Lorcán woke in the middle of the night to the now familiar feeling of being drawn outside against his will. His legs moved on their own down the familiar path and as the light engulfed him he closed his eyes and hoped with all his heart that this time would be different. He heard a voice to his right as his feet lifted off the floor.
“Thalia! What have I said about talking to the patients before they reach the ship?”
Thalia sighed and turned to Allison as the older woman stalked over to her.
“I’m sorry, it’s just that he’s seemed so sad recently.”
“Back to the ship, Thalia. You’ve got work to do.”
The young woman sighed and walked away. At least she’d be able to keep an eye on him during the procedure. She’d become quite fond of him over the past year and a half.
Ash rolled his shoulders back and exhaled with a happy sound. He was feeling good about this attempt. They were using the latest in Sixan technology, so he had high hopes.
“I don’t know what you’re so happy about. Why do you even care?”
Ash looked over a August in dismay. The man hadn’t become any more fond of the project – in fact he seemed to be growing worse every time.
“I care because if this works we might have a whole new angle to explore! Think about it – if we can pull this off it will blow the lid off our current understanding of genetics.”
“So we impregnate the freak and see what happens? Yeah, great plan.”
“Why are you even a part of this if you hate it so much? You could always transfer.”
“I’m a part of it because Major ran off to marry that sim woman and they needed someone who would actually see this through.”
“Why do you hate them so much? I mean, they’ve not done anything to you.”
“Will you two be quiet already? We’re trying to work over here.”
Allison was not in a good mood. The Institute was threatening to replace her if she couldn’t get results. This was her idea, how dare they try to take it away. This was her life’s work.
“Allison, it’s going to work.”
“That’s what you said last time” she said as the light began to return, signalling the end of the procedure. She jogged back to the ship. She had data to analyse.
“We should probably head back, August.”
“It’s about time. I need to get out of this plumming neighbourhood.”
Ash watched him leave, looking at the floor sadly. A hand crept into his, and he looked up to see Gideon smiling at him.
“Come on, sweetheart. We don’t want the ship to leave without us.”
Ash looked around at the trees and the grass. He couldn’t help thinking that maybe that wouldn’t be such a bad thing after all.
A month had passed, and things had been pretty normal. Until today.
He woke up with a strange feeling in his abdomen, a mix between movement and pain. He could have sworn he saw a faint glow around the area, but it faded almost as soon as it began. That had never happened before. Could it be?
Lor quickly pushed down the hope that had bubbled up at the idea. He knew what happened when he let his imagination run away with him, and he didn’t want to go through it again.
Still, he couldn’t help the smile that crept onto his face.
The next time it happened, two weeks later, he was at work.
“Do you think you could water the plants for me today? I’m installing the new kitchen upstairs and I don’t want them to go hungry.”
Yuki smiled. He’d grown so much since he’d started working there, and he was now technically her boss. She didn’t mind – she’d refused promotion several times. She loved the stage she was at, and promotion might have meant more money but it also meant not being able to spend as much time on the parts of science that she enjoyed.
“Sure thing, Lor.”
He was about to ask her favourite food when it happened again.
“Lor? Lor?! Are you ok?”
“I’m fine” he said, propping himself up on the wall as the sensation faded. “I’ll go back to work. Don’t worry about me.”
Yuki watched as he carefully walked up the stairs, hand resting carefully on his stomach. Had she imagined that glow?
Lor had just added the finishing touches to the serum he was working on when he heard a voice calling his name. He placed the beaker down carefully and went to see what was going on.
Margarita was standing in front of a rather grumpy looking Elisa when he entered the room.
“Lor, I think we need a casual clothes day. Miss Grumpy over here needs cheering up.”
“I just didn’t get enough sleep, that’s all. My daughter is teething and its a nightmare, especially on my own.”
Lor looked at her, and sighed, taking off his own jacket. “I think we all need a casual clothes day.”
“Apparently so. Why are you wearing that?”
Lor didn’t want to mention that his work shirt had grown a little tight recently, so he got out his Simray and pointed it at the women.
