Chapter Nine Summary: The next morning comes almost too soon. While Sam and Gwennetha seem to take things in stride, Martouf and Malek...don't. Each of them have pretty much the same first response though. Some misconceptions upset both Martouf and Malek.
Pher’ak’tel - The Essence given off by the Female during the Furling Mating Ritual. Only used for Conception Lun’ak’mat - Furling Mating Cycle Siesht’tat’mate – Furling Coffee…Very Aromatic and Invigorating. Caruswyn – My Dear, My Dearest Carusawyn – My Dear One, My Dearest One Mal’et’matk – Morning Sickness, the Nausea that comes from the Chemicals and Hormones of the Female during the Mating. Amat Wyn – My Love Coeurawyn – My Heart “Italics” – Symbiote-Host or Telepathic Communications
Samantha Carter slowly awoke. Something wasn’t right. There were two warm bodies in her bed. One on either side of her. Casting her mind back to the night before, she remembered waiting for Martouf and Lantash. They had come to her. She had felt energized, her blood humming in her veins. They had made love. Hadn’t they? She frowned. In that case, shouldn’t she be wrapped in their arms, snuggling, her lips pressed to their neck, or their lips pressed to hers?
She slowly opened her eyes and found herself staring at the ceiling. Finally bringing herself to look to her left, she saw a tousled head of auburn hair. Janet. Okay, this was so not a good sign. Moreover, if Janet was on her left side, then was Martouf on her right? What had taken place in this bed last night that she couldn’t (wouldn’t?) remember?
Forcing herself to look to her right, she saw a face that was as familiar as her own was, but it wasn’t Martouf's. Why was Kat in bed with her and Janet instead of Daniel? Furthermore, speaking of that, why wasn’t Janet in bed with Merdwin? Maybe she was dreaming. That was it. She was having some really weird dream, where, for some mysterious reason, not only could she not remember the night before, but she seemed to be sleeping with her two best friends instead of her lover. She continued to gaze at Kat, her forehead still puckered in a frown. Shouldn’t there be more to a dream than this?
Slowly sitting up, she stared around her, then jerked as Kataya said, “How do you feel this morning, Samantha, other than confused?”
“I’m dreaming, right? I mean, I have to be, because I went to bed with Martouf and Lantash last night. I distinctly remember going to bed with them. I even remember, well, I think I remember, but never mind that, because the point is that I have to be dreaming because, I do remember that. I think. Maybe.”
“You’re not dreaming, Sam,” Janet said, from the other side of her, as she stretched and yawned widely. “I’m afraid you, ah, had an incident last night that necessitated our attendance, and Martouf is, I hope, peacefully sleeping with Daniel and is fine now.”
“Maybe you better start at the beginning, because, as odd as me waking up with the two of you is, the idea of Martouf willingly sleeping with Daniel, when he could be with me, is even odder.”
“I do not believe anything was said about willingly, Samantha,” Kataya pointed out with a hint of amusement in her voice. “I think the beginning would be a very good place to start, and I should assure you that, even though you do not remember the events of last night at the moment, they will eventually come back to you. All of them, I’m afraid.”
“I’m not going to like this, am I?” Sam asked.
“Well, I can’t say that you’ll dislike the outcome, in fact, I think you’ll be overjoyed when the reality finally sinks in. However, there are some things that happened to get to the final outcome that you may be a little, ah, perturbed, about,” Janet said carefully.
“Well, you will anyway,” Kat assured her solemnly before a knock on the door captured her attention. Getting out of bed, she wrapped her robe around herself and answered the door. The tray of pastries, hot chocolate, and Siesht’tat’mate, a very highly flavored and aromatic drink very similar to coffee, was handed to her along with the information that brunch would be in a few hours. Thanking the young man, she turned back toward the bed with the tray. She was just in time to see Samantha’s eyes widen and her hand cover her mouth as she sprinted for the bathroom.
Ah, yes, the joys of impending motherhood; she remembered them well. She remembered them well times three, in fact, and could look forward to them yet one more time, when she and Daniel once again decided to have kits. Well, there was no point in dwelling. Shrugging, she took the tray to the table and motioned Janet to join her. There was, after all, no reason that she and Janet could not enjoy their breakfast. Of course, the sound of Samantha heaving put a little bit of a damper on their appetites before they managed to block the sound out. It was going to be a long day.
“Isn’t this a little soon for that, Kat? Do the Furling have morning sickness earlier than the women of earth do?” Janet asked, somewhat concerned. It wasn’t unheard of for a pregnant woman to start feeling ill immediately after they became pregnant, but neither was it very common.
