When she entered Medical, Helena could feel tension immediately. As she walked toward
Ben, he rolled his eyes in patent annoyance. “Glad you’re here,” he told her.
anything wrong? John…?” Surely they would have called her if something had happened.
guest’s physical condition remains excellent,” Ben replied sarcastically. “His ability to play nicely with
others, however, is rapidly deteriorating. He hasn’t let me take his blood samples today and he’s bellowing at
the nurses as though the quality of Alphan food is somehow their fault Oh, and I’ll go ahead and inform you you’re
late getting in today because he’s been complaining about that, too.”
sighed, commiserate. Today was day six in John’s tenure as a quarantine detainee. He showed no outer signs of infection
and his blood samples to date had all seemed clear. What concerned her and the other doctors were the abnormalities they saw
in the plague microbes that were comparable to nothing they knew. Then there was the fact that the remains sampled from the
planet’s surface showed nowhere near the rate of decomposition that human bodies would have exhibited given the same
atmosphere. This highlighted the many unknown genetic differences between themselves and the planet’s natives and gave
them nothing concrete to go on or say that it was safe to let John walk free inside the Base. Sooner or later, if they found
nothing more, they would have to reach a point where they all agreed that since he wasn’t sick and wasn’t dead
they might as well let him out. She’d known he was very antsy yesterday and close to his tolerance level for the whole
situation. “I’ll talk to him.”
for you,” Ben replied, still sarcastic. “You’re probably the only one who wants to right now.”
approached the glassed-in room where John was pacing about, extreme irritation in every step. He watched her approach, but
didn’t stop moving and didn’t smile. “You’re later than usual, aren’t you?” he asked her
slept in a little,’ she acknowledged. “Sorry, I was tired. I get tired more easily now.”
going nuts in here, Helena. This is what’s going to kill me, not some germ I don’t even have.”
when the series of cultures is finished and we’ve proven that you’re not sick and just as importantly, not a carrier,
we’ll let you out. It should be soon, but you have to cooperate. You have to be reasonable,” she reminded him
be reasonable, Helena. I’m not in the mood.”
don’t have to be reasonable, John. I’m pregnant. I’m the one
who has the excuse of hormone-induced mood swings. But I’ll tell you what; I’ll take your blood samples today
if you don’t want to let Ben do it.”
I want is to stop being the new pet lab rat, and you,” he pointed at her, “will not take my blood today. I don’t want you or the babies coming near any of the samples, mine or the ones
from that planet. Is that clear?”
thought you said you don’t have any dangerous germs,” she reminded him gently, seating herself in her now usual
willing to take that chance with the rest of them, not the three of you,” he snapped at her, sighing heavily as he looked
at her and saw the mildly mocking expression on her face. He rubbed his hands over his eyes and shook himself, then pulled
the plastic desk chair in front of the glass and turned it backwards so he could straddle the seat and lean his arms comfortably
on the back. He felt some of the morning’s hostility leave him as his eyes wandered over her. He smiled a little as
he noted the sight of her hands resting in her lap, cozily over their children. A repenting look crossed through his eyes
as he quietly said, “I just want to do that.”
looked back at him quizzically, and he nodded his head in the direction of her midsection. “I want to be able to do
that. I want to touch you. I want to feel you. I want to feel our babies. I want to hold you, all three of you.” He
paused and his timbre changed as his gaze slowly and lustfully began to roam over the rest of her body. “And I want
to kiss you….I want to run my hands all over your bare skin followed by my tongue….I want to smell you…I
want to taste you….I want to be buried inside your hot, wet…”
she stopped him with a loud whisper, her head glancing around swiftly to see if anyone had heard.
no one near,” he returned her hushed tone, his voice husky. “Give me a little credit; I wouldn’t have said
it if there was.”
turned back toward him, more than a little unnerved as she felt her body responding to his words and the smoldering glimmer
in his azure eyes. “You’re not the only one who wants that,” she softly said, her own voice going a little
husky. She watched his eyes travel up her crossed legs, lingering on the open slit of her skirt and the visible portion of
her thigh. Then they continued their trek up her body, stopping to rest on the new proportions of her breasts with such an
intensity she felt like he could see right through the material of her uniform.
scanned the room for signs of anyone approaching and seeing none he whispered, “What color panties are you wearing?”
her tone was cautionary.
no one near,” he repeated. “Humor me.”
