Complications: Chapter 1
A/N: I'm back! I resolve to do more writing in 2016. I'm not very far into this one yet, but I figured we should start the year out right. I'll probably be sticking with my usual "post a chapter every Monday" schedule that I've done with the last few stories.
For those unfamiliar with my little universe that spawned out of NCIS fan fiction, the stories of the Cunninghams start with Falling on Unyielding Ground, then Hitting Hard, Thicker Than Blood, Into the Darkness, Down Under, and now Complications. Reading the others might help some things make sense.
March 24, 2015: Cairo, Egypt
NCIS Special Agent Kim Cunningham sighed as she sectioned her hair and began braiding it. "Whoever heard of starting a four-day conference on a Wednesday, anyway?" she asked, annoyed.
"Hey, they're your people. Don't ask me." She briefly glared at her husband, getting a wide grin in response. She rolled her eyes and returned her attention to the rucksack on their bed, mentally going through the contents to make sure she had everything she needed.
"When was the last time you forgot anything?" Commander Jeff Cunningham asked, demonstrating once again that the man had some sort of strange superpower that enabled him to read her mind.
"Pregnancy brain," she replied. "Who knows what I've forgotten."
Now it was his turn to roll his eyes. "Right," he said sarcastically. "Well, since you seem to think you've forgotten everything, shall we discuss avoiding mosquitoes again?"
"I think I'm good, thanks," she said sarcastically. It was only a four-day anti-terrorism conference, but it was a four-day anti-terrorism conference in Camp Lemmonier, Djibouti, which had had a few cases of malaria in the last few years. "Because I'm too knocked up to take malaria meds," she said, nodding toward the almost-thirty weeks belly she was awkwardly carrying, "I have to be sure to avoid mosquito bites, especially at dawn and dusk, to wear long sleeves and long pants as much as possible, and to wear DEET on all exposed skin," she said, mimicking his words mockingly. When you lived in Africa and your husband was an infectious disease pediatrician who had done malaria research, you hear the lecture often, and mocking it was preferable to drop kicking your husband when he tried to give it for a thousandth time.
"I'm really glad you listen to me," he said dryly. She grinned and tilted her head up for a quick kiss.
"I always listen to you," she informed him. "What I choose to do with what you say, though..." She let her voice trail off and waited for him to roll his eyes before she gave him another grin.
"Just be careful, okay?"
She softened at the look on his face as she tied off the single braid. "I always am, babe. You know that." Deciding that was enough seriousness for one moment, she added, "Besides, I'm not the one who keeps getting kidnapped by terrorists."
"It was two times!" he protested.
"I'm counting the Brucella thing while you were deployed with the Recon boys, too."
"Okay, three times," he conceded.
"And you don't think that's weird for a pediatrician?"
He opened his mouth to protest, then closed it again. "How did we get on this topic of conversation?" he asked. "Stay safe, don't get malaria, I'll see you Saturday night, I'm sure you didn't forget anything. Did that cover everything?"
"We have a really weird relationship, don't we?"
"Hey, you're the one who married a pediatrician with an odd penchant for getting kidnapped by terrorists," he replied.
She chuckled as she grabbed the rucksack from the bed, he following her out of the master bedroom. "Think the Squid will even notice I'm gone?" she asked as they entered the kitchen.
"It might take a few days, but maybe," he replied, pouring coffee into two travel mugs. "I'll just tell her you're working a case. She knows what that means."
"Ouch," she said with a wince. "That hurts. Maybe I should just give up the job and stay at home, to make sure she knows that I love her."
He snorted. "Please. If you quit your job to be a stay at home mother, you'd end up killing her. And probably the bun still in the oven."
She put a hand on her extended belly as she nodded in agreement. "I think you're right," she agreed. "Besides, rescuing you from terrorists itself is a full-time job. I'm not even sure I'll be able to make it through maternity leave without having to fly across the continent and saving your ass. Again."
"There are plenty of bad people in Egypt," he said mildly as he sipped his coffee. "You might not have to fly anywhere."
She chuckled, drinking from her travel mug as she checked her watch. "Let's go grab the Squid, so I can get a kiss good-bye from a soulless ginger before I head into a malaria-infested land."
They found the two-and-a-half year-old Sydney where she always was when she woke up before her parents were ready for her, which was almost every morning: sitting on the floor of her bedroom, flipping through one of her many books. Kim was pretty sure she didn't know how to read yet, but the fact that she seemed to like books was pretty encouraging to both intellectually-minded parents. "Hey, Squid," Kim greeted.
"Mommy!" Squid exclaimed, jumping up to her feet and running over to her mother.
The newest Cunningham parasite was getting too large for Kim to comfortably pick up her first-born, but she had a side-lunge move that was still working. She used that to swoop up her daughter and give her a kiss through her messy dark red hair. "What are you reading?"
"Blue fish," Sydney said promptly.
"That's a good one," Kim replied. "I have to go to work for a few days. Are you going to be good for Salma and Daddy?" Sydney nodded. "Good girl. Do I get a kiss good-bye?"
The Squid kissed Kim on the cheek before her mother lowered to the floor. "Bye, Baby," Sydney added, patting Kim's pregnant belly before she went back to her books.
Kim grabbed her coffee again as her BlackBerry chimed with a text. "Ride's here," she said to Jeff. She gave him a quick kiss. "Love you. See you Saturday night."
"Love you, too. Knock 'em dead. The terrorists, not the people you're conferencing with."
She rolled her eyes. "By the third day, the people I'm conferencing with will be the terrorists."