Submitted for Zine Publication to Texas Ranger on February 5, 2001
Boldly Going Where Almost No One Has Went Before.
Jim Ellison walked into the loft, looking around for his Guide, his scowl almost epic from where Blair Sandburg sat on the couch pretending to read. He knew this was the day they were going to fight, and it was all his fault if he lost everything they had built. Blair relaxed, remembering the day he had agreed to help his friends, five months earlier.
They were sitting in the student center, just talking over coffee, not even about specific topics, just letting their friendship flow naturally between classes. That's when Mike, big, tough, strong Mike, had clutched his husband's hand and looked at him, asking him the most important question of his life. "Blair," he said, his voice deep and smooth, almost flowing like water over it's listeners, "we need to ask you something really weird but we need you to listen, okay?"
Blair leaned forward, putting down his styrofoam cup, and gave them his full attention. "Sure, man, go ahead and ask."
Mike cleared his throat, then looked at his lover, Curt, for strength. "We need a surrogate," he blurted.
Curt coughed, his voice high-pitched and almost squeaky. "You've heard about the guy here on campus that's doing his diss on infertility, right?" Blair nodded, relaxing back into his chair. "Well, he's also testing his theories on men as one way to break the infertility barrier. And he's allowing gay couples into the study." He looked around to make sure no one was paying attention to them. "But he said neither one of us was fit to carry. We were missing something in his criteria and he didn't want to risk it, he's still in that optimal criteria phase of the study."
Blair shook his head, his mouth open. "Guys, I'm blown away. You want *me* to carry for you?" Mike nodded, still clinging to Curt's hand. To look at them, you'd never know that Mike was the emotional one of the group, or even guess that he was a Dance major, but the man had a definite set of priorities in life. Blair knew they had been trying to adopt now for almost a year and were getting nowhere fast. He considered the offer for a minute, running the consequences through his life. "I'd have to meet with the guy," Blair said finally. "You guys know what my life's like off-campus and I'm not sure my working with Jim is going to qualify me."
Curt nodded. "That's all we ask, that you meet with him and talk about it." He reached across the small coffeetable and grabbed Blair's hand. "He's already got the embryo frozen for us. All we need is a surrogate."
Blair stood up. "Take me to him," he said, jumping into life with both feet, as usual.
Blair looked up as Jim walked over to where he was sitting and gave him a faint smile. It had worked well, on the second try, and now he was about to face the music for not considering Jim when he had agreed. "Hey," he said, putting down his magazine. "You're home early. Is there a problem?"
Jim sat down next to his lover of almost sixteen months, facing his Guide. "Blair, I heard this small rumor today and I want you to tell me the truth." Blair shifted to look at him. "There's a rumor you're taking medical leave." Blair nodded again. "Why? You're not sick, you're not having medical or psychological problems. Why would you take *medical* leave if you're not sick?"
Blair cleared his throat, looking down at the sweatpants he was wearing, all he could wear out of his closet now. "I'm taking a medical leave, Jim, because I agreed to help someone with an experimental procedure." He glanced up in time to see the slow nod. "It's not really harmful to my body and it'll be over within another five months, including recovery time, but I've already started it and I can't keep working at the station with you while I'm under the treatment. I'm taking a leave from Rainier too, for the same reason." He stopped as his arms were grabbed.
"Sandburg," Jim hissed as he grabbed the younger man, "why are you doing something hazardous to yourself? Was it the money? I'm making enough for both of us." He shook him lightly. "Why?"
"I agreed to surrogate for a few of my friends." Jim dropped him, staring at him in what could only be shock. "They couldn't," he explained quickly, "and I'm compatible. Jim, they've been waiting forever to have a child and have tried everything else. This was the only way for them to have one." He stood up, heading into the kitchen. "I'm sorry, but they *needed* me and I agreed."
"H...how," Jim stuttered. He stood up, following Blair into the kitchen, turning him and making him look at him. "How? That's impossible. I *know* you're a man and men can't do that." He released Blair, stepping back. "How?"
"One of the grad students in the Biology department is a MD candidate too, he's working on fertility research using men as an option for infertile couples." Blair touched his rounded stomach gently. "I fit the criteria and I'm compatible with them so I'm carrying their child where they can't." He looked up into the ice blue eyes, flinching when he saw the pain in it. "I'm sorry if you're disappointed, but they needed me." He turned back around, getting into the refrigerator to get a bottle of juice, heading back out to the couch. "I'll answer questions if I can," he offered carefully.
"Blair, this... this is *insane*!" Jim yelled, throwing up his arms as he stomped back over to sit, looking at his guide. "No man can do that."
"Actually, I am. I'm the third it's worked on, but it's happening." Blair put down his juice bottle, pulling up Jim's t?shirt that he had stolen that morning. "You can check for yourself if you want."
Jim's whole body said hesitation but he did get up and walk back over to slowly sit beside his lover, reaching one hand out to tentatively touch Blair's stomach. "You really are," he said, his voice so low it was almost a whisper. "I can feel and hear it." He looked up into Blair's eyes, meeting them, and Blair knew he must have seen the fear he had been holding back for five months. "How far?" he asked, removing his hand and retreating into the corner. "How far along are you? How many months have you been lying?"
"I haven't lied about anything and I'm twenty-one weeks." Blair shifted to get comfortable. "I haven't lied to you yet, Jim, and I'm not about to start. You just never noticed."
"You let someone else knock you up, Sandburg, what would you call it? Cheating is the same as lying, every time you say 'it's just us, Jim' it's a lie."
Blair shook his head. "No one's touched me, Jim, except for a long needle inserted into my stomach." He pointed at the little purple dot on his abdomen. "Right there. I'm going in for an amnio tomorrow so we've had to mark where the baby is."
Jim shook his head, standing up and heading for the balcony. "Whatever," he said, closing the doors behind him to stand and watch the city.
Blair hung his head, rubbing his forehead with the palms of his hands. "Yeah, maybe," he said. He got up, heading into what had been his room when they had first moved in and picked up the phone, hitting a memory key. "Simon, hi, it's Blair. Yeah, me. No, I need to talk to someone else and Jim's shutting me out. Could you come play the wall between us again?" He smiled and hung up, turning to find Jim in the doorway. "What?"
