Luna rubbed the back of her neck, then stretched a little. The desk was uncomfortable, especially having to lean over because her belly wouldn’t allow her to push the chair all the way in. But she didn’t want to stop. She was almost to the end. Her cheeks were damp with tears and the paper showed a few blotches from where they had fallen onto the pages. But her mother had been right. She’d needed to do this. Getting it all out was helping. She thought she’d always carry the twin seeds of guilt and regret within her, but it wasn’t quite so bad now. Getting it all out was helping, a little.
Something made her look up. Her eyes lit up and she stood. Roark stood in the doorway, watching her. “How are you feeling?” he asked her quietly, going to her and framing her face with his hands.
“Back’s sore,” she confessed. “But otherwise ok. Just waiting for this little one to be ready.” She grinned ruefully. Her child was taking their sweet time in appearing. She had been due almost two weeks ago. Her dad had told her they’d wait another week. If she hadn’t gone into labor by then, they were going to take the child through cesarean section.
“They’ll come when they’re ready,” her husband murmured. He looked at the desk. “Writing again?” he asked quietly. He seemed to be searching her eyes for something. “Is it helping?”
Luna nodded. “It seems to be.” She swallowed. She’d been an emotional wreck since the day Alaric had died. Add pregnancy hormones to everything else and you had a recipe for a lot of crying. “I-I don’t know how I can ever make up for what I did. I-“
Roark put a finger to her lips. “Luna, we’ve gone over that, haven’t we? We both made mistakes, a lot of them. We both have to take responsibility for what we did- and didn’t- do. We’ll get through this. We will.”
She leaned forward, resting her forehead against his.
“I know,” she murmured. After a moment, he put her at arm’s length. “Why don’t I give you a backrub, then you can come back to this, ok?”
“I think I like that idea.”
The night Alaric died… I was in a haze. I barely remember talking to the cops, guys I knew. I just remembered the look in all their eyes. I thought it was accusation, though in hindsight, maybe I thought I deserved it. Alaric was dead because of me. Once the questioning was over, I ran. Roark had been trying to get to me for hours afterward, but I just… couldn’t. I couldn’t face him, after everything. I just couldn’t do it. I hid away. I talked to no one, I didn’t work… I ignored phone calls, emails… any attempts to get in touch with me were ignored. Somewhere, I knew my family must have been going out of their mind. But I couldn’t face them, any more than I could have faced Roark.
Almost two weeks later, I began to be ill. Anything I ate would come back up. After almost a month of that, I finally went out and went to the doctor’s. When they told me I was pregnant… I broke down and bawled right in the clinic. I was pregnant… Oh Watcher, what was I going to do?
For almost three months in total, two months of it being pregnant, I continued to wallow. I took care of myself, such as it was, though it was really just going through the motions. And then finally, staring out that window, I realized that I needed my family. I needed them like I never had before. And after I told my mom everything… I knew there was one last thing I had to do. I took a taxi from the apartment and gave the driver Roark’s address.
I knocked on the door. Roark answered. When he saw me… I almost burst into tears then. There was such naked emotion on his face, it hurt to look at him. He was so focused on the fact that I was there, he didn’t seem to realize I was in maternity wear, nor that I had gained a little weight. He looked… elated and apprehensive all at once.
He must have starred at me, just starred at me for ten minutes. Finally, he shook his head, as if coming to. “Come in, please. Have a seat. Do you want anything? A drink? Anything?” I had taken a seat on the couch. I just shook my head, unable to speak past the lump in my throat. He sat next to me and silence reigned for quite a while.
Finally, I stood up, unable to take it anymore. I felt like a coward, among my many other sins. I couldn’t face him, but I knew I needed to get it out. “Roark,” I began in a rush, “I’m pregnant. I-I… I don’t know if you’re the father or not.”
Silence reigned for a long moment. I didn’t dare turn around. I was afraid what I would see on his face. He must have suspected something happened between Alaric and I. My nerves, already strung out to the breaking point, were perilously close to snapping. I wanted to sink onto the floor, curl into a ball and just sob. Just as I was about to give into the sensation, there was a hand on my shoulder, and I was spun around. The next thing I knew, Roark had wrapped his arms around and pulled me close.
“Luna,” he whispered in my ear. “Whether I’m the father or not, that child is mine. You are mine. We’ll get through this. I-I can’t tell you what it did to me to see you tonight. I-I thought I was dreaming. I love you, Luna. I’m so sorry, so sorry for everything. I want to work on things, want us to be together. Is that what you want, Luna?”
