The next few days after the shifter attack were tense. Dad had taken me to the ER while Pa stayed with Goose and Simba, as Goose had been hurt magically and Simba didn’t like hospitals so Pa called Grams so she could help them. I fidgeted at the ER, very unhappy at having to stay overnight. I kept asking about Goose until Dad gave me the phone so I could call. We talked for a good long time, me mostly making sure he was okay.
The next morning I gladly went home and embraced him as best I could. He looked so pale and felt clammy when I hugged him. I kissed him over and over, so happy he wasn’t hurt worse. According to Grams, the enemy had been spending a couple weeks weakening a chunk in the barrier. The golems that had been sent to attack me had been able to get across since they were essentially purely magical beings without much biological substance. But every time they went through they brought with them spells that weakened the barrier until when the shifter could get through.
The shifter didn’t make it. Pa had killed her. I worried a bit how Pa might react to this but he didn’t seem too phased. “Anyone who tries to hurt one of you is in trouble,” he said as he fixed us lunch.
I didn’t want to say it surprised me. Dad, sure. But Pa…? It was certainly a story to tell which I did to my sisters and Vilkas. Lumie knew, of course, from our link but she came over later in the day to hear me tell the story in person. She giggled and clapped her hands, praising Pa who blushed and shrugged, mumbling once again vague threats against anyone who might hurt one of us.
Grams fixed the barriers and made them as strong as she could, Mr. Blair coming over to strengthen the barriers as well. Goose tried but he just got incredibly shaky when he used his magic. I fussed over him and he grew bitter and snappy. “I want to help,” he grumbled as I tugged him away from the witch and wizard.
“I know, hun, but whatever that shifter did hurt you. Trying to do–I mean–it’s like–well, come on!” I lifted my broken arm a bit. “You want me to go punch someone with this?”
Goose glared at me then stomped off to go pout in the bedroom. I let him be for a while then went to the bedroom, hoping he had cooled down. As he threw himself against me to pout into my shirt I assumed he had cooled down well enough. I kissed the top of his head and promised that once he healed from whatever had happened he could add in his magic again.
Spring turned to summer, and my arm finished healing thanks to magic. Goose healed up pretty well after a short time. None of us were really sure why he had been hurt but he said it probably had to do with how his magic worked with his biology. It was all very… organic? Or something? Goose couldn’t really explain it very well.
In any case, things went pretty smoothly as the days slowly began to grow hotter. Simba loved the heat more than the rest of us, spending a lot of his time outside lounging in the sun nearly naked. If he could as a lion I suspected he would but that would get the neighbors all suspicious. They were suspicious enough, especially after my big TV speech. But my neighbors were still cordial enough towards me.
Golems still attacked us but we set up perimeter alarms along the woods so they never got on our property. One day when Lumie came over the alarm went off. I told her to stay in then went out to attack the golem with Simba. I positioned myself in the back yard, nocked an arrow, and let it fly. It hit the golem square in the chest and the golem staggered back but continued forward. Lumie came up beside me, a baseball bat in one hand.
“Get back inside!” I snapped.
She slung the bat over her shoulder. “Make me.” And she rushed forward, swinging wildly and hitting the golem square in the head. A bit reminiscent of Pa with the tire iron. Simba hesitated because of Lumie but then pounced, shifting into a lion as he hit the golem. I aimed the bow and arrow but between Lumie and Simba I couldn’t really shoot. Sighing, I lowered the bow and just watched as the golem turned into mud.
Lumie backed up, looking a bit startled. >Oh yeah they do that, I almost forgot,< she thought at me. >Reaper, that’s creepy!<
>I told you to stay inside!< I snapped. “You never listen to me.”
“Of course I don’t,” my twin said with a grin. She pointed the bat at me. “I told you before, if I can help I will. Shit, so that’s a golem? How can you tell what’s a golem and what’s not a golem? What if that were a real person?”
“What if it were?” I demanded, going over, hands on hips. “You still would’ve smashed the brains in?”
She smiled innocently. “If Pa can do it, so can I. Stop complaining at me, jerkwad. I’m not weak because–“
>Shut up! I worry about you too! You have no right to worry over me then get mad at me for worrying about you–< “And wanting to protect you!”
