Outwitting the Fox Ch. 04bykitten101©
"He got me pregnant." Alexia whimpered, bursting into a fresh set of tears.
"On purpose?" Jess asked, trying, and failing to picture Rider doing something so devious.
"No not on purpose! But I'm pregnant, and it's all his fault. I have to have a baby! I'm too young! What if they catch up with me?? What if they kill her? I can't have a baby now! There's too much danger! He's an idiot!"
Max, Sabeen, and Jess exchanged looks with each other. Now was clearly not the time to remind Alex that it took two people to make a baby.
It took two people to have sex without protection. All of a sudden Jess realised what she'd done. She'd had unprotected sex with Finn.
She stared blindly at the wall trying to calculate which part of her cycle she was in. She was pretty sure she'd be ok, but there was no certainty when it came to stuff like this. She knew that. She was an idiot.
And she was sure as hell making sure that it never happened again.
With effort Jess drew herself back into the room, and set her mind back on the current problem.
"Sweetie, you know we're all here to protect and support you right? That's kind of our job... And that goes double for the baby." Sabeen reassured Alex.
"And you have Rider. You've got a mate, a daddy, a body guard, and if he pisses you off a baby sitter, diaper changer, and night time nurse, all in one." Jess piped up looking pleased with herself.
Something about the idea of Rider having to change nappies just appealed to her sense of humour.
Alex nodded. "I know. I'm just a bit... I'm only twenty two, what if I screw up?"
She trailed off lamely. She sure as heck didn't have a great motherly role model to follow the example of. The Queen, Alex's mother, had banished her from the country in an attempt to save face, and her relationship with the man Alex had been calling 'Dad' for fourteen years, when her real parentage had come to light.
Alex's real father was an unknown member of the Theris family - the family who had lead a recent uprising against the royal family, and the council of shifters. They'd failed - just barely - but the uprising had killed many people. As a result the remaining Theris family members had been slaughtered.
Sabeen ruffled Alexia's hair, breaking her out of her maudlin thoughts. "Sweetheart, you're plenty old enough. Us shifters mature young, and you couldn't screw this up if you tried. You're a natural leader, you care about everyone, and you're protective as hell."
"I hate to be the voice of reason here - it's really not my strong point - but are you sure you're pregnant?" Max asked.
Alex wiped the last of her tears away from her cheeks and laughed humourlessly.
"I peed on a lot of sticks. Lots and lots. More than ten of them, all different brands. Not one of them came back negative. I'm pretty sure."
"He's over the fucking moon. Dancing around like an idiot. How the hell am I supposed to raise a child with him? He wants to name her Violet! Violet! Who names a child Violet!"
Sabeen and Jess exchanged an amused glance. Jess had always thought Violet was a pretty name for a girl. Of course she wasn't going to voice that opinion just yet. Perhaps later when Alex was over the shock of realising she was going to have a baby.
Rider chose that moment to enter Sabeen and Marcus's room. He didn't bother with knocking. He was pretty sure that no one would have answered anyway. Gabriel was hot on his cousin's heels, wondering if he was going to have to save the younger leopard from his pregnant (and not just a little pissed off) mate.
Rider had decided to jump on in and provoke her. Sometimes it genuinely wasn't a smart idea, but he found that generally the more pissed off about something Alex was the less time it took her to get over whatever it was that was bothering her.
"Red you're being an idiot about this. We're having a baby, it's not the end of the world."
Alex, true to her nickname, saw red. Jerking up off the bed she grabbed the nearest thing she could find (Jess's ham sandwich) and threw it at Rider.
"I'm being an idiot? I'm being an idiot?!?! I'm going to be bringing a baby into a world where people want to kill us. I am going to be pregnant and fat for nine whole months, My entire life is going to change because you forgot the condom."
"Oh all of a sudden I'm the one and only person who's ever forgotten the condom? Please Red, like you've never been caught up in the moment."
"I am the one who's going to have to go through labour, so yes it is your fault. And while we're on labour - do you have any idea what that's going to do to my vagina?! Huh? I'll tell you one thing, you're sure as hell not going to know because you're never getting sex again!"
Rider grimaced "First: ew. Second: you're joking about the no sex thing aren't you darlin?"
