Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Bark: Incursion - Chapter Twenty-Two

2701. – 119 Tauri; CFV-B Pallas

I had invited Kat over to my quarters at the end of second watch to have a drink. I sat nursing a large glass of single malt, while Kat drank ginger tea. Like her mother, she was still prone to morning sickness even this late in the pregnancy, and Kat said it helped reduce her symptoms. I sat in my cavernous leather armchair, while Kat laid herself out on the sofa. Pregnancy seemed to suit Kat. She had started meditating to minimise her stress levels, and while she was still able to deliver a pitiless reprimand when she needed to, the crew had responded well to the way she had relaxed her management style. Everyone seemed to sense that it would be a different ship without her, but no-one felt it more keenly than I did. The gradual handover of her responsibilities to Robson had gone well. Kat reported that the crew had taken to him and he was showing signs of getting back to his pre-Enyalius self. Robson was still attending therapy sessions with Kimi, where progress had been steady and positive. Kimi had told me that it would be some while yet before he would be able to stop the sessions, but he was certain that Robson was a lot more emotionally stable and happier than he had been on the ill-fated Ajax The Lesser. I had also built up a solid professional relationship with Robson, thanks to our common background with the Furies astrobatics display squadron at the Academy. Three times a week we hit the simulators to dogfight with the wing commander of my Siren interceptor squadrons. Sub-Commander Seegers left us both for dead, but I was pleased that I could more than hold my own against Robson in a one-on-one dogfight. Once he officially picked up the reigns of Executive Officer, I had plans to make more time to build up the more personal relationship a ship's captain needed with their XO, which was difficult to do while Kat was still aboard.

She had delayed it as long as possible, but finally the time had come for Kat to leave the ship and return home to Earth. Kat didn't want to go, but she was over five months pregnant, and it would take even our fastest shuttle twelve weeks to get to the core systems of the Local Bubble. It was touch and go whether she would even reach Earth before having the twins. She could, however, easily reach the Fleet transit station at μ Gemini, where they had the medical facilities to cope with any emergency or unforeseen complications. After several bouts of negotiation during our last week in transit to 119 Tauri, we had agreed that Kat was to ship out in the morning on Nausicaa, a long-range reconnaissance shuttle. It was designed for a crew of four, but could be flown solo with AI support. Kat had decided to fly alone, because she thought that making the trip alone would be much less stressful, given that she would be in transit for at least three months. 'Can you imagine having to make small-talk on a trip like that? There'd be blood on the walls inside a week.' Kat had told me when I had asked her whether she wanted a pilot to help her crew the shuttle. Now that hour of her departure was within sight, Kat was trying to renegotiate our deal.

“Do I really have to go tomorrow?”
“Yes. The best Christmas present you can give me is heading back to where you'll be safe."
"You don't ship out for another week. Why should I go before you do?"
"Because it's a long trip. Imagine if you waited and went into labour before reaching the core? I want you where there's the equipment and personnel to deal with anything that might go wrong during the birth. I didn't want to leave it this long. You're going to be cutting it fine as it is.”
"You sound like you want to get rid of me."
"Hey, it's not like that at all and you know it. It's too risky for you to stay out here any longer."
"I know, I know. I'm not going to see you for eight months. Pardon me if I'm feeling clingy."
“We used to spend months apart all the time.”
“That was before the war started. Now I'm scared that if I let you out of my sight, I'll never see you again. This mission could be a one-way trip. You know that.”
“We're going to get reinforced at Caldwell 50. I'm going to have the biggest fleet outside of Eagle. We'll be fine.”
“Gus, that kind of unfounded optimism might work with an Ensign who's so wet behind the ears they're dripping, but I live in the real world.”
“So do I. We take risks every time we leave port. And I know I'd much rather have the extra ships than not.” Kat was still giving me an unconvinced frown. “Look, what do you want me to say? We're all doomed? I'm not going to do that, because I don't believe it. We'll be fine, okay?”
“You damn well better be. You can't be the godfather of my children if you're dead.” Kat came over and sat on my lap. It was a delicate, complex operation to put my arms around her in a position we both found comfortable, she had gotten so big. Even so, I revelled in just being able to hold her. It had been difficult, seeing Kat's body change as the twins grew inside her and not be able to show my ex-wife the emotional support she needed openly in front of the crew.    
“This is your revenge for asking you to be godmother to my son, isn't it?"
"Absolutely." Kat smiled, holding my face and looking into my eyes. "I still love you, you know. I'm not going to lose you from my life."
"God, Kat, I love you too, and I'll sleep a whole lot better knowing you're on your way back to the core. But I'm going to miss you so much.”
“Me too.” Kat gave me a feather-light kiss on the lips. “Do you want me to stay here tonight? This could be your final opportunity to claim benefits...”
“I thought we agreed that we'd never do that on the ship. What if the crew were to find out?”
“Right now, I don't care if ArtEMIS posts a live holostream on the bulletin board. Do you want me or not?”
“Of course I do. Stay, please.”
“Thank goodness for that. Because if you thought I was going to leave you to head off to almost certain death without fucking your brains out first, you really don't know me at all.” Kat stood and took off her jumpsuit. It was the first time I'd seen her naked since our last leave on Starbase Hera. Even though her abdomen was stretched and distended to proportions that almost seemed unnatural, I couldn't recall a time when I'd thought she was more beautiful. It didn't matter that the children she was carrying weren't mine, knowing that there was a very real possibility that I may never see her again only heightened my desire for her.
“Kat, you look gorgeous. I honestly never thought about it before, but there's something very sexy about a woman when she's pregnant.” I told her as I slipped off my own jumpsuit.
“I don't feel sexy. I feel like a beach ball on stilts.” Kat pulled a face and pushed me back down into my armchair. “Sit there. Close your eyes and don't move.”

