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Pun-tastic News (The Other Shoe Falls)

Posted on Sat Nov 11th, 2017 @ 8:24am by Commander Akiva ben-Avram & Staff Warrant Officer Laena ben-Avram
Edited on on Sat Nov 11th, 2017 @ 8:24am

Mission: Everybody Has A Story
Location: USS Vindex
Timeline: 2388

Laena took a deep breath, standing outside of Akiva's quarters. She rocked back on her heels, waiting for her chime to be answered, though no one came. She pressed her finger, again, to the wall panel and waited.

"Good morning," Akiva said, coming up behind her. He leaned over her shoulder to kiss her cheek, then palmed the wall panel. The door confirmed his biometrics and opened the door for them both. "I'm just here for a change of clothes." He held his hand out. "After you, kallati."

Laena stiffened at the touch, but did not recoil. She nodded softly as she walked into his quarters, not saying a word.

"I was hoping you'd spend the night again." Akiva followed her inside. "No pressure, of course. I've just missed you." He quickly began stripping on his way to the bedroom for a clean uniform. "This is, of course, your second home until you decide otherwise, though I think I should add your biometrics to the door panel so you can come and go as you please."

"I know," she said, quietly. "Akiva..." She looked up, watching as the man quickly moved about the room. While he was typically attentive, he seemed to be in a bit of a hurry. Doubt pulled at her. Perhaps now was not the right time. But she knew if she made an excuse today, she would just find another one tomorrow.

It was now or never. "Akiva, please stop and come talk to me," she said, her voice strained. He took a deep breath, her chin trembling slightly as she fought back the whirlwind of emotions.

Akiva had been hopping on one foot while wrestling with his shoe. He stood up, bare-chested and wearing only his slacks, and saw Laena's look of concern.

"Of course." He came near her, still absently carrying his shoe in hand, and sat her down on the sofa. It was the same sofa where he had stolen the first kiss of his life in what seemed a lifetime ago. "Whatever you have to tell me, I'll listen."

"I went to see Doctor Arkady," she said, looking down at her hands that were being held gently in his.

Akiva dropped the shoe in his hand so he could take up both of hers. "What was the matter?" His face sank into a frown. "Are you not well?"

"I'm..." She trembled for a moment but willed herself to continue. "I'm pregnant, Akiva," she said, her voice meek and quiet.

And there was the other shoe dropping. Akiva felt his jaw go along with it. His thoughts raced in multiple directions. Future fatherhood. Traumatic childhood. Would he make a good father to a baby? Would the baby grow to resent him? What would Biynah think?

Through it all, there was one light at the end of the tunnel. Laena, her beautiful eyes, pleading for a response from him over her quivering chin.

"Oh Laena," he said at last. "Was... is this what you've kept from me all this time?" He swept her up in his arms and held her close. Tears formed at the corner of his eyes. Tears of joy. Tears of relief. "This is wonderful news. A gift, even, and one I will cherish every bit that I cherish you." He swallowed down the trepidation he felt. Holding Laena close as he was, he found it easier to do than ever. He kissed her temple, her cheek, and her lips with soft, light pecks of assurance before leaning back a bit. His hands remained on her arms, though. Nothing would make him let go.

"I suppose this explains your sickness the other morning. How do you feel?"

"Please put me down." It was obvious by the tone of the woman's voice that she wasn't quite as enthused by the news as her partner was.

Akiva died a little inside, but he did as she asked. "I'm sorry," he said quietly.

"I'm still trying to wrap my head around it and..." her voice trailed off. Her fingers slowly moved along the man's chest, the wisps of hair tickling her fingertips as she felt the muscles beneath his skin. "It's just so much, Akiva."

The openness and vulnerable honesty between them slowly ignited a passion within Akiva. He smiled down at her. "We have a lifetime to wrap our heads around it," he said softly, then gave her head another kiss. "You've given me the strength to face any trial in the moment. Let me be the same for you."

Akiva dropped his hands down her shoulders to her waist, then centered them below her navel.

"Right there." He smiled again, his joy returning as looked down at his hands over her womb. "Our little miracle."

When his eyes returned to Laena, they were filled with desire. "I love you, Laena. And, scary as the future always seems, I'd be lying if I wasn't excited. This is a brand new adventure, and I get to share it with you."

He kissed her forehead, though this time his lips lingered against her skin. Their touch spoke louder and clearer than any words could express. Before his hands could seize upon the desire coursing from his legs, he brought himself to heel.

"Only if you want," he whispered, eyes closed, lips pressed against her for another lingering kiss between her cheek and her ear. "Only let me be here with you, forever and always."

"I don't know if I want this baby," Laena said, her voice barely audible and full of shame as her head slumped beneath Akiva's presence.

That sucked the mounting desire straight out of his loins. He was utterly stunned.

"What?"

"I just..." She took a deep breath. "I'm in school still, and this ship is dangerous and you have a very high stress position on board. I just don't think this is a good idea."

"So... what do you want to do?" he asked. "Give our baby away to someone else? I would think you of all people would do that to an innocent child."

Laena recoiled, a look of shocked hurt on her face, but she said nothing.

