19 -- The Easiest Thing in Two Worlds

Daylight stirred Nyk. Suki was asleep in her robe with her arm across him. He leaned and kissed her forehead. "Suki?"

He watched her eyes crack open and close again. "Oh, God, Nykkyo, I feel terrible. My throat's sore, I have a splitting headache and my face is throbbing." He stroked her. "And I have morning sickness!" She stood and headed for the bathroom.

Nyk waited by the bathroom door. She emerged, holding her hand on her stomach. "I saw myself in the mirror -- I look awful."

"Do you feel like talking about it?"

She nodded. "Let's talk."

"That was quite a fright you gave your parents last night -- and me."

She opened a box of saltines. "And me." Nyk filled a tumbler with water and set it before her. She removed a stack of crackers.

"Are your demons herded up?" he asked her.

She ate a cracker. "For now. These episodes are so unreal to me. I remember everything, but it's like it never happened."

"Do you want to die, now?"

She shook her head. "No. Except for my face aching, I feel perfectly normal. I don't want to die. I'm afraid of dying."

"I shouldn't have left you last night. I should've listened to your mom. Can you forgive me?"

"You've done nothing to forgive." She picked up a cracker. "I told you to go away. I got what I deserved, I guess. You've given up everything to be with me -- and I told you to go away." She looked into his eyes. "I didn't mean it. Remember, in the future if I tell you to go away, I don't mean it. What I mean is -- I need some time by myself to think things through. Okay?"

"Understood. I'll never leave you again. Suki, I love you."

"I know you do." She kissed his injured hand. The wound was now a thin, red line. She stroked it. "Does it hurt?" He shook his head.

"Suki, I want you. I want you desperately. If you still want to consummate our love, I won't say no."

"No, Nykkyo. Don't say that to me, now. I realize why things must be as they are."

"But Suki, I have something important to tell you."

"Please let me finish. I was about to tell you this last night. Then I discovered you'd left, and I completely lost it." She ate another cracker. "I've reconciled it in my own mind. Nykkyo -- it's not fair for you to live like a monk. If you want to spend time with your Floran girlfriend, by all means, do so. I can't deny you that. You've promised to help me with the child. I won't keep you from Andra."

"That was a Floran sentiment," he said. "Perhaps you're beginning to understand our approach to love. Love isn't selfish -- it's generous. We think it's all right to love more than one. Our language doesn't have a word for friend. We use the word amfa, and it means lover. To us a friend and a lover are one and the same, and so are friendship and love. We use one word for both.

"What matters is depth and commitment. Suki, I love you deeply, and I am committed to you. That Andra and I discovered we're amfen does nothing to diminish how I feel for you. Neither does our expressing ama by sharing the gift. Andra knows you're my true love. She sent me to you with her blessing.

"I'm not apt to alter my Floran ways, especially when it comes to dealing with other Florans. I expect we'll have cultural differences from time to time. With understanding we'll get through them. I'm much more sensitive about your feelings now, and I'll modify my behavior accordingly."

"Will you ever forgive me? I'm so ashamed of how I behaved. I'm trying, Nykkyo, but I am so fucked up. Do you have a word for that in your language?"

"Yes, we do. Suki, I already forgave you."

"It'll take me a while to forgive myself."

"There's something important I was about to tell you before this ... misunderstanding. Suki, I've learned we're not really related. I'm not a Kyhana, I'm a Veska. I'm not my father's son. Well -- I am, but my father's not who I thought he was."

"Are you sure?"

"Beyond doubt."

"You're not just saying that?"

"No. I am not your descendant."

She looked at him, her eyes wide. "This means... this means..."

"This means I'm yours, Suki, if you still want me."

She began laughing and crying simultaneously. "Of course I want you!"

"Haven't you cried enough?" he asked wiping his own eyes. "I'm surprised you have tears left!"

She opened her arms to him and he fell into them. "How do you know? How are you sure?"

"Senta performed a DNA sequencing analysis on you. I'm sorry if you feel your privacy was violated but I had to know."

"Senta? How did she obtain a sample?"

"I found one of your hairs. She performed the analysis and discovered you are likely an ancestor to Xarvo Kyhana, my legal father -- but not to my biological father -- or to me. I was conceived from an adulterous liaison between my mother and ... another man."

"Oh, Nykkyo, I'm so happy."

"Please -- don't be too happy. This caused me considerable agony, and I'm not over it. I was proud to be a Kyhana and now I'm an outsider looking in. I'm a Kyhana in name, only."

"You're my Nykkyo."

