The air in the room went very still. The moment I had both longed for and dreaded came and went in an instant. There could be no going back now and I felt as though the world had stopped. For a very long moment Thrawn just stared at me and said nothing, his expression completely unreadable. He steepled his fingers over his lips drew a deep breath and then he broke the silence.
“Pregnant?” He said very quietly.
“Yes.” I answered all the while never taking my eyes from his face.
“So you’re not ill then?” His eyebrows raised up a notch.
“Pregnant.” This time it was more of a whisper to himself than to me and this time it wasn’t a question.
I kept quiet because now I didn’t have any more words and I still couldn’t read his expression. He sat perfectly still for another few seconds and then he stood up to pace about.
“We are going to have a child?” He asked carefully looking at me over his shoulder.
“Hopefully, if everything goes well.” I replied. He stopped pacing about and stood stock still for what seemed far too long. I wondered if the sound of my beating heart could be heard all over the base. I was suddenly very anxious.
“Say something.” I whispered finally. “Please?”
“I do not know what to say. This was….” He searched for the right word so I helped him.
“Unexpected? Unwanted? Bad timing? Unwelcome?” My own words sounded angry and I could feel myself start to shake. Tears welled in my eyes.
He looked at me and then said carefully. “Unexpected yes, but not unwanted, bad timing… perhaps but not at all unwelcome.”
I looked up into his face and blinked the tears out of my eyes.
His eyes tracked to my hands and he frowned, “You’re trembling, are you alright?”
I just stared at him, “Are you?”
He looked at me as though he were seeing me for the very first time. His eyes studied my demeanour, my expression and everything else. I sat very still and waited because there was nothing else I could do. I was terrified and it showed. The moment hung in the air and then his whole body language relaxed as sudden understanding flooded his features. “I am so blind.” He said more to himself than me as he sat down by my side.
My eyebrows bunched together in puzzlement.
“You were worried about how I would feel.” He asked with incredulity, “You thought I would be unhappy about this news? Is this why you tried to keep it a secret?”
I swallowed. “It’s awfully big news.” I whispered.
He shook his head and caressed my face gently, “I am just …” He searched for the right word and this time I stayed quiet, “…surprised tekari. Very, very surprised. I thought you were going to tell me you were deathly ill; that something terrible was happening to you or that you had some how managed to contract some incurable deadly disease. I was prepared for bad news, not this.” He drew a deep breath, “That you are pregnant was the last thing I ever imagined hearing, please forgive my reaction. As usual you surpass my ability to predict what you will do next.” He brushed my cheeks with his thumbs, wiping away my tears.
I let out the breath I had been holding and collapsed against him. “So you are not angry?”
“Angry?” He asked in surprise. “You thought I was angry?” He kissed the top of my head. “After all this time you still cannot read everything on my face. This is good to know.” He smiled. “No, I am not angry, far from it but being a father was not something I ever thought to plan for at this time of my life so I need a few moments to process this information.” He smiled, “As you said, it’s awfully big news.”
“Well I didn’t exactly plan for this either. I thought you were still taking the evexelhan plus I was told you and I would not be able to conceive.”
He cupped my face between his palms. “This is nothing short of a wonder; you are nothing short of a miracle.” He sighed, “I am unable to express how I feel in the appropriate manner and I apologise for that but believe me when I say this is the most extraordinary thing I have ever been told in my entire life.”
And with those words the dam that I had been holding back from the moment I had first heard about being pregnant burst and I sobbed into his chest while he did the only thing I needed him to do, he held me. Once the crying jag was over he handed me a tissue and got up from the bed.
“How is your stomach?” he asked.
“Better. Syal’s zjenzär tea works wonders.”
“So Syal knows? Who else does?”
“Well Syal figured it out so maybe others did too but I didn’t tell anyone, so as far as I am aware only the doctor, Syal and you. Though, come to think of it she might have told Soontir. He is her husband after all.”
“You always were the keeper of secrets.” He said gently. “So I can order some breakfast? I think you and I have a lot to talk about and I don’t know about you but I’m famished.”
I smiled and nodded. “No stim’caf though, for some reason it makes me throw up instantly.”
“So I have noticed. Is there anything else I should know about before I order?”