Akiva closed his eyes and mentally berated himself. "I'm sorry, Laena. That was unfair." When he opened his eyes, the sight of his betrothed broke his heart into a thousand pieces. "I believe in you. And us. There's nothing we can't do together. This baby... our child... will only make us stronger."

She sat there for a moment, her mind racing between the woman she was and the woman she wanted to be. And a switch flipped in her mind as she stood up from the couch. "I'm already strong, Akiva," she said, her voice steely and cold. "I have a strength that I built within myself. And I'm sorry if you feel you need another being to make you strong, but I don't."

"Strong-er. I said 'strong-er'," Akiva repeated, accenting each syllable with his hand. "If your strength is so sturdy, then why is it so easily shaken? First by marriage. Now by pregnancy. What makes you view these good things as a threat?"

"My strength is sturdy," she said, her eyes locked on the man. "But I am not a person who needs these things to be complete. But what's worse is that you force them upon me. You forced me into your kind of relationship and now you think to force me into having a child when I don't think it's a good idea? I refuse to allow you to treat me as every other man has treated me."

"Fine." Akiva's smoldering eyes turned cold. "This child is my flesh; I cannot abandon it anymore than I can abandon you. I cannot make choices for you, Laena, and let it not be said I presumed to try. Leave the child with me and go on with your journey alone if that's what you want."

"Why does everything have to be one extreme or another with you?" Laena asked, throwing her hands up in the air with frustration. "Why is marriage or separation my only options? Is taking things slow such a foreign concept for you?"

Akiva rubbed his forehead. Tucking his hand under his chin, he paced about, struggling for words.

"I don't know how to make you understand, Laena. I want to be with you, and HaShem willing I will be until the day I die. But I cannot despise my own flesh, whether that is you or our child. I am keeping the child whether you want it or not. You will have to decide for yourself, and you need to understand the consequences of that decision."

He closed his eyes and gasped. Taking a breath didn't help. It only made him want to cry, and he needed to be strong at this moment. Stepping forward, he reached for her hands.

"Please understand I am not trying to force you to do anything you don't want to do. Only understand that I will do what I must. With or without you." He tried to smile, but his sad frown would not be denied. "With, I pray."

"You say you aren't trying to force me to do anything, and yet that's all you've done since we've gotten together." Laena leaned against the counter, "Things have to always be your way, and you constantly infer that if I don't fall in line, that I should just leave." A tear rolled down her cheek.

"I don't want you to leave me!" Akiva turned away to hide his own tears. "If you don't understand why I must do as I do, then I cannot blame you for that." He wiped his eyes dry and then turned to face her again.

"But I have made no demands of you, Laena." His voice grew bolder. "I have set no boundaries, or ultimatums, or conditions of any kind. What have I asked of you, except to accept me as I am? If you did leave me, then I may never lie with another woman again. I swore myself to you, and unless you desecrate that completely, then to you I am tethered body and soul, no matter what. It is the same with our unborn child."

He closed his eyes from the sight of her barely contained weeping.

"Why must we fight? This should be a happy time." They lingered together, staring at one another, willing for mutual understanding that escaped words despite all desire to the contrary.

"We fight because you ask me to accept you as you are. To understand you. To compromise who I am and what I want for your traditions and way of life. And yet you don't do me the same courtesy." Laena walked away from the man. "When I told you I had doubts about having a baby, you did not comfort me. You were not reassuring. You were belittling."

"I assured you that we would be strong together, and you called that weakness!" He stopped himself before he continued shouting. A strange calm came over him, one that even allowed him to look her in the eye without flinching. "If you told me you wished to remove my arm and cast it away, then you would find the same response. It would be the same if you said you considered removing your leg. These would not be good ideas to entertain."

He looked down at himself only to realize he was half naked. For the first time since they had been together, Akiva made to cover himself.

"I don't know what you want from me, Laena," he said at length, "and I think I've realized that neither do you."

And then it occurred to her. Finally, the pieces fell into place and she turned to her betrothed with complete understanding.

"There is a big difference between you and I, Akiva," she said. "You live your life with expectations. You have traditions and heritage to guide you and your thoughts. So when it comes to a relationship, you don't need time to think. When it comes to children, you don't need time to process. Because you already expected these things. But I did not. I do not have such experiences in my life. So when things happen to me, I do not have answers. My mind needs time to understand, to think about the possibilities and consequences. And you will give that to me. This is non-negotiable."

Akiva was dumbfounded. "I... I thought that was already our agreement. That's why I..." He ran to her and swept her into his arms. "Anything," he whispered. "I will give you anything. Because I've already pledged to you everything."

Laena was still angry, and she was sure this wasn't the last time the two of them would have this argument. But for now, she allowed her anger to subside and melted into his embrace as she laid her head on his chest.

"Can we both promise something?" His voice cracked with its increased volume. "Let's not assume what the other thinks. If we don't understand one another, then we listen until we do. I want to know you more, Laena, and I'm excited that each day gives me a chance to do just that."

Laena just nodded.

Akiva held her tightly and kissed her head.

 

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