“I know you want to protect me and that’s fine–” >But I don’t want more people at risk for my sake! I–DON’T–LIKE–THAT!<
We stood in the yard arguing loudly, Simba watching us with great interest as this was the first time he really experienced one of our fights that went in and out of speaking and mental. He flopped back on the ground, smirking. Lumie and I continued yelling until she picked up her bat and flounced off.
“SORRY FOR WORRYING!” I screamed after her.
“DITTO!” she screamed back.
I let out a huffy breath and went inside, slamming the door shut, wishing she understood. I understood her side I did but seriously, why couldn’t she understand that I didn’t want anyone risking themselves for me? I had this fear–perfectly logical fear right?–that someone might be fatally harmed because of me. I didn’t like that and didn’t want people risking that for me and my sister just didn’t blasted understand. I didn’t want to risk it…
Lumie and I made up the next day, mostly because Goose poked at me until I gave in. I had to obey him and those pouty lips! He rewarded me with a lovely kiss once I did call my sister so at least I had that. I held onto him, enjoying how he felt against my body. I loved him so much… and… well… sometimes…
Sometimes I thought about us and our future. A tiny part of me wanted to get married but I did NOT want to repeat my mistake with Davy. I didn’t want to jump in with marriage but I certainly thought about it. Married to Goose… ahh, that thought really felt warm and fuzzy. So did… so did something else… which I didn’t really discuss with him because I knew it’d be better to wait. But honestly, I thought about kids.
>It’s perfectly natural considering your past,< Lumie said to me one evening after I spent an hour daydreaming about kids with Goose. >I think about it too. A lot.<
>Yeah… but it wasn’t just the shotgun marriage that messed up you and Davy,< Lumie pointed out. >I mean you just jumped in without thinking but you were both in college, financial troubles… there was more on that plate than just sudden changes. But–but that’s not me saying to go ahead with things because if you do just jump in with marriage and kids with Goose right now I’ll slap you.<
I laughed at that and agreed. I would wait a while before talking to Goose about these sorts of things. Though I couldn’t stop thinking about a wedding, a wedding night, a honeymoon…! Oh a real honeymoon. And maybe eventually kids. Little goslings running around. Being a dad… I liked that thought, but also had to battle the depression over the baby that Davy and I could have had. I wondered… had it been a boy or girl…? Would they have had my green eyes? Davy’s nose? Maybe my Pa’s bright red-and-orange hair?
I thought about possible goslings and what they might look like. They’d be one-fourth elf. Would they have elf magic in them? I wondered if my psychic ability would be passed down, since apparently it had been passed down to me. Though neither Pa or Aunt Miracle had the psychic ability so maybe it just skipped every other generation or something? Hmm. A psychic elf… a little psychic elf with black-and-blue hair… and long pointy ears… and maybe my Pa’s bright blue eyes…
Little goslings. Oh. I wanted to be a dad. And maybe in a few years I could finally be one.
Our first summer as a couple began wonderfully. On the anniversary of us meeting we went for a picnic lunch out in the woods by our house. Simba had come along, naturally, but we sent him off so we could have some alone time. We fed each other, joked, laughed, kissed, and eventually stripped down and made love in the grass which felt amazing. Just out there in the clearing, the sun overhead, the grass and mud beneath us. Goose enjoyed it as much as I did and we decided to do this a bit more often, when we could.
Goose smiled, blushing bright red. “I know what you mean. My adrenaline is still pumping. Mmm, you’re corrupting me.”
I gave a mocking gasp. “Me? Corrupting you? Now look here, little mister Goose-y boy, it was as much your idea as mine!” I pinched him lightly. “In fact, I think you corrupted me.”
“Yeah, it has,” I agreed, though I couldn’t completely, one hundred percent agree with that. Goose tilted his head and gave me a look so I sighed. “Well. I miss Max.”
“I know. I–I wish I could help with that,” he said.
I stroked his hair, smiling gently. “Darling…” I buried my face in his shoulder. “Love you so much. You’re incredible.”
