Life returned to normal, and by the time Emma was in her last bimester (as she referred to it as), it all settled into a routine. Twice each juzen, Tivus allowed contact between Almikane and Earth. He also allowed a cycle leave for those particular times. The families were given two hours to chat, see each other, and catch up. And considering two rhlen was three and a half months on Earth, there was usually a decent amount of catching up to do. Emma was grateful for those times. She was also happy about what those times meant for her two worlds.
She made sure to keep up-to-date on Earth news, checking it every cycle. Through this she learned a lot. First off, many of the families that had daughters on Almikane had told others of what they had found out. At first, there was a lot of anger, a lot of outrage, a lot of pointing fingers. But as time passed, the Earthlings began to realize that the Almikane didn't actually mean them any harm. In fact, Tivus had offered to share some of the Almikaist technology; or, at least the much less powerful things. He was shrewd enough to realize that the Earthlings might try to use their new-found technology against his planet and people. Most countries took him up on his offer.
Secondly, Tivus had said that he would allow the immediate family of the ami-te that were pregnant to come to Almikane, once the baby was born. He would allow them a two cycle visit before they would have to return back to Earth. The women and their families were incredibly excited for that. As each cycle passed, Emma found herself getting more and more impatient.
She was impatient to see her family. But mostly she was impatient to meet her baby. If the six juzen timeframe Keiran had told about her stayed true, she should only have anther five cycles to go. She was huge now, to the point that she wouldn't be surprised if she was carrying twins or triplets. She still lived her life as before, but she was also taking walks outside the nelia. Every cycle, Keiran would take her out for an hour long walk. She always found it amazing to see the wonders of District 78 with her own eyes. If Keiran was gone working, Yumi or Trisha would come with their ami-to as well. They came to keep her company and also to be a helping hand. She was big enough now that it was becoming very hard to get around on her own. She hadn't been able to see her feet in almost the last two juzen. She didn't exactly like being pregnant. Sometimes it was the best thing in the world. Other times it was the worse.
Shaking her head, she focused back on her PIP. She had already mastered the Almikaist alphabet two juzen before. Now she was working on learning words and phrases. Her hope was that by the end of the lunith, she'd have it all down. She wanted to become fluent. Keiran still wouldn't let her go out alone, not only because of her pregnancy. She couldn't blame him though. From all the walks she took, she had come to appreciate just how huge District 78 was. It was no wonder he had to be gone for an entire rhlen while working.
She glanced over at the time. Just past brem. She yawned; time for her mid-cycle nap then. She closed her PIP. Awkwardly, slowly, she rose off of the arm chair. Struggling to balance, she made careful progress to the teseth. Once by the bed, she pulled back the blankets and settled down. Off her feet, she felt instantly better. Her lower back had been giving her a lot of problems and pain lately. She winced as another wave of pain come over her. Letting out a long breath, she closed her eyes and let herself succumb to her exhaustion.
She woke up wet and in pain. Gasping, she opened her eyes, letting out a groan of pain. Staring around her in confusion for several seconds, she pushed back the covers. Her brain was torn between panic and fear as she saw the bed was wet. Along the insides of her thighs was trickling clear fluid. It was forming a stain on the bed as well. Letting out a cry of fear, she freaked out for ten minutes.
When another wave of pain washed over her, she sucked in a breath. I don't have time to freak out, she told herself. Keiran still has two cycles before he'll be back. I also have no idea how to deliver a baby.
Straightening, she glanced down at her appearance. She was in a long red nightgown. She hadn't left yet today for her normal walk, so she hadn't really changed yet. Her family had sent her up lots of new maternity cloths when it became apparent just how big she was becoming. As of yet, the Almikaist males hadn't quite gotten around to get enough female clothing made. They had some, but none of them were nearly to the size she needed. Let alone the fact that most of them still suffered from a lack of any sort of fashion or color sense. She had heard that some women from other Districts were working with some of the Almikaist to make better cloths, but it was still a work in progress. After all, it had only been a half a lunith.