"Are you feeling better about yourself, about us?"

"Better for now. Nykkyo, this is how I've been my whole life. Please help me rid myself of the demons. Without your help, I'll never raise this child without a complete emotional meltdown."

"Of course I'll help you. It's the assignment Destiny's given me."

"You'll be patient with me? It won't be easy. I have a lifetime of difficulties to overcome."

"We have a saying -- Urbafloran vi ne en un taka xi nefabrik't."

"Which means?"

He kissed her forehead. "Floran City wasn't built in a single day."

She finished the stack of crackers. "Oh, Nykkyo, I'd want you right now if I didn't feel so awful. I need to lie on my back with an ice pack on my face, until the swelling goes down to only twice normal size."

"Your dad offered to drive me to the hotel so I can check out and retrieve my gear. I must send a message to the homeworld. I'll see you in a little while."


Nyk brought Suki a fresh cold pack and she placed it over her eyes. He stretched out on the bed and pressed his palm against hers. She spread her fingers and they laced hands. "Last night, you called me Nykkyo in front of your mom. I don't think she noticed."

"I'll be more careful, next time."

"I hope there never is a next time." He felt her grip on his hand relax and her breathing became deep and regular.

Yasuko poked her head into the room. "The door was open. Is she napping?"

"Yes," Nyk whispered.

"Is she all right? Are you all right?"

"Yes to both."

"Thank goodness." She stroked away a tear. "I've seen suicide by one of those ... things. I don't want to see it again -- ever. I wish George didn't have it in the house."

"You've seen it?"

"Yes. George's father lost his business and killed himself. I'll tell you about that awful experience some other time. Thank you, Nick, for caring for her."

"Caring for her is the easiest thing in two worlds for me to do."


Nyk sat across from George at a small table. George was explaining the rules of "go" to him, and they took turns placing black and white stones on a gridded board. Nyk felt Suki's hand on his back. "It's a clear night. Shall we look at the stars?" He followed her into the back yard. "If my folks had doubts about you, they're gone now. I'll call tomorrow and get the name of a counselor."

"I'll come with you, if you'd like."

"I'd like that. It'll be easier for me with your support."

Nyk looked up. Though it was a clear night, New York City's lights washed out all but the brightest stars. "I never paid much attention to the stars," she said. "When you were there and I was here, I'd come out and lie in a lawn chair and look up. I wondered which stars you could see from your world."

"Most of the brighter ones."

"I thought you and I might be looking at the same star. The thought some sun was shining on both our worlds helped me feel closer to you. Which one is Floran's sun?"

"You can't see our sun from Earth without a telescope." He pointed skyward. "Do you see the constellation that looks like a cross?"

"Yes."

"That's Cygnus, the swan. Do you see the wings, the tail, the neck and head?"

"Yes."

"The bright star forming the tail is Deneb. Floran is in that general direction."

"To think another world is out there, patiently waiting for the day when our peoples can be united," she said. "Just a couple of days ago, you were walking the surface of that world. I wonder what's to come when we make contact."

"My hope is for interplanetary friendship and cooperation."

She embraced his arm. "Aren't you tired? I didn't get much sleep last night. How about some bed?" He laced his fingers with hers and headed into the house. "Nykkyo, I'm scared."

"Scared of what?"

"That after last night it'll never be the same between us."

"We have a saying -- Xa kel mi nedetru mifort."

"Which means?"

"That which doesn't destroy me strengthens me. Our love is strengthened by last night. I certainly don't love you less."

"Nykkyo, that's not Floran. It's Nietzsche!"

"Nietzsche?"

"That saying -- it's from Nietzsche, the nineteenth-century German philosopher."

"Oh. I guess we can't have invented all the good sayings. We must've brought a few from Earth."

She led him up the stairs to the apartment, closed the door and threw her arms around him. He kissed her lips. "Oh, Nykkyo, tonight was the only thing I could think about all through dinner. I can't believe I have you. I can't believe you still want me."

"Of course I want you." He kissed her again and felt her tongue against his. "This is all I could think about since I stepped aboard the shuttle." He grasped the hem of her jumper and lifted it from her. "I've wanted you since I first laid eyes on you."

She pulled his polo shirt from him and caressed his arms. He unbuttoned her blouse, slipped it from her and kissed her shoulders. She unsnapped her bra and let it fall to the floor. "I've always loved you," he said. "I was born loving you."

"How's that possible?" She guided his face to her neck and between her breasts. "We only met six months ago."

