Saturday, January 1, 2011


"I'm pregnant."

I hadn't meant to just blurt the words out as we lay nude next to each other on the perfectly white sheets of the hotel. The air in the room suddenly became still. My chest rose as I inhaled, my eyes glued to the seam on the bed sheet, my finger near by with one red nail dark against the pale blanket.

Henri's eyes were on me, but he didn't say a word at first. I could see his own chest rising like mine as if the air had suddenly become too heavy for him too. He sat up slowly, the sheet dropping down to his waist. "What?"

"Oh this can't be the first time this has happened. I'm not your only partner, I'm sure."

He expelled air from his lungs harshly. I didn't dare glance up at him. He was nothing more than a tanned torso out of the corner of my eye. His large forearms moved and I could just imagine him running his hand through his hair as he did so often.

"Get rid of it."

The thought had occurred to me. It would be the smartest move. And it wasn't as if it was something I hadn't done before.

I sat up on one elbow and looked up at him. The blanket fell into the crevice between my torso and my hip exposing my breasts. "No."

Henri's lips were parted, his brow furrowed. The lines around his eyes seemed to pile up suddenly making him seem his age. He reached out with one hand, placing it on my hip before sliding me over to him. My completely non-existent belly pressed between us. "No." His voice, soft and scratchy, filled my stomach with a large ball of unidentifiable emotions.

I swallowed them, fighting it back. Against his neck, I whispered, "Henri, you've never seemed like the type of man to care."

He pulled away from me then. Whatever magic he had been working had dissipated. "It's a stupid risk. What if it has powers? Are you going to send it to live with me? To raise it into what we have to become?"

I sat up. My bare back pressed against the cold wood of the head board sent goosebumps up and down my skin. I ran a hand along one forearm, my cold fingers not helping to smooth out the bumps. "No. I'm not." But my plan was still just as bad if she did have powers that I couldn't hide. Wiley would take her if I asked.

My vision focused on the blanket again. It was not strategic. It was not smart. But it was the right thing. It felt right. "Do you have other children then?"

He leaned forward, an elbow on one half raised knee. "Two. One of them isn't mine though he might as well be."

That meant he had another one that was his. Did he have a family in the Wildlands that I didn't know about? Was I the other woman? I looked at him and caught his tired eyes again, but I was unable to ask. At that moment, I had to look very young. He never spoke of his life in the Wildlands, and I never asked because I knew he wouldn't speak if he didn't want to.

Henri rubbed at his chin with the hand attached to the elbow on his knee. "You can't know what they'll be like or how it might affect them." The words that left his mouth were directed softly at the blanket. At first I wasn't sure I had heard him, but I was aware that he was speaking from experience.

The silence stiffled the both of us. It filled the room uncomfortably after his quietly spoken words. There were questions I had that I hoped would help, but the words stayed inside my chest, not even tickling my throat. Answers were what I needed. His help was what I wanted. But I couldn't ask for either.

We left the hotel room together that night, the silence following us down to the street. Outside, he stopped me with one large hand on my cheek, his eyes burrowing into me as if he could plant his thoughts into my mind. Perhaps he could in some way; I still didn't know what powers he had. He brushed his lips against mine before he stepped away from me and down the street. The cheek that hand been warmed by his large hand was suddenly very cold.

She was born a very normal looking little girl. Wiley had her tested for me, and we found nothing out of the ordinary. She was a regular human as far as everyone else was concerned. But I knew better. She was never ordinary to me.

I always wanted him to see her as she grew. We continued to work together except for that short period of time I thought I could be a normal healthy mother for her as I was in the process of loosing my own. Their lives brushed against each other by proximity, through a common connector.

She was nothing like either of us. Where Henri and I pushed at the world, attempting to bend it in the direction we thought best suited for it, she was content. It wasn't unusual for me to find her sitting on the grass watching the bugs and the butterflies. She observed everything with a calm clarity and a steady eye. Her job has never been to ask why, but to see.

That was what I wanted Henri to know and to see for himself. It was possible to smile at the everyday things in life, to find contentment just from sitting on the grass.

When I wrote those letters, my last words to the both of them, I wanted him to know that she isn’t like either of us. She is completely different. An alien gifted to me with lessons to teach about the world we both thought we knew too well.

And now I lay here in the dark one this cold stone floor, aware that when that door opens, it will be the last time. I have nothing left, not even tears to shed for her, but I hope. For the first time, I find myself praying that she is all right.