Pulling up the BC-PIP, she took in a deep breath, closing her eyes. Exhaling, she started it up. A second later, use to how long it took, she opened her eyes. "H-hi, everyone, I know this is really sudden. I just had a lesson last cycle after all. But, I'm kind of in an emergency situation right now. As far as I'm aware, I'm the first ami-te to go into labor currently." Over the past three juzen she had found a way to communicate with the other two thousand women. It had been one of the few things helping her stay sane, knowing the other women who were experiencing the same things she was. She had actually been talking to them this silc, so she knew none of them had hit the final stage yet.
"I don't know a thing about giving birth, besides the fact that I am terrified right now. If any of my fellow women out there know what to do…I'd really appreciate the help. If any of one or two of you could come to my nelia, I'd be forever grateful." She quickly listed off her 'address' in District 78 before closing her eyes and letting out a pained groan around another contraction. "Uggg…A-also, Keiran…stay calm, okay? Keep working. I'll be fine. The two of us will still be here when you get back nelia." She sucked in another breath. "Holy crap. Movies don't do this justice." Opening her eyes, she found a ghost of a smile. "So, yeah. This is Emma Adain. Currently requesting emergency help." She managed a laugh. "Weirdest 911 call ever," she joked. "I'll be here, if anyone can come. I'll also switch the nelia system to voice control. I don't think I'll be able to get out of my bed right now, honestly. Emma out," she said the customary words before stopping the broadcast.
Leaning back against the pillows, she closed her eyes and tried to rest in between contractions. She didn't know how long it took, but eventually she heard the echo of the door bell. "Open the nelia door, system," she instructed tiredly. Three women walked in. She recognized Yumi and Trisha, but she didn't know the short red-haired woman. "Hello," she greeted them. "Sorry for the awkward situation. It's nice to meet you…"
"Vanessa," the new woman introduced herself. "I was a medical intern, back on Earth. This isn't my first birth," she let Emma know.
Emma flashed a smile. "Well, that's good to know. It's mine, so you'll have to forgive me if I'm freaking out very much right now."
Trisha walked over to her side. "Yumi and I will be here to help and provide moral support."
Emma nodded. "Thank you guys, so much."
Vanessa glanced around the room before taking in a deep breath. "Okay, let's get started. I'm going to exam you and try and see how far along into the labor you are. We'll figure out what to do from there," she muttered as she stepped forward.
The next five hours passed by in a haze of pain, sweat, exhaustion, and breathing. Emma struggled through it all. But when it was finally over, she felt an overwhelming sense of relief. She leaned back against the pillows, panting. Vanessa passed over a crying newborn to Yumi, pausing only for a few seconds to stare at it. "The first female born on this planet in a very long time," she announced softly.
A daughter, Emma thought tiredly. After getting cleaned up and wrapped in a small blanket that had been sent by Emma's parents, Yumi passed the baby over. Emma stared down into a pair of teal eyes, with a small amount of peach fuzz the same color as Keiran's hair. She gently shifted the newborn in her arms, pausing when she felt something. Carefully, the baby still letting out small cries of confusion and rage, she pulled back the blanket.
A tiny pair of black wings, with gold-tips, came from the back of the baby. Emma blinked. They were only about the size of her index finger, but they were very obviously a pair of wings. Shaking her head, she let out a short laugh. What does it matter? She's beautiful, my baby girl. "Ayah," she said, the name suddenly coming to her. "Hello there, little Ayah. It's nice to finally meet you, honey." She cuddled Ayah close to her chest, kissing her tiny head.
Yumi began to cry. "She's beautiful. I'm glad she came out healthy."
Trisha just nodded, staring at the heart-warming picture the new mother and newborn made. Vanessa had finished cleaning up Emma and slowly moved back. "I don't recommend you move around to much right now. The both of you are going to be completely exhausted. I've already talked to my ami-to and I'm going to stay here with you until your ami-to returns." With that, she moved into the lestho to wash her hands. Emma just watched her silently, thankful for the help.