He wrapped his arms around my neck. “We should probably get a bath.”
“Mmmm, together…?” I chuckled and he winked. So I scooped him up, going to the bathroom to happily clean up after our time outside. Once we got out I dried off and stretched on my bed, thinking about a million different things. For a while, mostly about Goose. But then my mind wandered back to Max. Is he okay? I wondered. It had been three months since I last heard from him and it had just been a postcard that smelled strongly of fish.
Doing fine, Zaidy-boy. Hope you’re safe and well too. Miss your tuna salad. And then a paw print on the bottom. Three months! And nothing since! What a stupid… jerky… jerk.
I woke up in the morning at the sound of vomiting. I sat up in bed then hurried to the bathroom, finding Goose throwing up into the toilet. I went over, pulling his hair back until he finished then I fetched him a wet cloth and glass of water. He cleaned his face off and shakily sipped until he went to the sink to brush his teeth.
“You’re not sick, are you?” I asked, worried. “We shouldn’t have screwed outside.”
“You put it so elegantly,” Goose murmured through the toothbrush. He spit the toothpaste out then began brushing again. “I’m fine, s’probably just the cheese sandwich I ate last night.” He spat out more toothpaste. “I’m fine, really.”
“You should call in sick,” I suggested.
I reluctantly agreed because I couldn’t make him stay home, but at lunchtime I got a phone call from him asking for me to come pick him up. I had to ask someone to take my early afternoon sim fu class and then headed off to pick Goose up from where he had gone out for lunch. I lectured him all the way home and he whined, insisting he hadn’t had much but apparently it triggered his stomach bug. I got him tucked into bed with some crackers, the laptop, and a pile of DVDs, gave his forehead a kiss and headed back to work.
I bought him some flowers on my way home that evening and happily presented them to him. “Aww babe,” he said, taking them into his hand and taking a deep whiff. “These are… are…” He paused and then dropped the flowers, rushing off to the bathroom to vomit again. I picked up the flowers, put them in a vase, then went into the bathroom to once again get him a cloth and glass of water.
“Not chicken,” he mumbled.
I rolled my eyes. “Babe, we’ve been together how long? Go get rested. I’ll fix you some veggie soup,” I promised my vegetarian lover. I fixed the soup making sure I kept it mostly broth and then fed it to him. He laughed as I did but happily slurped at the offered spoon. Once he finished I curled up next to him, lightly rubbing his back as he lay on his side. We watched movies until he fell asleep and I quietly left the room to clean up the kitchen, hoping he didn’t remain sick and worried he caught something from our time rolling around in the grass and mud.
Goose felt much better in the morning, thankfully. I took him to work since his car had been left there then went to the spa for my morning classes. I happily taught the kiddos some sim fu points, relishing this feeling of teaching kids. I enjoyed their eagerness to learn and excitement of trying the moves I taught. A couple of the ones especially enjoyed the class and I always grinned when they ran in exclaimed ‘Mastah Zaaaaaid’.
The parents seemed to like me… especially the females. Single mothers. A couple married mothers… which made me uncomfortable when they’d touch my arm or give me the looks. And now I felt uncomfortable when the single mothers did too, because of my taken status. I just smiled, nodded, and steered the conversation away from the possibility of flirting. Or tried to. Sometimes they didn’t take the hint.
One mother, Ms. Purcell–a particularly flirtacious woman who hit on every male staff member, followed me outside one day and hit on me endlessly until I bluntly told her I had a boyfriend. I figured that’d be the end of that and as far as Ms. Purcell was concerned, yeah. But… it had some other repercussions.
Over the next couple of days Goose seemed extra pouty. He didn’t talk much and just pouted most the time. I thought dealing with Max had been hard–Goose’s lovely lips seemed to be built just for pouting. At first I did my best to ignore him but that didn’t work, so I tried to get him to talk but that didn’t work either. After about four days I wanted to just snap at him to tell me what the problem was! Instead I went to the one person I knew could give me good advice at dealing with a stubborn person.
“Paaaaaa!” I flung myself down on the couch. “What do you do when Dad won’t talk?”