Chapter 30 Wake up -->


  1. Wow, interesting. It's not the thought of her having his child that he has issues with, it's the fact that if the child had powers she would ask him "to raise it into what we have to become". He sees himself and others like him as choiceless, that there is only one way for them to survive and he wouldn't wish this life on anyone, especially not a child of his.

    He never actually answered whether this had happened before, only that he has a child by blood. My guess (and it's only a guess) is that it had happened, but the women weren't Cheryl and gave into his request. Which of course raises the question as to whether he asked Brandon's mother to "get rid of it" and she, too, refused him.

    The end was both beautiful and heartbreaking, Cheryl's obvious love for and the enjoyment she got from the child that she and Henri created, even though I get the impression it's a word she didn't use terribly often. Starting to wonder now, though, whether Paula does actually have a hidden power, just one that isn't obvious or expected.

    I hope Paula is proud of her mother, she's one gutsy lady.

  2. This is a very strong and powerful chapter. You can really feel the weight of Cheyl's emotions at the end. Makes one wonder if she's going to somehow survive through this.

  3. I've had to read this multiple times. I'm still not sure I can leave a comment that is remotely clear; it was extremely emotional.

    This sincerely touched me. I was not surprised at Henri's request for her to get rid of it. And equally not surprised by his concern for what a child of his could become and the consequences of that.

    I have so many questions...did Henri know Paula at all, did he follow her childhood, know her in any sense before she came to live with him...and will Cheryl be saved or die...

    Incredible story arc.

  4. Oh wow.

    This is so amazing. I don't know why I thought this, but for some reason I was convinced that he'd probably cut off ties with Cheryl when he found out that she was pregnant.

    Henri's reaction right after Cheryl refuses is interesting. What was that? When he's pulling Cheryl to him? I wonder if he was trying to exert whatever power he has over her--she does say that his magic lost its hold once she said he never seemed like the type to care. Hmmm.....she talks about how it affects her emotions. When I read through it, it didn't strike me as being negative emotions about the baby that were welling up, but maybe her emotions and feelings concerning him.

    It's also interesting that she needed to have Paula. This one time, she felt it was the right thing to do, even though she never felt that way before when she'd become pregnant.

    So Henri only has Brandon then, and now we know about Paula, biologically. But he basically claims Jimmy. It makes a lot more sense now that he would take Paula...but it's still strange that he didn't train Brandon. He seems to fear what his children might become, because of what he's seen of the others in the Wildlands.

    I wonder if Cheryl forgot what he was, the more she got to know him? It was probably so easy to be caught up in the feelings he gave her and to forget that his life was so different from her own. I'm not sure she ever fully comprehended how different his life was from hers. He's trying to tell her, and she's convinced that she can make things normal for their child.

    I hope Cheryl survives...but that last picture isn't encouraging.

  5. Wow. Poor Cheryl. (Toddler Paula - cutest shot ever)

    My comments and questions would only echo what everyone else has said in terms of what this raises about Henry, but this was fabulous.

  6. I don't want to go over everything that everyone else has said (and probably get it wrong). It is obvious how much care, how much thought and how much compassion went into this piece.

    I was struck by two things.

    Cheryl thinking she has to appear very young.

    And the quaint, and under the circumstances bizarre reference to 'the other woman'. It made me think of the Christmas piece you did with Cheryl in the apron, the facsimile of a long gone lifestyle.

    Ultimately Henri didn't win this one, did he? You never say whether it was Cheryl's choice to become pregnant or whether it was an accident. (looking again...did you?) Once again, it makes me wonder about the real balance of power in their relationship.

    Stunning writing. You say so much between the lines.

  7. Illandrya, hmm. In a way yes, you're right. I think Henri as a young man spent a good amount of time with no choices, and so when he finally became free, that was his choice. But I think that after a while, he'd come to realize that there isn't much of a choice anymore for himself or those growing up around him.

    But I do think I screwed up somewhere, lol. Cheryl's surprised at his request. It's why she mentions that she didn't think he would care. Maybe she hadn't even meant to tell him because she's surprised that the words even come out of her mouth. Henri just doesn't come across to me as that controlling. I think he'd leave it up to the woman to suffer the consequences in most cases. It's not his problem. (That's his basic philosophy of life which we saw earlier (much earlier) that pissed Brandon off. "Mr. Smith doesn't like to get involved in the personal lives of his soldiers..." Brandon said, and I think that goes for basically any one else Henri has dealings with. Except here. Which actually surprised me.