"Why did you drag Simon into this?" Jim asked quietly. "He doesn't need to know."
"Actually, there's a security clearance needed for this project because the government's recently gotten involved. I was told it was okay to tell you and him." Blair crossed his arms, unconsciously tightening the loose t-shirt across his abdomen. "I'm sorry this freaks you, man, but I'm helping them. I'm not cheating, I'm not lying, and I'm about to need some support too."
"When were you going to tell me?" Jim asked, relaxing against the doorway, blocking the exit. "When you were ready to go into labor? When you woke up in extreme pain because the baby couldn't come out?" he asked quietly, his eyes locked on the small bulge. "I'm still not sure how you're doing that."
"Me either, I'm not a Biology major." Blair shrugged. "All I know is that the grad student watched this movie called Junior and the idea sparked in his head. He was already working on fertility treatments but this just kinda.... hit him." Blair shrugged. "I don't know anything else. He explained it to me by using a model. The baby's resting in a pocket of muscle in about the right place. It's attached normally, and it's apparently growing." He looked down at his feet. "Really fast. I can't fit into my clothes anymore."
Jim snorted. "I had noticed my t-shirts seemed to end up on you more than me." He held up a finger, walking toward the door. "I'll let Simon in, go sit down. Getting hyper can't be good for you."
"I'm supposed to be exercising," Blair muttered, heading back out to the couch and his juice. He waved Simon over to the couch when he walked in. "Jim, close the door," he reminded when the sentinel just stood there.
Jim closed the door. "Simon, you want a drink now or later?" he asked.
Simon looked back and forth between them. "Am I really going to need it?" Jim nodded. "Both might be a good idea then. Or at least bring it out here for when I'm ready." He watched Jim bend over to get into a little used cabinet that held the single fifth of Tequila they had in their house, usually for times like this. He waited until the bottle was in front of him to look at Blair. "Okay, spill, Sandburg. Why was I called over here, you and Jim look okay to me."
"No, I'm in denial," Jim said, sitting down on a chair and waving a hand at Blair. "He's the guy with the secret."
"And it's one you can't tell anyone else about," Blair said calmly, looking directly at his lover.
"Nobody'd believe me," Jim reminded him.
Blair nodded. "Probably." Blair considered Simon then picked up the older man's hand, noting the dryness of the dark skin as he put it on the bulge in his stomach. "I'm pregnant." Simon pulled his hand back like he had been burnt. "I'm surrogating for a couple of friends who have been trying forever."
Simon looked at Jim, who nodded and wordlessly handed over the bottle. Simon wiped his forehead off and took a sip, wincing at the bitterness of the liquor. After a few minutes, he turned to look at Blair again. "Sandburg, you're a man, how is this possible?" The last word came out as a squeak so he cleared his throat. "Who did this to you? And what's with the secrecy?"
"The government recently stepped in to monitor the researcher who's doing this experiment, the agent in charge did a security clearance thing and I'm allowed to tell both of you. Actually, he encouraged that I tell both of you." Blair grimaced. "I'm the third successful case and this part of the program has been halted pending the two of us that are still pregnant giving birth." He shrugged at the dirty look Jim shot him. "I'm sorry I didn't tell you, but I signed a non-disclosure clause and I knew how you'd react anyway." He looked at Simon again, seeing him still in shock. "I'm still me, Simon, I just have a little extra to me now."
"If you say you're like Jim, I'm shooting you," Simon warned.
Blair shook his head. "I wasn't about to make that comparison. I am making history though, I'm one of the first men to have a live birth." He shifted some. "Actually, I may be the first. Last I heard, the first child came out really premature because the father had a car wreck in another state while visiting his family and the local doctor freaked."
"Which was how the Feds got into this," Simon finished dryly. "What did you need me to do, Sandburg?"
"Besides helping Jim at work?" Simon nodded. "I'm not sure how this will affect Jim and no one's sure what sort of side effects this will have in a few months. The Agent in charge thought it would be best if I had someone besides Jim that knew and could cover for me, and be there for me when things got hard. He actually okayed both you and Darryl, but I said I'd have to ask you first."
Simon shuddered. "No, I don't want this around my son." He stood up, looking down at Blair. "This was your choice but I don't want Darryl near you while you're doing this." He looked at Jim. "If you want time off with him, I'll grant it, but I don't want to hear anything more about this." Jim nodded. "Good night, gentlemen," he said stiffly. He walked out the door.
"Happy now? Jim asked, staring at Blair.
Blair got up and headed for the bathroom, locking himself inside. He gave the bathtub a longing look then shook his head, stripping and climbing into the shower. He scrubbed his skin hard, wanting to wash the dirty looks he had gotten away, erase them from his body and mind, but no matter how hard he scrubbed, the memory of Simon's face when he walked out stayed with him. He heard the shower door open and grunted at Jim. "Thought we agreed not to pick the lock on each other," he called. The shower curtain slid open and Jim got in behind him, taking the brush from his fingers and put it down on it's usual shelf. "I didn't want to hurt him," Blair said, not facing his lover. "Or you."
"I know," Jim said, turning Blair to face him. "We both know that. Simon just called and apologized for leaving like that." Blair leaned into Jim, taking comfort from his warm, hard body. "But you didn't just hurt him, Blair, you hurt all of us. And all of your other friends and your mother too. What would she say?"
Blair thought for a second then looked up. "That I had always been too generous toward my friends but this had hit an all-time high." He reached behind himself, turning off the water. "I'm really sorry, Jim, I am, but I'm not going to do anything about it. I agreed to give them their fondest heart's desire and I will."
"Even if it kills you?" Jim asked quietly, getting out of the shower and pulling a towel off the rack, wrapping Blair's hair up for him as he stepped carefully out of the tub. "Even if it kills both of us?"
Blair sighed, then slapped Jim. "I'm not doing something that's going to kill us. Accept it or not. Otherwise, I've been offered a spot in a special house with the other guy." He walked past Jim, heading up to their room, sitting on the bed as he dried off. He was toweling his hair, head down, when he heard the steps on the stairs. "Yeah?" he asked, not looking at his lover.
"Blair, do you think I want you to leave?"
"No, but the other guy almost got killed by his wife so they set up a safehouse." Blair looked up through the curtain of his hair. "This is your decision, Jim, not mine."