“Nothing fried.” I offered. “Fresh fruit works well.”
“I’ll see what the cook on duty can do.” He smiled and before I could say anything else he left.
When he returned it was with a tray laden with food. It made me laugh. He set the tray on the bed, gesturing for me to get back under the covers and sat down beside me.
“I can’t eat all of this.”
“Some of it is for me.” He replied picking up a piece of sliced fruit. “But the a’shai is for you.” The kitchen staff seem to know more about what you love to eat than I do.”
“Well they feed me more than you do.” I told him munching on a piece of toast.
“I am happy to know I leave you in capable hands.” He replied.
I glanced into his eyes and sighed. “I’m glad you’re back.”
He nodded and then he said, “So I believe you should start at the beginning and tell me everything.”
And that is what I did in between bites until both I and the food were done. He didn’t say anything. He just laid his hand upon my belly and I laid mine upon his. For a moment it was like being bathed in sunlight. I didn’t have to be a mind reader to know that in that moment the only emotion in the room was love, pure and simple.
“So for now everything is okay?” He asked once the moment had passed.
“So far so good but the doctor keeps telling me not to get too attached. His magic number is to get past two hundred days.” I didn’t mention the whole scary conversation about genetic defects and dna rejection.
“And where are you now?”
“A hundred and thirty-one.” I said quietly.
He nodded thoughtfully and then asked. “What about you, sj’iu tekari, are you okay with this?”
I drew a deep breath, “I’m scared to death. I’ve never been pregnant before, I never thought I would be a mother before and I have not exactly had a lot of experience with children or babies.”
“Having seen you with Syal and Tir’s boys I have no doubts about your abilities, you will be a great mother.” He replied meaning each and every word.
I lay back against the pillows. “Thank you.”
“I’m sorry.” He said suddenly from out of the blue.
“The evexelhan, I should have double checked and made sure you got my message. It never occurred to me that you might not.”
“I understand and Jarack has always managed to get your letters to me no matter what.” I shook my head. “I didn’t even know you had assigned him to the Virulent. You’re not the only one good at keeping secrets, Ged is as well.”
“Speaking of, what exactly did Larsen want from you before you landed in his arms again?” he asked after he put the tray on the table then settled back beside me.
I made a face and ignored the dig. In spite of everything I liked Ged and I didn’t understand all the hostility towards him. I decided it must be a man thing and left it alone to answer the question. “He said he needed me to retrieve an agent from behind enemy lines, his words not mine.”
Thrawn frowned. “He has qualified people for that sort of work.”
I nodded, “That’s what I told him but he was fairly insistent. It was almost as if it was something personal. One minute we’re arguing about this and the next thing I know I am in the infirmary.” I shrugged. I had told him about that. “Ged wouldn’t tell me any more about the mission unless I agreed to do it which I couldn’t but I also couldn’t tell him why not. He thinks I’ve become some weakling, wailing girl who wastes all her time waiting for her mate to return home from the wars.”
“That imagery is sweet but if that’s what he thinks of you then he doesn’t know you quite as well as he believes he does.” Thrawn said with a smile.
I sighed. “He was surprised and hurt when I told him no. His reaction was unusual. He has people far better trained than me for stuff like that. He said it had to be a civilian with a civilian ship but apart from that he wasn’t specific and I know he was holding stuff back. Do you know what he’s talking about?”
“Not off the top of my head but we have not been in communication as of late.” He said thoughtfully.
“Yes, I heard you were out in the Kessel Sector.” Thrawn’s eyebrow shot up but before he could say anything I said, “News travels fast on the base, you should know that.”
“I had some business on Honoghr addressing the Noghri, a disciplinary matter, nothing to worry about my dear.”
I frowned. “How does Rukh feel about that?”
“Rukh’s feelings are none of my concern, he does his job and he does not question my actions.” Thrawn replied coldly so that I knew there was something deeper going on but he would not talk about it and now was not the time or the place to dig.
“Okay, what about Karrde then and Mara jade?”
Thrawn made another tight lipped expression and shook his head. “This also base gossip?”
“No. Ged told me.” I said tartly. “Don’t make that cross face, I thought you were going to at least keep me in the loop. You don’t and when I asked him what was going on with the campaign, that’s what he told me.”