    I think Paula should definitely be very proud of her mother. That whole little family is something I didn't really delve into, but man, there's a lot of potential between Paula and her mother, and Cheryl and her mother. I also see a lot of parallels.

    Migy, thanks! I'm glad you managed to post. That makes my morning. XD

    Gayl, oh thank you. I think that's why this one was so hard to write and get just right, and I still feel like in some way I could have done it better.

    Those are all good questions. Very good questions. I'll try and leave out some clues, or have I been trying...

  8. Rachel, You know, I was actually pretty sure that Cheryl would be the one to get pissed at him for his reaction and cut off ties with him. Until he expressed his fear of what a child of his could possibly become. And then I realized that Cheryl couldn't get mad at him.

    As for what he's doing in that one part there, interesting theory.

    Also, yes! This one time she feels a need to have this child even though she'd never felt that way before. I think that's very telling, though I'm not always sure what it says. But it worked out for the most part for her.

    Well, Henri only claims Brandon. And his brother who isn't his biologically. That doesn't mean there aren't others out there. He's just raising those two. But your remembering that one detail made me smile. The fact that Henri didn't train Brandon made me scratch my head too. But all of this ties together.

    Back in the early days of the Southlands, there was a child who caused a stir (and now as a man still causes people to get rather nervous). Brandon, the biological child Henri claims, ties him to the person involved in that original incident. And that person also happened to raise and train Brandon. Those are just the facts we've learned so far, so I'm not thinking you can really make any inferences from it yet.

    Maybe Cheryl never really understood what he was. She knows the man, but here it occurs to her that she's never even asked about his real life in the Wildlands. She doesn't even know if he has a family. So I think it is possible she got caught up and just never thought about it.

    Rad, lol, awesome that you caught Toddler Paula. No one else has mentioned her yet, lol.

    Thank you so much.

    SB, thank you. This was a very difficult piece, and I still don't feel like I did it right.

    Cheryl's reference to "the other woman" was just a momentary surprise on her part. It just occurred to her she'd never asked him anything about himself. She didn't even know if he had a family in the Wildlands.

    You're right, I didn't say if it was Cheryl's choice to become pregnant. I honestly didn't even think about it. That's another slip on my part because I can't imagine her wanting to get pregnant. She says in the piece she's had an abortion before, so I took that as a sign that she's fine being child free, and it isn't something she's ever really wanted. But this one surprised her, and she decided to keep it.

    So no, Henri didn't win this one. I don't even know if there is a balance of power in this relationship. You'd have to be on the same teeter totter for that, and I don't think they are, lol!

  9. Holy crap!! I just remembered that of course Brandon isn't Henri's only could I forget Killer?! Killer is said to be Henri's son too. Reading back through, Killer said that Henri raped his mother--is that the same incident that got Henri in trouble in the first place?

    Puzzle pieces falling into place! I love it!

  10. I was not surprised Henri asked her to get rid of the baby, especially once he explained his reasons. We've already learnt how resigned he is to this lifestyle they're forced to live now and it makes sense that he wouldn't want to bring a child into it.

    I found it interesting that she'd ended her previous pregnancies (I guess it could have been just the one but the way she phrased it made it sound like it happened more than once) but she kept Paula. Almost like she knew how special she would be and how much she would get out of being a mother to her.

    So does Henri have some kind of planting-thoughts-into-people's-heads mojo? It's funny that Cheryl said that, because when she first told him she was pregnant and he said no, that's what came to my mind.

    That last picture, especially contrasted with the very sweet one right above it of little Paula, is very unsettling. It doesn't look good for Cheryl at all. When I glanced at the picture before I read the text, I actually thought she might already be dead. Whatever is happening to her, it seems that she's outnumbered. Is that three people coming into the room, or just two?

    Wonderful chapter!

  11. Had a completely random thought at work today (bound to happen when you spend the day fixing engineering budgets) - only to get home and find that Rachel beat me to it!


    This next bit may not make sense. It does in my head, but I'm having trouble summarising it in words.

    Carrying on from Rachel's thought, if Killer is the son of the woman that Henri supposedly raped that got him into trouble in the first place (bearing in mind that Henri *may* have denied that he actually did what he was charged with) and Henri doesn't claim Killer to be his son, does that mean that he didn't rape the woman? But then he doesn't seem to have gone out of his way to convince people of his innocence, even Brandon thinks Killer is Henri's, so is Henri maybe/possibly keeping his mouth shut to cover for someone else?