"Why? You've been making all the important ones so far."
Blair shook his head, standing up. "No, I made *a* decision," he hissed, his face showing his sadness. "One that I felt was right and if you can't support me in this single decision to help some of my best friends, then you're not the man I thought you were and I'll gladly leave."
Jim sat down on the edge of their bed, looking at Blair, watching as he pulled some clothes out of the closet. "Did you think this was going to be easy for me?" he asked quietly. Blair shook his head. "Then why not tell me months ago?"
"Because if I had gotten upset back then, I might have miscarried." Blair pulled on a pair of Jim's boxers, turning around to look at him. "It almost happened once already and I was just thinking about telling you." He walked over to sit beside his lover, not touching him because he knew he'd flinch away from him. "I'm taking a leave of absence because I can't hide it anymore. I don't want to leave you, in any definition of the word, but if that's what you decide then I will." When he didn't get an answer, he looked at Jim, watching him look at the floor. "I can be gone in an hour," he said, standing up.
"You're not leaving," Jim said, pulling him back down onto the bed. "If you leave, I will die. We both remember Alex, so don't even think about walking out the door."
Blair felt his shoulders slump. "You'll have contact with me," Blair told him. "I'd make sure of it. We're not incommunicado, we're simply sequestered."
Jim growled, pushing his Guide onto his back, looming over him. "You're not leaving. Say it!"
"I'm not leaving," Blair said calmly, looking up at him. "Not if you don't want me to."
Jim coughed, his face going from blank rage to guilt with those quiet words. "Chief, I'm sorry, I don't know what that was."
Blair patted his arm. "Neither do I. Want to figure it out together?" Jim shifted a little closer to him. "It's not contagious," he teased. Jim nudged him. "I am sorry, Jim, I never meant to hurt either of you."
Jim wrapped an arm around Blair's shoulders. "I know, you were thinking about your friends. Next time, say no." He stood up. "Put on clothes. We should go shopping for you."
Blair cleared his throat. "The Feds are giving me a living stipend," he said, pulling something off his side of the bed's table and handing it over. "And they're giving us a treadmill and exercise bike."
Jim looked at the form, shaking his head. "Okay. You'll need new clothes, or I will anyway." He looked over Blair's body. "You'll eventually need more clothes anyway. And food."
"Um, yeah, can we stop at Wonderburger? I really want one of their chicken sandwiches." Blair walked back over to the closet, pulling out some clothes to put on, tossing them on the bed. "I think I can still squeeze into those," he muttered, searching through the closet, tossing some more of his clothes onto a pile on the floor.
Jim walked up behind Blair, surveying the wreck of their closet. "Why are you taking clothes out?"
"Because I don't want to look at them if I can't wear them," Blair said, turning his head to look at his lover. "It's depressing to see all those jeans that I used to wear daily that now I can't even get up my thighs."
Jim patted his shoulder. "Okay. Clothes and food? Anything else?"
"Nope," Blair said, walking over to the bed and tugging on the jeans, laying back on the bed to zip them up. Or to try and zip them up. He growled when they wouldn't get close enough to zip, tearing them off and tossing them at the closet, heading back to the dresser to grab another pair of sweats and pull them on.
"Shirt too, Sandburg," Jim said, pointing at it. "There's no way you can fit into that." It was handed to him as Blair walked down the stairs, tugging on another of Jim's t-shirts.
Jim followed behind Blair, checking the things he put into the cart. "Tuna?" he asked, holding up the can. "Thought you only ate the fresh?"
"I wanted the bad stuff," Blair said, walking a few feet ahead. "Problem?"
"No," Jim said, staying calm. He followed Blair all around the store, coming back to a few aisles a few times. When they visited the snacks aisle, Jim picked up a box of snack cakes, tossing them into the cart, getting a glare for the simple action. "What?"
"I can't eat those. You're going to have to hide them." He heard the small sigh and walked back over to where Jim was standing. "I'm sorry, man, but these are doctor's orders. No more preservatives." The canned tuna was handed to him and Blair could just hear what Jim was thinking. "Yeah, well, whatever," he said, tossing it back in the cart and walking away. "Just don't let me see you eat them."
Almost an hour later, they had everything on the short list Jim had mentally prepared for them and were heading back to the loft. They stopped at a red light, looking at each other. "What?" Blair asked softly, reaching out to touch Jim's arm, but it was withdrawn. "Want me to move back downstairs?" he asked, turning to face front again. "Green."
Jim started the truck moving again, staying silent. "No," he said after a few minutes, just as they pulled onto Prospect Street.
"No, you don't want me to move back downstairs or no something else?" Blair asked, turning to look at him as they parked.
"No, you need the bed. I'll move downstairs." Jim got out, slamming the door, and grabbed most of the bags, starting for their apartment.
Blair sat there, eyes closed for a second, then got out, shutting the door gently, and grabbed the rest of the bags, heading up to what had been his happy home.
Blair pulled himself up higher against the pillows, doing his calming breathing, trying not to overreact to the pains tearing through his stomach. He leaned down, trying to curl up to ease the pain, just making it to the trashcan as one pain sent the contents of his late night snack out of his body and into the used condoms lying in there. He closed his eyes, taking a deep, centering breath, and pushed himself back up until he was sitting against the pillows again. He picked up the card beside the bed, dialing slowly. "Hi, this is Blair Sandburg," he whispered, his throat dry. "I think I'm in trouble." The phone dropped from his fingers as another pain shot through his stomach, making him drop it to hold on. He didn't hear Jim running up the stairs, or the ambulance crew. Or even Simon when Jim called him to come help him through this.
Blair woke up in another hospital room, frowning around it, coming to rest on the concerned gaze of one of his coworkers. "Hey, Rafe," he said, pulling himself up. All he got was a sullen frown so he frowned back. "What?"
"Nothing. Jim's supposed to tell you but he's at home." Rafe stood up, walking over to loom over Blair. "Why didn't you tell us you were this stupid?" he asked, glaring down at him.
Blair shook his head. "I was helping some friends, that's all."
"Which should qualify you for a martyrdom, but still!" He walked over to the window. "And you didn't tell us!"
"I didn't tell Jim until right before this."