I did as I was told. The sense of anticipation was killing me, as we hadn't been this intimate for months. I felt strands of her hair brush my chest. I was about to reach up for her, when she pinned my hands to the armrests. “Don't touch. Let me ride you. Ah, merry fucking Christmas, Gus...”

Kat sat on my lap, facing away from me, easing down into position gently. I hardly dared breathe when she started to move, and I stayed perfectly still, my eyes still tightly shut as she made love to me. It was sensual and electrifying, letting Kat totally control the speed and depth of penetration. It reminded me of the first time we had ever been to bed together. Kat had always been a very sexual person, which she had made very obvious when it became apparent that we were both interested in each other. She had taken me to bed that first time not to prove that she loved me, but to check that we had, in her own words, 'the chemistry to make a relationship go the distance'. I had been shocked, but also aroused by her directness. She had taken a decisive lead and took her time to make sure I understood her needs. She had guided my every move slowly to ensure I had followed everything, held my hand to her and told me 'Here's my clit, and here's my G-spot. Take me to heaven.' I was more relieved to pass Kat's test than I had been to pass my final year Officer Candidate exams at the Academy.

“Touch me. Touch me now.” Kat growled and started to grind her hips back against mine, crying out as she increased the pace and length of her movements.

I let my hands caress her rhythmically and firmly, from the nape of her neck, down across her breasts and belly to her hips, along her thighs and back again, completely losing track of time. When our climax came, it had us clinging to each other, panting for breath. As I held her in my arms, Kat took one of my hands and laid it on her swollen belly.

“Can you feel that?” she asked, smiling. I felt her flesh pulse and ripple underneath my hand, like the surface of a lake when dropping in a stone.
“Is that what I think it is?” Kat nodded and took my other hand and placed it slightly lower, underneath my other hand and more towards her left hip. Again, I felt a ripple.
“They're doing somersaults in there.” Kat said, still grinning. “They know that God-daddy has just made Mommy a very, very happy girl.”
“Christ, they've not even been born yet and you're giving them a complex about sex.” I replied, dismayed. Kat burst out laughing, turning her head to kiss me.
“I love you, Gus.”
“I love you, too.”

We kissed again before moving to the bed and wrapping ourselves in the covers to make sure we stayed put overnight. We nestled together like spoons and I held Kat to my chest, my palms resting protectively on her pregnant belly. We lay like that for what seemed hours before Kat slithered around in my arms to face me.