This is really not a good idea,
she told herself, but found she didn’t care. Truth be told, she was as horny as she knew he was. She debated inwardly
for a moment, then scooted her chair close to the intercom in the glass. “Blue lace,” she whispered.
smirk crossed his features. “The light blue ones or the dark blue?” he wanted to know.
She smiled. “The light blue ones as you call them are aqua. These are the real blue ones.”
He nodded. “And that matching lace bra that barely covers you?”
not wearing the bra. It, uh, doesn’t quite fit my…new attributes.”
what are you wearing?” he pressed her.
not as interesting as the blue lace, but it’s still up to the job.”
he mused.”I guess with your breasts growing by leaps and bounds, they need to have just the right thing holding them….”
locked onto his eyes, having decided she could play this game as well as he. “Your hands come to mind….My breasts
are so sensitive now and your hands would feel so good on them…” She smiled a little feline smile as she saw him
shift in his chair. “You’re not uncomfortable are you, darling?”
shook his head ever so slightly and looked at her appraisingly to let her know he was about to up the ante. He licked his
lips. “You’re right about your breasts feeling good in my hands, Helena, but if they’re that sensitive,
wouldn’t my tongue feel even better?” Now he was wearing the satisfied smile as he watched her lightly bite her
lower lip. “I could run my tongue over the soft skin of your breasts and then take your nipples in my mouth…lick
them, suck them, get them hard against my tongue.”
already hard. They’re so stiff they almost hurt,” she informed him and giggled when his eyes cut to her chest.
me to put out a memo that the material of the women’s tunics needs to be made thinner,” he said kiddingly.
giggled again. “Now you’re driving me crazy.” Her voice was tender, throaty.
expression turned wicked. “What does that mean? Are you ready for me right now, honey?...Hmmm?...Are you wet?...Tell
his asking the question sent a new rush of warmth between her legs where, yes, she’d already been decidedly damp. “I’m
soaking wet if you really want to know. It’s almost running out of me. What I really need is get out of these panties
and get your tongue on me,” she teased him, enjoying the sight of him closing his eyes and shifting again in his seat.
“What about you, John?...Are you ready for me?...Do I need to stroke you for a while…rub you all over me where
I’m so wet to get you ready?…Or I could kneel down between your legs and take you in my mouth, stroke my tongue
up and down, suck on you while I pump you with my hand…or are you ready to be inside me now, darling?”
voice had reached that sexy contralto pitch he loved hearing next to his ear and she was making him wish he could abandon
all concerns about quarantine, not to mention decorum and finesse. A quick fantasy of throwing the computer desk through the
glass, climbing out and taking her right there on the floor of Medical, and whoever wanted to watch was welcome, flickered
like a movie scene across his mind. He smiled into her beautiful eyes, sparkling now with dark emerald flecks of mischief
and desire. “Well, you stroking my cock is always welcome, having you get me hard…but I’m already so hard
it aches…your hands on me would feel wonderful…your hot mouth would be even better….but I wouldn’t
need you to use your hands or mouth to get inside you right this minute.”
mean you could just slide deep inside me right now and I wouldn’t even need to lend a hand?” she whispered wistfully.
could rip those panties off you with my teeth and then it’d be like a hot knife through butter, baby. Just one stroke
and I can be buried inside you.” He grinned as he watched her shift in her own chair, crossing her legs tighter and
suppressing a shudder, realizing her desire completely matched his own. “I bet your clit’s all swollen and throbbing,
isn’t it? You’re almost feeling those first little spasms start, aren’t you? I bet my tongue would feel
so good on you right now down between your legs, licking you, sucking you…I bet you’d come for me right away….In
fact, I bet if I keep talking I could make you come for me right here, right now…’Cause I know how to make you
come all day, don’t I, baby?” He paused, enjoying the sight of her so turned on for him. “You’re sure
you’re not the one who’s uncomfortable, honey?”
swallowed hard and her breath was shaky. “Okay, we need to stop. You win.”
looked into her eyes a little guiltily as he watched her regain control of herself. “I haven’t won anything; I’m
still stuck in here…Was that too much? I’m sorry.”
smiled lovingly at him. “No you’re not. You’re not the least bit sorry, John. You love knowing how much
I want you.”
right, I do,” he acknowledged fondly, then his voice turned serious. “How much longer do you think?”
sighed, shaking her head. “Some tests, some very key tests have been inconclusive. I need to be as sure as I can be,
for obvious personal reasons as well as for the good of everyone else that it’s the right thing to do but, we’re
probably close to saying since you don’t seem to be sick we might as well let you out.”
sigh matched her own as he rubbed his temples. “Okay, as much as I want to be out of here, as much as I want to be with
you, I don’t want you to be at risk,” his eyes dropped meaningfully to her belly. He sighed again. “I don’t
want to put anyone else at risk either, so do what you have to do to be sure.”
it were an Earth plague, we’d be letting you out by tomorrow. Logically, even the most contagious form of pneumonic
plague should have given you some symptoms by now if you were infected.” She mused, “Remember our little tour
of fourteenth century Scotland? Of course, that wasn’t plague, just pneumonia, and remember how fast I got that?...Except
that was an Earth germ.”
what does any of that mean for us here and now?”
nothing,” she answered in exasperation. “The same rules don’t necessarily apply, but I can’t leave
you locked behind glass indefinitely.” She paused to feel sure of what she was about to promise him. “I think
if there’s still no change by tomorrow morning…I’m just going to take you out of there and take you home
snickered. “You make me sound like a stray puppy.”
winked at him.”There are worse things.” She rose from her chair. “Let me go conference with my guys. I’ll
get back to you.”
watched her walk to Ben’s side. God, she had a nice walk. ‘Of course, she
has a nice walk; she’s got a great ass. And everything connected to her ass, above and below, is pretty good, too. And
those new breasts, you can’t wait to feel those, can you?...Okay, you’re losing it, Koenig, you’re really
losing it…Got to get your mind off making love to her…don’t think about her lying naked underneath you,
raking your back with her nails…those legs wrapped around you while you pound into her, see how long you can make her
come…no, no pounding into her, she’s pregnant, you’ve got to be careful of your babies, so just gently,
gently…we’re going to have to come up with a few new positions with her being pregnant…something else to
fantasize about during your jail time here…you’ve got to stop this…no,
just keep it slow and steady, she likes it slow and steady, too…pull almost all the way out of her, slide nice
and slow back in….you could be in here for another week, man, pull yourself together…you’ll be climbing
the walls by then…no, it won’t be another week…she can’t stand to leave you in here another week…she’s
going crazy, too, she wants it as much as you do…you just saw her almost come right in front of you just from you talking
dirty to her...God, she’s beautiful…God, I love her…so very much.”
exhaled heavily and decided to turn his thoughts to other things before he made himself insane. Another couple of minutes
of his mind working like this and he was going to have to smack his head against the wall just to pull himself out of it…and
then they really would keep him locked up for another week.
had a few projects going on to engage his attention, projects he was trying to keep secret from her. The moon was once more
in an empty region of space and he had little else to do. As for his incarceration, they’d let him out tomorrow or not,
time would tell. Based on the determined set of her jaw when she left him, he thought his chances at freedom were pretty good.
He whipped out his commlock and began to contact his troops for last minute updates. Later, when Helena left Medical for awhile,
he’d do his own conferring with her team and hopefully pass along the final timetable.
it going?” Though he was alone, John whispered into his commlock to avoid drawing extra attention to the person on the
gotten some funny looks for loitering in the hallways,” came the amiable, likewise whispered reply, “but so far,
so good. She hasn’t emerged yet.”
she does come out…”
never make it to Medical to find you gone. Trust me, John, I know what to do.”
smiled. “That’s the first time you’ve ever used my name, Sue.” He didn’t mean to embarrass her,
but it seemed a huge step in his relationship with Helena’s best friend.
grinned at him. “I guess it is...I guess with everything you’re doing for Helena today you suddenly seem more
approachable somehow, more…human.”
thank you…I think.” He chuckled.
the tiny screen, Sue gave him a quick wink before signing off. “I’ll keep you posted.”
was still a good two hours before Helena expected him to be out of quarantine and John approvingly surveyed his surroundings.