He led her to the sofa and she sat on his lap. "When I gazed into your eyes, it awakened a love that had been sleeping in my cells." She traded kisses and caresses with him. "Suki -- I love you so much -- I want you so much -- I can't believe how I want you."

"Then take me. I'm yours, Nykkyo." She lay on her back on the floor. Nyk knelt between her legs. "Take me," she said, her eyes closed and her fists clenched.

He looked at her supine body. "No," he said and shook his head. "Not like this."

"What's the matter?" she asked and sat up. "Nykkyo, what's wrong? You said you wanted this -- I want to give myself to you -- for you. I couldn't do this for any other man."

"Oh Suki -- it's supposed to be glorious. You looked as if you were bracing yourself for some ... unpleasant medical procedure."

"But, Nykkyo -- I've ... I've never made love to a man before."

"Never?"

"I told you -- I find men repulsive." Suki looked into his face. "... not you, Nykkyo -- you're different. I don't consider you a man..." She put her hand to her eyes. "... oh God -- what I mean is -- the feelings I have for you - - it doesn't bother me you're a man..." She rolled her eyes. "Nothing I say seems to come out right. I feel like some tongue-tied teenager."

"Don't be concerned about insulting my manhood. Florans might have healthy egos, but they're not gender-linked. I understand what you're trying to say."

"What I meant was ... you're not like any man -- or anyone I've ever known. I love you and I want it for you."

"But -- what about your first husband?"

"I told Mom how horrible it was with him. She told me I could learn to like it -- that she learned to like it with Daddy. But, I never did. It wasn't lovemaking -- it was lying there and letting him have his way with me. So you see, giving myself to the rapist wasn't so difficult -- I had lots of practice."

"That's not how I want us to be."

"I thought ... I thought maybe I'd learn to like it with you. I want to please you, Nykkyo. I was trying for you."

"Oh, Suki ... korlyta..." He embraced her, held her face against his chest and caressed her raven hair.

"Now I've disappointed you... I'm sorry, Nykkyo -- I didn't want to..." She started to cry. "... I'm such a mess..."

"Oh, no -- you haven't disappointed me." He stroked her back.

She wiped tears from her eyes. "Why does sex have to be so complicated?"

He kissed the top of her head. "It's because we care so for each other. If we didn't, it would be easy."

"That's the paradox -- if I didn't care for you, I wouldn't want to -- I'd have no animal magnetism for you at all..." She smacked her fist against her forehead. "That didn't sound right, either."

He kissed her forehead. "Maybe you should quit while you're ahead."

She smiled and nodded. "... You might be right."

"It's my fault," he said. "I'm not proud of my performance just now. I lost control." With his finger he lifted her chin and looked into her eyes. "It was nothing but passion -- pure passion."

Suki kissed his shoulder. "You shouldn't underrate pure passion," she said and brushed a lock of his hair from his forehead. "It felt pretty good." She kissed him again.

"Do you still want this?"

"Of course I do," she replied. "Don't you?"

"I want nothing else. Maybe if we slowed down a little... Are you willing?" She smiled and guided his lips to hers. "Then, why don't we start over..." Nyk carried her to the bedroom, set her onto the bed and lay beside her, stroking her face and gazing into her dark eyes. She slipped her hand behind his neck and drew his face toward hers. His lips touched hers and he kissed her. "You've never made love to a man -- I've never made love to a pregnant lady."

"It'll be a first for both of us." She lay on her back and ran her hands along her stomach. "I'm starting to show -- and, I'm starting to feel pregnant."

"I can't wait to see your body change. And, it will change back, afterward."

"I don't know -- I wonder if my breasts will ever be the same again."

He kissed and caressed her abdomen. "Maybe we shouldn't -- I wouldn't want to hurt him."

"I'm not made of glass -- and, pregnancy's not a disease. I saw my doctor last week and she said everything's normal. She gave me the go-ahead. Fat chance, I told her. Little did I know..." She placed her hand on his and pressed it against her belly. "Lovemaking won't hurt him. I heard his heartbeat."

He put his ear to her stomach. "I can't hear anything."

Suki giggled. "You need a special instrument."

"I wish I was there. I want to hear it myself. I'd like to accompany you on your next visit."

"I'd like that."

"Oh, Suki -- I was proud to be a Kyhana -- to hold the crest and to translate Koichi's journal. Learning I'm not hurt -- and what hurt most was discovering my parents lied to me. Do you have any idea how much that hurts?"

"Thankfully, no -- not like that at least."

