Karissa won a hand and put the cards down on the table, smiling brightly. The hand was a straight. A.J. shook his head and laid his cards on the table. He had two pairs.
"I imagine this means I won," she said, her dark eyes sparkling with amusement.
"Again . . ." A.J. added, with a smile himself. He took a drink from his beer. "I think you've won the last four hands. I'd say you're a quick study!"
"You'd be right," she laughed, taking a drink of her milk. "And I've blocked my telepathic abilities just for this . . . "
"Good thing you said something," he laughed, teasing her, "I might have thought you were cheating."
For some reason, she had the ability to put him at ease. The times they had gotten together recently, so he could teach her poker, had gone a long way to helping his loneliness, and he didn't feel quite as alone on the ship anymore.
She took a sip of her milk, and met his dark eyes. "So do you think I'm ready for a real game?"
"I'd say you are," he laughed.
"Good! Then I'll invite you and a few friends over for a poker game tomorrow night!"
"I'll be here," he replied.
After another hand, that A.J. won, he stood to leave. The door to Karissa's quarters slid open and Ryan walked in. Karissa's smile brightened automatically.
"Hey!" she replied.
Ryan was a little surprised to see A.J. there, but recovered quickly as he went to Karissa. She stood up and kissed him playfully.
"A.J. was continuing his lessons on Poker playing," she laughed. "I've done pretty good!"
"She has, Captain," A.J. agreed. "But I should be going . . ."
"Very good, then, Chief . . ." Ryan replied.
"Ma'am, Captain," he said excusing himself, as he left.
As the door slid shut behind him, Ryan caressed Karissa's face and looked into her dark eyes. She smiled brightly. Gently he kissed her.
"So how are you doing today?" he asked as they sat down.
"I'm doing pretty good," she smiled as they snuggled together on the couch. "Learning to play poker has been very entertaining!" She giggled.
"Well, lets hope he's teaching you well or I may not have the heart to beat you!"
She laughed again. "Well, I won several hands today," she said, with a twinkle in her eyes. "In fact, I'm thinking of hosting a game here tomorrow night. But I'm not sure who to invite!"
"I'm sure Will would come. So would Sean and Tyran. Do you think Ming would want to come?"
She nodded. "Possibly! And of course, A.J.! Then after the invites all I have to do is plan what to serve! Any suggestions?"
"Nothing too exotic... I've heard Tyran has a pretty weak stomach. You know, I'm not too great at preparing parties or stuff like that. Why don't I leave that up to you," he said kissing her on the forehead. "So how are my little guys doing?" he asked looking down at Karissa's stomach.
She smiled softly. "So far so good . . ." She gently caressed her abdomen. "I keep dreaming about them at night . . . I see them so tiny, wrapped in blankets . . . Sweet little faces . . . And the dreams are so vivid!"
"I get the same," he smiled. "Have you had any thoughts for naming them yet?"
"A few have come to mind," she said, "I like the name Maya for a girl . . . and the name Cynthia . . . I'm a little stuck on boys names. I like names like Jason and Tory, but they don't seem right . . . Its hard to explain. What about you?" She asked.
"Well, I thought for a boy maybe we could call him Rhys. Perhaps Luc? I hadn't thought on much for a girl... How about Ceri?"
"Luc . . ." she echoed. "I like that . . . What about . . . Luc Rhys for a boy? Or . . ." she looked at him, meeting his gaze. "What about Luc Ryan . . . You know, Ryan is my father's name also . . ." For a moment, she paused. It felt strange now to call him her father. But he was. He had raised her. He would always be her dad . . . The one she loved as her father. But now she knew the full truth. She didn't have a father.
"Luc Ryan, I like that," Ryan smiled. "So how about the girl then? I think Maya sounded pretty nice"
"I like Maya, but I have no idea on a middle name yet . . . I have ideas floating around, but nothing concrete. Nothing seems to sound just right," she explained. "But I guess we can agree on Maya as a first name?" she smiled.
"Sure can...." Ryan paused for a moment. "Do you think maybe Will should have a say in this. After all, one of them is his."
She nodded. "I think so . . . But he hasn't talked with me yet about the babies . . . About his baby . . ." She sighed.
"Had you thought about maybe going to see him about it?"
"I don't know if he's ready to talk yet . . ." she replied. "But I suppose it's something I might have to do . . . Make him deal with it . . . I just don't want to cause him any more pain over this . . ." She grew quiet and reserved as she thought about what she could say to him.
"You know, Will is probably going to have the hardest time out of all of us," Ryan started. "I mean, here I am, the lucky one. I have you, who I love very much, and two children on the way, although they aren't both mine. Ming, granted he has lost a child, but he is getting over that and has Lieutenant Tierro to help him. Will, on the other hand, has no one to help him with friends. Also, he is going to have to live every day knowing that his son or daughter is with another man. And although we would give him full access at all times, it just wouldn't be the same for him. You know, Kari, I think he needs a counselor. Someone to help him through it. I've seen things like this happen before on the Britain. The longer it's left, the harder it will be for him."
"You're right . . . " she replied with a sigh. "I would love to be the one to counsel him, but . . . I don't know if that's a good idea. It may have to be Dinara, only because I'm the cause of this . . . He might not feel free to say what he wants or needs to say .. ." She was trying to analyze the situation as clinically as possible. "I don't know . . ." She said, the usual pain in her heart coming over her with the knowledge that she had hurt someone . . . Actually, she had hurt several people . . .
