, he's losing his hair, not getting it.”
“You humans are weird,” Yimar said.
On the Bridge, Hoshi dropped her Communications earpiece, “Agghhh!” she cried out.
“Hoshi!” yelled Jonathan, and then they all heard it – a high-pitched whine.
“We're being scanned!” T'Pol yelled over the din.
In Sick Bay, Phlox, Lili and Doug covered their ears.
Just as suddenly as it had started, the whine stopped.
“You'd better stay here,” Phlox said.
“Where are you going?” Lili cried out to Doug.
“To the Armory. I can help there.”
He kissed her and ran out, but he didn't get far.