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Between the Devil... / Part 7

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...Continued. R.

Back to Part 6

“Did you know they’re each about the size of a grain of rice right now?” They cuddled on the couch after lunch; Helena nestled cozily between John’s legs, her back against his chest. His arms wrapped loosely around her, one hand inside her robe resting on her stomach. “Shortly, they will both be the size of pinto beans…and where are we, week nine?”

 

Helena nodded silently, one eyebrow cocked dubiously upward with amusement.

 

“Well, very soon,” he continued to inform her, “it’s week eleven or twelve, I think, when they start off the week only about an inch long and finish the same week two inches long. Oh, and your uterus is about the size of an orange right now; by then it’ll be nearer to a grapefruit.”

 

“Do tell,” Helena snickered and turned her head up to look at him, caressing the side of his face. “You’ve been studying,” she said drily.

 

“Hmm hmm….quarantine gave me plenty of time for reading. It was a little strange; in the same article, they’d bounce between actual measurements and food comparisons…soon, for example, the babies grow to the size of kumquats…I have no idea how big a kumquat is,” he told her gravely.

 

Helena giggled in his arms. “You need to be careful, honey. A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing.”

 

“I don’t plan to have a little knowledge, honey.” His voice was completely serious. “I plan to memorize all of it…or at least the parts I need to know.”

 

She laughed again. “Well, okay. Did you look at the sections on labor and delivery yet?”

 

He paused, clearing his throat. “No-oo…I scanned those, but the pictures were kind of scary, so I thought I’d wait till we got closer, but,” he interrupted yet another fit of giggles, “don’t worry, I’ll get that to that part, too. I promise you I will know what I need to know when the time comes. I will not let you down, baby.”

 

Her giggles stopped and her expression turned loving as she kissed him. “I’d never think that you would.”

 

He smiled at her fondly, then his voice took a business-like tone as his fingers softly stroked her belly, “Now, how much weight have you gained so far?”

 

Her expression changed again, and abruptly, to one that was more like a warning. “Why?” Her tone told him he was treading onto dangerous ground.

 

“Honey, I’m not teasing you; I want to know.”

 

“About three and a half pounds,” she said slowly. “And I think it’s all right there.” She patted his hand on her belly.

 

This time he snickered. “Not all of it.” He gently tapped one of her breasts with a finger. “Some of it’s here and,” his finger moved to the other breast, “some of it’s over here.” His hand slipped back to her abdomen. “But, yes, I think it’s mostly here.”

 

She was still looking at him with a deadpan expression intended to let him know he probably shouldn’t pursue this subject further, not if he wanted to continue experiencing a pleasant homecoming. John didn’t typically dig himself into embarrassing holes, but those times he did, like his infamous flippancy with the ‘green naked women incident’, could be pretty spectacular. She was curious to see just where he thought he was going.

 

“Three and a half pounds, nine weeks, twins,” he mused aloud. “Are you sure that’s enough?”

 

“Has someone died and made you a doctor now, John?” She couldn’t keep the sarcasm out of her voice. She didn’t really try.

 

He sighed. “Honey, I’m serious; I’m not trying to make you mad. The articles I read said that its very important when you’re having more than one baby to make sure you gain enough weight the first two trimesters because…”

 

“Because,” she cut him off, “no matter what you do and how careful you are they’re probably going to come earlier than forty weeks. You’ll be lucky to get them to thirty-eight weeks and you want them to be as strong and healthy as possible. I know, John.” Her voice had still not returned to what could be considered a warm pitch.

 

He finally began to backpedal. “Okay, okay, I’ll stop. But it said six hundred extra calories a day, every day.” He was still lecturing, but he meant well.

 

She relented a little. “You planning on monitoring that?”

 

“I might,” he told her and she knew he wasn’t joking.

 

“Honey, it’s not that I don’t appreciate you being concerned and wanting to be informed and involved…I love you for that. I don’t want you to stop being concerned and involved, but…”

 

“Don’t nag you to death?” he finished her sentence.

