It took some work to get Gal to see a doctor. There came a point when it couldn’t not be a baby in there, unless she was right and it was a giant tumor…
“It’s a baby,” the guy in white said.
I couldn’t tell if it was that dry, dark sense of humor that most medical folks seemed to have or if he was new to the job… Wasn’t expecting a guy to feel up my woman, though.
“Are you sure?” Gal asked. “I thought techs weren’t qualified to give results or whatever. Couldn’t it be a baby-shaped tumor?”
“Looks a whole lot like a baby, Gal,” I said.
“Do you want to know the gender?” the handsy guy asked. “Looks like you’re just far enough along. I think. Maybe.”
“It’s a boy,” Gal and I said together.
So she knew, too. Could she tell it was fae? There was that–what had Dru called it, sparkliness?–coming from her belly, but if I said anything, she’d probably think it was a fat joke.
“We got this,” I told Gal. Every morning, I woke up worrying she’d change her mind–but it was too late now, unless she was gonna put the kid up for adoption. And…I didn’t think she would, even if I’d get first dibs.
I knew Galatea Straud’s instinctive panic when I saw it, but it seemed to be fading. Maybe she hadn’t really wanted to get rid of the kid at all, but fear took over. I just hoped she wouldn’t blame herself for all the normal fuck-ups every parent made.
“I wish there was a procedure that’d extract the damn thing and keep it in an incubator or a pod or whatever until it’s ready,” she said. “I have to pee all the time and my feet hurt. And I’m only getting bigger.”
Heh. I liked that part…
“Wipe that look off your face, horndog,” she said, even though she pounced on me at least half the time…
I waited another couple days before bringing up another subject I wasn’t sure how she’d react to–and buttered her up with a foot massage, which she never got tired of these days.
“My parents wanna meet you,” I began. “You know, uh, as the mother of their first grandkid, and, uh…all.” My future wife.
“I already met your dad, can’t he put in a good word for me?”
“…Weren’t you a kid?”
“I was a very belligerent, smart-assed, potty-mouthed little girl,” she said, “and now I’m older. Pretty much the same.”
“You’ll like Ma,” I said. “She’s like Daze but, uh, lower-energy. But even if she doesn’t smile a whole lot, it doesn’t mean she doesn’t like you. Used to be a vampire and all…”
“I don’t think I could handle a higher-energy version of your sister.” Even if she talked like that, I could still tell she liked her.
“…So you’ll take a trip to San Myshuno with me?”
“Fifteen more minutes of foot massage,” she said, “and I’ll think about it.”
“Damn,” I said, my eyes wandering. “They’re even bigger…” Her ass too, even if I couldn’t see it.
“Shh. Less eye-fucking, more foot-massaging.”
Guess I did a good job, because she headed on over to the city with me a week later.
“God,” she said after we stepped through the elevator doors leading to my parents’ apartment. “I wish I didn’t have to wear a fucking tent everywhere.”
“You look pretty,” I said. I’d learned that was the right answer, no matter the circumstances.
“Ma and Pops should be ready for us,” I said as we headed inside. “They’ll be glad–”
I stopped short.
“So that’s where you and Daisy get it from,” Gal said, laughing.
“Hey kids,” Pops said. “You’re here early. Day’s still getting ready.”
“Hey, Mr. Strider,” Gal said. “Good to see you again.” Was she flirting with my pops…? Shit, she was sitting down next to him…
“Your old man still a royal pain in the ass?”
Luckily, Ma appeared at the table a minute later. “Saul,” she said. “Please put some clothes on.”
Ma herded Pops into their bedroom before they both re-emerged fully-clothed–and pulled me into a hug. I’d warned them not to try hugging Gal–she wasn’t a hugger, especially not with strangers.
“Wow,” Gal said. “It’s so weird to see family members actually hug each other.”
Shit. Did she sound sad, or was I reading into things? Maybe it was the pregnancy hormones…
“We’re delighted to have you,” Ma said as she and Pops turned to Gal. From her voice, Ma was probably smiling one of her smiles that she didn’t have to work too hard at, taking Gal’s hand in hers. “Sebastian is lucky to have found someone so lovely.”
“Never thought anyone’d have him,” Pops said.
Gal was…smiling shyly back at them. “Pretty sure I’m the lucky one.”
All of us gravitated to the den, where me and Pops took one couch and Ma and Gal took the other.
“Sebastian Strider,” Pops said. “Thought I told you to stay out of motels until you were ready for kids.”
“I forgot. And, uh, I had other things on my mind.” Like a naked Gal showering just a few feet away from me.
He snorted. “Can’t say I blame you. You gonna make an honest woman out of her soon?”
Hopefully Gal couldn’t hear, but she was distracted by Ma, who could get…intense, in her own way.
“Gotta think of the perfect way to ask first…” Nothing cheesy or public, or Gal’d kill me.
“A grandson…” he said. “Thought your sister’d beat you to it. The first Strider in a generation’s always a boy, you know.”
“I’ve never been so excited for anything in my life,” I said. “Even if it doesn’t feel real. A son of my own…”
Ma was talking to Gal about something…was she trying to touch her belly? Gal practically bit the head off of any stranger who tried, saying she wasn’t a public park.
“I don’t know shit about being a mom,” Gal said.
Should I be listening in…? But I caught Ma’s next words anyhow.
“You’re welcome to stay with us,” she said. “We would be happy to help with our first grandchild.”
Gal laughed. “At least someone would…”
“You have nothing to fear, Galatea,” Ma said. “You’re forever part of our family.”
Gal was in a good mood when we left that day. “You’re right,” she said. “I do like your mom. And I can see where you get your pervy tastes from.”
“They’re not pervy.”
“Whatever you say, perv.”
But she sounded happy–and for the first time in a long time, unafraid.