The cleaning staff had done well, and Sandra and Maya had done all they could with the available décor. Tony and Alan had
personally moved a lot of the furniture, reasoning that the more people who knew the plan, the more likely it would be for
Helena to hear about it. Apparently, with all the swearing that had gone on between the two of them while wrestling the couch
and bed into place, it was a wonder she hadn’t heard something anyway. Maya and Sandra assured him that Tony and Alan
would be speaking to each other again soon.
door chime sounded and he hit the button allowing Sandra and Maya to enter, followed by Tony and Alan, each of the men carrying
boxes. The women both gave him big hugs of welcome, then Sandra took the box from Alan and began setting candles throughout
the space. Maya took her box from Tony and set to work laying out food on the coffee table.
hug you, too, John, but you know…” Alan began, then, “oh, what the hell.” He threw both arms around
John, clapping him hard on the back.
grinning, followed suit, but added, “I’m not kissing you though.”
okay, I’ll live.” John grinned back at him. “You all did a remarkable job in here. I can’t tell you
how much I appreciate it.”
for Helena,” Sandra’s voice called to him, teasing.
a lot,” he called back to her.
sudden flurry of movement burst into the room in the form of Shermeen Williams, with her own little contingent of Eddie Collins
and Carolyn Powell in tow. All carried flowers or bundles of aromatic herbs. Without uttering a greeting, Shermeen set her
ground forces to work, directing the placement of various foliage arrangements. Some went to tables, some to shelves and some
especially beautiful rose specimens were ordered off to the bedroom.
when she was satisfied did she turn to John and hurl herself into his arms, planting a big kiss on his cheek. “I’m
so glad you’re back, Commander. I’m so happy about the baby. I’m so glad you asked me to help you do this
for Dr. Russell.” She stepped back, tears streaming unchecked down her face. Everyone else in the room tried to hide
was used to Shermeen’s theatrical outbursts by now, or at least as used to them as most people ever got. He sometimes
pitied Eddie, but she was a genuinely sweet young woman and she meant well and she was the very best they had when it came
to plants of every kind. It was why he’d asked her to help with this particular project. “Believe me, I’m
glad I’m back, too, Shermeen. And thank you for everything you’ve done,” he told her as he looked over her
handiwork displayed throughout the room. “It looks beautiful.”
had us practically babysitting the roses,” Carolyn informed him. “We had to force them into buds and we’ve
been monitoring their growth and re-setting their lighting every hour on the hour.”
happy that you could just go to Horticulture and do what she wanted you to do there,” Eddie piped up good-naturedly.
“She had me practically sleeping with some of this stuff.”
smiled as he considered their words. “I thank all of you. I couldn’t have done any of this from Medical; I just
had to ask for favors and hope for the best. You’ve done more than I would have asked you or hoped for and I don’t
know what I can really offer any of you…maybe extra time off from duty whenever you want it? I wish there was something
else I could offer you,” he told them sincerely.
Carolyn spoke quietly, “you and Dr. Russell saved my me when I was taken over by that Lambda wave. I know you were just
doing your duty, but I wouldn’t be here if not for the two of you. The fact that anyone will even speak to me after
what I did is because you two stuck up for me and defended me. When Shermeen asked me to help her out with this,” she
paused, shaking her head, “I would have checked the roses every five minutes if I’d needed to. I owe both of you
everything.” Then Carolyn, too, gave him a quick hug and kiss on the cheek.
Commander,” Eddie told him, “you saved Shermeen’s life that other time. I know probably no one else could
put up with her,” he paused, grinning widely as Shermeen punched him lightly on the arm. He slipped the arm around her
shoulders and gave her a gentle kiss on the cheek. “But as far as I’m concerned, I owe you for that. You can give
us both that time off when we find a place to settle.”