“It depends on what he won’t talk about,” Pa said cheerfully. “Is it something important or not so important?”
“Very important. Like, annoying-you-but-he’s-being-damn-stubborn important,” I mumbled, folding my arms and scowling.
“Well I look really sad and refuse to have sex with him.”
Pa stared at me in slight confusion. “It’s what I do though,” he said with a shrug. “Well not exactly like that. It’s more like, if it’s important and he won’t talk then I don’t feel comfy being intimate with him. ‘Cause doing that with something causing problems is not really enjoyable for m–“
“I didn’t mean to upset you… but I mean, we do do that,” Pa said. “Sorry, Zaid. Okay. Um, so are you and Goose having problems?”
I crinkled my nose up, still trying to get the image out of my head of what I had just been informed about. “I dunno. No. Yes. Sort of. He’s been really quiet lately. And… it scares me… a lot… I don’t know why it does but…”
“You’re going to be approaching your anniversary of dating, aren’t you?” Pa inquired and I nodded. “Well, I mean, about a year into your relationship with Davina is when things–got bad. Wasn’t it?”
I shifted, realizing the truth in his words. “Yeah. I guess that’s what scares me so much. I love him–I don’t want to lose him. But he’s just… something is wrong, and he won’t tell me. I don’t know what to do.”
Pa reached over, taking my wrist. “Talk to him. Don’t give me that look. It’s super hard, um, trying to talk to someone who’d rather scowl. Or pout, in your case. But talking is important, Zaid. So just… keep trying.”
Poor communication skills had been one big reason for my marriage to fall to pieces. I didn’t want it to be the reason this relationship did, either. “I’ll try. Thanks.”
I bought a nice takeout dinner, flowers, wine, and dessert. I set up candles, put in a romantic CD, and then shooed Simba to go chill outside before Goose got home from work since he worked later than I did. When he walked into the house and saw everything, his face went all soft.
“Hey baby,” I said, going over and kissing him passionately. “I got you flowers.”
He accepted them with a smile, giving them a quick sniff. “They’re beautiful. What’s the occ… occasio… oc…” He paused and then shoved the flowers at me, taking off for the bathroom. Soon I heard vomiting. Frowning, I set the flowers down and followed him in. He knelt in front of the toilet, groaning loudly. “I’m sorry,” he managed to say, “I don’t know what’s wrong… I keep…” And then he vomited again.
He shook his head. “I don’t know. I don’t go to regular doctors. I could go see my parents, though… maybe one of the elves can help…”
Once he finished cleaning out his mouth we went into the bedroom and curled up. I held onto him, stroking his arm and finally deciding that even though he had been sick I needed to try and talk. “Goose, babe, you’ve… been acting a aloof lately. Did I do something wrong? If I did you can just–tell me, you know…” No response. I sighed. “Goose, look, if something is wrong we have to talk about it. I don’t like this tension. I love you and if I’ve hurt you, I want to know so I can apologize and try and make it up. I–“
He avoided my gaze. “Do you miss being with a woman?” he repeated. “Because–I know–I’m your first boyfriend and… I just…”
“Hey. Hey, no. No. Look at me… I don’t miss anything, except when we’re apart–then I miss you.” I wracked my brain trying to think of a reason why he might say such a thing but I couldn’t figure it out. “I love you, Goose. You… know that?”
“I know,” he said, sticking his lower lip out. “I just–it’s just–well a few days ago some woman was flirting with you! And I got… jealous.” He said the last word so quietly I barely even heard it.
“… wait… when?”
That’s when I remembered Purcell, and I wanted to laugh. “Aw, no. No, babe. Ms. Purcell annoyed me so much. I told her I had a boyfriend.”
Goose bit his bottom lip then buried his face against my shoulder. “I sound so stupid.”
“Not at all. If I saw someone flirting with you, I’d get jealous.” I kissed the top of his head gently. “I’d probably try to clock him.” Goose snorted at that. “But I want you to know that even though I do find women attractive, I don’t miss being with a woman because I have the most amazing, wonderful, and sexy boyfriend I could ever imagine having.” I kissed his head again then pulled him into my lap. “And I don’t want anyone else. Just my little princess Goose.”