He caressed her belly. "That is something we must never do -- we must never lie to him. As soon as he's old enough to comprehend, we'll tell him his origin -- of how he came to be. And, each day in word and deed, we'll demonstrate our love for him -- for the individual he is." Nyk returned to lying beside her and gazed into her eyes.

"Of course. You're absolutely right." She traced his lips with her finger. "Teach me your language, Nykkyo. Perhaps some day I'll return to your world."

"Okay -- lesson one. "Suki, mi z'am. I love you."

"Mi z'am," she replied.

"Mi ve xiam z'am't. I've loved you always."

"Mi va xiam z'am't."

"It's ve, not va. Va makes it "I will loved you." He kissed her forehead. "Try this -- mi nexiam z'ami nehalt va. I'll never stop loving you."

"Mi nex... I'll never stop loving you either, Nykkyo." She kissed his lips and he felt her tongue exploring his mouth.

"One more. Ni niva n'amor."

"What does it mean?"

"Go ahead and say it -- it's easy. Ni niva n'amor."

"Ni niva n'amor. What's it mean?"

"It means -- let's make love." He kissed her eyelids. "I love your eyes. I was in love with you the moment I saw your beautiful, dark, Asian eyes." With his finger he traced her eyebrows. He took her hand and placed it upon his chest. She stroked his shoulder and arm. He felt her toes brush against the top of his foot. She smiled at him and he smiled at her.

Nyk caressed her cheek with the backs of his fingers. He kissed her forehead. She suppressed a giggle. He ran his hand along her shoulder and down her arm. She took his hand and kissed it. He kissed hers and gazed again into her eyes. She slipped her hand behind his head and kissed his lips. He traced her eyebrows again.

"What are you waiting for?" she asked.

"I was waiting for your signal."

"My signal? Is this some Floran lovemaking ... thing?"

"Oh, yes. When we make love, each partner signals readiness."

"Do you mean readiness for ... touch? What sort of signal?"

"The guiding of your partner's hands is such a signal. This isn't an Earth practice?"

"It's not one I'm familiar with."

"Then, how do you know your partner's ready?"

"You know, that's an excellent question..." She took his hand and placed it upon her body. "I'm definitely ready. I've never been so ready."

"Show me."

"Show you what?"

"How to touch -- we must teach each other the sorts of touch we find enjoyable."

Suki twirled a lock of his hair with her finger. "Maybe you'll touch me in a way I've never experienced and I'll find it very enjoyable."

"...you might be right. But, don't you think what we know we like is a better starting point for experimentation than something at random?"

She took his hand and began guiding it onto her body. "I feel self- conscious doing this."

"Why? It's trust and sharing, Suki. Trust me and share with me what gives you pleasure."

"It just seems ... unseemly. I'm sorry, Nykkyo -- it must be I'm inhibited."

"Let's try something else, then... You touch me the way you'd like me to touch you. I'll do the same."

"Okay..."

"You go first."

Suki placed her hand on his chest. "Like this... And, like this..."

"That feels good," he replied. "I don't have much, compared to you -- but my breasts are as sensitive as yours ... and I enjoy the same sort of touch."

Suki continued to caress him. "You know -- when I was in college I had a girlfriend who didn't have much more on top than you do." She giggled. "She used to call herself my boyfriend."

"So, you HAVE had a boyfriend."

Suki laughed. "Oh, Nykkyo -- you do have a way of putting me at ease... It's your turn, now."

"I'm almost afraid to touch you."

"Don't be afraid..." He smoothed his hand along her skin. "And -- don't be too gentle..." She drew in a deep breath and released it. "Mmm -- your hand is warm... Oh, Nykkyo -- you have a very nice touch... I think being pregnant has made me more sensitive."

"I'll be careful, then."

"Not tender ... sensitive. The sensations are stronger. It feels good..." Her breathing slowed and deepened. "...really good." He could feel her heart accelerate, its beats transmitted through her flesh. "You're right," she said. "... this is so much better than something at random ... you seem to know..."

"I'm reading your body." He held her hand over his left breast. "Read mine -- do you feel my heart?" She nodded. "We'll each learn the language of our bodies. Once we're fluent, we'll have touch conversations." He stroked her forearm as she caressed him.

Nyk caressed her thigh. "I love your skin," he said. "The color ... softness..."

Suki giggled. "You seem to like everything about me that I'm not so crazy about..."

"No, Suki. I like everything about you."

She placed her hand on his and caressed his forearm. Then she led his hand up her thigh and positioned his fingers. "I have to show you like this because you don't have one of these... Like this... Just like that. Perfect."