Brian turned to look at him, shaking his head. "I would have thought you knew better than that. He would have supported you if you had said something."
Blair looked down. "I almost did, but I knew he'd freak."
"Did he?" Brian asked gently, walking over to sit beside him. "Did he freak? Throw you out? Make a big scene?"
"Almost. He went to go stand on the porch. We ended up in separate rooms." Blair looked up. "Simon didn't want to know me." Brian nodded. "Why are you being so calm?"
"Because someone needed to be. H is about ready to jump on you and beat you for almost killing Jim when you were taken ill and he found out why. He'd gotten used to you being out of danger." He brushed one curl off of Blair's cheek. "We all had." He held out his arms, silently offering some comfort. "Next time you want to do something so heroic and stupid, warn us first, huh?"
Jim cleared his throat. "Thanks, Rafe."
Blair sat up, smiling at Rafe. "I will," he promised, touching the other man's cheek. "Thanks, man."
"Welcome," Brian said, getting up. "After all, you're the only one there I sometimes understand. I can't let Jim take that away from me." He punched Jim's arm as he walked past. "Be nice. He just woke up."
Jim waited until the door was shut to walk over and sit beside his lover. "Blair, I need to talk to you," he said, taking his hand. "You've been kept sedated for almost two weeks." The younger man stiffened so Jim pulled him into a hug. "It was necessary." He touched the more prominent bulge. "The baby's fine, we think," he amended at the hurt look. "But you're fine and that's what matters." They shared a short, intense kiss. "And I'm sorry, I was just shocked."
Blair nodded, resting his head on Jim's shoulder. "What else aren't you telling me?"
"You're not supposed to be upset." Jim moved Blair so he could look at him. He touched the lump again, smiling as it moved. "You were brought in here nearly comatose, Chief." His smile left him. "You almost miscarried because they didn't know you were pregnant." He saw the small nod. "When they found out, they fixed the problem you had been having," he touched the small scar Blair now had near his navel, "and they kept you down until you were both strong enough to come back to me." His hand drifted up, tangling in the curls again. "You're both okay now."
Blair nodded, frowning. "What else was there? You're not telling me something."
"Actually, I'm not telling you a lot but I can't until the doctors say that you're well enough to hear it." Jim kissed his cheek. "Simon's outside, can he come in?"
"Does he want to?" Blair asked, leaning back as Jim pushed him into the pillows and re?covered him. Jim nodded, frowning at him. "He's not disgusted?"
"Not anymore," Jim said, standing up. "I'll leave you two alone." He walked out.
Simon walked in after a short hesitation, smiling at the man on the bed. "Sandburg, the next time you try to be a saint, warn us, okay?" He walked closer, handing over a book. "Here, you'll need it, you're not moving for the next three months." He laughed at the frown. "It's to protect you. Someone in the Feds leaked the information to the press. The whole project has been blown open." He sat on the end of the bed. "I'm sorry, kid, about how I reacted and all of it. It was stupid of me."
Blair leaned over, hugging him. "I understand," he said, giving him a little squeeze. "What isn't Jim telling me?"
"Besides the sex of the child?" Simon asked with a grimace. "We're supposed to wait until we have official permission to tell you, Sandburg, I'm sorry."
Blair nodded, putting the book down. "Then it's really bad?"
"Yeah, kid, it is," Simon said, patting his arm. "Thankfully, Jim's faster and he put it together before anything could happen to you in here." He stood up. "I'll bring Darryl by later tonight." He shook his head at the few tears. "Don't do that, it's not worthy of it. He'd kill me if I didn't bring him." He patted the younger man on the head before hurrying out of the room.
Blair leaned back in the bed, picking up the television remote, frowning as he flipped channels. When he couldn't get the news station, he punched in the channel, dropping the remote onto the bed as his own picture flashed across the screen. "JIM!" he screamed. Jim and Simon came running and he pointed to the screen. "Something else you wanted to tell me?"
Jim looked at the nurse, who had rushed in at Blair's yell too, and she shrugged, backing out of the room. "Um, Chief, relax and calm down. We'll tell you but only if you promise not to kill us."
"You have to stay calm, it's doctor's orders so you don't end up miscarrying after all," Simon told him. "You don't want to do that after all you've been through so far, right?"
Blair nodded slowly, sinking back into the pillows and Jim sat beside him on the bed, pulling him into his arms. "Remember how Simon told you the project was leaked to the press? Well, our friends over at Channel Six actually broke into the guy who did this' office. They leaked the full files. Names of surrogates, names of parents. Everything." He held the younger man through the shudders. "And there have been some repercussions. The researcher is going to be kicked out of Rainier, but he's been given his Ph. D. and M.D. covertly."
"They said they couldn't afford to shelter people who would wantonly harm another person with their work. Of course," Simon said with a grimace, "his work has been swallowed up as fast as it could be snatched by everyone who had an interest in the procedure."
Jim nodded. "He's getting paid handsomely for it because he's suing Channel Six." He grunted at the poke to his side from Blair. "There's something else and it's real bad, Chief. Do you want to hear it now?"
"Jim, tell me or I'm going to get off this bed and find a newspaper."
Jim tugged Blair a little closer to him. "Not all of the fallout has been as good as what the researcher got, Chief," he said quietly. "A few people have been hurt."
"Mike and Curt," Blair said, looking down. He knew what had to have happened, there was only one reason that Simon and Jim wouldn't have already told him. He felt the nod and forced himself to relax again. "How?"
"They were surrounded on campus and beaten," Simon said calmly, reaching out to touch his hand. "They didn't feel anything past the first few blows, Sandburg, the ME assured me of it."
Blair felt himself nod before he looked up. "So what do I do?" he asked softly.
"None of their parents want to claim it, Chief, not even the biological mother," Jim told him. "It's totally up to you."
"So I have to decide whether or not ..." He jumped up, heading for the bathroom, and got violently ill all over the toilet. He relaxed into the arms that came around his chest, slumping in them.
"Shh," Simon whispered, holding Blair closer. "It'll be okay." He helped him up, bringing him back to the bed where Jim was fighting with the nurse. "Out!" he ordered. She looked up in shock. "He doesn't need your sort of stress either."