He sighed. “Well base scuttlebutt and Admiral Larsen seem to be keeping you well informed. We can discuss that topic at a later time.” He replied dryly and I knew this route of conversation was also a dead end for now so I switched back to talking about something a little safer.
“Why doesn’t Ged ask Jarack to do the retrieval, I mean he’s good at that sneaking around behind enemy lines stuff right?”
“Behl is already working for Larsen so probably he’s on assignment already and out of contact.”
“Ged never mentioned Jarack once.”
“Undercover means undercover, tekari. It's doubtful that, unless you told him, Larsen even knows how close you and Jarack are.”
“Yes but if Jarack had something for me then chances are if he couldn’t deliver it he would have asked Ged to. While you and the rest of the galaxy may not like Ged very much he is an Imperial officer and an honourable one at that. Jarack would have given him your letter for me but I never got it and you know that Jarack would go through hell to deliver your correspondence to ….” Suddenly I felt as though my heart had stopped.
“You just went as white as a snow field, what is it?”
“You don’t think it’s Jarack that’s missing do you?” I whispered. “That I never got your letter because Jarack never made it to the Virulent.” I shook my head, “Why didn’t Ged tell you? Jarack is your friend. If he is missing you should know this, you should….”
“Hush.” He spoke calmly, “He has been working undercover, it has to do with finding a leak on board of the Virulent. It’s entirely possible he didn’t want you to know he was there. He probably waited for the appropriate moment to get to you and you left the ship before he could do so. And if he passed the letter along to someone else to deliver it’s possible who ever it was forgot. Not everyone is as reliable as Behl.”
“But what if…?”
Thrawn’s fingers upon my lips silenced me. “Tekari, he’s working deep under cover.”
“You keep saying that! But what if it is him?” This time he let me finish the sentence. “If Jarack is missing….” I shook my head, “Ged should have told you!” I was starting stress myself out. “He should have said something sooner and not do all this silly cloak and saber stuff!”
“Tekari, calm yourself. Ged Larsen does not run to me every time he has problems, he is quite capable of dealing with missing agents himself.”
“Well apparently not since he came to me for help!” I winced at the sliver of pain I felt and clasped my hands over my belly with a gasp.
“Merlyn take a deep breath and calm down. Jarack Behl is perfectly able to take care of himself and if Larsen came to you for help then he already thinks he knows where the missing agent is. Stop jumping to conclusions based on a single missing letter. Now breathe.” Thrawn replied quietly as he placed the flat of his hand on my back and rubbed slowly so that my breathing tuned into the motion. Only when I was a lot calmer did he stop. “Better?”
I nodded, “Yes, so what now?”
“Well, if it is Behl who is missing then I need know about it. Aside from my personal correspondence to you, he was carrying exceedingly delicate information.” He said getting up off the bed. “I will try to contact the Virulent and see what Larsen has to say.”
I just looked up at him.
“What is it, tekari?”
“How long are you on base for?” I asked.
“It was only supposed to be for two days but that might change once I know more from Larsen.”
I nodded and made a face. “I hope it’s not Jarack.” I said quietly.
“Well even if that is the case, it is not your concern. Your only job is to look after our child. Do you understand?” He said leaning down to give me a kiss. “Our child.” He murmured in my ear.
I nodded. “I have a scan this morning if you want to be there to see.” I patted my belly to emphasize what I meant.
“Really? Comm. me and I will be there.” He said as he slipped on his uniform jacket. “In the mean time no stress, was that not what Thomas ordered?”
“Yes.” I nodded, surprised to hear the doctor’s first name.
“Then for once in your life follow orders please?” He smiled and only after I nodded did he leave.
I decided that in this instance being obedient seemed like a good idea and curled back up in bed until it was time to go and see the doc for the progress check. I could grill Thrawn about his campaign later.
I suppose we must have looked like every other couple in the world as the doctor waved the scanner over my belly, watching the screen for the images it showed. Suspense and anticipation mingled with something I could not define. Thrawn’s hand tightened around mine as the images began to clear. I gasped. It was a three dimensional picture of the baby I carried within me, perfect and more real than I could have possibly imaged.