Kat smiled at her and shook her head, “There is no need to be concerned, Janet; it is not too soon at all and, in fact, it has arrived on time. Mal’et’matk, what you refer to as ‘morning sickness’, is a very common occurrence for us. The intensity of it varies from woman to woman, of course, from almost non-existent to quite ill, and the males tend to have it much worse than the females do. Our period of gestation is between four and five months. This is very common for mal’et’matk. In normal circumstances, it tends to happen by the next morning, after conception; sometimes it even occurs within a few hours. I always began to be unwell within six hours of conception. Fortunately, it only lasts for a month or two. It can be quite debilitating if not handled, but we can mitigate quite a bit of it.”
“Are you saying that I’m pregnant? How, may I ask, did this happen?”
“Ah, well, surely, you’re old enough to know the answer to that, Sam?” Janet asked softly.
Sam rolled her eyes, “Ha, ha, ha. I find it hard to believe that I went to bed not pregnant, slept with the two of you, and woke up this morning in the family way. Is this part of the long story that I may not like parts of but with which I will be happy about the results?”
“Yes, Sam. Yes, it is.” Janet answered, as she watched Sam dash back into the bathroom.
“It may take a while to explain this to her at the present rate of conversational exchange,” Kataya commented as she took another bite of a pastry covered with honey.
They ate in silence for a time and then Janet said, “I think she should come back to Earth with us, so that I can keep an eye on her.”
“That will be up to Samantha, Janet. Her health will not suffer, I assure you. Furling mortality rates are almost non-existent, when it comes to birthing. And you should know that the kits will be born at Avilion. There will be no objection to you being there, if you so desire, but they will be born on the altar, in the Sanctuary.”
Janet’s eyes grew round. “On the altar, in the Sanctuary? That’s not possible. She’ll have this baby on Earth. I can’t imagine Sam agreeing to what you’re saying.”
“Yes, Janet, I’m afraid I will. I’ll have them at Avilion. As a daughter of the house of Artereos, if it is at all possible, it’s where they must be born, isn’t it?” Sam asked Kataya quietly from where she once again leaned against the doorway.
“Yes, Samantha, it is.”
Turning to Kataya, Janet said, “I take it that there is some significance to this child being born there and, since Sam agrees, there isn’t much that I can do about it, so I won’t fight you on it.”
Kataya nodded, saying, “Merdwin will explain it. I think you will be surprised. Daniel and Martouf do not yet know, and we do not wish them to, so please keep the information to yourself once he explains. In the meantime, I believe you should know that it will be kits, Janet. Furlings always have two. One boy and one girl. Unless they have four. We must hope that Samantha is not one of those.”
“Oh, my,” Janet breathed softly.
Daniel woke up to the weight of a leg thrown over his, an arm across his chest and a, well, something, pressing firmly against his hip. A heavy leg and a heavy arm, and it was not his sidearm that was pressing into his hip. These were not Kataya’s body parts, no doubt about it. There were no soft breasts pressed against his chest. There was no scent of roses and musk, and there were much larger, firmer muscles in the leg and arm, pinning him to the bed.
Nope, not at all like Kataya’s body. Memories from the night before rushed to the forefront, and he barely stopped himself from groaning aloud. All he could hope was that Martouf and Lantash remembered what occurred on their own. He thought Lantash would. Martouf was another matter. Thank the universe; Lantash could just let him sort through his memories.
The real question was how was he supposed to get out from under Martouf without waking him? Somehow, he didn’t think he could, and even if he managed to evade Martouf without awakening him, he thought Lantash might be a much lighter sleeper. On the other hand, maybe Lantash was so exhausted from, well, everything that he would be deeply asleep and not awaken easily. If Lantash did wake up first, he hoped that he realized what was going on, instead of panicking first and asking questions later. Damn. Well, it was too late to hope for that now; he should have tried to move before this happened.
Martouf tightened his arm around Samantha and pressed his body more firmly, though still gently, against her hip, rocking against her lightly. As he nuzzled her neck, kissing it softly, he felt the roughness of her beard stubble on his forehead. He stopped rocking. The last he remembered, Samantha did not have beard stubble. Then he frowned. As far as he could remember, she did not have hair on her chest, either. In addition, the normal female, er, appendages were conspicuous in their absence, while a swelling farther down, where his leg lay across her, was quite obvious and matched the one he was pressing into her hip. There was no longer any doubt about it; their Samantha’s body simply did not feel correct. In fact, she felt very, very wrong.
Furthermore, he believed that he recognized the person he was nuzzling, kissing, and pressing. “Lantash? Lantash? Lantash!” Martouf's voice was obviously that of a person extremely upset and on the edge of panic.
“W-wha? Whas wrng, Marfff? pha’tk, Kref,’ ek? Pshat?” Lantash mumbled groggily, mixing his languages and making no sense, as he tried valiantly to swim up through the layers of sleep and bring his senses to bear on what had so upset his beloved Martouf.