"Now that's something I can't help with. That's going to have to be your decision. Even if Dinara were to counsel him, you would eventually have to confront him about this."
She nodded. "I know . . ." she replied, tears misting her dark eyes slightly. "In so many ways, I am so glad that night on the holodeck happened . . . It brought you and I together," she smiled softly. "But . . . I ended up causing so much pain . . . Sometimes its hard to deal with."
For the first time in his life, Ryan was now actually taking on the role of a counselor. He wasn't sure if he could help at all, but he felt this needed to be dealt with, so that this could all be over and finally be put behind them. "You have to stop blaming yourself for that night. Come on, talk to me . . . about how you're feeling. Let's get this all out in the open and get over it ... together."
She took a deep breath in and let it out, trying to quell the feelings rising in her. "I have so many conflicting emotions about that night . . . I . . . do blame myself . . ." she started, still trying to hold back the tears. "But it was my fault . . . I was the one who seduced everyone. I took the lead . . . " She brushed a stray tear that had trickled down her cheek. "After it was over, at first, I didn't think I would regret it . . . I suppose the pheromones had something to do with that. And when it finally brought you and I together that was the best thing I could have hoped for . . . But when you and I weren't together, and how painful that separation was it had brought doubts into my mind about that night. Then Ming . . . And losing the baby . . . and Will . . . I have turned three lives upside down, and for what? One night of abandon . . . ? And it hurts to think that if I had only left as soon as I knew that my heat had started, none of it would have happened . . ." Tears had started flowing a little faster and she couldn't wipe them all away. She sniffed trying to reign in her emotions.
"Come here," Ryan said, holding out his arms. Karissa cuddled up in them. "Look, you will get over it. It will take time. I'm over it all. I can't speak for anyone else, but Ming seems to be over it too. Either that, or he's very good at hiding his true feelings. And Will shall get over it. He just needs some time and a little help, like the rest of us have. And you . . . I can imagine you're having the most difficult time of us all, having to live with all of this. No one blames you for it, babe. It wasn't your fault that you went into heat . . . and if I were in your place, believe me, I'd have done the same thing. No wait . . . I wouldn't have spent the night in the holodeck with 3 blokes, I mean, if I were in your shoes, I mean . . . you know what I mean." Karissa let out a little giggle, despite herself. "How about, we invite Will and Ming over for dinner tomorrow, save the card game for another night. I'll arrange for something to occur in the science lab that will require Ming's and my attention. You can have a talk with Will then. How does that sound?"
The tears had stopped as she brushed the last few away. Ryan's arms comforted her more than he realized, she thought. She nodded. "That might be a very good idea . . ." she replied, snuggling closer to him. He moved his hand just over her abdomen and rested it there. Suddenly, she felt something . . . It was soft, but definite. It was as if someone were gently touching her from the inside. She smiled as her eyes grew bright with surprise. Her upset momentarily forgotten. She let out a small gasp. "I feel them!" she said with excitement. "They're moving! The babies are moving!"
"They are?" smiled Ryan. "I can't feel anything," he said.
"They're not strong enough for you to feel them yet, but they will be in maybe another month . . . I just can't believe it . . . It's incredible . . ." she replied. Suddenly, she could feel the life she was carrying and she was encompassed by a more intense love for her children than she had experienced before. She giggled softly as she felt them again.
"I wonder if that was Maya or Luc," smiled Ryan. "You know, what if we have two boys, or two girls? We're going to need back up names"
"I was thinking about that earlier," she replied. "What do you think of the name Teiryn? Or for another girl . . . Cyrena?"
"I like Cyrena," he replied
"Good! Then all we would need is a middle name for that too!" She laughed. "I just keep dreaming its a boy and a girl though . . . But it's better to be safe than sorry . . ."
"Of course," smiled Ryan. "Well, it's pretty late and we have an early shift tomorrow," said Ryan, gently sliding out from underneath Karissa. He began walking to the door. "Are you going to be ok? Do you want me to stay?" he asked.
She looked at him, her dark eyes sparkling as they met his. "Of course, I want you to stay!" she smiled, standing up and walking to him, gently taking his hand. "And I promise not to keep you awake . . . Unless you want me to," she giggled softly.
"Hmm... what could I possibly want you to keep me awake for," he said as he walked back in and collapsed back down on the couch and put his arms round her.
She bit her lower lip and sat by his side, but facing him. "I could think of one reason," she smirked, as she leaned toward him caressing his face. Gently she kissed him. As the kiss ended, she only drew away a few centimeters. "Does that give you any ideas?" she asked playfully.
"I think I need a little bit more inspiration," he smiled.
She giggled and leaned toward him again, this time placing a little more passion into her kiss. As she pulled away again, only so far, she smiled. "Do you still need more inspiration?" she asked.
Ryan grinned and nodded.
She unbuttoned the front of her shirt and kissed him again. Her hands went through his hair. She loved the feel of his hair through her fingers . . .
Ryan stopped and broke the kiss suddenly... "These babies.. their gonna have some telepathic abilities right? They're not going to be born with images of us...having.. doing.. you know...are they?"
She laughed and shook her head. "No, they won't become strong telepaths until they're over a year old . . . At least that's what I was told about me . . . So we don't have anything to worry about," she replied gazing into his eyes.
Ryan smiled in relief. "Enough talk" he said as he pulled her closer.
As he kissed her, she lost herself
in his embrace. Talk was pointless. Actions spoke louder than words . . .