 

She finally smiled again. “Something like that.”

 

They kissed and he changed subjects. “So when do you want to get married?”

 

“Before I look like a whale in the wedding pictures,” she stated flatly.

 

He brushed a kiss against her hair. “You’re going to look beautiful no matter when we do it, but we could probably get the job done tomorrow if you want. I’ll check and see if Dave can finish the rings.”

 

She hesitated a moment, then shook her head. “No, not tomorrow.”

 

“Already have plans?”

 

Her giggle returned. “No, but tomorrow’s not enough time to get things arranged…not that we really have that much to arrange I don’t think, but everyone else has to have some warning so they can work out their schedules.”

 

“So we’re having a big wedding?” He sounded doubtful.

 

“Well, it wouldn’t be my first choice if we were still on Earth, but Alpha’s different. We can’t be selfish and deprive everyone of the opportunity for a party, they’d never forgive us.” She turned suddenly serious. “I feel like we owe it to them…everyone was really kind and tried so hard to help me however they could when we thought you…” Her voice momentarily failed her, and he held her tightly against his chest. “You don’t know how hard they all tried,” she finished.

 

“You’re right, I’m wrong,” he said quickly. “We’ll invite anyone who wants to come. How about in a week? That should give everyone enough time to play with their schedules.”

 

She regained her composure. “That should work…it’ll probably take Tony a week to brew a batch of wedding beer,” she joked.

 

John frowned. “So you’re planning on poisoning our wedding guests? That doesn’t seem very hospitable of us.”

 

More giggles. He’d noticed that in between bouts of tears she seemed to be giggling a lot, too. He supposed that was also related to the hormone issue…or maybe it was because he’d never seen her as happy as she looked now. He only wished it were possible to always keep her this happy.

 

“So what does my beautiful pregnant wife want to do now?” he asked softly against her ear.

 

“Wife-to-be,” she corrected him. “Right now, I’m just your knocked up mistress.”

 

John rolled his eyes. “Personally, I think a week makes it close enough to call, but if you want to be technical…you’re my knocked up fiancÚ,” he corrected her.

 

She pretended to consider. “Hmm, okay we’ll go with that one.” She turned sideways in his embrace and laid her head against his chest. “Right now, all I want to do is stay here…in your arms forever…or until we’re ready for dinner.”

 

“Whichever comes first,” he agreed.  “Do you have any idea how much I love you?”

 

“You can tell me again,” she smiled, “or better yet, why don’t you show me?”

 

They began to kiss once more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

John pulled a black turtleneck over his head and glanced over at her, watching her turn this way and that in the mirror. It was the first time since he’d been back that he’d observed her from a distance wearing anything but her uniform. Up close and horizontal, he’d felt the differences in her body, but from this vantage point, he quickly recognized her tunic and jacket had been hiding more than he’d realized. It was possible, if someone were unfamiliar with Helena’s usual appearance, they might not notice anything at all. But to his accustomed eyes, she looked exactly what she was: absolutely blooming in the early stages of her pregnancy; beautiful and radiant and incredibly sexy. With that recognition followed another he hadn’t anticipated: the vision of her, full breasts, and belly subtly curving outward to shelter his growing children was…extremely arousing. After spending the better part of the day making love with her, he wouldn’t have thought he’d be able to feel anything down there for hours, yet the well-known stirring came again and he smoothed his hand swiftly down the front of his jeans to tame it.

 

“I thought you were hungry,” he reminded her, coming up behind where she stood, still turned sideways, examining her body’s profile. “Just go like that, we’re off duty. I’m not wearing my uniform.” His hands went to her shoulders.

 

“Like this? Sure.” She wore jeans and a slim-fitting pearl green t-shirt that had been in the selection of clothing Sue had spirited away from her quarters. Helena appreciated with a start that her uniform had been covering her more thoroughly than she knew. In this outfit, it was easily noticeable that her breasts were bigger and her tummy was definitely beginning to protrude…no, it was protruding, who was she kidding? The light-colored material of the shirt wasn’t making her look any thinner either. She realized her dithering was a simple psychological adjustment: this would be the first time she’d gone out and about feeling like she looked pregnant and she knew she was being silly. There was no one on Alpha who was unaware of her condition.