"EW?! EW?! We're talking about the miracle of birth here you ass, and you've got the nerve to say ew?"
Gabriel decided that perhaps they'd had enough time together. He pulled Rider out of the room and shut the door for a moment.
"Perhaps you should be taking a different approach to this. Provoking the hormonal woman doesn't seem to be the smartest idea you've ever had."
Rider grinned. "I find it's best to let her get all the fear, anger, and aggression out in one big hit. That way she'll deal with it and we won't have any nasty surprises later on."
"Right. If I wasn't so excited to be an uncle, I'd be telling you that you two are one hell of a weird couple. You've got a little mustard on your face."
Rider ignored the weird couple comment "What is with the women of this house throwing things when they get pissed off? At least it wasn't a vase."
Gabriel frowned at the memory of Max hurling a vase at his head. It hadn't been their finest moment. Rider settled in to wait by the door, looking for all the word like the bodyguard he had originally been.
Popping his head back into the room Gabriel saw that Jess had broken out the ice cream. He genuinely was excited about having a niece or nephew. All he had to do now is make sure he could keep them all safe.
Turning his attention to Max Gabriel shot her a sexy grin, and told her that he'd be in the office when the girls were done, and that perhaps they should all do their own thing for dinner that night instead of making her cook for the group.
Max's eyes lit up with relief. She hated cooking, and kind of sucked in a big way at it. Luckily with more people in the house these days her turn came around less often, and she was more able to get away with ordering pizza.
As it was she was on a first name basis with most of the delivery guys.
Alex spoke up from around a mouthful of ice cream "I heard what you said out there Gabriel. I'm not hormonal."
"I know you're not sweetie." He smiled to himself, privately thinking the exact opposite.
Gabriel shut the door behind him as he headed to his office. Rider stayed put on guard outside Sabeen's room. He was pretty sure that this junk food conference was going to be a short one. Alexia was just as excited over the baby as he was, she just needed some time to assimilate the information.
Gabriel should have spent the afternoon working on a security upgrade for Alexia. Instead he spent it thinking about Max. Their relationship was going well, despite the rocky start.
A few months ago Max had moved into his suite of rooms with him - although she had kept her own 'just in case.' He knew that she was worried about what would happen when he got bored with her, and that she didn't quite understand that it just wasn't going to happen.
He had asked her to get rid of her rooms entirely once, although he'd gone about it in the most ham-fisted way possible. He'd accused her of not trusting him, of holding his past against him, and even of having a crush on Finn. She'd reacted by throwing a vase at his head.
It had brought him back to his senses pretty quickly.
He brought her a new vase, some flowers, and a kitten which she'd named Shark Bait. After a lengthy apology she explained that her trust issues were just that - hers. They had nothing to do with their relationship it was just a mindset that Max couldn't quite break herself from.
Gabriel wondered if perhaps it was time to show her how permanent his feelings for her were.
Most Shifters did not marry. Instead once they had found their life mate it was mutually acknowledged and then accepted as a fact. It was a lot easier to pass in the human world however, if the partnership was made legal.
Having not really grown up immersed in Shifter culture, Max would probably place a lot more confidence in a tangible contract, rather than a verbal agreement. More than that Gabriel wanted the chance to stand up with her in front of their friends and family to declare his love for her. It was a touching ritual, and he could certainly appreciate the meaning behind it.
"...I will have to put a bit more thought into it than the 'move in with me properly' speech..." He mused to himself and shaking his head regretfully - although there was pretty much no way that a marriage proposal could go that badly. He hoped.
Finn knocked once on Marcus and Sabeen's door before shouldering is way into their suite. Instead of either of the rooms actual occupants Rider was standing on guard outside the bedroom.
Finn couldn't read the look on his face, a rare thing for Rider, who usually had on one of two expressions: cocky, or stubborn. Occasionally it was a mix of the two, but today there seemed to be a whole new range.
"Have I interrupted... Something?" Finn asked.
Rider frowned for a moment trying to figure out what Finn meant. Realising how strange he probably looked (he hadn't quite realised what he was doing) he abandoned the protective stance in front of the bedroom and instead took a more relaxed seat on the couch in front of the TV.
"Alexia is pregnant." Rider said.