“Why are we in bed with Daniel?” Martouf hissed, vehemently. “Even more important, why are we in bed with Daniel, wrapped around him, pressing our, er, selves, against his hip, kissing his neck, and, and rubbing him? Over and above all of that, where is our Samantha?”
“I was cold,” Lantash said the first reasonable, to him anyway, thing that came to mind. His memories of the night before were foggy at best, but he was waking up and becoming marginally more coherent. “Something happened. I remember we showered together. We wanted—needed—that is, we were very, um, aroused, so we kissed Daniel,” Lantash tried to explain, but his memories were still too disjointed to be able to make much sense of them.
“What?” Martouf screeched, as he immediately attempted to remove himself from Daniel.
The sudden activity from Martouf brought Lantash to a slightly more wakeful state; however, he was still quite groggy. Still, he immediately attempted to be both rational and soothing to him, “Martouf! Calm down. We are entangled in the blankets, and you are causing both of us, and Daniel, extreme discomfort.”
“Ow! Hey! Quit it! don’t, ack. Umph,” Daniel grunted as one of Martouf’s elbows punched him in the ribs, and one of his hands landed in some other more tender spots.
Lantash continued to attempt to calm him without having to take control of him at a time when it would obviously be against his will, “Martouf, take our hand off of his…No! Do not do th…! Wait, umph! Stars of Fire, watch where you are putting our knee. You are going to injure Daniel if you do not calm yourself and become more careful.”
“Sh*t, that hurts! Crap, Martouf, you’re gonna…”
“Move our elbow. Let go of that, Martouf, and stop pressing on his…”
“Mpfft, ow,” Daniel groaned. “Frack, let go already! Lantash,” Daniel finally bellowed, “Do something!”
“Martouf! STOP MOVING!” Lantash shouted, as he finally came fully awake and tried to gain control without forcibly taking it from Martouf.
“STOP MOVING!” Daniel yelled.
Martouf froze, realizing what he was doing in his panic.
“You…you are going to harm Daniel; calm down before you do him a painful, if not permanent, injury,” Lantash admonished him severely and only slightly more quietly.
Martouf took several quick, deep breaths, threatening to hyperventilate, and attempted to relax. Unfortunately, relaxing brought parts of his anatomy into contact with parts of Daniel’s anatomy with which he would prefer not to be in contact. Ever. Screwing his eyes shut tightly, he moaned in embarrassment. “I apologize, Daniel,” Martouf said, his voice sounding as if he was strangling.
Taking a calming breath himself, Daniel said, “If you’ll just, um, let go of, um, me, and uh, move your, ah, arm and leg, I’ll, uh, I’ll move over so you can, um, get untangled. Lantash was very cold last night, so I imagine he tried to be sure that you stayed well- covered afterwards,” Daniel said, his voice apologetic.
Martouf's eye flew open and he stared at Daniel. “What did the two of you do? How long has this been going on? How have you managed to keep this from me? How could you do this to me and to our mates?” He asked harshly.
Finally able to remove himself to the far side of the bed, Daniel sighed. “Ah, this isn’t what it appears to be, Martouf, I assure you. Believe me, there is nothing like that going on between Lantash and I. I mean, look, you have your clothes on, and if what you’re thinking was going on, was really going on, you wouldn’t be dressed, right?” Daniel asked, using as much calm, logic, and common sense as he could muster under the circumstances.
“Why am I here? Why are we here and where is Samantha?” Martouf demanded, only marginally mollified by Daniel’s tone of voice and sensible statements, as well as the expanse of bed that now separated them.
“She’s in bed in the other room with Kataya and Janet. I’m sure she’s fine. Please try not to get upset over this. There’s an explanation and it’s not any of the wild ideas you have running through your mind.”
Martouf's eyes widened and he asked, his voice rising, “I wake up to find myself in bed with you, with you in my arms, and my mate in bed with someone else, and you want me to remain calm?” He asked, incredulous.
“Martouf,” Daniel said softly, “Please, think. Obviously, something drastic happened or you wouldn’t be here. Isn’t Lantash showing you anything of what happened last night?”
“Disjointed images, foggy memories. Whatever happened, he knows only slightly more than I do.”
“Great, it needed only that,” Daniel said, as he pinched the bridge of his nose, then sighed and continued, “Well, it’s going to be a long story. Let’s get up and get, well, at least get our robes on, and I’ll tell you what I know, okay? Kataya said you would remember everything, just not right at first. I have no idea how long it’ll take the memories to filter through, though, so I will explain, I promise. Just, first, let’s try to get up and around. You know, awake.”
“I am quite wide awake, Daniel, I assure you,” Martouf said, stiffly, embarrassment at the position he had found himself in upon awakening, again at the forefront of his mind.