“Heeeyyy!” He poked at me and I laughed. “I knew I shouldn’t have told you that story. Besides, as I’ve said… elves don’t really care.”
“Mmmmm, no it’s cute you used to dress up like a princess. My little princess. My pouty–princess!” I laughed and he kept poking my ribs. “I’ll be your prince.”
“Mm. Prince Zaid, eh?”
“I love you too, darling. Every day even more. And I want us to be able to talk about things because–I just… I want to be with you.” I hugged tighter, pressing my face into his neck and feeling so grateful that things had smoothed out between us.
We lived in a bubble for a few more days. Nobody attacked and we both took time off from work so we could spend time together. We went to a water park, a zoo, an amusement park, and even the beach. Everything felt so wonderful and perfect. But of course the bubble had to pop.
Over the time Goose continued to throw up, usually after being around flowers with strong scents. We couldn’t even walk down the shampoo and body wash aisle at the store because it turned his stomach. Finally he did go visit his parents. I couldn’t go, since he had to go to the elvish community he grew up in. So I stayed at home and worried until I felt like I might be sick. I got a text after a few hours.
hey babe be home soon. No news of what caused his sickness. Maybe nothing? Maybe just… odd allergic reaction to some flowers? I paced around until his car pulled up then I just stared at the door.
He wriggled free. “Well. Um. Heh. I have good news and I have… well, maybe… hopefully not bad news. I did talk to the healers and they, um, well–okay jeez.” He pushed his hair back and gave me an anxious look. “I love you.”
I felt even more anxious at that. “I love you too… is it… bad?”
I blinked at those words, completely taken aback. Not what I expected. At all. “Wh–what? What?!”
He kicked at the ground, ears going pink. “I’m pregnant. Apparently.”
“I don’t know how!” Goose snapped back. “It’s not supposed to just happen! So I don’t know, Zaid!”
“Yes,” he pouted. “They checked multiple times. Everyone is happy for me. But I just–don’t understand how this could have happened. Elves don’t just randomly get pregnant!” He covered his face, fingers under his glasses. “I know sometimes I think about having kids one day but we both need to be wanting kids for the–“
“–magic to–” He stopped and looked up. “‘Oops’? Wh-what do you mean ‘oops’?!”
Now I went red, turning slightly away from him. Shoooooot. “I, uh… had been thinking about… having kids… I–I didn’t… I mean, I… I wasn’t… I–…so… you were… too?”
Goose just stared at me. “…oops,” he finally gulped. “You n-never mentioned…”
“I didn’t think it’d be something to talk about so early on in our relationship!” I protested, going red. “You never either!”
“Yeah, well… I d-didn’t think it’d be something to worry about!” He folded his arm tightly over his chest, hunching over a bit. “Oh Watcher. So you were th-thinking about kids and… I was thinking about kids and… we love each other so…”
“So the elf magic worked?” I asked, to make sure I knew what happened. Goose nodded. “Oh. Wow. Okay. Um.”
We stood there in silence. I had no idea what to say, or even how to react. Finally Goose said, “I guess we should have, uh, talked about communication a couple months ago…”
“Months?” I jerked my head up. “How far in are you?”
My hands shook a bit and so I sank down on the couch, putting my head in my hands to stop them from shaking and to try and understand this sudden news. I thought about my dads, and how they had randomly out-of-the-blue gotten pregnant. Did they feel this way? This shocked? This confused? At least I technically had warning that it could happen even though I had forgotten about it until now for the most part.
Goose came closer and I looked up at him. “Are you mad?” he asked.
I stood back up, arms sliding around his waist. “Not mad. Just shocked. I–I didn’t… I… I mean, you know… my history…” He nodded, as I had talked to him about my marriage. Not completely but he needed to know some of the baggage that came along with me and that did include the abortion. “I do want kids. I love kids, a lot. I mean this wouldn’t have happened if I didn’t want kids.”
He chuckled at that. “Okay, that’s true. So–it’s… okay?”
Goose beamed up at me. “I love you.”
“I love you too,” I whispered, kissing him again, feeling excited about the prospect of finally being a dad.