There was no mistaking the expression this time, joy, and fierce pride. Finn flopped down on the couch next to him, clapping Rider on the shoulder.
"Whoa. Congratulations dude! That's amazing! ... How'd Alexia take it?" He asked as an afterthought.
"Well she threw a ham sandwich at me. She's working her way through a container of double fudge ice cream with the girls now. I understand that these things take at least two litres of double fudge before you can be really sure of the final answer, but I'm pretty confident she'll be fine."
Finn smothered a snort at the idea of Alex throwing a sandwich - at least it hadn't been a kick.
"It freaked her out a bit, and she's pretty pissed with me, but as soon as she calms down she'll realise that we're ready for this baby. We've never really talked about kids but we've talked about getting old and senile together, and Alex is going to be a great, completely overprotective, mum." Rider grinned proudly, he had every faith in her.
"You're going to be a great dad too. Between Alexia, you, and all the extended 'aunts' and 'uncles' this kid is going to be so well protected it probably won't be allowed to set foot outside till it's 4." Finn chuckled.
"Four? Nuh-uh, she's going to be fifteen, wrapped in bubble wrap, and accompanied by her very own contingent of royal guards before she steps a foot out of my eyesight. And forget boys!" Rider frowned a little at the thought of his daughter growing up and dealing with boys.
"Uh... Yeah. I don't know why, but we've both decided she's a girl. It just seem right... You know?"
"Huh, I can't wait to see if the hunch turns out to be right. Do you think they're done with the icecream yet?"
Rider confessed that it had been completely silent in Sabeen's room for quite some time. He had been working up the nerve to stick his head back into the room.
After taking a cautious look around the door Finn confirmed that all four girls were asleep in a pile on the bed.
Rider carefully extracted his mate from the pile, and carried her back to his own room. Alex woke as he picked her up, but didn't bother opening her eyes. She could tell his touch, and his scent a mile away.
"Sorry I threw a ham sandwich at you." She said while snuggling deeper into his arms.
"It wasn't a right hook, so I'm more than fine with it. You can throw as many sandwiches at me as you'd like, Red."
Finn stood for a moment watching Jess, Max, and Sabeen sleep, although his focus was pretty much entirely on Jess. He could pick her individual scent out of the group in a moment - tonight along with what made Jess 'Jess', she smelt warm and comforting. He really didn't want to give her up yet.
With a quiet growl he quietly clicked the door shut and went in search of Marcus. He needed someone sane to talk to - because clearly his own sanity had departed with his hangover that morning.
Once the sugar crash nap was over Sabeen headed to the gym to beat the heck out of a boxing bag (sugar made her antsy), Max went in search of Gabriel, and Jess wandered down to the basement.
She had a few guns that were due for cleaning and maintenance, along with a delivery of ammunition that needed cataloguing. Unfortunately Grey had yet to replace her last computer - which she'd thrown out a window - so she would be doing the cataloguing the old fashioned way, with pen and paper.
The basement was divided off into several sections, including Jess's workshop, a gun range, and a couple of secure storage rooms.
The basement was a bit dark and gloomy, so most of the others spent very little time down there. Jess felt right at home.
She could navigate through it without even turning the lights on. Gabriel had forbidden her from doing that a few years ago though, after coming across her handling weapons in the dark. She'd scared the living hell out of him and he'd given her an impressive lecture on gun safety, and health and safety in the work place, or something. To be honest she hadn't actually been listening.
Jess was just putting the last weapon back together, when she overheard Marcus and Finn gossiping.
"Seriously? You slept with Jess? Were you drunk? Was she drunk? What were you thinking?" Marcus's incredulous voice reached Jess's burning ears.
"I wasn't really thinking. Clearly. And now I'm not quite sure how to go back to what it was..." Finn said, sounding annoyed.
"It's going to be all relationshipy, and weird - and then I'm not going to have my movie buddy anymore. Sabeen's always busy, Alex has no patience, and Max has the worst taste in movies ever. And none of you guys can sit through the Lion King without pulling it to pieces. I'm beginning to think Jess was right with her rules. It can't just stay casual, can it?"
Marcus snorted "Seriously? You're objecting to this because if you're sleeping with Jess you can't also watch crappy cartoons with her?"