Nyk held her, gazed into her eyes and stroked her. Suki drew in a breath. "Oh, God this feels good. You have such an incredible touch..." He felt her body relaxing. Her breathing deepened and she parted her lips. "I like how you're holding me, too. It all feels so good ... so good..." She wrapped her arms around his neck and held his face against her breast.

"Suki -- you're heart is racing."

"I know... I don't think I've been so aroused in my whole life!"

He continued to stroke her as he held her tight. "Just a little more," she whispered. "A little more... Oh, God!" Suki arched her back, closed her eyes, grimaced and swallowed a groan. "Oh!" she gasped. Nyk moved his hand to her face and caressed her cheek with the backs of his fingers. She drew his lips to hers and kissed him.

"Good?" he asked.

"Mmm... Best ever..." She moistened her lips with her tongue. "I suppose this means we've reached the moment of truth."

Nyk took her hand and led it down his abdomen. She touched him and then drew back. Her eyes began to brim. "I was afraid," he replied, "that this part might be difficult for you."

"I've been trying to put the rape out of my mind."

"Images of that day haunt me yet. I can't imagine what it must be like for you."

"I do want this, Nykkyo -- I do. But, I didn't know how I'd react..."

"I understand," he replied. "I know men have damaged you. We mustn't do anything if it feels wrong. We'll have a rule. If you say don't, I won't. If you say stop, we'll stop. I'll never violate that rule, I promise." He led her hand again. "Remember -- it's me, Suki -- only me... It's a part of me -- as much me as my eyes ... my hair ... my hands." She bit her lower lip. A tear ran down her cheek. "I love you, and I'll never hurt you. I'll never use any part of my body to cause you pain. I'll die first."

"I know. Hearing it means so much to me."

"If we've gone far enough for tonight -- it's all right." He looked into her eyes. "It really is. If you want to stop, we'll stop. Just say the word."

She closed her eyes, took a deep breath and another. "The word ... is go. I have enough demons in my psyche -- I'm not letting that punk ruin the rest of my life with you. Ni niva n'amor, Nykkyo. Ni niva n'amor!"

Nyk lay on his back, coaxed her atop him, and locked his legs with hers. He held her with his right arm around the small of her back and with his left he caressed her shoulder blades and her raven hair. Suki lay her face against his shoulder, her eyes closed. "Are you all right?" he asked.

"Yes ... so far..."

"Did I hurt you at all?"

She shook her head. "Uh-uhn..."

He ran his hand along her back. "Here we go, then -- we'll take it easy..." He began a gentle rocking of his hips.

"Oh, Nykkyo! Don't!" She clutched him. "Don't let go of me."

He held her tighter. "I love you, Suki."

"I know you do. I know..." He caressed her shoulders and lower back as he continued to rock his hips. He felt her warmth and her muscles move with her breathing. As his excitement built, he established a barrier in his mind -- forcing his own sensations to the back while focusing the front of his awareness on her, watching her as she lay atop him.

Suki tightened her grip on him and began making soft whimpers in the back of her throat. Then, she hoisted herself onto her elbows, opened her eyes and gazed into his. Her breathing grew heavier and he felt her breath on his face.

His heart began to race and he struggled to maintain the division in his mind. Suki slipped her hands behind his head and lifted his face to hers. She pressed her lips to his. He closed his eyes. Their breath mingled and they shared each other's airways.

Then, unable to maintain it, Nyk allowed his barrier to collapse. Sensations flooded into his awareness. He tighted his grip around the small of her back. With his arms and legs he pressed his hips against hers and let out a gasp. "Oh, Suki!" he exclaimed; then he relaxed his body and panted to regain his breath.

Warm drops fell onto his face as he opened his eyes. Suki was choking back tears.

"Are you okay?" She nodded. "Remember, if you ever need a shoulder..."

"Oh, Nykkyo..." She exploded into sobs.

He held her face against his chest and caressed the back of her head. "My poor korlyta," he said past a lump in his throat. "I'm so sorry."

"No, Nykkyo -- don't be sorry." She wept. "We did it -- I'm so happy!"

"Let it out," he said and kissed the top of her head. "Let it all out."

He felt her body shake with her sobbing. "I love you so much ... you love me ... I felt it ... it was wonderful..."

"Did we slay a demon?"

She cradled his head in her hands. "We slew several," she replied and peppered his face with kisses.

Nyk stroked her back as she lay atop him, her face against his chest. "I have never experienced the gift like that. I never have -- I never will love anyone the way I love you."