“Don’t let it bother you. There’s worse, believe me,” Daniel said brightly, and then chuckled. “Actually the entire situation is rather like a very good farce,” he smiled wryly, “or maybe a very bad farce.” Seeing the look on Martouf's face he added, “It wasn’t your fault, nor was it Sam’s. Merdwin and Kataya are taking the blame. Personally, I don’t think anyone is at fault. You and Sam had no way of knowing, and neither did Kataya and Merdwin.”
“That is not exactly true, Daniel,” Lantash came forward to say. “I should have recognized the scent. I should have known.”
“It’s been almost a hundred and fifty years, Lantash, don’t blame yourself.”
“While that may be true, that scent is unmistakable. I do not know how I missed it.”
“I wouldn’t let it worry me. Sam will be overjoyed and you should be, too.”
“What is Samantha going to be overjoyed about, Daniel?” Martouf once again insisted on taking control and talking to Daniel.
“Being pregnant, you know, with child.” Daniel said bluntly. “Congratulations, Martouf, you and Lantash are going to be fathers.”
As Martouf sat, looking somewhat like a stunned mullet, Lantash came forward to say, “I think I will wait to see how Samantha feels about it before I begin to rejoice. She could choose not to have them, you know.”
“With child? Them?” Martouf' quavered, after pushing Lantash to one side to take control.
“Furlings always have twins, Martouf. One boy and one girl. Always. Well, unless they have four. I think that does happen.” Daniel informed him in a matter-of-fact manner.
“Twins,” Martouf repeated. “As in two.” Obviously, completely stunned and again incapable of speech or thought, Lantash came forward and sighed, as he said, “My memories are beginning to clear. I believe that between the two of us we can probably explain to Martouf what occurred. And yes, Martouf, two.”
“Sounds good to me,” Daniel said, only to be interrupted by a knock on the door.
Answering it, he found one of the Valdellonians with a tray. “Valynara thought you might wish for something to eat and drink in here this morning. There will be a brunch in a few hours. Please set the tray outside the door when you are finished.”
“Thank you,” Daniel replied, as he took the tray. “I appreciate it very much.” Repeating his musings from the night before, he thought, Elves, he would swear to it, there were elves hiding, anticipating his every need, wish, and desire.
Closing the door, he turned back to Martouf and Lantash. “Breakfast. Let’s get comfortable and tell Martouf what we know over some hot chocolate, pastries, and an excellent substitute for coffee, what do you say?”
Lantash nodded. “An excellent idea, Daniel. Thank you. For everything.”
“You’re welcome. Any time,” Daniel said, as he puttered around setting out the food and the Furling substitute for coffee. Then looking up and waving the exquisitely aromatic cup of Siesht’tat’mate towards them, he grinned evilly and added, “But next time, without the kiss.”
“Daniel?” Martouf' finally found his voice again, but it had raised by an octave and ended on a squeak.
Suddenly, they paled, and Lantash murmured to Martouf, “Oh, no, I had forgotten this part, although as horrible as it was, I do not know how I possibly could have done so,” he paused, then added, “I hope I do not beg to die this time.”
Martouf realized what Lantash was mumbling about as a wave of it hit him. Looking suddenly panicked, he gasped, “I believe we are about to be…very unwell,” as he ran for the bathroom.
An image came to Daniel, and it was vivid. Approximately six hours after Kataya had conceived, the two of them had been heaving. Furling mates shared the morning sickness, the mood swings, the food cravings, everything but the actual carrying and the labor. The sharing of the labor was left up to the woman and, if she chose to, she could share that, too. At least he had never begged to die, as he had been told many did. It was an experience. Blocking out the sounds coming from the bathroom, he decided he might as well eat.
“Good morning, Gwennetha, it looks to be a beautiful day today,” Valynara said cheerfully, as she noticed her bedmate’s eyes pop open.
“Why are you here? Where is Malek?”
“Well, let me see. I believe that Daniel is sleeping with Lantash, so Malek would be with Merdwin. Yes, I am sure that is what they decided last night.”
“Lantash is sleeping with Daniel.”
“And Malek is sleeping with my father?”
“And just where are Janet and my mother sleeping?”
“They are sleeping with Samantha.”
“Samantha. And I am in bed with you. Why? Why are we all sleeping with different people than we began the night with?”
“Ah, now that is an interesting story. But though an extremely long one, I can make it very...” she stopped speaking as someone knocked on the door.
“That must be breakfast. I will return in a moment, Caruswyn.”
Taking the tray of freshly baked and aromatic pastries, Siesht’tat’mate and chocolate to the small table near the bed and setting it down, she turned back toward Gwennetha.
“Dear Universe, I feel awful. I am going to be quite unwell. Immediately.”