 

“At this rate, these jeans won’t fit in another month.” She inhaled sharply, her eyes on her mirror image. “It doesn’t even suck in,” she observed.

 

He smiled. “It’s not supposed to suck in. You’re pregnant.”

 

”I can’t go out like this, John. This shirt makes me look….” She trailed off, shaking her head.

 

He chuckled in her ear and pulled her close against him, tenderly moving his arms around her to place both hands on her stomach, fingers gently rubbing. “Honey, I’m pretty sure it’s these babies you’ve got growing inside your belly that are making you look this way, not the shirt.”

 

She chuckled, too, in admission of his statement and turned in his arms, clasping her hands behind his neck. “You’re right. It isn’t the shirt’s fault. It’s yours.” She gave him a flirty smile.

 

“Oh, it’s my fault now?” he asked, smiling into her eyes. She nodded and he tightened his arms around her, drawing her closer. “Just because I put my children inside you?” he whispered throatily, lips hovering over hers. “I don’t remember hearing any complaints, Doctor.”

 

“Oh, I wasn’t complaining, Commander,” she whispered back. “But you did do this to me.”

 

“Guilty,” he agreed, beginning to nuzzle her neck.

 

She kissed his neck under his ear, but abruptly pulled a little away to look into his face. With surprise, her eyes darted down toward the growing hardness she felt at the front of his jeans and shot back up to gaze at him with disbelieving amusement. “Are you kidding? You’re turned on by this, by me being fat?”

 

He cleared his throat and looked slightly embarrassed, but only slightly. “You’re not fat, and what can I say? You make me hot all the time.” He hugged her tighter and lowered his lips to hers. Their tongues entered each other’s mouths, sensually twirling together until at last she had to push away just to break his spell.

 

“All right, let’s not get started again,” she sighed. “I am hungry.”

 

John smiled and took her hand. “Then let’s go.” When she still hesitated, he pulled her close again, eyes locked powerfully on hers. “You look absolutely beautiful.” He carefully enunciated each word to underscore his sincerity. “Believe me.”

 

She almost melted at the love she saw in his face. “I do.”

 

He grinned at full power. “Remember those two little words. You’re going to need to use them again in a week. Now, come on, woman let’s get some food.” He smacked her playfully on the rear.” I have to keep up my strength if I’m going to be with you the rest of the night.”

 

 

        

 

 

They chose the 24-hour cafeteria, selecting a circular booth in the back of the room. The three other restaurants on Alpha all had better food, such as it was, but the cafeteria offered greater distance from the kitchen and cooking smells which was of immediate concern for Helena. It also, shockingly enough, had comfortable benches that allowed them to sit close together as they ate. It was the eating part that was proving to be a challenge for every few minutes someone was stopping by the table to offer their greetings to John and congratulations to them both. Inexplicably, several people also checked the time before frowning affably at them, then walking away shaking their heads. A few were even throwing their hands up in the air and appeared to be grousing about something.

 

“Hey, you two!” Alan exclaimed, strolling up to their table. “Look at you…you’re up and out and dressed and everything. Manage to get a lot of rest?”

 

John rolled his eyes and Helena snickered, gesturing toward an empty seat. “Would you like to join us?...It’s okay,” she said in answer to Alan’s raised eyebrow. “I’ve had him to myself all day.  I get him all night, too, so I’m ready to share.”

 

Alan pulled out the proffered chair and seated himself. “I don’t doubt it. If we have that much time with John in Command Center, we end up inventing ways to make him take breaks and leave us alone for awhile.”

 

Helena giggled and John almost growled at him. “Thanks, old pal.”

 

“Anytime, John. So, how long have you two been here?” Alan inquired, diving into his dinner with a fork in one hand and checking the time on his commlock with the other.