"I know. I felt the truth -- the absolute truth to it." With her finger she traced the outline of his bicep. "It felt so good. I never imagined it could feel that good." She looked into his face. "I never imagined I could feel so loved. What was it you called me? Kor-something..."

"Korlyta -- it means sweetheart ... dearest."

"Korlyta ... it sounds sweet. I like it. Oh, Nykkyo -- I thought it was so sweet you were holding your desire until you were sure I'd welcome it."

"You must bear with me -- I know little of Earth lovemaking practices. It's not a topic covered in our training."

"I hope you remain ignorant of Earth practices." She worked her fingers under him and squeezed. "Mmm ... I still feel it..."

"Does it feel good?"

"Mmm..." She kissed him.

"What does it feel like?"

"It feels like..." She squeezed him again. "It feels like I want to hang on and not let go. I feel loved like I've never felt before. Oh, Nykkyo -- I'm so sorry I was such a baby about this."

"No need to be. What you did took courage -- and trust. It'll be easier for you next time, won't it?"

"Easier? I can't wait!"

"You can't wait?"

"Unh-unh..." She kissed his lips. "Can you?"

"No..." She kissed him again. "I suppose if neither of us can wait... " Nyk ran the backs of his fingers along the sides of her breasts. Suki smiled and lifted herself onto her elbows.

A knock came at the apartment door. "Sukiko ... Sukiko?"

"Oh my God! It's my mom," Suki whispered. "What, Mom?"

"Is everything all right?"

"Everything's okay, Mom," she shouted.

"Are you sure?"

"Yes -- everything's okay."

"I thought I heard something..."

"We're fine -- really. Good night, Mom."

"Okay. Good night."

"Were we really that loud?" Suki whispered.

"I'm afraid we might have been."

"Sukiko?" Yasuko called again from the other side of the door.

"Yes, Mom..."

"It sounded like crying. I was concerned."

"Tears of joy, Mom. Good night."

"Okay. Good night."

"I'm so sorry," Suki said, rolling her eyes. "She worries for me so."

"I think it's sweet how she cares for you," Nyk replied. "I could see a Floran mom behaving the same way."

"Sukiko? Nick?" Yasuko called again.

"What is it this time?" Suki yelled.

"You weren't having another ... disagreement, were you?"

"No, Mom. Nick and I are fine."

"You're sure?"

"It's all right, Yasuko," Nyk called out. "Suki and I were making love. We just got a little carried away." Suki held her hand over her mouth, her eyes wide.

There were several moments of silence. "Oh... Sorry to disturb you, then. Good night."

"Good night," Nyk and Suki yelled in unison.

"Why did you tell her that?"

"I believe the best way to deal with such is with honesty. This will put her mind at ease."

"Given my behavior last night, you're probably right. She's probably embarassed, now."

"I'll bet the incident will be forgotten by breakfast."

Suki ran her fingers across Nyk's chest as he caressed her. "Mmm," she said, "this feels so good ... so right ... more like you're doing ... just like that..."

"Sukiko? Nick?" Yasuko called from behind the door.

"Now what?" Suki yelled.

"I thought you said your relationship was purely platonic."

"It was," Nyk replied, "until a few moments ago."

"Oh ... well, good night."

"Oh, Mom?" Suki yelled.

"Yes, dear?"

"Mom! It was wonderful!"

"I'm delighted for you. I'll see you two lovebirds in the morning." He heard her footsteps on the stairs.

"I'll bet she won't forget." Suki kissed him. "Now, where were we..."


Nyk held her under his arm, stroked her bicep and gazed into her dark eyes. She stroked a tear from his face. "Hey... Crying after sex is a girl thing, not a guy thing. What are the tears for?"

"It's who they're for."

"Then, who?"

"For the child I can never father. My dad -- my real one -- told me of the joy of conceiving a child in love. Now, I understand what he was talking about. I long to share the experience with you -- and I know I can't. I must, I shall, I do love the child in your womb as if he were mine. But how I wish he was."

She caressed his face and kissed his cheek. "He is yours, Nykkyo. He will grow with you as the only dad he'll ever know."

"Destiny permitting, he will," Nyk said.

"Would Destiny be so cruel as not to permit it?"

He brushed aside some of her hair. "I can't know the details of Destiny's plans for either of us. What I do know is our child's destiny is to father a child, so you can pass the crest to him. So long as we nurture him, and teach him well, and guide him along his path, his destiny will be fulfilled. And Suki, he will follow his path, or I wouldn't be here."