  12. Wow, that's all I can say, great chapter mate :)

  13. Rachel, ha, good memory. Yes there's Killer.

    I will say that can't be the incident that got Henri in trouble because he was in the Neutral Territory when he got in trouble and was sent to the labs as part of his punishment, so that was all pre-Revolution.

    But, when Cheryl asked him, he did seem to be acting a little guilty about something.

    Yes, plenty of puzzle pieces, but hopefully not frustrating. This is what it feels like when I'm writing it. None of my characters are the sort to just say, "Okay, so here's the deal..." But it makes it fun for me to read, lol. (And to try and figure out as I'm writing it.)

    Carla, It is interesting she decided to keep Paula. I honestly don't think she had any rational reason for it either other than it felt right. I do believe in gut feelings (very strongly).

    I'm still not saying what he has. He'll reveal it in time. ;D

    Another person who's mentioned the Paula toddler picture, lol. I sort of wondered if anyone really saw that. Also good eye. It does appear to be three people in that picture.

    Illandrya, awww! You thought of this while fixing engineering budgets.

    I will say that the crime Henri was charged with happened before the Revolution, and Killer was born after the Revolution. Though when Cheryl asked, Henri was doing a bit of looking away.

    And Henri did bring Killer into the tribe for a bit too, so even if he doesn't claim Killer as his own, he doesn't go out of his way to convince people. In that one chapter in Mary's story, Brandon's already accepted him as an older brother, and he tells Mary that he's dangerous and they want to keep an eye on him.

  14. Really everything has already been said and speculated on. I also think this was emotional on so many levels. It is really quite tragic.

    I assume Henri dropped the sex after he found out Cheryl was pregnant. She says they continued to work together. How awkward was that? If she was in love with him, that must have ripped her guts out.
    And to have him say' surely I am not your only partner.' Oh?? Is there a chance it is not Henri's?
    I guess Cheryl was not his only partner.
    Yes, I want to know more about Henri's sex life!
    This story arc is utterly fascinating!

  15. Drew, I think it's a good bet they'd have both dropped the sex for quite a while, probably completely. How awkward would that be? Especially when she started showing!

    Actually, she was the one who asserted that she wasn't his only partner. She'd never asked him if there were others, she had simply accepted that what they had was casual.

    But I don't know if he had any other partners while with Cheryl. (He seriously never tells me anything. Stupid character! lol!) I guess the question I'd ask myself was whether he really needed any other partners if he had Cheryl which might have been part of their problem...

    LOL! Thank you Drew!

  16. Hmmm, we were talking about that toddler pic over at VSS, which I never saw the first few times through - it looks like a man's shirt. Henri holding Paula as a toddler? If so, their contact must have stopped while she was very young, or else she would remember him, right?

    Like Beth, I continue to be surprised by the power struggles in this relationship. She had much more power over him (or at least herself with him) than one might expect. Power he didn't have to give her, but he did anyway. That speaks volumes on his behalf.

    "She observed everything with a calm clarity and a steady eye. Her job has never been to ask why, but to see." <-- it is a sort of power then Paula has, maybe not so obvious as the others' powers, but maybe still very important.

    That last part got to me :'(

    It's been a pleasure to hear the story from Cheryl's POV! So many new insights and surprises in these last few chapters! Amazing work on this bunch of stories!

    And on the preggy sex (because I must, lol!): hey now, 2nd trimester sex can be hot!!! But really, it's quite an intimate thing to do, I suppose, so perhaps even close as they were, they might not have been close enough for that ;)

  17. Larua, probably, right?

    Oh when you put it that way, that's true. See, stuff I didn't even think about myself, lol.

    Also, yes, I do think you've found Paula's "power." Whether it's obvious or not. Not every power is going to be superhuman abilities. If anything, this would be her power, and hopefully she'll find a way to make it work for her.

    As for the preggy sex-- I left thoughts out again. What I meant was how awkward it would be for Henri and Cheryl to freeze their relationship so that it was only a working one with no sex involved, especially after she started to show.

    In some way, I do doubt they'd be close enough for preggy sex! (Plus, I can so imagine Henri being one of those men squeamish about it. Kinda makes me laugh.)