"No I couldn't. She'd want more. And I'm not looking for a mate. It seems like a lot of work."
Jess had heard enough.
She gave the hand gun she was working on one last look over, and then stood as Marcus and Finn finally rounded the corner to the gun range, and caught sight of her.
"Jess..." They both greeted her uneasily.
Finn eyed the gun in her hand cautiously. There was no way she hadn't heard him telling Marcus about sleeping with her. And then bitching about how much he didn't want to be in a relationship with her.
She fixed him with a level stare, placing the gun back in its locked cabinet.
"It's easy Finn. If you want to go back to just being friends you come to me, in private, and you say 'Jess, last night was a mistake, and I don't want to screw up our friendship. Friends?' And then you go gossip about sleeping with me to as many people as you can... I'm glad to see you've already started on that bit." She said caustically.
"And Marcus? I'm glad to know that you have such a high opinion of me."
She brushed past them and headed for the stairs herself.
"Wait Jess, that isn't what I meant!" Marcus tried to explain himself but she had already left.
"Well I feel like a heel. To think I used to have women falling all over me. I think I've lost some of my charm." Marcus said apologetically.
"We're both heels. I'd better go apologise... Or maybe later? After she's had some time to cool off?"
"Chicken shit." Marcus snorted.
Jess curled up on her bed with her head buried under her pillow. What if she was pregnant? She didn't think she could do it. Jess wasn't really the maternal sort.
And then there was Finn. Since that morning something had shifted. Her heart still skipped a beat when he looked at her, but it was no longer an ignorable little jump. It felt more like being electrocuted.
She had been squishing her feelings for Finn down since his arrival almost a year ago, but Jess really wasn't sure she could keep doing it. Not now. Jess decided that she needed some space. Maybe she'd take a quick trip to the city?
It would give her a chance to buy some hair dye. And a pregnancy test.
She didn't bother going down for dinner, instead she took an early nights sleep and dreamed all night about babies crying.
Jess didn't get up the next morning. Instead she burrowed way down in her covers and snoozed on and off until well after 3pm. When she wasn't sleeping she was feeling sorry for herself. Perhaps she'd just spend the rest of her life in bed? She was pretty good at it.
She was still mulling that over when Rider knocked on her door and informed her that he was rounding everyone up for a surprise security meeting. These meetings usually were scheduled somewhere. Most people knew about them, however the only time Jess ever found out was directly beforehand, as she was being dragged unwillingly into the room.
Meetings bored the living hell out of her, so she always made the point to be away from the house when they were happening. Gabriel had learnt a long time ago to just leave her out of the loop and commandeer her as necessary.
"Sorry Jess, It's important." Rider said when he saw her cocooned in blankets. He felt bad for making her get up, clearly she wasn't feeling well.
With a long suffering sigh Jess rolled out of bed, took a quick shower, and made her way down to the office.
She was nearly the last one there. Grey and Michael were lounging at the other end of the table, next to Max. Gabriel was seated next to Alexia.
Rob - Marcus's third in command from his old wolf pack had made the trip out from the city and was chatting quietly with Marcus and Sabeen. Rob's partner Bucky was probably working today.
The only other people in the room were a pair of female stoats that occasionally did investigative work for Gabriel.
Gabriel had cut most of his freelancers, and part time employees, after Alexia and Rider had arrived at the house - preferring instead to have a small loyal staff, centrally located at the house. It was both for the added on-hand protection, and because it made it harder for leaks to come about. They really didn't need anyone blabbing around town that they had met the ex-royal princess.
Rider and Finn popped in a few moments later. Rider took a seat next to Alex, and Finn took the seat next to Jess. If she'd been watching she would have seen the frown of concern from him as he took in her rumpled appearance. Instead Jess was busy picking at her cuticles and not making eye contact.
Alex cleared her throat and the room settled into interested silence - it seemed that Alexia was leading this one.
"So for those of you who don't know yet, I'm pregnant." She paused as a few people passed on their congratulations.
"Thanks. The only problem is that I may, or may not have a contract out on me. I may be being hunted by any number of unknown groups, for any number of purposes. Essentially, I have no idea what's going on, or how safe my child is...