"Iíve felt better" Diana laughed in spite of herself, flopping down on the futon. This was a lot to absorb. Life was certainly getting complicated all of a sudden. By now the tunnel pipe system had probably announced her condition to the entire world!
Peter was not sure how to take her humor. The expression on his face showed his puzzlement and worry, as he sat down beside her.
She patted his hand reassuringly. He was a very intelligent, tender, caring man, and she knew he sacrificed so much to help care for the tunnel denizens.
"I have had the usual morning sickness, going on about 2 weeks now. I just didnít realize I was pregnant. Iíve been late before and with the kidnapping and all. It just wasnít as obvious as it should have been, until I put two and two together only minutes before you arrived. Thatís why Iím so shocked!"
He suppressed his chuckle, "Well, after all, Jacob and I are doctors you know and fathers, as well."
"Peter, I was told I could never conceive. Now Iím wondering if my GP was a quack or if Vincent has some special ability of which weíre all unaware."
"Why were you told you would be unable to conceive, if I may ask?"
"I have some anomaly of the uterus. They told me if I ever decided I would like to have children that I would need surgery to repair the problem. Iíve never routinely used birth control."
Peter studied her a moment. She knew what he was getting ready to ask.
"Yes, I have had a few other partners before Vincent and I have never been able to conceive in the past. I just assumed I had built in birth control."
"Well, Jacob and I have always felt that Vincent would probably never be able to father a child. You saw his lab work. He is very different from normal men in so many ways; but, we were way off the mark on that one! Though way off the charts, he does seem quiteÖfertile. It may be his ability, or perhaps your problem has corrected itself gradually over time. This often may be the case and I hope your do not think your personal physician was incompetent."
He paused a moment to study her face, "Diana, I will be glad to monitor you in this pregnancy, if you wish. It might prove to be too risky to continue with your usual doctor. Iím sure you will do fine, but some of the ultrasound and blood work results might cause questions to be raised about the babyís father. I would hate for this to endanger Vincent or the others living Below."
"I know, that is the last thing I would want to happen, and I appreciate the offer."
"Iíd be glad to examine you and make some recommendations for the nausea, supplemental vitamins and such, while Iím here."
"This all seems so fast," Diana sighed, shaking her head in lingering disbelief.
"I know this must all be overwhelming to you. I believe all will go well. You know I monitored Catherine a short time and she had never felt better. It was a travesty that terrible Gabriel fellow did what he did. We all wish things would have turned out differently. It all nearly destroyed Vincent."
He placed his hand on hers, squeezing it gently.
"You, my dear, were more than instrumental in saving him and his sanity. You were a savior to us all. You stopped Vincent from that destructive path to death, Diana and gave him hope when he was so lost. You accomplished it through your love, and of course, by restoring his son to him. We are all deeply indebted to you."
He was making her blush. She had just been doing her job. It was onlyÖlater that listening to her gut became following her heart.
He saw the color rising on her face. So he changed the subject.
"Do you know I brought Catherine into this world? I always embarrassed her when I told the story of being the first to pat her bare fanny. I guess Iím good at making women blush. Forgive me, Diana. Yes, times were certainly less complicated back then. Before any of us were aware of an almost mythical underground world andÖ"
"An unimaginable man," Diana added, thinking back to her first sight of Vincent.
"Yes," agreed Peter.
"Well letís go into the bedroom," she suggested, "and get this over with before Vincent arrives. I donít want him out here pacing like an expectant father with his wife in labor."
Peter gave her a look as if to say, well, he is an expectant father.
"I meant that sort of thing should come later, by about 9 months, I think," she corrected.
Peter did a cursory exam, took vital signs and even drew a blood sample.
"Everything seems in perfect order," he said packing up his equipment, "and I have the feeling Vincent is waiting."
Sure enough, there he was, standing just inside the landing. Diana could kick herself over losing their connection. Even Peter could sense things better than she could now!
"Everything is fine with Diana and the baby," the doctor reported, pulling on his jacket. "Iíll leave now and have these tests back in a day or two. Take care both of you and Diana, if you need anything youíve got my card. Bye now."
"Thank you, Peter," Vincent called out softly, now knowing Jacobís observations had been correct.
"Yes," was all Diana could get out, suddenly nervous about what she would say to Vincent.
Vincent soundlessly shrugged off his cloak and tossed it over the back of the futon. They studied each otherís faces a moment in silence, both wishing desperately that they could sense the otherís feelings.
Then Vincent held out his arms.
Diana released the breath she was holding, and shaking her head, came to his welcoming embrace. Savoring the warmth and aroma of him andÖthe acceptance, tears moistened her face.
She didnít know how long they had stood that way, when, finally, he drew back, gently brushing the hair away from her face. Placing a finger under her chin, he lifted her face so he could look into her eyes.
"TearsÖof joy, sorrow, confusion? Which one Diana?"
"Maybe a little of all three. Oh, Vincent, I donít know if Iím cut out to be a mother. Iíve never been the maternal type." Her doubts came pouring out. "Susan, now sheís unbelievable and.Ö"
"Ssshh," he whispered, placing his finger to her lips. "You are wonderful with children. I have seen how much they love you. Is that really whatís troubling you?"