"There is a nursery further down the hall," Yumi told Vanessa.
Ayah let out another wail. Hoping her instincts were right and the baby could take milk, Emma pulled down her nightgown. As soon as the baby girl sensed food, she quieted, working on taking in her meal. The other women watched quietly as silent tears began to fall down Emma's cheeks at the emotions running through her.
Relief, joy, wonder. Worry for how she was going to be a mother now, how she was going to take care of this helpless life. Fear over what Keiran may or may not be doing right now. She could only hope he had heeded her words. She didn't want him to get in trouble for disobeying a direct Command from the Alminka. Once Ayah was full and starting to fall asleep, Yumi gently took her, walking out of the teseth and into the hall.
Vanessa gave her a tired smile. "I think we should both get some rest for now," she said faintly.
Emma blinked. "Yes. Also, thank you very much for coming Vanessa. I'm sorry…I'm still…"
The red-haired woman smiled, shaking her head. "Don't worry. It's fine. I'll sleep on the couch."
"A-are you sure?"
"Yep. That way, if you don't hear Ayah cry, I will. We'll just keep the nursery door open. We should get to sleep. I'm sure she'll wake back up in a few more hours. Good night." Saying so, the tired woman walked out to do just that.
Trisha smiled. "We can't stay, but we'll come visit you next cycle. And really…she's amazing. Get some rest, girl. You need it."
Emma smiled back, nodding. "You too. Thank you, both of you. Get nelia safe, okay?" Yumi nodded and waved bye before leaving with the taller woman. Closing her eyes, she fell asleep almost instantly.
The next cycle was a mixture of taking care of Ayah, having Vanessa help her with that, and spending time with the new woman. Once filc fell, she left, wishing the two of them well. Keiran always got back during the middle of filc, so she'd only be alone for a few hours. Dressing into a thinner, but still very large maternity shirt, she fed Ayah one last time before going to sleep herself.
Keiran stepped into the nelia. Instantly he froze. He could smell the many different scents of several females, though they were faint. Three he recognized, but two others were completely foreign to him. He had been panicking the last two cycles and there were remains of that panic in him still. Silently, he moved into the teseth. He stopped when he caught sight of Emma. Letting out a tiny breath, he started to step forward. Only a loud wail filled the air. Freezing, he glanced over his shoulder.
Emma woke up abruptly, jumping into a sitting position. Opening her eyes, she couldn't see much in the dark. She could make out a large, darker shadow though. "Keiran?" she whispered, before remembering what had woken her up. "Ayah," she murmured as she got to her feet. Moving through the dark, her side brushed something warm. "Come with me, Keiran. Come meet your daughter."
Keiran took her arm and guided her through the dark hall, his mind buzzing. Daughter. I have a daughter.
Once they reached the nursery door, Emma stepped in. "Shh, love. Mommy's here. So is Daddy. Let's see what's got you so angry, honey." She moved to the crib, lifting Ayah in her arms. A diaper change was definitely needed, by the smell. "She's quite a big baby, for a human, at least. I'd say she's at least eleven pounds, but she doesn't look fat or anything. She looks like a normal baby, except for her tiny wings," she explained the Keiran. He was remaining silent and she was beginning to feel nervous, for no reason.
Quietly, he came up behind her, watching over her head as she took care of the infant. "Ayah," he whispered. "A beautiful name. She is beautiful. As much as her mother."
Emma blushed as she lifted the baby up to her breast. "I don't know where it came from, but the name just came to me. I'm glad you like it. I was worried you wouldn't," she confessed.
His arms came around her middle, holding the two of them close. "How could I not love any name you chose? That I am blessed with my ami-te and my daughter. A daughter," he repeated in disbelief. "The love I feel for the both of you is…overwhelming me right now," he explained.
Half a second later, she felt wetness against her neck. Keiran is crying, she thought in surprise. Unable to touch him, since she was holding the baby, she leaned against him, letting him hold up more of her weight. When Ayah was full and sleepy again, Emma gently placed her back into her crib.