He put me at arm’s length, looking deep into my eyes. “Yes,” I whispered. “Yes.” I did break down then, clinging to him. He held me as I sobbed, brokenly getting out my confession. I told him all of it, what happened after I’d left him, how I’d gone to see Alaric again. The drinks, seducing Alaric… He stopped me for a moment.
“Luna.” His voice was gentle. There were none of the recriminations, or accusations that I had been prepared… even welcomed. There was only love in his eyes. “He played you. He was always good at that…” He swallowed. “He wanted to drive a wedge between us. It’s why he told you who we were. W-when he called me… he told me he’d… been with you. He said you were beautiful and in the same breath, he told me if I didn’t come to the warehouse, he’d make sure your body was dumped on my doorstep. My brother was a lot of things. He’d never been a murderer, though. But I couldn’t take that chance. I couldn’t risk you.” He smoothed a hand through my hair, just looking at me for a moment. The tenderness made my throat close up.
“R-roark, I don’t deserve you,” I whispered.
He put a hand gently under my chin, tilting my head up. “Luna, we both made mistakes. I should have told you from the beginning. I-I can’t imagine how betrayed you must have felt when you found out. I-I… And I should have told you why. I was scared. Once I realized who you were… once I connected the Wyvern name back to your grandfather… I should have told you. But I didn’t.”
“And I should have listened to you,” I murmured. “I should have stayed away from Alaric. I was just so… angry. So hurt… I-I wanted to hurt you as much as you’d hurt me. I hate that that’s in me, Roark. A-and I hate what it brought on. If I stayed and talked to you, if I had been able to put away my pride long enough to listen… none of it would have happened and maybe… maybe your brother would still be alive.”
“We both made mistakes, Luna. Mistakes we both have to live with. Alaric… I couldn’t save him. I lost him years ago. I thought I’d kept him safe, kept him away from the life my mother wanted for him. But I couldn’t. He had always been so angry. Angry at me, angry at our mother, yet he idolized her. That anger ate at him. In the end, though… in the end, I think he found something that helped cool that anger. You. Something happened between you that night. You were able to reach a part of him that I never could.”
I swallowed, guilt assailing me. “A-all I could see was your face, Roark. I just- just wanted to stop the pain. I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry for everything. How can you still care for me?”
“None of us are perfect, Luna. None of us. If you’ll have me, I’d like to try to work through this, together. And-and I want to be there for the baby. And for you.”
I could only nod. “Y-yes. Yes I want that.”
He smiled at me, then leaned down to rest a hand on my stomach. “Hey, little one,” he murmured. “I’m your Daddy.”
I broke down again. What had I done to deserve this man? I couldn’t think of a single thing good, only several things that spoke to the opposite. Yet here he was… “Roark,” I murmured. He straightened and looked at me, tilting his head.
“What is it?”
“I want you to come home with me,” I told him. “I-I want to go home and I want you and Cyn to come with me.”
He pursed his lips for a moment. “I have a few favors I can call in. A transfer to the base in Monte Vista is feasible. Go, rest. Let me make some calls ok?”
I nodded, feeling numb somehow, yet full of so much emotion, I didn’t know what to do with it.
While I slept, Roark made his calls.
He woke me up a few hours later. “Our flight is booked. I’ve talked to Cyn. We leave in a week. Should be enough time for us to get our stuff packed.”
I was… shocked. I had wanted him to come with me, but I think there was a part of me that didn’t believe he would, not after everything that had happened between us. But we were going. I nodded. “A week.”
The week passed quickly. Roark and Cyn packed up what belongings they wanted to bring with them. It wasn’t much, really. I asked Roark why. “This was never really home, Luna. It was the place our mother dumped us in, to get us out of the way. What little we have packed made it that little piece of home. All I need is Cyn, you, and the baby you carry. You need your family, Luna. We’ll figure out how to deal with all this there.”
That was that. Once the luggage was packed and the things we didn’t need on the plane were shipped, we boarded our plane. It was a long flight. I spent most of it either sleeping or throwing up. I don’t handle travel well while pregnant, it seems. But finally, we touched down. I don’t remember the car ride from the airport. Roark had slid behind the wheel, Cyn in the back. She’d let me have the front. Before I knew it, the car was stopping. “We’re here, babe,” Roark murmured.
He helped me out of the car and gave my hand a squeeze. Cyn and Roark looked at the house; I could see the apprehension on their faces. Me… I was home. I was home, Roark and Cyn were here with me.