She took a deep breath; "I feel like Iíve deceived you. This wasnít supposed to be able to happen."
"You did nothing of the sort. Neither of us thought this was possible. We will work this out together. I think weíve been given a gift and incredible gift and this time, I plan to be there for each moment."
"Little Jacob is unbelievable, but Vincent, what if.Ö"
"This baby favors his father? Will he not be protected, fed, loved? Yes, things will be even more complicated and I pray that it will be a normal baby, but will we love him any less if he or she is not? I can never express to Father the enormity of my appreciation for all he has done for me. No, my life has not been easy and there have been times that I have wanted, even sought, death. But, when I held Jacob in my arms I knew I must live for him, through him. I must continue the love his mother had given him, to carry him all those months, through all she must have endured."
Diana hugged him tightly, feeling his words of hope and strength wash over her like a healing balm.
"Then our relationship grew and once again, I realized what a precious gift life is and love," he added savoring the embrace. "You are not alone; we are not alone in this. Whatever comes, this baby will be safe, loved and pampered. I know that without a doubt. He will be accepted whether he resembles me or not."
"Youíre right, youíre right," sighed Diana, feeling better already. Vincent had an uncanny way of putting things into perspective.
"But, I know youíre worried about coming Below. We will find a way to give you the space you need to be happy and content."
She looked at the melon bowl on the end table beside them, fingering the rim. "You know, I think I was falling in love with you way back then."
"But, I frightened you. You risked everything to nurse me back to health." He remembered her confession, months ago, that she had kept a revolver close, fearing for her life with his violent outbursts. She had not realized the enormity of the danger in which she had placed herself until she witnessed, first hand, the destructive strength of his delirium. He would always regret terrifying her in that way.
"Yes, but not now. Never! But, I just donít fit in down there."
ĎMaybe you are trying too hard. Itís too much, too soon."
"Yes, I am very much the same. We have other recluses, you know: Cullen, Mouse and Jamie, Narcissa, all require distance to function. They all are part of our community and welcome but often spend more time away in solitude than mingling with the others. It is part of their personalities, like you and me. There are ways we can find the space and solitude you need to be well, to keep who you are alive."
He looked around the apartment, taking mental stock of things, as if devising a security plan of his own.
"Though I worry about you staying here in the loft, if we can find a way to make it safer, a way I know that help can come if you are in trouble I would feel much better about it. I know you donít want me coming to your rescue as I did with Catherine. And I can not go down that path again. With our connection gone that is no longer feasible anyway. But, I swear if we must hire armed body guards to keep you safe, we will."
"Please, Vincent, letís not go to extremes; remember my need for solitude?"
She would have to check into the alarms persons could wear on their wrist or around their neck and with a push of a button, alert a loved one or the police. Sheíd give Vincent the lowdown after sheíd gotten some information together for him. Technology would be coming to the tunnels, but for now, all she wanted was a good nap.
"Are you as tired as I am? I really didnít sleep a wink last night."
He nodded and stretched out on the futon, entreating her to lie against him and she joined him resting her head on his chest. The steady beating of his heart soon worked itsí magic, lulling her close to dreams.
"So what went through your mind when you found this out?" she murmured.
"Disbelief, shock, wonderment, incredulity, the entire gamut. And finally, in the words of our dear Mouse, ĎI thought it was neat!í"
"Neat?" Diana had heard many eloquent expressions come from Vincentís mouth, but this?
"Neat?" She repeated, rising up on her elbows to study his face, thinking he must be joking.
"Indeed, neat!" He repeated looking for all purposes like the Cheshire cat himself.
"That sums it up succinctly," he added.
"Okay, thereís a story here; I can feel it, tell me."
He gently pressed her head back down to his chest, as he stoked her auburn hair.
"I had ventured into some of the deepest tunnels in our world seeking a special anniversary gift for Catherine. I had heard Narcissa mention a crystal cavern and hoped I could find it. I discovered it was indeed real, beautiful and sparkling beyond belief and I lingered there for hours. I carefully removed some large quartz stones for a necklace. I brought them back to show Mouse, who helped me create the gift. Upon my return, in his most innocent way, he inquired about the cavern, asking, ĎWas it neat?í"
"I have never seen his eyes so wide in wonderment; actually so much like little Jacobís when he sees you. He seems to know how special you are to me, to all of us."
He cleared his throat, returning to his story, "I told Mouse, ĎIt was indeed neat.í And so it was!"
He released a soft chuckle, "And so life is. Sleep now," he whispered, kissing her forehead.
Satisfied, she snuggled back against him, as he pulled his cloak down, covering them both. Within moments he could tell by her breathing that she was asleep. He looked over at the melon bowl, a tangible symbol of the selfless care and love Diana had shown him from the very beginning. So much had happened since that first tenuous time, so much more lay ahead.
Pressing his cheek to the crown of her head, he closed his eyes and soon joined her in dreams.