I woke up groggy and disoriented to find Ged sitting by the bed. It was surreal in more ways than I could say. For a moment I wondered if there was not some great cosmic joke being played at my expense when it came to the men in my life but then decided I was too tired to really care. If Ged wanted to sit and make sure I was still alive then who was I to argue but I hoped that the base scuttlebutt didn’t find out about this or else Thrawn would have a field day and I sure as hell didn’t want to deal with that right now either.
“Welcome back to the land of the living.”
I looked at Ged and smiled. “I thought you would have gone by now.”
He shrugged slightly, “We were scheduled to depart an hour ago but there was an issue with one of the supply runs.”
“So you decided to hide out here?”
“I would have been here earlier but your doctor is quite protective of you, you know.” He said with that charming smile of his. “He wouldn’t let me see you until now and only because I pulled rank. He was quite insistent I don’t do anything to, how did he put it, agitate you.”
“He’s known me for ages, saved my life a few times. He’s family.” I replied. “That whole spiced cake incident? Well if it hadn’t been for Doctor Thracer I would not be here today.”
“I can see why Thrawn keeps him on staff then. How are you feeling?” he asked, his concern was genuine.
“Better. Thank you.” I said sitting up a little.
He nodded. “You gave me a hell of a scare.”
“Sorry.” I just smiled faintly. He wasn’t the only one who had been scared. I sensed he wanted to ask more but he didn’t and I was grateful. I didn’t want to have to lie to him, I wasn’t sure he would believe any lie I told anyway.
“Look, I don’t want to get you all riled up again because I think your doctor will send Rukh after me but I could use you on the Virulent. So when you get better think about it, will you?”
I nodded. “I appreciate that but….”
Ged held up his hand. “No buts, you have a place with me and my ship. You’re a talented young woman and, my personal feelings aside, I could use your abilities. So if you change your mind….”
“Thanks.” I said, “That’s good to know. I appreciate it.” And oddly enough that was the truth. It was somehow comforting although I could never have said why I felt that way.
He looked as though he was about to say more but Doctor Thracer came in. “Miss Gabriel needs to rest.” He said in a way that brooked no argument.
“Very well.” Ged said as he leaned down to give me a light kiss on the cheek. I didn’t miss Doctor Thracer’s look of disapproval. “Next time no theatrics just chit chat and a drink, okay?”
“Aye, aye admiral.” I replied and lay back, closed my eyes and let sleep claim me again.
It was early when I woke up to see the doctor standing by me and the sound of the hand scanner humming quietly.
“Good morning.” Doctor Thracer smiled. “How are you feeling now?”
“Sleepy.” I said, “Waking up, need to use the fresher and want to clean my teeth. Has Ged gone?”
“I guess you are feeling better.” He nodded finishing up the scan. “The Virulent left orbit hours ago and Admiral Larsen along with it.”
“Don’t be too hard on him, he’s not as bad as everyone thinks.” I said with a smile.
The only answer I got to that was a disdainful look.
“So what’s the verdict?” I sighed gesturing to the scanner in the doctor’s hand.
“The scans show the baby is okay now but was in some distress earlier.” He said.
Even hearing that word was unsettling. “Distress?”
“Everything is okay for now though but you must rest until that tear is fully healed.” He waggled his finger at me. “So you are stuck in here with me for the next two days. The bacta should take care of it.”
I did not complain about that because if the truth were to be told I was grateful to have the excuse not to do anything or go anywhere but after two days I began to get restless. I wasn’t a good candidate for enforced bed rest. I never realised how much I moved during the day until I wasn’t allowed to do so and I was certain I had driven the doctor nuts. There was a palpable air of relief when he grudgingly released me from my stay in the medlab.
“I know telling you to spend most of your time lying down is like telling a rebel to sign up for the Imperial academy but I cannot stress this enough, you must take it easy especially for the next five days. I do not want to scare you, no wait I do want to scare you. So go to your quarters and lie down, or sit down in your bed and read, sleep, or watch those bad Holloway holo-dramas you like so much. You must not exert yourself. No heavy lifting, no stressful movements and no more arguments with anyone, it gets your blood pressure up and I am concerned about that as well.”
I nodded unhappily. “Yes doctor.”
“Oh and you need this.” He said handing me a slender bracelet. “It will monitor you and if there are any more emergencies that require you being carried to the infirmary in true Holloway dramatic fashion all you need to do is activate it and I will get an alert.” He showed me how to use it and then he watched as I had slipped it on my wrist.
“Ged did that whole manly rescue thing without my permission.” I replied feeling my face flush.
“Dramatic or not, he saved a lot of time by his actions and he saved you a world of pain. It could have been a lot worse if he had waited for the medical team to come to you. You owe him a thank you at some point.” He chided. “Now you may return to your quarters. Promise me you will rest and follow my orders.”
I sighed, just what I needed to owe Ged a big favour, then I nodded and let the doctor help me into a hover chair which he guided out to where the med droid was waiting.
“If have any problems you comm. me right away.” Doctor Thracer said. “I will be there as soon as possible.”
“Roger.” I said and then returned to my quarters hoping no one saw me and asked too many questions. My secret was getting harder and harder to keep. I wished Thrawn would come back soon. Some great deity must have been listening because eight days later I got my wish.
I was asleep when he arrived back on the base. It was only when he slipped quietly into the bed did I wake up enough to acknowledge his presence.
“Well this is a first.” He said softly as I snuggled into his warmth. “Usually I haven’t even stepped off the shuttle and you are wide awake, waiting for me up on the gantry. I wondered where you were.”
“It’s cold up there this time of night.” I replied, still half asleep, “Maybe you should plan for arriving during the day instead of all odd hours in the early morning. I’m tired.”