“Oh, dear, I had not thought of that. I do hope Samantha’s either does not happen or else does not happen quite so soon. Go throw up, Amat Wyn, and you will feel better, I assure you,” she said to Gwennetha’s back as the other woman raced for the bathroom.
Another complication to contend with. Moreover, no doubt Malek’s response would prove to be interesting. She hoped Merdwin was not having trouble with him.
Malek sighed slightly in his sleep and slowly made his way toward consciousness. Rolling over, he threw his arm around his mate and pulled her back against him until she fit snugly against his abdomen. He thought she murmured incoherently and resisted slightly, but she often did that until she awoke and realized it was him.
Still more than half asleep himself, he paid no attention and curled around Gwennetha’s back as he pressed his firmness against the rounded curve of her bottom where they lay spooned together. Curling even farther around her, he kissed the nape of her neck as he allowed his hand to begin a slow slide toward the apex of her thighs. He reached that jointure, his fingers reaching for her and…he froze, now wide-awake and afraid to do so much as breathe.
Dear Universe, what, what had happened and who was in bed with him? The curve nestled against his abdomen was not soft, the back of the neck he had kissed was not sweetly scented or silky, and his fingers were not wrapped around any body part that Gwennetha owned.
As realization hit him, he thrust out with his one unencumbered arm and jackknifing away from the body in the bed, he brought both feet up and planted them firmly in the interloper’s back, forcibly ejecting the culprit who had stolen his Gwennetha and taken her place in his bed.
He heard the sound of a large body slamming into the floor, followed by a grunt of pain and a disgusted snort in a voice that he recognized immediately. “Stars of Fire, Malek, must you be so tempestuously violent? You did not even kick that wildly last night as I dragged you away from Gwennetha and brought you into this bed,” he heard his father-in- law swear.
“In fact, once I managed to restrain you a little, you were very cooperative, gave me almost no trouble, and appeared to be enjoying yourself. Afterwards, once we had showered and eaten, you immediately went to sleep and slept all night. Daniel had much more trouble convincing Martouf and Lantash, so why the violence this morning?” Merdwin grumbled as he picked himself up off the floor and reached for his dressing gown. Picking up the other one that had been thrown carelessly across the chair back, he threw it to the man in the bed who watched him with both outrage and panic in his eyes.
Malek crouched in a defensive position on the bed, waiting for an attack. As he realized that there would not be one, he sat down abruptly, and stared wide-eyed at the man standing and looking at him with something that looked suspiciously like amusement behind the irritability.
What had happened? What type of people were these that were so casual about, well, about a father-in-law forcing himself on his son-in-law? And why couldn’t he remember any of it? He was supposed to protect Devlin and Gwennetha. Dear Universe, what had happened to them?
“Dear one, thinking calmly about this situation, do you really believe that what you are thinking happened, actually happened?” Devlin asked him, quietly. Sending him a soothing hug and support, he continued calmly, “I really think that perhaps we are overreacting to an obviously odd set of circumstances. I suggest retreating to a safe place if you feel too vulnerable here, and then asking some questions. Since neither of us can remember the events that took place, I do not think we should panic yet.”
Drawing a calming breath, Malek replied, “Of course, you are correct. I am being foolish beyond permission.”
Keeping a close eye on Merdwin, he grabbed their robe and backed slowly across the bed. Reaching the edge, he swung his feet to the floor and stood. They had on some type of clothing that appeared to be related to the Tau’ri ‘boxer shorts’, only they were full length, so at least they had remained clothed.
He looked wildly around the room, even as he tried fruitlessly to search his mind for memories of the night before. The last thing he remembered was making love to Gwennetha. At least, he thought that they had made love to her. However, if that was so, why had he just woken up with his arms around his father-in-law and his hand… he blanched and refused to let that thought go any farther. This was not good, not good at all.
“Malek, you can stop hunting frantically for a place to go. I am not going to attack you now, anymore than I did last night. Come, what is the matter with you? You know why you are here; I explained it to you last night.”
“No, Merdwin, I do not remember why I am here, I do not remember being dragged from Gwennetha, and I do not remember anything that was ~ done ~ to Devlin and I.” Malek stated stiffly, his voice arctic.
“Ah, I see. Of course. It has been too many years since I experienced either the Pher’ak’ tel or the drugging affects of the Lun’ak’mat,” Merdwin said, with a sigh.
He looked at him, frowning slightly, obviously thinking about their situation. “Malek,” he asked quietly, “has Gwennetha explained anything about the Furling mating cycle, the Lun’ak’mat?”
“I do not believe so,” Malek replied cautiously. “I can guess from your terminology, but to be safe, I will ask you to be plain. What is it?”