 

“Alright, why does everyone keep checking the time?” John wanted to know. “Why are you checking the time?”

 

Alan chewed and swallowed a bite of something that had never been a cow, or any other recognizable creature for that matter, before replying, “The pool.”

 

“The pool?” asked John.

 

“The pool…the pool on how long it would be before you two came up for air. I had an even ten hours.” Alan shook his head in mock disgust. “You let me down, John.” He took another bite of faux cow.

 

John stared at him with as little expression as possible. Beside him, Helena shook with silent laughter. He turned to look at her and she laughed harder.

 

Alan continued to eat with unabashed enthusiasm. “What do you expect, John? You have each other for a hobby. The rest of us have to have some fun, a few vicarious thrills. Besides, when you have a reputation of…..” He paused, searching for the right phrase.

 

“A reputation of…?” prompted John, watching Alan carefully and taking a sip of water.

 

Alan thought. “…going at each other like a couple of frenzied rabbits in springtime…”

 

Helena exploded in a new fit of giggles and John nearly spit water all over the table.

 

Alan shrugged and continued. “When you have that kind of image you gotta expect a little ribbing about it once in awhile.”

 

“You’re saying we have a reputation of screwing like rabbits?” John asked in a deadpan voice.

 

Alan swallowed another bite and shook his head.  “I did not say ‘screwing’. There’s a lady present. Pass the salt.”

 

“Sorry, going at it like rabbits,” John said sarcastically. “Gee, that must be how she ended up pregnant.”

 

Alan inhaled dramatically, slapping an open palm to his chest and turning to stare at Helena. “You’re pregnant?!” He glanced downward, head tilting from side to side as he viewed her slightly rounded belly and winked at her. “Never would’ve known.” At that moment, Tony and Maya strolled into view carrying their dinners and Alan waved them over. “Guess what?” he asked as they drew even with the table. He gestured toward Helena with a nod.  “Helena’s pregnant.”

 

Tony took a shocked step backwards. “You’re kidding!” he exclaimed. He put his tray on the table and placed his hands on his hips and turned to Alan, “Well, I wonder who the father could be?”

 

“Good question, mate,” Alan responded. “I do not know….I cannot possibly guess because whoever it is, they have kept their relationship such a well-guarded secret that no one on Alpha knew anything about it.”

 

“Hey,” Tony raised the index finger of his right hand as though inspiration had just struck him. He looked at Alan. “What about that new medical orderly from bio science?”

 

“Hmmm,” Alan mused in mock consideration.

 

John held up his hands in surrender. “Okay, okay, we give. We admit it. We have no secrets about anything anymore.”

 

Tony and Maya seated themselves at John’s gestured invitation. Tony popped a tofu fry into his mouth. “It’s not that big a base, John. You haven’t had any secrets for a long time.” He grinned.

 

“Well, in fairness,” Helena interjected, “we haven’t been trying to hide anything for a long time.”

 

Tony chewed and swallowed another fry. “True,” he allowed, “if I were you I wouldn’t have been bothering to hide anything either…not after Bob and Ben caught you two in the medical supply closet.” He grinned again, wider this time.

 

Helena covered her face with her hands. “Oh, my God!”

 

John cleared his throat. “You all know about that?” He was actually turning red.

 

“Oh, puh-leeze! You think something like that wouldn’t get around?” Alan exclaimed.

 

Everyone burst into laughter, even Helena, and after a pause, John joined in as well, but in a moment he turned to Helena and said calmly, “I’m going to kill Bob and Ben. I’m telling you before I do it so you’ll have time to train someone to take their places.” She just shook her head in amused resignation and leaned against his side. He slipped one arm around her shoulders as he kissed her on her forehead; his other hand gently caressed her belly, a tacit but public acknowledgment of the drastic turn their relationship had taken. She smiled contentedly and intertwined her fingers with his.

 

Abruptly, Maya, who had been tapping data into her commlock and paying only partial attention to the verbal parrying, proclaimed triumphantly, “I’ve got it!” Everyone turned to her as she explained, “Helena entered their quarters at 09:37 hours 42 seconds and they exited together at 17:49 hours 34 seconds.”