She huffed and walked out, but Jim had to take a few seconds before he could turn to look at him. "Sorry about that," he said, helping Blair back into the bed. "She wanted you to sign papers to have it terminated."
"Over my dead body," Blair swore, looking at the door. He considered the man standing there. "Who're you?" he asked.
Jim looked over his shoulder. "That's the doctor taking care of you." He waved him in. "He just found out about his friends."
"So I heard. I've asked that the nurse that's been harassing you be removed from the floor for as long as you and the other guy stays, but apparently it hasn't gone through yet." He sat on the edge of the bed. "Does your stomach still hurt?"
"It's more grief," Blair said quietly, rubbing over the bulge. "Is it okay?"
"It's fine," the doctor said with a smile. "Same as you will be. I want you to have absolutely *no* stress, Mr. Sandburg." He pulled the chart he was carrying out from under his arm, opening it to look inside. "We are going to keep you in a bed for the next three months, but fortunately the Feds are paying for it." He flipped a few pages. "Everything looks fine still." He closed it, handing the chart over. "Want to look?"
"I'm not a biology person," Blair admitted. He stopped when he saw a small line. "It's really..." The doctor nodded when he looked up so he looked up at Jim. "Do you want to know?"
Jim shook his head. "I'd rather be surprised." He brushed a kiss across Blair's head. "I should tell you that I'll abide by your decision about what to do. The baby's your decision and I'll live by it."
"What if..." Blair stopped when he was kissed on the temple. "Really?"
"Blair, if you want to keep it, then I'll live with it. I'll even learn how to help you take care of it. This was important enough to you to risk your life, I should respect that and help you with it." He smiled at Simon. "He made me see that. All it took was a lot of yelling in the hallways and the threat of being shot from Darryl."
"Thanks, Simon," Blair said with a grin. "I'll tell you first, okay?"
"Whatever you decide," Simon said, standing up and taking the chart, smiling at the line telling him about the baby, "I'm there. I'll make a great Godparent."
"Yes, you will," Blair said, giving him a serious look. "I like the job you've done with Darryl. You're one of the few parents I know who I admire for how they've raised their kids. Of course, we'll have to do something about the guys in the bullpen if they want Godparent status."
"No one said you can only have one," Jim reminded him, rubbing through the curls. "Why don't you rest, Chief? I'm sure you could both use it." He moved one hand down to stroke over the tense back, using most of what he knew relaxed his guide to knock him out.
Blair nodded, starting to yawn. "Yeah, we could use it. Can I have some french fries and ranch dressing when I get up? The spicy fries you were eating the other day. Well, from the last day I remember."
Jim nodded. "If you want." He looked at the doctor. "Is that okay?"
"As long as it doesn't hurt either one of them, he can eat whatever he wants." He stood up. "I'll be back in the morning to talk you through you routine for the next few weeks." He took back the chart, smiling at Jim. "You're a very lucky man, Mr. Sandburg, most lovers wouldn't have taken the news half as well in a similar situation." He walked out, followed by Simon.
Jim laid on the bed beside Blair. "It took me a while to wrap my mind around it, but I think I can deal with the idea now." Blair smiled. "What? It just took me a little longer."
"Jim, I didn't accept it until the day I took a pregnancy test at home and it came up with a little plus. Even now, it still stops me and makes me think." He snuggled into the warm arms. "We'll be okay."
"Yeah, we'll all be okay," Jim assured him, holding him tighter. "No worries."
"No worries," Blair repeated. "Not anymore. And I'm keeping it."
"Okay. But you're still staying in bed for the next three months, no matter what your mother says when she gets here tomorrow."
"Oh, man," Blair sighed and closed his eyes, clinging to his lover as if his life, his sanity, depended on it.
Blair looked down at the clothes laying across the foot of his bed. "Are you sure we should be doing this now?" he called out to Simon, who was in the bathroom shaving. "Everyone keeps saying I can't have stress."
"I know, but the Judge didn't listen to the doctors," Simon said as he walked out. "Need help?"
"No," Blair grunted as he stood up, picking up the pants to pull them on. "I can still dress myself. Even if I've only worn boxers for the last three weeks." He turned to give himself some privacy as he took off his t?shirt so he could finish getting dressed. "Simon," he called. "Is Jim going to be able to make it?"
"I'm not sure. The Judge he has to appear before today is one of those that wanted this to all go away medically." He watched as the young man finished dressing, then quietly headed back into the bathroom to get himself ready for the hearing.
Blair walked over to stand beside the doorway, facing his room. "So, why are we doing this again?" He put a hand on his stomach and looked down at where he could feel his child moving.
"Because some Christian group has claimed that you and the researcher have violated a few laws. They want to take the child from you and destroy it." Simon walked out, glancing over at his friend. "The Judge you pulled in the drawing is actually a very decent and fair man. He'll listen to all the evidence and then make a decision." He saw the small movements and the sadness his friend was radiating. "It'll be fine, Sandburg. The Judge won't take the child from you before it's born, he's already said that he's not going to unless the idiots bringing the suit can prove it's in the child's best interests." He pulled Blair into a hug, simply holding him for a few minutes. "It'll be fine, Sandburg," he repeated quietly.
"Yeah, it'd better be. I'd hate to have to deliver this child in the middle of nowhere." Blair got free and headed for the door, grabbing Jim's leather jacket on the way out. "Come on, I get to have gross fast food for breakfast."
"No you don't," a nurse called after them. "Stick to your diet, young man."
Simon smiled and waved. "Of course he will." He tolerated Blair's stop at the nursery to check on the other man's baby, who was not in good condition. It had been born prematurely and no one thought it was going to make it long enough to go home. He understood how much Blair felt for that child, so he let him have a few minutes of staring at the child before forcing him back to the task at hand.
Blair gave the men and women trying to make his life a living hell his most intense glare but then went back to paying attention to the doctor testifying.
"No, Mr. Sandburg is in excellent health so far. He and the child are both doing as expected actually. He was the perfect candidate for the experiment. As a matter of fact, Mr. Sandburg was such a perfect person to be chosen that I find it hard to believe that he was recruited by the prospective parents."
"And what will happen when he's ready to deliver? Do you have any special concerns there?"