Eddie, Shermeen nodded and looked seriously into John’s eyes, for once without undue histrionics. “He’s
right, Commander, you saved my life. Like Carolyn said, I know you were just doing your duty, but I can’t ever begin
to make it up to you. You wanted some flowers for Dr. Russell, that was the very least I could do. I just hope she likes them.”
was surprised by the sudden lump in his throat. With a little effort, he swallowed it away. “I’m sure she’s
going to love everything, Shermeen. Eddie, Carolyn, thank you. Just thank you.”
nodded swiftly at him, and gave the area one last check over. Wandering about, she confidently adjusted a stem here, plucked
off an errant leaf there, took a quick turn through the bedroom and finally proclaimed herself pleased. With another hug from
her and Carolyn and a hearty handshake from Eddie, the three of them left as abruptly as they’d arrived.
John could make a comment about the departing trio, in came Jim Haines and Carl Renton, lugging a wooden rocking chair between
them. “We finished it, Commander,” Carl announced, “just this morning.”
looked from them to the chair and back again, shaking his head in amazement. “You didn’t have to rush. I think
it’s great that you finished it, but I didn’t want you to put yourselves out.” John knelt to examine their
wanted to finish it, Commander,” Jim answered. “We wanted it to be here for you when you were home together for
the first time.”
it was nearly finished already when you called me yesterday,” Carl informed him. “We just had to do some last
minute buffing and polishing.”
kind of a lot of memories put together in one chair,” Jim informed him. “The arms are made from some pieces of
cherry and pine we had from Earth. The top crosspiece and the rockers are oak, also from Earth, and the rest of it is from
other samples of woods we’ve collected from other planets as we’ve gone along. The back, for example, is something
that looks like oak and carves like oak, but it isn’t. It sounds like it shouldn’t work, but it does.”
think it is beautiful,” Sandra observed.
was beautiful. The two men had collaborated previously on rocking chairs and cribs for other expectant couples, which was
why John had approached them in the first place. He’d seen their earlier efforts for the Osgoods and been impressed.
This time, however, they had outdone themselves and they stood proudly to one side as their creation was scrutinized.
different woods had all been stained the same deep honey color and their various grains worked together to form an eye-catching
multi-textural whole. An expertly carved chain of ivy ran over the entire chair, making it appear to be made from leaves out
of a magical forest, but the real highlight began on the back of the top crosspiece and ran down the whole chair back: a castle
out of every child’s fairytale, with turrets and drawbridge, had been carved there. On one side of the castle was a
formidable wizard holding aloft his staff, on the other a bold knight mounted atop his steed and in front, at the foot of
the castle laid a dragon with his tail curled round him. He wasn’t a particularly ferocious-looking dragon, though;
more like a big, friendly dog of a dragon complete with a little carved princess character petting him on the head.
terrific, the detail.” John ran his hands along the arms and moved around the piece, momentarily speechless as he gazed
at the carving on the back. “It’s amazing. How did you do all this in one week?” He stared at the intricacy
of their work.
Carl gets started carving, you can’t stop him,” Jim replied.
Carl turned to Jim with mock disbelief. “Commander, you should have heard him: ‘Oh, I think we can get a few more
scales on the dragon’s tail, but don’t make him too scary looking. Oh, we need more definition in the knight’s
armor, more thickness to the horse’s mane so it looks windblown’.”
it had to be right,” Jim defended himself. “Go on, sit in it. Try it out,” he encouraged John. He watched
approvingly as the Commander seated himself and rocked slowly at a pace he guessed might be right for a baby. The motion was
gentle and even; it was perfect.
going to look good in that every morning at two a.m., John,” Tony observed, and everyone laughed.
just shook his head again and smiled. “It’s beautiful. She’s going to love it. I love it,” he told
them earnestly. “You put so much effort into this. Tell me something I can do for you.”
asking us to do this was doing something for us,” Carl informed him. “This
is something we both love to do and most of the time we don’t have any reason to do it.”
right,” Jim agreed. “We always collect new wood samples and then we don’t have anything to do with them.
Mostly, they just pile up. This whole mini baby boom has been good for us. Which reminds me,” he said, turning to Carl,
“give him the samples.”
Carl nodded. He took a computer disc out of his jacket and handed it to John. “These
are some of our ideas for the crib; it shows you color suggestions, too, but feel free to come up with your own. Once you
know what it is, that’ll be easier. You’ll want something on the
frillier side if it’s a little girl,” he instructed John sagely. “Just have your lady tell us what she likes
and we’ll do it.”
that the two men left, arguing as they went about the desired shade of pink if the baby were a girl versus appropriate blues
for a boy. Both seemed far more opinionated regarding the pinks. John wondered fleetingly whether they’d be able to
contain themselves once they discovered they’d be called upon to construct two cribs, not just one. News of the twins
wasn’t something he and Helena had let out for public knowledge yet.
he watched them go, John couldn’t keep the incredulity off his face. “I don’t know what to say anymore.”