“See” Margarita said, smirking over at Elisa. “Isn’t this better?”
Elisa smiled slightly and closed her eyes. “Yeah, it is.”
Well then, Lor thought to himself, lets go and spread the joy.
Nylah was the next ‘victim’.
“As much as I love the whole non-uniform thing you’re doing today, what’s going on?” She had her suspicions, of course. Before he could react, she placed her hand on his stomach.
“Lor, are you..?”
“I don’t know yet, but I think I might be.”
“I’ve got my fingers crossed for you.”
“Lorcán Centauri! Would you come up here for a moment?” Cassandra’s voice carried down the stairs and he pulled away from the hug.
“Someone’s in trouble~”
Lor grinned sheepishly at her and walked up the stairs. What had he done this time?
“Why are you not in uniform?”
“It’s Lor’s fault!” he said automatically, then cringed as he realised what he’d done. That worked for the others, it wouldn’t work for him.
Cassandra laughed as she watched the mortification spread over his face.
“Well yes, I imagined it would be. However, the last time I checked you couldn’t mind control yourself.”
“Umm… I felt left out?”
She let him squirm for a few more moments before smiling. “I’ll let you off on one condition.”
“What is it?”
“I feel left out, too.”
Lor grinned and fetched the Simray. “Leave it to me.”
“… Lor, what was that?”
“I think I’m pregnant” he blurted out, and her expression turned from concerned to stunned.
“How long has it been since-”
“Almost two months, now. I wasn’t sure, but this is the fourth time this has happened today. I think I really am.”
“Lor, I need you to go down to the basement. We have a full body scanner, and I want you to use it. Here are the keys.”
Half an hour later, he knew.
He was pregnant.
“I’m gonna have a baby~” he sang back at her, then turned to look at her. “If you’re able to wait about twenty minutes, I’m making spaghetti~”
“Well that sounds way better than cereal. I can wait.”
Lor practically skipped down the path up to his front door. He couldn’t wait to tell them.
“Mum? Mama? I’ve got some great news for you!”
The house was silent.
He walked through the door, heading towards the garden. Maybe they were outside.
“No… please, no.”
The reaper took her before he even had a chance to beg. Tears blurred his eyes as he looked at the urn that now stood in her place. No, this was all wrong. He hadn’t had a chance to tell her.
“Mama? Mama, come here. She’s gone” he sobbed. “Mum’s gone.”
The house was still silent.
“Mama? Mama please, I need you.”
He turned in time to see the reaper enter another room, and his heart almost stopped. No. Life couldn’t be that cruel. He ran after the reaper, hoping and hoping that it wasn’t-
“No. No this can’t be real.”
“I never even got to tell them.”
The reaper turned back, whether out of pity or some sort of empathy. “What did you not get to tell them?”
The reaper looked at the man, standing there with his shirt soaked in tears, and shook his head.
“I know it’s not worth much, but I am sorry.”
He stood there, alone in the house. There was a half prepared meal on the stove, and he turned it off. He couldn’t bring himself to throw it away.
Malik had been debating whether or not to come over. His sister had friends around, and as dangerous as she was on her own, she was worse in a group. He was scared.
“Lor? I’m sorry if you’re asleep, but can I crash on your couch?”
“Thanks, man. I- Lor? Lor, what’s wrong?”
Lor tried to speak, to say anything, but words wouldn’t come out. He touched Mal’s hand and gestured for him to follow.
Lor suddenly turned and ran outside. Malik ran after him, afraid of what he was going to do. He reached out and grabbed his hand and pulled him close.
“Let me go! I need to find the reaper. He’s only just left, he can’t have gone far, right? Right?!”
“Lor, he’s gone.”
Lor burst into tears, burying his face in his hands. Malik held him, crying quietly.
“They can’t be dead.” Lor mumbled over and over.
“I’m sorry, Lor. I’m so sorry.”
“They never even found out.”
“Found out what?”
Lor lifted his head slightly and looked at him.
Malik’s heart broke at the pain in his eyes.
“Mal? Stay here? I know you were going to ask if you could, but I’d understand if you don’t want-”