For a moment, Merdwin was shocked. He was very disappointed in Gwennetha, for not informing them. Well, no doubt, there would be some very rough waters ahead for the two of them. He would not blame Malek and Dev for becoming upset. On the other hand, while it was not what he would have expected of his daughter, he loved her, and she would need support during the coming upheaval. “It is the heat or mating cycle of the Furling. The female exudes a very potent drug, as well as pheromones, to ensure that she and her mate will carry through with the rather, ah, painful mating.”
“Merdwin, last night was not the first time that Gwennetha and I have, um, been intimate. She has never done this before, and there has never been any pain involved. I am afraid I have no idea what you are talking about.”
“That is because the pain only occurs under one very specific circumstance. It only happens when the female wishes to breed.”
Malek stared at Merdwin, not comprehending what he was saying. “Breed,” he stated, obviously not understanding.
“Yes, Furling women only come into heat when they wish to bear kittdren, er, children. Normally, they control when that happens. Unfortunately, last night was not normal; there were some extenuating circumstances, which threw Gwennetha into her heat cycle. Congratulations Malek, you and Dev are about to become fathers.”
Malek stared blankly at him when he finished speaking. “Breed,” he repeated, as if he could not quite understand the meaning of the word. “Breed, as in a child. You are saying that Gwennetha is with child,” he finally managed to say in a shocked voice. Through his shock, Malek was aware of a wave of excitement and intense joy coming from Devlin.
A knock on the door drew their attention and Merdwin went to answer it. He returned and placed a tray of food on a small table. Turning over the cups, he proceeded to pour out some ‘Siesht’tat’mate’. He offered a cup to Malek, as he stood staring blankly at him. For his part, Malek suddenly became aware of a very uncomfortable feeling in the pit of his stomach and Devlin talking to him urgently, “We are going to be extremely unwell now, Malek; you must take us to the bathroom,” Devlin gasped vehemently and firmly, “Now!”
Merdwin watched them dash for the bathroom and sank down onto a chair, closing his eyes. He shuddered delicately, as the sounds from the bathroom sent him back in time to when Kataya had been carrying their kits. It had been a most distressing, as well as distressful, two months and the memories were as vivid today, as if it had just happened. Never had he ever wanted to experience that again.
He was a firm believer that the sharing of the emotions, physical discomfort and, if the female permitted it, as she had in his case, the pain of the delivery, were the reasons that Furlings rarely had more than one set of kits. How Kataya had cheerfully agreed to bear kittdren for him after having been pregnant with Daniel’s kits and miscarrying them was a mystery to him. Then she had done it again with Lantash. Women, he decided, were the biggest mystery of the universe.
Sighing, he began to eat a light breakfast. He would have to finish talking to Malek and perhaps take him, Martouf, and Daniel to the meeting he knew he would have to have with Jacob Carter. The General would not be happy until he understood what had happened, and it would be up to Merdwin to explain it. Kataya and Valynara would discuss it with Samantha, Janet, and perhaps Gwennetha, although she should already know most of this. She had been there when Lantash and Kataya’s kits were born.
He looked up as Malek came slowly out of the bathroom, his face ashen and his hands shaking. Not even the symbiote could override this sharing. The open wounds had infected them with the hormones from Gwennetha. They would work on him in the same way that they were no doubt working on her. One of them would have to travel to Avilion to get the herbal mixture that mitigated the nausea and vomiting. It would probably fall to him.
“Merdwin,” Malek said quietly, “I believe you need to tell us exactly what happened last night. We seem to be, ah, injured in some rather odd places.”
Nodding, he gestured to them to sit down, but after a look at the food and turning a shade paler, if that was even possible, they sat on the bed near to the bathroom. No doubt a wise precaution, Merdwin thought. Once Malek and Dev relaxed against the headboard of the bed, he said, “During the heat cycle the female becomes somewhat aggressive. Are you able to take care of it, Malek, or would you wish me to use the ribbon to heal you?”
“No, thank you, I believe I can take care of it, if we can stop heaving long enough. I cannot do it while we are being so ill. I hate it when Dev heaves,” Malek said petulantly, “It gives me a headache. Why are we ill and why can I not control it, Merdwin?”
“You are sharing Gwennetha’s pregnancy with her, Malek, you and Dev. The, ah, injuries she inflicted enable the hormones to be absorbed by you as well as mixing your blood and semen to ensure fertilization. It rarely fails to work. I am afraid that you cannot override it. We will get you something for it, though. Try to relax and heal yourself, while I go check on Gwennetha and the others, all right? Then I will be back to explain a lot of this.”
“I promised Jacob I would explain the entire thing to him, so we will probably all meet together later this morning. However, it can wait until you are all feeling a little better. By doing it in a group, I can answer all of the questions at once. Lantash will no doubt remember much of this once the drug wears off, but Martouf will need it explained to him, as he was not blended with Lantash when he and Kataya had kits.”
“Lantash and Martouf? I do not understand.”
