“Yeah, this’ll do nicely,” Lyra shields her eyes from the setting sun and scans the horizon, “I can see living here.”
“It certainly is lovely,” Crux agrees, “breathtaking, even.”
“I’ll get a house close to the beach, swim every day and hit up the casino every night—I’ll be living’ the high life. No more of this dry heat, endless sand bullshit.”
“I think the safety and remoteness of this town is more compelling,” Crux wants to hurry this along. Lyra and Crux have been visiting various towns around Simnation for months, investigating demographics and gauging political and social leanings. They’d run into some strange towns during their adventures, as well as some forgettable towns, but this one was different. It’s normal, but eerily so. Everyone had been kind to the duo thus far, and no one questioned their appearance. It seems they found a winner, but Crux is nervous, uneasy. Something feels off—it’s too perfect, too welcome, too accepting.
“While I agree the view is sublime, I believe it is time for us to return to Lucky Palms. Polaris is due any day now…”
“Polaris? Are you okay?”
“Hello, Mr. Court? It’s Elly.”
“Ummm…mom’s, ummm…her something broke?” Crux hears yelling in the background. “Oh, water. Her water broke.”
“Already? This is premature--how is she feeling?” Elysia relays the question to her mom. Profanity laced screams emanate from the phone.
“I’m not going to get to go to the casino, am I?” Lyra sighs.
Elysia whimpers, “Umm…I don’t think she’s okay. She’s really mad. At you, in fact.” Crux sighs. After Luke abandoned her during her first pregnancy, he can understand why Polaris would be so angry.
“Please hurry, Mr. Court. She’s really mad.”
“Try to keep her calm and relaxed,” Crux knows that advice is useless, but he’s at a loss for what else to do. His mate—wait, fiancée, not mate—is giving birth at this moment, and he’s not there to help. He can’t keep disappointing her like this.
***The snow is piling up outside. The kids have long since gone to bed, tuckered out by the winter festival, but Crux is still talking so Polaris is obligated to listen.
“You told Lyra that you had been abducted before you told me?” Polaris snaps. She had been listening to his abduction story for half an hour, and had amazingly stayed mostly-quiet, but this was inexcusable. “I can’t believe this. This happened how long ago?”
“Before your announced your pregnancy.”
“Hmm. Interesting, interesting. And when did you tell Lyra?”
“…also before you announced your pregnancy.” She feels herself tense up as rage begins to coarse through her. He told Lyra first.
“I told her first simply because I wished to investigate our options—“
“—and I’m not capable of investigating? She’s a hothead! I mean, I am, too, but she’s worse than me! And what the fuck do you mean investigating? That alien gave you stupid advice. We’re not going to announce to the world, ‘hey, we’re aliens. Don’t worry, we come in peace.’ Not until I know for sure that the Commander is dead. Maybe not even then.”
“As I was saying, I decided—and Lyra agrees--it would be best if we seek out a place we are sure that the Hegemony never colonized. There are several towns and villages in Simnation that they are not aware of; really, we only sent agents to a handful of population centers, centers we thought would be strategic. Even though Lyra was an agent for longer than you or I, she cannot name more than three population centers. I personally know that there are many gaps in the Hegemony’s knowledge of Simnation.” He stops speaking for a moment, expecting a response. Polaris stares back at him, her eyes cold and unwavering. She’s afraid if she blinks she might cry. Stupid pregnancy.
“Furthermore, if the Hegemony really is collapsing, we cannot predict what will happen to fugitives such as ourselves. We could be safe, or another, crueler government could take over and seek out traitors. We may want to move to a more remote area. Lyra has offered to assist me in exploring potential locations. Considering Simnation’s diverse populations, I think we can find a place where we can obfuscate ourselves.”
Polaris sinks deeper into her chair. Every time he utters Lyra’s name, there’s a familiar pang of jealousy. They’d been engaged for less than an hour, and the relationship already felt rocky. “Can I help? I’m not useless.”
“Oh, Mr. White Knight—you’re gonna protect me from the mean old aliens or dragons or whatever the fuck is out there? You’re gonna put me on a pedestal? Am I going to be your ‘angel of the house’? Chauvinist.”