 

“That’s only eight hours,” Alan announced.  He tried to look annoyed.

 

“Eight hours, twelve minutes and 52 seconds,” Maya corrected him.

 

Alan and Tony glanced at each other. “What did you have?” Alan asked.

 

“Ten and a half hours,” Tony answered. He turned to look at John with feigned scorn on his face. “You disappoint me.” He took a large gulp of his soy milkshake.

 

John and Helena exchanged silent looks. “I don’t know what to say,” John remarked with renewed sarcasm. “I don’t know how I’ll ever be able to cope with the knowledge of having caused so much disillusionment.”

 

Maya was looking thoughtful. “I think I may have won.” Her voice was tinged with happy surprise.

 

John turned to her. “You were in on this pool, too?” he asked her, and she shrugged, nodding. He shook his head. “You were so sweet when we brought you here. Lost, lonely, an orphan; we take you to our hearts….Now you’ve just let him corrupt you.” He pointed at Tony.

 

“I’m not that corrupted, Commander,” she retorted defensively. “We haven’t been caught in a supply closet yet.”

 

Alan roared with laughter and Tony blushed to his ears. “Yet…yet?” Alan guffawed. “What’s with the ‘yet’, mate? Does that mean you’ve done it in a supply closet and haven’t gotten caught, or you’re still considering doing it in a supply closet?”

 

Maya started to open her mouth but Tony cut in, “Do not answer him. Just leave it alone and do not answer that question.”

 

“All right, fair enough,” Alan agreed, sitting forward in his seat, “so answer this one Maya. Why do you think you won the pool?”

 

“Oh,” she began, looking pleased, “because I had eight hours, nine minutes and 31 seconds. That’s very close without going over. And those were the rules, right?”

 

Tony chuckled and Alan leaned further forward. “How did you come up with that?”

 

She shrugged.”It was easy. I started with a random, but what I thought was a probable, number of….couplings….”

 

Alan, Tony and even Helena struggled to keep straight faces. John groaned. “Can I suggest the word ‘encounters’ instead?”

 

“Let her tell it her own way, John,” Alan shot back, and John gave up, shaking his head again.

 

Maya was poised to continue. “So I took that number and extrapolated outward, going on the premise that the first…” she glanced at John, “encounter…would likely be more brief than the ensuing ones due to initial enthusiasm caused by time spent apart, and that each ensuing…encounter would take longer than the one before it up until the final one which I hypothesized would be approximately the same duration as probably…the third one. And then I added in some time for rest and recovery.”

 

John and Helena were speechless. Tony and Alan collapsed with helpless giggling, Alan slapping the table. Maya just sat with a decidedly feline air, looking impressed with her own cleverness.

 

Kate, Tanya and Sandra chose that moment to approach the table, too. All had changed out of uniform before coming in to relax and eat. “Is this a private party?” Sandra inquired.

 

“Oh, hell, no,” John answered, but good-naturedly. “Grab another table, pull over more chairs and sit. I’m sure Helena and I haven’t taken enough abuse yet.”

 

The trio looked puzzled until John said more seriously, “Please join us. I mean it.”

 

All three smiled delightedly and went off to get their food. Alan and Tony moved a second table over against the first and added chairs. When the newcomers were seated and beginning to eat, Sandra questioned, “What has been going on at this table? We could hear you laughing from outside the door,” which started Tony and Alan off into a brand new round of guffaws while Maya tried to explain the conversation up to that point.

 

When Alan recovered some composure, he gave Tony a quick wink which John observed and he frowned, wondering what could be coming next. He only had a moment to wait. “So John,” Alan began, “now that you’ve got a baby on the way and everything, when are you planning on making an honest woman of her?” Normally this would have been overstepping the bounds by a mile and he wouldn’t have done it, but he’d noticed the ring on Helena’s finger several minutes before and knew he was on safe ground with his old friend. The rest of the table wasn’t as sure and conversation halted as they awaited the Commander’s reaction.

 

In answer John sighed melodramatically and reached under the table to hold up Helena’s hand for all to see. “Is a week soon enough for you?”

 

“Yeah, that’ll do,” Alan grinned at him.

 

“Oh and by the way, it’s…” with a loving glance at Helena, which she returned, John informed them, “two babies.” He held up two fingers to emphasize the point.

 

“Twins?!”  Tony bellowed in disbelief and Helena nodded.

 

“Our first twins!” Alan crowed. “Go John and Helena!”

 

The table erupted again, this time in applause and whistles…and it occurred to John as he looked round the smiling, cheering group that they, that he, hadn’t done this nearly often enough and not for a long time. At the beginning of his Alpha tenure, he’d insulated himself from forming many friendships on the Base. Helena had once done the same. They’d both overcome that mindset, but he had still refrained from much socializing. It came home to him now that that had been foolish. They were in this together after all.

 

He realized in a way he hadn’t before that not only were Helena and their soon-to-be children his family, so were these other people. These people who had done their best to support and comfort the woman he loved while they all believed he was dead, were gleefully celebrating his homecoming and their approaching parenthood in a way only those who cared about each other could. He reminded himself he needed to spend a little more time each day just remembering how very blessed he was.

 

The raucous crowd soon attracted the attendance of the rest of Command Center’s main shift. Shortly after that, the main shift from Medical began drifting in and joining the melee. It wasn’t long before yet another table had been pulled over to accommodate the growing group. As Helena spotted Bob and Ben approaching she tensed and took John’s hand under the table, squeezing it gently and whispering, “Don’t say anything you’ll regret.”

 

He looked where she indicated and his face went suddenly grave. For an instant, only an instant, Helena couldn’t read his true mood which was unusual, but he returned her light squeeze under the table to let her know all was well and she relaxed.

 

Alan and Tony noticed the two doctors’ approach, too. Alan snickered and Tony mumbled “Uh-oh” under his breath. As they came up to the table, those already seated glanced uncertainly around, a few covering their mouths with their hands to hold in nervous laughter. Everyone had seen that look on the Commander’s face before and it typically ended poorly.

 

“Dr. Mathias, Dr. Vincent,” John acknowledged them sternly.

 

They looked uneasily at each other, both clearing their throats. It was Bob who said, “Uh, Commander….it’s good to see you out and about. Is, uh, anything wrong?”

 

John paused before responding. “No, nothing’s wrong. I’m just trying to decide what the two worst jobs on Alpha might be so that I can assign both of you to them for the next year.”

 

The two doctors looked very ill at ease now, but Tony and Alan, who could read John almost as well as Helena did, both snickered again. Maya looked from one to the other in dismay, but Tony shook his head at her to reassure her. Alan motioned Bob closer with a crook of his finger and whispered an explanation into his ear. With understanding dawning on his face, Bob then whispered to Ben.

 

They exchanged troubled looks and Ben announced, “But Commander, I only told them about the first time!”

 

The previous explosions of laughter didn’t begin to compare to this one in noise level or duration. Even Maya had tears running down her cheeks in giggling hysterics. Sandra was nearly falling out of her chair; Alan did fall out of his. Helena buried her face in John’s shoulder while he rubbed his forehead as though he felt a headache coming on.

 

“There was more than one time?!” From the floor, Alan roared over the din. “You got caught more than once?! My God, don’t you two have any self-control at all?!”

 

The doctors now joined the group, both realizing to their immense relief they weren’t really in trouble after all. John whispered to Helena, “Are you alright?”

 

She raised her face from his shoulder. “I guess. You can’t actually die of embarrassment, can you?”

 

“You’re the doctor, baby, you tell me.” He gave her a huge grin and a quick kiss.

 

“Hey, Commander?” Bill and Annette Frasier had arrived in time to hear about the twins and Ben’s revelation and join in the hilarity. “Have you ever tried it while piloting an Eagle?” Bill asked as he and Annette took seats with their trays of food.