“It was Samantha coming into heat that threw Gwennetha into hers, Malek. Neither woman had any control over their cycle; they are too young to control it. I will explain it all later, I promise, but for now, rest and heal yourself, all right?”
“All right,” Malek agreed, tiredly. “I will try if we can stay out of the facilities long enough for me to do so.”
Looking at him worriedly, Merdwin asked, “Are you sure you would not rather I simply use my ribbon to heal you? It would be faster in the circumstances.”
Malek shook his head and two bright spots of color on his cheeks stood out starkly against the paleness of the rest of his face.
“That will not be necessary, but thank you. I believe I would prefer to heal these particular wounds myself,” Malek replied somewhat stiffly, embarrassed at the very thought of having someone heal that portion of his anatomy, an emotion he did not believe he would ever feel when it came to the body. Devlin’s emotions must be rubbing off on him, he thought sourly.
Devlin took control while Malek did his best to heal the scratches that crisscrossed the more intimate parts of their anatomy. They had also discovered bites on their chest, shoulders, and neck, as well as scratches that ran from their thighs to their shoulders. Sitting, he realized, was not pleasant right now. “Is Gwennetha ill also, Merdwin?” Dev asked, his curiosity overriding his nausea for the moment.
“Yes, she is. You are ill from the same hormones and chemicals that are in her blood.”
“Dear Universe, Merdwin, how do they bear this? I feel as if I could simply pass out at any time and be extremely ill at any moment. I had no idea that being with child was like this. It is decidedly unpleasant,” he murmured, as he closed his eyes and let his head fall back onto the headboard.
“I know. I am well aware, for I shared the same thing with Kataya when she carried Gwennetha and Merdwain. I have always been fervently grateful that we did not have to share the carrying of the kits,” Merdwin said thoughtfully.
Dev stared at him for a moment, absorbing that thought, before moaning, jumping off the bed, and heading back to the bathroom.
Raising his voice so Devlin and Malek could hear him over the retching, he said, “I will return as quickly as I can. I am afraid there is very little I can do for either of you at the moment, so I may as well go to Avilion and pick up the herbs needed to mitigate the nausea.” He stood and dressed, preparing to leave and obtain the needed supplies.
Since they had just showered a few hours ago, he passed on another one and prepared to head out, when he heard Devlin say to him, “Please, Merdwin, if there is something that will help with this, by all means, do go and get it as soon as possible.”
“I will and I will have Valynara or Kataya check on you.”
“Thank you, and Merdwin?”
“Would you please remove the food from the room and open the window wider? I think that might help,” Devlin said.
Merdwin laughed softly and did as he requested. He had just returned from removing the offending foodstuffs when the door opened and his daughter entered, looking quite cheerful, if a little pale. Her eyes were shining and her face almost glowed with her happiness. “How are you this morning, Papa?” she asked, as she rose on tiptoe to give him a kiss.
“I am fine, thank you, Carusawyn. You are looking very lovely this morning. As well as very happy,” he said softly, taking in the sparkle in her beautiful eyes. “I am going to go to Avilion to pick up the herbs for the nausea.”
“Oh, Valynara has already taken care of that. She should be back before long. How are Malek and Dev?” she asked, and then realized that she could hear how they were. “Oh, dear, they sound quite unwell. Mine comes and goes.” She smiled brightly as she headed for the bathroom to help her mate through this unpleasant side effect of being with kits.
Merdwin shook his head. She was so much like her mother sometimes that it was scary. Kataya had been much the same. Ill one moment and glowing the next. He, on the other hand, had been like Malek and Dev. He felt as if he had heaved almost constantly from the moment she conceived. He had drunk gallons of that disgusting tea, but at least it had helped.
He smiled as Janet knocked on the doorframe of the door that his daughter had left open. “Jacob is downstairs, and Val is back with the herbs,” she announced, as she entered the room and proceeded to kiss him good morning. When they came up for air, she continued, “She’s making some tea for them and…” she stopped speaking as Gwennetha walked slowly out of the bathroom, looking desolate and stunned.
“Papa? Papa, he called me a vicious, savage animal and would not let me touch him or come anywhere near him, as if I was going to attack him. I do not understand,” she whispered, before she ran from the room. They heard her calling for her mother, and they heard Kataya answer her. Merdwin shut his eyes and rubbed his temples. He rarely had headaches, but he felt as if he could have one today. Meditation, he really needed to do some deep meditation.
“How could he say that to her?” Janet gasped, appalled and horrified.
“Quite easily, Janet. Gwennetha did not explain the Lun’ak’mat to them before they bonded. She should have, of course, and I think under normal circumstances, she would have. With everything that was going on, I feel sure it simply slipped her mind. I doubt she deliberately kept the information from him, but the result will be the same. He will blame her and be extremely angry, some of which will be justified.”