His eyes moved from Tony to Maya to Alan to Sandra in a wide sweep. “The four of you are friends, not just colleagues.
I almost would have expected you to be willing to go above and beyond under the circumstances, but…the others…”
you should almost die and leave Helena alone and pregnant more often, John,” Alan suggested. “It seems to make
everybody nicer.” Everyone laughed.
be sure and give that idea all the consideration it deserves,” he told his old friend. Then his eyes turned back toward
the door awaiting one last arrival. Once Dave Reilly showed up with his delivery, John would be able to relax a little and
get the day going.
could hardly wait to see her.
was glad she’d awakened a good three hours before she was scheduled to meet John in Medical. The extra time had given
her opportunity to battle the day’s morning sickness which had assaulted her with particular ferocity the moment she
opened her eyes. She’d thrown up twice so far, but as the morning wore on, she was feeling better and had finally been
able to eat some soy crackers and drink a little fruit juice.
she lay on her couch, counting the minutes till she could reasonably go in. She didn’t want to be too early; she just
wanted to go, meet him as he was released from quarantine and leave with him as soon as possible. So much of their personal
life had been unavoidably available for public consumption recently and she desperately wanted time alone with him. She was
about to roust herself from the sofa when her commlock buzzed.
beautiful,” John’s face beamed at her from the tiny screen. “How’re you feeling?”
smiled. “Morning, honey…I’m okay. It was a little rough when I woke up,” she admitted, “but
I’m alright now. I was just about to come meet you.”
nodded. “Just one thing…I need you to do me a favor before you go to Medical.” He told her what he wanted
her to do.
frowned at him. “John, do I really need to do that now? Can’t it wait?” She understood he probably had some
sort of surprise waiting for her in the quarters he was mysteriously directing her to, and undoubtedly she’d appreciate
it and find it thoughtful, but at the moment she really wasn’t interested. She just wanted to see him and feel his arms
around her again.
really need you to go there now,” he told her firmly. “I’ll see you after that.”
she was irritated when all she wanted was to have a joyful reunion. “Okay,” she agreed with a trace of disappointment
in her voice that she couldn’t cover, “I’ll go right now.”
sighed. John obviously had a lot to learn about dealing with a pregnant female, especially one with double the raging hormones
surging through her body. Enigmatic games were about the last thing she was in the mood for this morning. Whatever he had
set up, she was certain he meant well, but she wanted only to be back here in her quarters, in bed with the man she loved.
She had very simple needs today. Her mind toyed with the idea of buzzing him back and telling him to come meet her here when
he got out, but quickly rejected that plan as simply too bitchy. ‘Come on, Helena,
you know you’ll like whatever it is he’s done and then you can go to Medical.’ She sighed again and
left her quarters.
reached her destination and pulled her commlock from her jacket pocket, using her medical override code to open the door.
She entered a family unit, one she was fairly sure was unassigned. Her senses were still registering details in the dimly
lit area – not a lot of personal furnishings, but fresh flowers, the scent of candles, a mini picnic on the coffee table
and soft jazz music playing over the speakers - when she was startled by the swish of the door closing behind her. Turning
back to review her surroundings more carefully, she recognized it as the basic Alpha two bedroom family model: a relatively
large separate living space and an actual kitchen, too. Both bedrooms were large enough so they could be split if necessary.
brighter light came from one of the bedrooms off to her left and she moved in that direction, curiosity leading her. When
she entered the doorway she stopped short, overwhelmed at the sight awaiting. Three perfect red roses sat in a vase on a small
table. On either side of the bed candles burned, wafting light aromas of white sage and rosemary, reminding her of the woods
around her California home where she’d grown up and the bed itself, a large double, was strewn with red and pink rose
petals. Tears sprang into her eyes as she absorbed everything he’d had to do to bring this to fruition. Then she felt
his presence nearby.