Turning, she wrapped Keiran in a hug. Taking in a deep breath, she smiled. "I love you too," she confessed softly. And she did. She had for a long while now. How could she not? He was incredibly easy to love.
Keiran lowered to his knees, so that he could reach her better. He took her into a crushing hug, but she didn't protest as her own tears slipped past her lashes. "Thank you," he whispered. "You have given me so many gifts. I thought there would be no way that I would be able to receive the gift of your love though. I have nothing to give you. In fact, I stole you away from your home, your family, everything you've ever known. How could you love me, with all that?"
Emma chuckled softly, mindful of the sleeping baby. "How could I not? You've been by my side this entire time. You've been supporting me, caring for me, loving me. You never tried to take more than I could give, never pushed yourself on me. You've treated me with nothing but respect and love. Even when my hormones were going crazy and I was trying to get all over you…" She felt her face flame at the memories. "You didn't let me do anything, because you knew I wasn't one hundred percent sure. You knew it was brought on by my pregnancy."
He groaned softly. "You have no idea how hard that was…But you are right. I knew you wouldn't normally have been like that. I still wanted you though," he assured her. "I just wanted you as you. Emma. Not pregnancy-hormone-controlled-Emma. Not to say you weren't beautiful pregnant. In fact you were nearly glowing with beauty." Gently, he lifted her into his arms, moving back to their bedroom. Once they were on the bed, he sighed. "You still need to recover."
She couldn't help the soft chuckle at the layers of sorrow, regret, and impatience that was in his voice. "Yes. I still have to recover from giving birth. Maybe a juzen or two?"
He sighed. "That will feel like forever." Then he leaned down and lightly kissed her cheek. "But I waited six eternities for you, so I can wait another juzen or more to make sure it will not cause you any harm, love. Besides, Ayah will keep us very busy."
Emma laughed. "Oh, yeah." She grew serious. "I really do mean it, Keiran. I've been thinking about it for a long time. I'm happy here. I miss my family of course, but that's my only regret. I'm slowly learning to adjust to life here. Your language is so complex. It's like the ultimate Rubix Cube, for me at least. It keeps me on my toes. And I'm getting to help all the other women learn and come to enjoy life here as well."
"I can't really speak for any of them though. I can only speak for myself. I know that…that our first time was a long while ago. It was also…there were a lot of problems with it, emotionally and morally. But you already know that. Honestly though, I couldn't imagine my life without you anymore. Actually, I wish you didn't have to be gone so long for your work. I miss you so bad…its kind of scary sometimes."
Keiran grinned. "I understand completely. I have also been trying to see if I can find some way to adjust my work schedule. Maybe if I was only gone for three cycles at a time, had two cycles off in between? But we will have to see how it works out."
"That would be a lot better. Seven cycles without you by my side is heartbreak, Keiran. I have trouble sleeping with you gone."
"You speak the words of my heart, love."
She cuddled closer to him on the bed. "We did good. There were a lot of problems and bumps along the way, but we made it," she told him softly. "It's really weird. I thought I was going to have to die to save my world. Instead I had to marry you."
He held her close. "You are everything I have been wishing, dreaming for. It pains me that we did not come together more joyfully…But we did learn to adjust, to care, to love."
She nodded her head against him, kissing his chest, where his Brand was. "Yep," she murmured sleepily. "We did. I'm glad I was chosen to come here, Keiran. You and Ayah are the best things to happen to me. I love you."
He squeeze her in a hug before loosening his hold. "Can you read my mind, Emma?"
She laughed, smiling. "Yes, I can," she teased.
He breathed in her scent, burying his face in her hair. "As long as its you, then I'm glad. I would patiently wait another six thousand years, if it meant I could be with you, love." He felt her collapse into sleep. Taking in a deep breath, he exhaled. The joy in his soul was nearly drowning him.
"Dream sweetly, Cherished One," he whispered as he let himself give into sleep.