"We'll do a caesarian section, same as was planned by the original researcher." The doctor smiled at Blair. "The only thing we're concerned about is his stress level. We've mapped out the procedure already but Mr. Sandburg has shown a predominance of stress in his life, and that's been forcing him into early labor. We're holding it off as long as we can, but we think that even if we had to take the child today, it would live."
"What sort of stress?" the Judge asked. "Would you please explain this to me? I'm not conversant with obstetrics."
"Of course, Your Honor." The doctor nodded at Blair. "Mr. Sandburg lives a very stressful life, but this pregnancy has raised that level. He's almost miscarried three times now due to stress. The last time was the night he was brought into the hospital. Since then, we've been monitoring his daily activities." He gave Blair a gentle, fatherly smile.
"Mr. Sandburg was not only a graduate student working on his dissertation, but he was also an observer with the police department, following around one of the most active detectives. His daily stress level was enough to send most people screaming into the middle of the road. He was handling it well until the baby started to require more and more of him. At this point, it's a matter of his usual stress or this new stress." He shrugged. "It's something that happens with women too."
"I see," the Judge said, making a note. "Thank you. Continue, Mr. Thomason."
"Thank you. That's the only danger to him or to the child? His stress level?"
"Yes, that's all we can see."
"Thank you, Doctor." The lawyer sat down beside Blair.
"Big, nasty stuff I have daily."
The other lawyer cleared his throat. "You don't find it *wrong* that he's carrying a child? Or that it's odd that a *man* would wish to become a mother?"
"No, actually I think that Mr. Sandburg should be a saint." He smiled gently at the lawyer. "He agreed to carry this child for two of his friends that couldn't. The level of humanity that Mr. Sandburg shows is remarkable, and something that I'm not sure anyone could do on a daily basis, which I hear Mr. Sandburg does."
"Are you saying that he did this in a selfless act?"
"Yes, I am."
"Oh." He looked at his clients. "You still don't find it *wrong* on some level?"
"I find it odd," the doctor corrected. "I find persecuting him wrong."
The Judge cleared his throat and glared at him. "Be careful with your ad libbing please, Doctor."
"Yes, sir." He turned back to the lawyer. "The only thing I find wrong is that people died because someone wanted to solve a common problem for many couples. I find it incredibly wrong that sixteen people died because of this researcher's courage and drive to find a solution for them. And I find it wrong that anyone would want to destroy the solution that may save many people that want children from the loss of their dreams of a family." He shrugged again. "Other than that, no."
"I see." The lawyer shook his head. "Doctor, are you a God fearing man?"
"Enough," the Judge warned harshly. "I told you that this case would not become biblical in my courtroom, nor will it become a circus for your beliefs, which I nominally share." He looked at Blair. "Do you actually have any *proof* that something's amiss here?"
"Besides the fact that a *man*'s carrying a child, Your Honor?"
"Yes, besides that. Any proof that Mr. Sandburg is going to be a bad parent, that his home isn't fit to take care of the child in question, that he shouldn't be allowed to carry to term?"
"Only the laws of our God."
"That's not good enough," the Judge said, pounding the gavel. "Case dismissed. Mr. Sandburg, go rest." He stood up and walked out, leaving them alone. "Don't do this again, people," he called as he walked through the doors.
"We'll get you for violating God's laws!" one of the women yelled across the courtroom.
"Whatever," Blair said as he stood up. "No God I worship would ever fault me for trying to help my friends. I'm sorry your God's so cruel." He stood up and walked out, followed by Simon. "I want to go back to my room now," he said quietly as they walked toward the parking lot. "I really don't feel safe out here." He stopped, turning to look at one of the courtroom's doors. "Is that where Jim is?"
"Yes, but it's best if you not go in there. We don't want you in jail because you caused a disruption." Simon led him to the car, nodding at the guards in the hallway as they passed them. Their car was parked in the high security area, too many death threats had come to the hospital to trust that nothing was going to happen today. He let one of the guards check the car first, holding tightly to Blair until he was sure it was okay for him to get in. "Come on, let's get you safe." Simon let Blair into the car first, still on guard in case something happened. He got in and started the car, but Blair got back out, making him jog after him.
Blair looked out the windshield, wincing as he saw his Spirit Guide. He could feel it's pain, it's...grief. He climbed out of the car as fast as he could, following it back into the hallway. "Look," Blair said, pointing, not turning around as the car exploded.
"What?" He looked at the guards, who came running. "Who was near my car!" he yelled. He grabbed Blair, holding onto him. "How?" he whispered.
"Spirit Guide." Blair looked up. "I can't stay here, it's too dangerous. It's still here." He looked over at the wolf, but it was smiling as more people came running, including it's mate. "Jim's here," he said softly. "Let him take me back with you?"
"Of course." Simon handed Blair over as soon as Jim thundered down the hall. "You two need to discuss this," he told Jim as he walked past him, heading for the guards. "Okay, someone call my people and the bomb squad. Now!" he ordered to get them moving.
Jim eased Blair back down onto his bed, giving him a faint smile. "So, busy day," he noted, taking the seat beside the bed. "What happened again?"
"The wolf showed up. He was grieving. So I went to him." Blair shrugged. "What else did you expect?"
"I actually expected something a lot worse." Jim looked out the window. "Do you want to stay?"
"Unless you're going to deliver this child, we're staying," Blair said firmly. "If we run, it'll only make it worse." He looked over at the nurse that stuck her head around the door. "Can I have some tea?" he pleaded, giving her a begging look. "I really could use something to calm down."
"Almost being blown up does that to him," Jim told her.
"Of course. We thought you might like some so we've got some ready. I'll bring it right in." She left and came back a few seconds later with a small tray. She handed it to Jim, knowing he was going to do something to it first, it's what always happened whenever something was brought into the room. Jim nodded so she handed it to her patient, watching as he took a sip. "We heard the Judge laughed them out of court," she said as she sat on the edge of the bed.
"More like got disgusted and dismissed but yeah," Blair said, smiling at her, taking a sip. "Whoever makes this is great. Tell them that for me."
"One of the day shift is a grandmom, she told us how to. I'll tell her tomorrow though." She smiled at them. "Do you know what you're naming it yet?"
"Um, nope," Blair said, laughing lightly. "Jim doesn't want to know the sex so we're not discussing it. I have my ideas but I doubt Jim'll like it."