“Polaris, you are pregnant. I apologize if it makes me sexist, but I do not want to endanger you or our offspring. I feel that is reasonable. In the following months, I will be travelling a lot. The triplets need to remain in school, and you must rest so our child may be healthy. Please forgive me for not telling you, but I am not trying to hurt you. Quite the opposite, actually.”
“Thank you,” he beams. Solaris had told him that being called a nerd was a compliment.
“Oh, I love you. Don’t get yourself killed, okay?”
“I swear I will return unscathed.”
“Get that fucking fleabag out of here!” Polaris screams. The pain is so bad her eyes begin to cross. The cat scratches himself, unimpressed by Polaris’ slurs.
“Mom, Mr. Court isn’t coming,” Elysia tries to break the news elegantly, but her voice cracks and she begins to scream, “He isn’t coming! What do we do?” Luna joins in the screaming.
“Mom’s giving birth? Why didn’t you tell me!?” Words melt away into shrieks. Solaris, attracted by the ruckus, wanders in the room. He soon joins in the chorus of high-pitched screeching.
“Why are you all screaming?! I’m the one in labor here!” Polaris growls.
“Are you dying?” Luna begins to cry.
“We’re all dying! Every day our lives get shorter and we get closer to the grave,” Polaris snaps. Luna cries harder.
“No!” Elysia yells, “don’t call dad! It’ll upset her more! Mr. Court said to keep her calm.”
“But how?!” Luna whines
“Is that---are you—is—“ he stammers, “is that our child?” A smile overtakes her face, and her anger dissipates. She forgot how endearing Crux could be when he is overwhelmed.
“She?” He asks. Polaris nods. “I told you so. You owe me 100 simoleons.”
“You mercenary son of a bitch! That’s what you say when you meet your daughter?”
“Her name--I did not think to ask her name! Unless…do I get to name her?”
Polaris laughs, “Sure. I think I used up all my ideas on the triplets.”
Crux looks down at his daughter. “Nova,” he whispers, “I am rather fond of that name. I think it suits her. I have a daughter, Polaris!”
“Yes, and you have a son,” Polaris gestures to a crib. Crux’s jaw drops. “Go on—hold him. I’ll take Nova for a second.”
“Do I get to name him, too?”
“Knock yourself out.”
“Yeah, genetics is a funny thing.”
“They are beautiful, Polaris,” he coos at Zenith, “you and your sister are the most beautiful little creatures I have ever seen.”
“We do good work,” she smiles, “It’s time for them to nap, though. It’s probably time for me to nap, too.”
“I wouldn’t go that far.”
“Are you sure you are not angry?”
“Shh! Be mindful of the children”
“I mean, what the hell?” she angry-whispers, “you had to go out of town right then? You couldn’t wait? And you come back looking like—like--“
“Lyra said I was to appear as if I were a ‘beach bum.’ It is a disguise.”
“We’ll you look stupid.”
“And what did Lyra think?”
“I did not ask her opinion, and she did not offer it,” he shrugs, “you look positively wonderful, though.”
“Ugh, I feel horrible. How was your most-important, fantabulous, magnificent trip?”
“I have a question for you, Polaris.”
“One question, then I’m going to bed.”
“You seriously have to ask?”
“Well, you had triplets with---“ he stops himself from calling Luke a name, “with Luke.”
“Are you suggesting I intentionally had triplets with him?”
“Like I ovulated more for him or something?”
“That is a ridiculous—“
“Maybe your sperm count is just lower,” she sneers. Crux is momentarily silent.
“So shall I call off the wedding?”
“Oh my—I forgot about that! Wow, we should probably plan for that, right?” she laughs.
“We will begin planning tomorrow,” he promises.
“Anything for you.”
“As you wish,” he smirks.
***Author’s note: I really played up Crux’s news, but all he wanted to do was tell Polly about his abduction and his plan for the future. Sorry for teasing you! >:) I know I moved back and forth from present and past in the last few chapters--I hope it hasn't been confusing. I'll try not to time-travel in the following chapters.
So…twins! I was pretty happy they had twins, and I was ecstatic they had a boy AND a girl. Yaaaaaay.
I don’t know where that cat came from. It isn’t a stray (it belongs to the Lancaster family), but somehow it ended up in the Bee house. He watched TV with Solaris for awhile: