Friday, February 17, 2023

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: December 15, 2398

Okay, the other times could have been indigestion, or something, but that was definitely a kick. The baby is kicking. Arcadia finds the nearest device, and pulls up a calendar. Based on every test she’s undergone, and every memory she has of her experiences with Vearden, their best guess is that she got pregnant on the first of September. No date before that is possible, and not many dates after make much sense. They weren’t trying to get pregnant, so it’s not like the two of them were having sex every night. They had just gotten together, and things were still new, so September 1 is the best estimate. The doctor agreed with this assessment. And as long as she’s not crazy, and today is indeed December 15, it’s only been fifteen weeks, which is too early for kicking. According to the baby books, the earliest should be sixteen weeks, and even then, eh, probably not too much. It shouldn’t be this intense either. “Feel.” She takes Vearden’s hand, and sticks it up her shirt. “I think something’s wrong.”
Vearden doesn’t know why he’s doing this, but he leaves his hand there patiently. He’s prepared to stay like that for months. He knows better than to question her requests, however bizarre they become. Then something happens, he feels the kick. “Oh, wow.” He smiles. “That’s amazing.”
“That’s amazing?” She scoffs. “Don’t you know what this means?”
“That our little girl is an early bloomer.” He read the baby books too.
“Don’t be ridiculous. It means that the baby isn’t ours!”
“What are you talking about?”
“Someone else was using this body before I showed up. I think we’re way off on our estimate.” She looks back at the calendar. “We would be off by a month. Leona Delaney could have gotten pregnant the day she left her body, on August fifth.”
Vearden doesn’t want to upset her, but... “Honey, the doctors are not off by a month. Those tests are pretty accurate.”
Who knows how accurate these dumb Third Rail doctors are? Third Rail? More like third rate. She’s distraught. This is someone else’s baby, and she stole it. Who cares if the math doesn’t work out so great? The baby books don’t lie. They don’t lie!
Vearden can see how close she is to the edge. “It’s okay, we'll figure this out,” he promises. “Let’s think about this. If this body was pregnant before you started using it, you couldn’t have ever had a period, right? Have you had a period in this body?”
Arcadia hangs there earnestly for a moment, but then her heart rate starts to drop back down to acceptable levels. She sighs. “Yes, of course I have.”
“This is your baby, this is my baby. Like I said, she’s just a little ahead of the game. If you’re really worried, we can set an appointment for later today, or tomorrow. We are time travelers, so it’s not irrational for us to be extra cautious.”
“Okay, I think we should do that, yeah.”
Vearden nods, and pulls up the medical scheduler app. “There’s one at nine tomorrow morning.”
“Book it, Dano.”
He laughs, and does the thing. Then he puts the device down. “In the meantime, what do you think of Delaney?”
“Leona or Theo? Doesn’t matter, I can’t rightly say that I’m a fan of either. They started out as my enemies, and I’m a work in progress.”
“No, I mean Delaney as a first name,” he clarifies. “I feel like it would be a nice way to honor the genetic mother.” 
She mulls it over for a second. “Delaney Haywood. I think it’s an unusual choice, so I like it.”
“Or Delaney Preston,” Vearden suggests. “I’m a modern man.”
“I don’t believe the world needs any more Prestons,” Arcadia decides. “It may have been a lie that I could never have children, but one thing’s for sure, the idea behind convincing us of that was a noble pursuit, and I can admit that.”
“I dunno,” Vearden muses, “I don’t regret having a child with you. Do you? And do you think Nerakali would be a bad mother?”
“No, and no.”
Ramses opens the door to the room, and waits there. “She’s ready for you.”
Arcadia nods, and stands up. “Arcadia Haywood, reporting for duty.”
Ramses stops, tilts his Spock brain, and stares at the corner.
Arcadia gently lunges towards him, because he’s blocking the way through. “Are we doing this, or what?”
“You just called yourself a Haywood. Are you married?”
“ I mean, we haven’t really discussed it.”
“Well, I’ve discussed it a little,” Vearden argues.
“Argh,” she growls softly. She didn’t expect to have to have this conversation again, especially not with Ramses.
“No, it’s good. you remember when the Officiant showed up, and took Cheyenne and Curtis away?”
“Neither of us was there, but yeah, I remember you telling us about it. Why?”
“The Officiant. She comes for divorce, but she’ll also come for a marriage, won’t she? That’s her main job, I would hope.”
Arcadia winces. “Not in this reality. That was a special occasion. Cheyenne had a magical script to read, and  had never heard of it before. I’ve actually only crossed paths with the Officiant once, and that was for Leona and Mateo.”
“Well, what prompted her to show up for that?” Ramses asks
Arcadia shrugs. “It was the biggest event of the timeline, everyone was talking about it. I think it’s harder for normal time traveler couples.”
“Maybe we could try a few things to see how hard it really is.” Vearden offers.
Arcadia gives him that look.
“If only to help our friends. We don’t have to get married if you don’t want to.”
“Some people’s psychic calls work by intention. You have to really mean it, or it won’t work,” Arcadia explains.
“Then let’s mean it!” he suggests.
“I thought we were here to help Alyssa,” she reminds them both.
“Yes, right,” Ramses remembers. “She’s waiting. We can talk about this later.”
“Okay.” Arcadia steps through the door as Ramses is holding it open for her. But she swings back, and switches her gaze between them. “And for the record, there’s no such thing as an illegitimate child. I won’t get married just to satisfy some kind of traditional, socially acceptable standard of a dutifully nuclear family dynamic.”
Vearden holds his hands up in defense, but doesn’t rebut, because he agrees with what she said. He wants to marry her anyway.

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