"We'll figure it out once it's born."
Simon walked in. "Well, good news. The Mayor said that he'll have City Council to reimburse me for my car." He smiled at the nurse. "And how is the floor doing tonight?"
"Just fine, Captain Banks. Oh, and your son called. He wanted us to know that he was still coming tonight, come hell, high water, or terrorists. He also said something about that being the norm for you guys." She got up and left, giving Simon a bright smile as she walked out. "Call if you need us."
"Sure," Blair called, waving. He grinned at Simon. "I'm feeling better about life again."
"Good," Jim said softly, "but I don't want to have you here. It's too indefensible. There's too much that could go wrong. Too many people, too many possibilities."
Simon nodded. "Do you have a better place in mind?"
"No," Jim admitted. "Maybe Blair does though."
Blair shook his head. "Nope." He finished his tea and put it aside. "Jim, this place has a lot of pluses. Including drugs when I go into labor for real. Not to mention people that understand what's going on and are prepared to deal with the outcome. I'm not moving from this bed unless you can find a way to get me into another hospital with doctors that I'll be able to trust more than I do these guys." He waved a hand around the room. "If we have to, we can fortify this whole floor. It's got two exits, it's got one elevator. It's got a good plan so three people could hold it if they needed to. We'll be fine," he promised, leaning over to brush down the side of his face. "No one's gonna get in here and hurt me. Not with you guys here."
"We won't always be here," Simon pointed out. "I still have to work for a living and Jim has court." He smiled at his favorite detective. "The Judge was talked out of giving you contempt charges for leaving like that."
"Whatever," Jim grumbled. "I'll go back tomorrow."
Blair grunted. "You'd better." He rubbed his stomach. "Damn, hate this part," he said as he got out of bed and headed for the bathroom. He came back a few minutes later, glaring at the men. "Go get me someone," he said calmly. "Now!"
Simon ran for the door, coming back with a nurse in tow. "Him!" he said, pointing at Blair, who was bent over the side of the bed.
"Oh, Mr. Sandburg," she cooed, coming over to help him back onto the bed. She looked over at Jim, who was staring off into space. "Is he broken again?" she asked, covering Blair up. "What's wrong?"
"Peeing blood," Blair grunted. "Jim!"
Jim shook his head. "I thought I smelled..." He looked at Blair, then at the nurse. "He needs checked, he's bleeding."
"So he said," the nurse agreed. "I've already called the doctor, he'll be right up." She fussed with the blankets for a few more seconds then backed away from the bed. "He should be right here." She looked toward the door.
Jim coughed and smiled at her. "Heightened for how long?" he asked.
"Few weeks. It started when I changed blood pressure medications."
"Did you switch back?" Blair asked, patting her hand. "And how many more senses were affected?"
"Not now," Simon groaned. "Discuss this later. When you're not bleeding."
Darryl walked in, glaring at his father. "Dad, did you know SWAT was outside being big, hulking cavemen again?"
"No," Simon said, heading for the door. "Stay here."
Jim stood up, looking down at Blair, who waved at him. "You sure you'll be fine?"
"Yup. Even if I get taken in now, I'll have them call you up." He waited until they were alone to look at Darryl. "SWAT?"
"Yup, big, scary men with guns." Darryl sat in the chair beside the bed. "So, you gonna pop now?"
"Not quite." Blair shrugged. "Small problem of bleeding when I peed." He smiled at the doctor as he walked in. "I'm bleeding."
"Well, that can't be good. Where are you bleeding from, young man?" He smiled at Darryl. "Are you his guard now?"
"Yup, Dad and Jim went to check in with SWAT." Darryl smiled. "If they don't get back, can I go in with him? I wanna watch this happen. Getting online is going to be killer when it happens."
"Sure," Blair said, smiling at him. "You can sit up by my head and tell me I'm whining and let me squeeze your hand."
Blair's doctor shook his head but he was smiling as he poked and felt up Blair's stomach. "I want to do an ultrasound," he pronounced.
"Okay," Blair said, still smiling.
Darryl looked at him. "Man, are you high?"
"Yup," Blair said, nodding, grinning at him. "Tea did it."
"Ah." The doctor shook his head. "I see Margaret made you the wrong tea." He pushed the button. "Let's get you down to Ultrasound, we'll figure it out from there." He nodded at the nurse. "To take more pictures we go." She shook her head. "No?"
"No," she squeaked. "The SWAT commander just called. We're to lock this floor down."
The doctor shook his head, looking down at Blair, then over at Darryl, his easy nature falling away. "We'll do this now. It'll be safer in the long run. He can't travel the way he is and a born infant is easier to hide from whoever wants to blow him up this time." He nodded at Darryl. "Take him and get him ready, call the SWAT commander back and tell him we're doing this now." He put up the railings on Blair's bed and kicked the wheel locks open. "Help me move him down to auxiliary surgery," he ordered. "Get a few of you to scrub in too."
Blair felt himself being moved but he didn't really know what was going on besides that. He was happily floating on a cloud of natural pain killers. He saw the lights go past as they went down the hall, mumbling to himself, "Cool lights, really neat." He knew Jim wouldn't let anything happen to him, or to their child. He blinked as the lights steadied out into one really bright one, and a person bending over him with a mask. He tried to push it away but then someone familiar was there, giving it to him, making him take the drugs. "Hey, I wanted to watch," he muttered through the mask, but the people around him shook his head.
Blair's doctor groaned and looked at Darryl. "I'm assuming you're old enough to be in here, if not, don't tell me. He'll need someone with him. Get him scrubbed. I'm going to do the same." He headed for the scrub room, letting a nurse help Darryl.
Blair blinked, not realizing he had lost more time. The same bright light was above him still. He looked down toward his stomach, shaking his head. "Hey, what are you doing?" he called, pushing the hands on his forehead away.
"Shh," Darryl said, leaning closer. "It's all done, the baby's fine. They're stitching you up." Blair looked up at him. "The baby's fine, Blair. You'll be okay now. Someone called Dad and Jim, they'll be up as soon as they round up the last fanatic." He brushed the stray hair off the side of Blair's face. "It's all good now."
Blair nodded. "Can I hold him?"
"Sure." Darryl looked up. "He wants to hold him."