“There’s the head.” Doctor Thracer said, then he chuckled. “He’s sucking his thumb.”
“He?” Thrawn asked.
I looked at the doctor and he nodded. “Yes Admiral, he. Miss Gabriel is carrying a boy which means you will have a son.”
Thrawn just shook his head and stroked my face with his free hand.
“I told you it was a boy, doc. It’s always men making my life hell.” I grinned. “And the little alien I’m gestating is no exception to this rule.”
The doctor moved the scanner and more images and views showed up, each one more astonishing than the last. “Everything looks in order.”
“And the placental tear?” Thrawn asked before I could.
“As far as I, and this high tech amazing equipment, can tell there do not seem to be any more issues but my orders still remain, rest, rest followed by more rest. A placental abruption could be a whole other story. You got lucky last time, the tear was small and we caught it early. We don’t want there to be a next time. You are not out of the woods yet, and this is still a high risk pregnancy because we don’t know how the baby will continue to develop or if there will be further complications due to incompatibility issues. There are still a great many unknowns but so far so good.” Doctor Thracer said as he put the scanner down. “I am being optimistically cautious here, so I won’t order complete bed rest but I cannot stress this enough; you must not over do it.”
“Okay Doc, I read you loud and clear.”
Thrawn smiled and ran his fingers over the soft, small round shape of my belly. “Amazing.” He said softly.
I glanced at the Doctor. “If you tell anyone you saw him like this I will hurt you.”
Much to my surprise both men laughed.
“Beautiful and fierce.” Thrawn said.
The doctor made a face, “More like headstrong and annoyingly stubborn.”
Thrawn nodded in agreement. “That too.”
“So we are good to go?” I asked before any more descriptions of my character got bandied about.
“Yep, until your next check up.” The doctor said and motioned for me to get up and get dressed, “Which should be in five days unless something else happens. Do not take that bracelet off.”
I nodded then motioned for the doctor to come close so that I could whisper in his ear. When I was done asking my question he smiled. “To answer your question, yes you can although I’d advise a certain amount of restraint and caution you to stop if you feel any pain or have any spotting. But the scans show that everything is okay for the time being so there is no reason to forbid you from having sex.”
I blushed. “Thanks doc.”
Thrawn smirked so I poked him on the chest. “Just because I asked if we could doesn’t mean we will.”
Thrawn’s smirk broadened.
I poked him again. “You better have the next few hours free because you have a lot to talk to me about and I am not taking no for an answer.”
“I suspected that would be the case so I am all yours until fifteen hundred hours.” He replied offering me his hand to help me down from the exam bed.
“But first I want food.” I said.
“After that breakfast, how can you be hungry?”
“It’s lunch time!” I laughed. “And now I’m eating for two!” I said with a grin. “At least that is what the doc here tells me all the time. I asked Galli to make me veghash and Denezeelian fizz pudding.”
“Not together I hope.” Thrawn said sceptically.
“That was not my plan but now that you mention it….” I grinned.
“Pregnant women and their crazy cravings. Better get used to it Admiral.” Doctor Thracer said clapping Thrawn on his arm. “Oh and Admiral…,”
“While it is still too soon for my taste for this, let me be the first to say congratulations.”
Thrawn inclined his head. “Thank you.”
“Wow,” I said quietly, the reality finally sinking in, “We’re going to have a baby.”
“If things continue the way they are, it looks that way but Merlyn I know I sound like the master of doom, however I cannot stress this enough, it’s still early and there are still so many things that can go wrong so ….” Doctor Thracer began.
I finished for him. “I know, try not to get too attached. We are not out of the woods yet, but every day makes it more real. I can’t help it, I’m already attached and now I am excited as well as scared.”
“As you should be, my dear.” Doctor Thracer smiled. “Now I believe you have a lunch date with the Admiral here and I have work to do so unless there are any problems I should know about then your next check up should be in a week.” And with that he ushered us both out of his medlab.
Thrawn stopped and looked at me, “I have arranged for lunch to be brought to my private dining area and after we’ve eaten you can grill me at your leisure but I don’t guarantee you answers for all of your questions.”
I stood up on tiptoes and kissed his cheek. “Okay, let’s eat, my stomach is growling.” Food was starting to rule my life.