I didn’t expect anyone to be up. I’d told them we wouldn’t get in till late and not to wait up. I should have known better. As we walked in, I saw a familiar shape at the island in the kitchen. Of course my mother would wait up for us to get there.
“Mama,” I whispered walking in. She got up and went right to me. She put a gentle hand on my arm. There were tears in her eyes.
“Welcome home, baby,” she murmured.
Roark and Cyn stood there for a moment, not sure what to say. But mom turned to them, smiling. “Welcome, both of you. I’m sure you both are exhausted. Cyn, there’s a bedroom upstairs for you to use, dear. We have a bit of a surprise for you, but it isn’t ready quite yet. There were some delays. You can have your dogs just explore. Ares and Apollo will be glad of more playmates, I’m sure.” She turned to Roark. “Welcome to our home, Roark. Take my daughter to bed and see that she gets some rest, will you?”
Mom turned back to me. “I managed to convince everyone to sleep tonight. But I imagine they’ll be awake early and they’ll all want to see you and to meet your young man. Go rest baby. You look very… drawn.”
We easily took her advice. Roark put his arm around my waist, helping to support me. I realized I’d been swaying on my feet. He walked me to my room down the hallway. It hadn’t changed in the three years that I’d been way. It was still the same. It was home. He tucked me into bed first, then slid in next to me. I curled up next to him. I was home. Roark was next to me. For the first time since everything happened, a tiny seed of hope had begun to bloom.
As exhausted as I was, I only managed a few hours of sleep. The baby had been moving around a lot and when they finally settled down, they had decided that settling on my bladder was the perfect position. I got up to go to the bathroom. I looked down at Roark who was still sleeping. Still a bit incredulous that he was here with me, I just watched him for a long moment. I didn’t want to disturb him, so I left, thinking I’d see what leftovers there were. In our house, there were always leftovers. As I approached the kitchen, I heard the soft murmur of voices.
My throat closed up. Dad and Pop. I could picture just what they were doing. They’d been doing it since I could remember, sitting at the chess table, talking about anything and everything. As I walked out, I saw them just where I knew I would.
As soon as they saw me, Dad got up to give me a hug.
Immediately after that, he had to lean down to press a hand to my swollen stomach. “And how are you feeling, baby girl? You look tired.”
“The next person to tell me that, I may have to smack,” I told them, a ghost of a smile tugging at my mouth. It was already good to be home, but there was still a part of me that felt… detached, even separate. Dad laughed, giving me another hug.
“Leave the girl alone,” Pop admonished. He grinned at me. “Welcome home, our little Eclipse. It’s good to have you back.” He pulled me into a close, but gentle hug.
“It’s good to be home, Pop. It really is. I-I’m sorry. I-“ Pop shook his head.
“You have no reason to apologize. I want you to do me a favor, baby girl, ok? I want you to try to forgive yourself and to relax. It isn’t good to be so stressed with the baby. Try to cut yourself a break, ok?”
I could only nod, unable to speak past the lump in my throat. “Love you, Pop.”
“We love you too, Eclipse. Now, where’s your young man?”
I had to snort. “Pop, he’s actually older than all of you, you know.”
He snorted. “He’s your young man, so hush.”
I could feel an actual smile forming. It was the first one I could remember in quite a while. “Whatever you say, Pop. Anyway, he’s still sleeping. The baby decided they wanted to keep me up, but I thought he should still sleep.” I grinned. “I figure he’ll need to be tip top to have to deal with our crew here.”
Throughout everything, I had never doubted that my family would accept Roark. Was he the son of Elvira Slayer? Only in the most biological sense. He was a good man and I knew my family would see that. I know he was worried about how they’d deal with him, and he had told me that he fully expected them to be upset, considering who he was. But he beat himself up about that more than anyone, even if he was as far from his parents as it was possible to be. To find that I was right, it helped steady me. That’s what family did. They helped steady you when your foundation had been rocked.
Before too long, I heard the door to my room open and I went to see him. He kissed me, then pulled away. “How do you feel?”
“Better,” I told him truthfully. “I-I needed this, needed to come back home. Thank you.”
“I want what’s best for you, Luna. For you and the baby.”
I nodded. I realized that, realized that was all he wanted. I teared up. “I know. I know that. Thank you. My family wants to have a chat after breakfast, ok?”
I could see the apprehension come back into his eyes, but he nodded. “Of course, baby.” I wanted to reassure him, but I realized that wouldn’t work. He’d need to experience it himself. So I smiled at him. He’d see. He’d been right. We’d get through this, together.