"In a minute," the doctor sing-songed. "You did very well in here, young man. What are you going to be doing in a few years?"
"Not being in Blair's position, man, let me tell you that much." They shared a smile. "It's good for him and all, but I couldn't stand the cravings." He smiled at Blair. "I think that thunder coming down the hall is Jim."
Jim burst through the door, looking around. "Blair?" he called, heading for the bed. "None of them got in here, right? We thought one got through us."
"Freeze," Darryl called, holding up a hand. "Wait until they have him closed up. You don't want him to get an infection, right?" Jim glared at him. "Hey, it's a sterile place. No germs and no gunpowder allowed."
Jim shook his head. "Is everyone okay?"
"Yup." Darryl smiled. "It went great, man, you should have seen the slimy little guy come out. Very ickacious."
"I'm sure," Jim said, giving him a smile. "Is Blair awake? Did you have any troubles?"
"Almost," Blair mumbled. "Kinda very sleepy still."
Jim smiled, craning his neck to look at the baby. "Wow." He leaned against a table that was sitting next to the door. "That's a baby."
"Yes, it is, and it's not sitting on my bladder anymore!" Blair called. "Jim, can I have a hug now?"
"Sure, Chief, just as soon as they tell me you can."
"He can," Blair's doctor said, stepping away from the table. "Take him to recovery. Bring the baby with him. The child's staying with them at all times." He got out of Jim's way, watching as he looked down at the baby for the first time. "Just be gentle, it's a fragile little person." He nodded at Darryl, prompting him to follow. Once they were in the hall, he smiled at the young man. "I meant it, you did very well in there. You only winced as I made the cut and you did better than most first time nursing and med students. You should think about doing my job someday." He patted Darryl on the shoulder, turning to smile at his father, who was walking down the hall. "He did excellent in there. I'd like to see him taking my place in a few years."
"So would I," Simon said tiredly. "I really don't want him to take mine." He wrapped his son in his arms, giving him a hug. "Everyone fine?"
"Yup, safely in Jim's arms."
Jim led Blair into the apartment, carrying their son from his first official moment in the press. "Well, it's done," he said, sitting down on the couch. "The first child to live from a male birth. He's survived terrorist attack, and fanatical persecution, he's one special little boy." He handed their son over. "What're you going to name him?"
"Not sure yet," Blair said, sitting down to watch his son suck on his pacifier. "We'll figure it out before he's a year old." He looked up and smiled. "How about Paranoid Wolf? If he hadn't cried right then, we'd be little pieces of family. By the way, I'm very proud of how you restrained yourself from killing that man who was yelling Christian slurs at you. You did a good job in making him hurt but not killing him for us. I think you should be named after your guardian."
"Only for his Native naming," Jim grumbled. "Let's give the kid a normal name, Chief." He stretched and yawned. "Put him down and let's take a nap, huh?"
"Sure. But you get to be the pillow this time." Blair got up, bringing his son into what was now his room to put him down. "Night, you. No more terrorists for a few more days. Then you can watch your other daddy beat them up for us."
"No," Jim called, "he won't. Simon's put out notice that anymore of the people that think you two should be burned at the stake are going to have to go through him. The Mayor and most of the Police Department backed him up." He stuck his head in the room. "Come on, let the little person sleep. I need cuddled now."
Blair smiled and followed Jim up the stairs, going to lay on top of him. "Ah, comfy. Maybe one day you'll understand how much three pounds really weighs when you're carrying it."
"Oh, no I won't," Jim promised. "We have enough kids in this family, Chief. Go to sleep." He closed his eyes, wrapping his lover up in his arms. "Night."
"Night, Jim. Sweet dreams of future kids."
Blair laughed, falling off to sleep that way.
Blair looked at the seven year old boy looking up at him from his bed. "See, Darrien, it's like this. When you were born, I was the first one. There were a lot of people who watched you being cut out of me over the internet." He smiled, brushing through the soft red hair on his son's head. "But now, it's become a common thing. It took it a while but now other men can become daddies like I did." His son nodded. "That's why Jim's going to have one."
"But why? Aren't I good?"
Blair smiled, pinching the end of his son's nose. "Yes, you're very good, but we miss having a little one around. We're not getting rid of you, just making the family bigger. Like when we added the cat. You like Pussy, right?" Darrien nodded. "Remember when she had kittens?" He got another nod so gave the boy a smile. "Well, we're going to have another baby, just like she had a second litter of kittens. She loved them just as much, same as we will, but in a few months, there'll be another baby in the house."
"Am I going away?"
"Huh? No, we're not giving you away like we did the kittens. You're not leaving until you're *really* old and only when you run away from us because we're holding on too tightly." He reached down, hugging his son. "Ease your mind?"
"Yes, daddy. Thank you." He rolled onto his side. "Night."
"Night." Blair kissed the side of his head then wiggled his fingers at the cat. He got up, turning off the light as he walked out to the living room of the loft, sitting in Jim's shrinking lap. "He understands. We're going to be okay." He touched the moving bulge, smiling. "Hey, Olivia."
"He's not a girl," Jim said, rolling his eyes, putting his bowl of soup aside. He shifted Blair to sit differently, hugging him. "I'm happy."
"Me too." Blair looked up, getting lost in the ice blue eyes. "I'm glad you're doing this," he said quietly.
"I always wondered what you felt," Jim said with a small, teasing smile. "I just had to know." He laughed at the soft pinch. "Sorry. I just missed holding Darrien. I missed the warm and fuzzy trust that he used to look up at me with and I missed watching you take care of him. I even miss zoning every day on the strange heartbeat that you used to carry."
Blair nodded, laying his head on Jim's shoulder. "Are we staying here?"
"No, we're moving downstairs. There's an apartment down there that's got five bedrooms, the renovated one on the corner so we still have a balcony - two actually and one's safe to play on." He rubbed down Blair's back. "Are you happy?"
"Jim, there's only been one time I was happier and that was when I was carrying Darrien, right before he was born when you surprised me with that romantic picnic in my hospital room." He smiled at his husband. "It's okay. I love the fact that you wanted one too." He stroked the side of his fingers down Jim's jaw. "This makes me love you even more. No worries."
"No worries," Jim repeated, linking their hands, relaxing to watch the news.
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