“In some ways, the Furling become part cat during the Lun’ak’mat.” He gave a twisted smile, saying, “I am Furling myself and understood the entire event, but as I heaved what felt like the very lining of my stomach, I accused Kataya of much the same thing, though she did not have to do to me what they must do to a non-Furling, to ensure conception. I refused to let her near me for a week, until Artereos took me aside and pointed out that it was our nature, and that in order to conceive, she had no choice but to release the hormones that caused all of my suffering and that she, also, was quite unwell. And, that we had both agreed to have kits.”
“Of course, that is not true in Dev and Malek’s or in Martouf and Lantash’s case. However, they agreed to love and cherish these women forever, so they must accept them as they are. Malek and Dev will come around, Amat Wyn, I assure you. But, in their case it may take time, and I am afraid that it is going to be a very painful time for both Gwennetha and them.”
“Also, I believe it is a response similar to the one where Kataya called me every foul and derogatory name she could think of as she labored and gave birth. I have no doubt that Gwennetha will do the same. Life is never dull for us is it, Coeurawyn?”
“Merdwin, I, um, I have a question,” Janet said slowly.
“No, Janet, it will not be this way with us. The human female does not need to be induced to release her eggs. She does it every month, unless she is using something to prevent it. I promise to give you a thorough description of the physical changes that take place for us, but later. I am afraid that I must help Malek and Devlin through this, much as I would prefer to stay with you.”
Laughing softly, Janet shook her head at his ability to read her so well and said, “I’ll go back and check on the tea, Gwennetha, and Sam. I’ll also do whatever I can to help Gwennetha cope with this. I understand how it could have slipped her mind. She did have other very important things to occupy her and to think about at the time.”
Sighing and kissing her swiftly, he agreed, and then turned to go into the bathroom to see if he could help Malek and Dev. No doubt, Kataya would explain to Gwennetha that it was a weakness in the male that caused this response and not to take it to heart. She would tell her that Dev and Malek did not mean it, they were simply quite ill and still in shock at the turn of events.
She would also explain that she should have told them before they agreed to be her mates. He was sure that Kataya would tell her that, and that she should expect them to be quite angry. Especially Malek. Malek would be furious, for to a Tok’Ra, to be out of control in that way would be a terrible blow to their pride. There was also the fact that Malek would feel he had failed to protect Devlin. And then, the begging to die. Oh, yes, it would take time for Malek to adjust.
No doubt, Kataya would also tell her that Gwennetha’s own father had been even more derogatory to her when he was first ill with the ‘mal’et’matk,’ calling her an insatiable, devious, vicious, savage beast that delighted in making him ill. Men, she would tell her, did not always understand these things quickly.
Dev and Malek were hurting and confused, and like any injured animal, they had turned on the one that they perceived as their tormentor. Moreover, she would do the same to them during the birth. No doubt, they would be very sorry later. Now, come, calm down, Coeurawyn. Merdwin could almost hear Kataya’s voice as she explained and comforted their daughter. She would soothe her and he would soothe the other half.
Perhaps he could just escape back to Avilion or Earth? No, that wouldn’t help, he knew. Sighing, he knelt down beside Malek and Dev as they lay on the bathroom floor moaning.
Malek’s hand shot out and grabbed him with what, under the circumstances, was amazing strength. Staring intently at him, he gasped, his agonized voice impassioned and fervent, “You will kill me now. You will kill me quickly and cleanly, and put me out of this excruciating misery as you would any other suffering animal. You will not allow me to suffer and die this slow, painful, lingering death Please, Merdwin; you must promise me you will kill me.”
Merdwin suspected that this was the only time Malek had ever begged for anything. His natural arrogance would have prevented him from it; but then, he had never before experienced mal’et’matk. He remembered the sensation well and he had reacted exactly the same. The one and only time Merdwin had ever begged death to claim him had been during the mal’et’matk. How the mighty were fallen, he thought whimsically.
“Although most of us do so during this time, wishing you were dead and begging for it will not make it go away, Caruswyn,” he said soothingly. “Valynara has returned with the herbs and you will soon have some tea that will soothe the nausea. It does help, Malek, I assure you, for I was quite as ill as you are. I am afraid that the chemicals and hormones that Kataya and Gwennetha carry and you absorbed, are very potent. Lantash, too, was extremely ill when Kataya carried Lanwin and Taesha.”
“It either does not affect them as badly, or they are better at bearing it. Since Kataya heaved as hard as I did, I suspect it is the latter, which is a lowering thought. Nor did she ever beg to die as I did,” he continued calmly, reassuring the proud man and his even prouder symbiote that they were not the first to so lower themselves.
Malek didn’t answer. He was too busy trying to part with the lining of his stomach.