"You all right?" I asked, stroking her hair and shoulders. "Can't sleep?"
"What's up?"
"Nyhus really wants to jump you, doesn't she?"
"Where did this come from?"
"Come on, Gus, you're not that oblivious. You must have seen the way she was looking at you in the lunchtime briefing. It was blatant. She wants your cock to repay the favour of loaning you Marciano."
"How crude! Nova and I are ancient history, Kat. Nothing to lose sleep over."
"Yeah, I know. It's just..."
"Just what?"
"People do funny things in the face of temptation."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"Gus, you're having a baby with Malia in a few months, yet you're in bed with me."
"Two things. One: you're having twins with Itzal and here you are, screwing your ex-husband, and two: you're a hypocrite."
"No, I'm not. Not really. Itzal and I have an agreement when it comes to you and me. Look, if Malia knew what we were up to, she might understand. You and I go back a lot further than you and she do - not only that, I'm right here, and she's a couple of thousand light years away. I'm not saying she'd like it, but she'd probably forgive it. Anyway, I'm already pregnant - it's not like you can get me up the spout too."
"I'm sure you have a point there somewhere..."
"Gus, I'm just saying that you need to watch yourself around Nyhus. With me gone and you not being able to see Malia for months, she might try and make a move on you."
"If I wanted Nova that much, I never would have left her in the first place. But I did. For you, I might add."
"Look, I... I know I'm being irrational. Woman's prerogative, especially with all the hormones bouncing through my system right now. Just promise me something, okay?"
"Name it."
"Don't fuck her, and whatever you do, don't get her pregnant." Kat frowned in the darkness when I didn't respond, my mouth open in shock. "Gus, don't look at me like that. I'm just looking out for you, okay? I don't know if you agreed to an exclusive relationship with Malia or not, but you didn't take much persuading to sleep with me. There's no reason to expect you to live like a monk until you and Malia see each other again."
"Besides the fact she's carrying my son?"
"You're remarkably prudish for a lapsed Catholic, Gus." Kat giggled. "Listen, I see it like this; you and Nyhus have previous; Nyhus wants to get into your pants; when you're all the way out here alone without me to keep you on the straight and narrow, you might be susceptible to the idea of letting her."
"Do you really think I'm that weak-willed?"
"When it comes to women? Yes. You always did fall in love too easily. Your problem is that you mistake a good fuck for love. And Nyhus is stunning, even if she is plastic. I just want to stop you from making a mistake. I'm sure Malia would take it badly if Nyhus heard the patter of hybrid feet next year. I would."
"Kat, it's not that easy, you know. Fusing synthetic DNA with human DNA takes months of nucleo-synthesis to make the genomes fully compatible and carry over the proper inheritance characteristics from the synthetic parent to the offspring. Then any viable foetus has to be grown in vitro. The whole process takes a couple of years."
"You're remarkably expert on the topic." Kat propped herself up on her elbows, her lips thinning as she studied my reaction carefully.
"Nova and I did discuss it when we were together on Chrysus, but I wasn't ready for that kind of commitment. It was one of the big reasons we broke up."
"The other being I was a better fuck?" Kat poked me in the belly. "Just how does that work, anyway? If I'd known you were a silicon-screwer, I never would have married you."
"Now who's being prudish? People have been fucking machines for centuries. I don't see why you should get snippy about it now that they come with personalities attached."
"It just seems a little soulless to me." Kat shivered. "I don't think I could do a synth."
"You know what they say, don't knock it until you've tried it." I teased.
"Are you saying Nova's better in bed than I am?" Kat was immediately defensive.
"Can you pass an electric current through your tongue and suppress your gag reflex for two hours?" I sighed nostalgically, prompting Kat to smack my arm in disgust. "You don't want to try to compare, believe me. It's a whole different experience. Not better, just different. And it works the other way, too. I knew this synth at the Academy who was very, very popular with the ladies. Some of the noises that came out of his stateroom in the early hours were bloodcurdling."
"You're having me on." Kat replied, her tone sceptical.
"Nope. There's a reason why the hybrid birth rate has gone up from 5% to 20% of total population growth in the last thirty years. And that reason is mind-blowing sex." I chuckled.
"So, you will fuck her if the opportunity arises?" Kat was beginning to sound angry.
"I didn't say that! Look, Kat, you don't need to worry. In a universe with both Malia and Nova in it, I'm always going to choose Malia."
"Yes. Really. I love her. I don't know what else I could say to prove it. The only person I'd ever consider leaving Malia for is you. Hell, why don't we just get married again and have done with it?" I asked, raising my eyebrows.
"Ha! You're such a hopeless old romantic. I do love you, but I couldn't do that to Itzal." Kat stroked my neck fondly. "Look, I know I'm being paranoid and that it's probably not going to happen, but just... remember to be sensible, okay?" Kat kissed my cheek and we spooned again. "Let's just change the subject."
"Okay. Have you had any thoughts yet about what you're going to call the twins? Malia and I were throwing around a few ideas earlier." I pulled her closer to me, my hands cupping her breasts and belly. I began to trace small circles on her flesh with my fingertips.
"Not really. I need to discuss it with Itzal... Careful, that tickles." Kat put her hands on mine and held them still. "I guess I need two names for boys and two for girls, to cover all the possibilities."
"You can't have been looking closely at the latest scans-"
"Hey, no spoilers! Call me superstitious, but I don't want to know. I want it to be a surprise."
“Girls’ names first, then. What do you like?”
“I always liked Cassandra. It’s classical, but it’s got possibilities. Cass, Cassie, Sandra.”
“Yeah, I could go for that if Malia and I ever had a girl. What about Elspeth?”
“You’re joking, right? Do you want my kids to get bullied in school?”
“What’s wrong with Elspeth? It was my grandmother’s name. Anyway, bullying adds character.”
“I don’t mind unusual, but not plain weird, right? No dynastic family names, and nothing tacky like using place names of where they were conceived.”
“But Wolf and Hera are cool names.” I protested, with my tongue firmly in cheek.
“One more crack like that, and I’ll never let you touch my special place ever again.”
“Alright, alright! Let me think a minute.”
“Indulge your Celtic heritage if you must, but at least make it pretty."
"What about Éirinn? Or Erin, without the accent."
"That's nice. I like that. Boys then. Marcus."
"Yeah, not bad. Stuart."
"Mmm. Okay."
"Hey, are you just agreeing so that I'll let you sleep?"
"Give the man a prize. Let's talk about it over breakfast." Kat closed her eyes and made fake snoring sounds. I took the hint and waited for her to nod off, enjoying the novelty of having her in bed with me while aboard ship.
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