His hand caressed my face. “I’ve been replaced by a warm bed.” He smiled as he kissed the side of my neck. “But perhaps this will change your mind.” His hand wandered up under my night shirt.
The thrill of his touch made me ache and I gasped. I had almost forgotten what this felt like, it had been so long. He ran the flat of his hand over my belly, stroking over the small roundness gently and I smiled at the shivers of desire that leapt up through me but then Doctor Thracer’s words about rest sprung unwanted in my head. I caught Thrawn’s hand in mine and pulled his arm so that instead of caressing me it was wrapped around me and still.
“You must really be tired.” He said settling in to spoon around me.
“You have no idea.” I mumbled.
“Then we will have to catch up in the morning.” He murmured in my ear, his breath warm on my skin.
I just nodded, yawned and drifted back to sleep safe in his arms. When I woke up next it was morning, sunlight danced through the window and the scent of fresh stim’caf permeated the air. Thrawn smiled as he put the cup on the bedside table but unfortunately it had the opposite effect to that which he had hoped. I had no time to apologise or explain as I flew out of bed, hand clapped over my mouth, racing to the fresher just in time to throw up.
“Are you alright?” Thrawn asked through the door.
I was too busy throwing up to answer him so he knocked on the door. “Amyska?”
“Just give me a moment.” I managed to say before heaving again.
“Should I call the doctor?”
“No!” The last thing I wanted was for Doctor Thracer to come charging in with a med team thinking my morning sickness was some huge emergency.
“Merlyn?” Thrawn knocked again this time starting to sound annoyed as well as concerned.
“I’m fine.” I yelled at him when I was certain this round of vomiting had passed. By the time I came out of the fresher Thrawn was sitting in one of the reading chairs near the bed, had finished his caf and was looking at me with one of those unreadable expressions I had come to loath.
“Your definition of fine is interesting.” He remarked coolly.
“Sorry about that.” I said as I slipped carefully back into bed. “Can you take that away?” I asked waving at the offending stim’caf by the bed. “Please?”
He obliged, sitting back in the chair, cupping his hands around the mug as though to warm them. “Are you ill?”
“No.” I shook my head.
“Then what was that all about?”
“It’s nothing to worry about, really.”
“Nothing to worry about? You just spent ten minutes throwing up, it doesn’t sound like nothing to worry about.”
“I’m fine. It’s nothing.”
He took a deep breath, let it out slowly then drank from the stim’caf which had been meant for me. “I see.” which was Thrawn speak for I know you’re not telling me something and I don’t like it all that much.
“No, I don’t think you do see.” I said wearily.
“Well, my dear, you are not exactly being forthcoming with information. I would dearly like to know the truth because the base is buzzing with rumours about you.”
“Oh?” I folded my arms across my chest.
“Well, for a start I am curious as to why I am hearing about you throwing up all the time, so much so that several people have asked me if you are seriously ill, why you stopped all your work in the pit, the deck officer is quite concerned? That people think you are dying from some terrible illness because you spend more time with the doctor than you do with anyone else and why ten days ago Ged Larsen carried you to the infirmary while you screamed in pain. And now I bring you stim’caf and it sends you running to the fresher to vomit.”
“Wow, news travels fast.” I said tartly.
He tilted his head to the side. “And answers, do they also travel fast.”
I heaved myself out of bed slowly and made my way over to the kettle to make myself a cup of Syal’s magic tea to settle my stomach. Thrawn remained silent, watching me while I pottered around. When I was done I sat back on the bed and faced him warming my hands around the cup. “May I ask you a question before we start the whole Merly-interrogation thing?”
“Of course.” He said with a slight amused twitch of his lips.
“Why did you not tell me you stopped taking Evexelhan?”
A frown crossed his face. “I did tell you.” It wasn’t a lie and he was surprised by my question.
“No, I would have remembered that conversation.” I countered.
“I sent you a letter to tell you because we were out of communications range. I assigned Jarack Behl to work with Larsen, who had requested a spec-ops operative, so he was the courier.”
“A letter?” I asked sipping my tea.
“Yes. I wrote as soon as I stopped taking the drug so that you could see the Virulent’s medical officer to discuss birth control.” He said and then added more vaguely, “The evexelhan was causing some … problems.”
“There were no letters from you about that while I was on Ged’s ship.” I said with a scowl.
“Jarack might have missed you when you left to go to Hjal. You did leave the ship in rather a hurry and you didn’t tell anyone where you were headed right away either.”
I ignored the underlying reprimand. “I never got the message at all.” I was surprisingly angry all of a sudden. “Not on the Virulent, not while I was on Hjal and not after I came back here. What ever you sent, I never got it.”
He frowned some more, paused slightly then took a different tack, “What does this have to do with you being ill?”
“I’m not ill.” I said quietly, “And it has everything to do with everything.”
His eyebrow arched and he gave me that Okay I’m waiting face. “So if you are not ill, my dear, then what is wrong with you?”
“Nothing is wrong with me.” I said with a sigh.
“Merlyn….” He was losing his patience.
“I’m not sick.” I said softly, pausing while trying to find the right words. I looked at him knowing that once I told him the whole world would change, everything would change and it scared me half to death.
The expression on Thrawn’s face went from annoyed to concerned. “What is it?” He asked quietly. “Is it so terrible you cannot tell me?”
I shook my head. “It’s not terrible, I’m not ill.” I bit my lip suddenly terrified.
“Then what is it that has you acting like the world is going to end?”
I opened and closed my mouth twice while he waited and then because I couldn’t find any easy way to tell him I just said it.
“I’m not ill.” I said quietly, “I’m pregnant.”
(to be continued in January. - we both wish you all happy holidays)