 

This brought conversation to another standstill as murmurs and ‘ooohs’ ran round the table.

 

 “Why, no, Bill,” John countered incredulously, “I can’t say that we have. Why don’t you tell us all about that?”

 

“Oh, it’s….” Bill paused as Annette poked him hard on the arm. “Uh, interesting…it’s interesting,” he said lamely as everyone now stared at the Frasiers with blatant curiosity and no little respect. “You should probably wait till after the babies though,” he advised, feeling uncomfortable with the sudden attention he’d managed to attract

 

Tanya saved Bill from more distress as she impulsively contributed, “The horticulture rooms can be nice, too. It’s sort of romantic with all the plants and the scents of the flowers and herbs.”  This revelation seemed to loosen them all up even further and there was quite a bit of agreement about the quixotic mood of the horticulture labs.

 

“And speaking of supply rooms…” This came from Kate.

 

“Let’s not,” Helena interrupted and everyone chuckled.

 

Kate waved a dismissive hand in her direction. “Not the ones in Medical. There are lots of others.”

 

“The supply rooms on D Deck are the roomiest,” a young medical tech put in.

 

“But the ones in the engineering labs are sound-proofed,” Maya recommended, at which point Tony again blushed to his ears as Alan slapped him on the back and gave him an exaggerated thumbs-up. Everyone else just started laughing again.

 

 

 

 

 

Later, settling back into bed, John started snickering as he pulled Helena close. “Well, dinner was certainly….”

 

“Enlightening?” she suggested.

 

“I was going to say disturbing, but I guess enlightening works, too,” he told her. She giggled and he said, “Honestly, I’m afraid to go near any of the supply rooms now. And that business with Alan and Sandra in the travel tube?...I did not see that one coming.”

 

“I don’t think you should cast stones there…We’ve been close to making love in a travel tube on one or two occasions,” she reminded him.

 

“I know, but Sandra always seemed so quiet and shy.”

 

Helena laughed again. “John, you didn’t think we were the only couple on the Base having sex, did you?”

 

“No, but….oh, go ahead, laugh. Meanwhile, I’m going to be having nightmares about half the Eagles crashing into the Base because they’re all out there trying to have sex in flight.”

 

“Well,” she snuggled closer to him, “that one was the most interesting suggestion.”

 

He slid a hand down between them to rub her belly. “Maybe after the babies come,” he told her with an amused look.

 

“Hmmm,” she sighed flirtatiously as she began tracing her fingertips lightly across his chest. “And then you’ll let me play with your joystick and come in your cockpit, Commander?” she asked seductively. Her other hand trailed down his body, fingers brushing over him, stroking his interest which was already reasserting itself.

 

He sighed with pleasure at the feel of her hand on him. “You can play with my joystick any time, Doctor.” The hand on her belly lazily made its way up to a breast, tenderly cupping the new dimensions and rubbing his thumb over her darkened nipple.

 

She slipped on top of him as their lips met.

 

 

 

 

 

Elsewhere in their new home, in a room as dark as a primordial cave, a small, very tiny, infinitesimal presence tried to stir. It was teeny tiny now, but it would grow. In compliment to its current size, it had a teeny tiny awareness, too. That also would change. It already had concrete, conscious thoughts; two thoughts, to be precise. The thoughts were not original to itself as it could not yet think independently; one more item that would change. The thoughts, the concepts that it repeated over and over in what passed for its consciousness had been intended to be nothing more than playful remarks, meaningless silliness. The teeny tiny awareness was choosing to take the words as instructions, or perhaps even, commands.

 

It tried to twitch just the tippy tip of its small tail but found that it could not do it. It didn’t try very hard. It was easier just now to return to a form of hibernation until it woke again. As it passed back into what, for it, was sleep, it carefully repeated its two thoughts.

 

as…tro…pro…tect……Astro Protect…..ASTRO PROTECT….

 

 

Caitlyn Carpenter / 2008