You could finally feel some of fall in the air, and since she couldn't run any more she'd been enjoying walks through the Long Run. Trying to any way. Nikhila was feeling more and more restless. It wasn't being confined to the grounds any more, it was more everything else. Although, she had received an email or two from an old friend just recently arrived in the city and would like to be able to go out and see her.
The cabin had just been finished, everything was done, even the painting they just had to move in and she was -very- ready to move in. But had realized they weren't quite ready. Oh she and Aidan would be fine, although she was determined that tiny bed of his was not coming with them. They were both too tall for it and it didn't suit their acrobatics. She had, however, just realized they had nothing for the baby, a boy they now knew for sure. No crib, no changing table, no name, nothing. And, just to top it off she was starting to realize she had no idea how to be a mother. Still she was very anxious to meet their child, although, a name was probably called for.
Beyond all this there was the simple fact that she was down right uncomfortable and irritable lately. She'd tried so hard not to be the typical hormonal over emotional obsessive first time mother and now with somewhere between two months and a month and a half left to go, she was failing. She was getting teary for no reason, trying hard to keep a handle on her jealousy and trying not to get cross while she constantly forgot things. Then there were fun things like not being able to sleep, leg cramps and other fun side effects of having a twenty pound beach ball strapped to your stomach.
She was also trying to line up things for her maternity leave and lots of other little things that were all adding up. Sufficed to say she was a bit stressed. And with her running no longer possible Nikhila had turned more and more to yoga, something she'd done for years. Although, she would never claim to be an expert she had lots of experience and it was some activity.
Nikhila had been incorporating the yoga into her daily walks, she'd found a clearing next to one of the stream fed ponds and had been practicing there. It wasn't as strenuous as she ordinarily did, but it took much less to make her feel it these days. Besides, she was having to concentrate on every movement so much more, she'd been terribly clumsy lately. But it was better than nothing. It also seemed to keep the baby entertained, he was always more active when she was excising, not that he was exactly placid to begin with. It was -very- easy to tell when he was asleep.
Today though, even with all the practice she had and all the unusual grace imparted to her by her gifting she couldn't manage. She kept bobbling and stumbling and was starting to be afraid she'd fall. As she'd walked out alone she gave up, she didn't want to risk a tumble that might injure her or the baby.
Sulking she gave up found a rock on the pond's edge and stat there, her feet dangling in the water. Nikhila was very put out. Irritable she kicked at the water watching as the splash created numerous ripples and little waves that the setting sun danced on, gold, red, orange, and even a bright vibrant pink. Sighing she realized she'd best get back, it might be autumn but the nights were getting almost chilly and she certainly hadn't dressed for it. But she didn't move. She just continued to sit there watching the sun set. Her son, however, was apparently not as she suddenly been felt like she'd been punched in the kidney. She winced a bit but it dissolved into a smile and she rested a hand on her belly feeling a little better about things. Just a little.
He kissed her softly, wrapping his arms around her in a silent apology for having been scarce lately. It wasn't a job that allowed for a lot of free time, running a Pack of werewolves. Nikhila had been handling the building of their new home, running the academy, and in general putting 150% into a relationship Xeph hadn't been able to contribute as much to lately.
He rocked back and forth with her, humming completely off-key for a few minutes. He finally stopped.
"I'm going to make our son tone deaf."
It was never easy having him divide his time so many different ways, but Nikhila tried to be supportive and understanding. She was even getting a little better at it since they started over a few years ago. But, something about being this pregnant was making Nikhila a might less reasonable. Not that Aidan hadn't been doing everything he could and he had been very supportive, but she was feeling considerably less understanding and felt that perhaps she might need a bit more of his time an attention. She didn't know how to express that though, so she simply... didn't. She just rocked with him shaking her head at his total lack of musical talent.
Still, the idea nagged at her, it bothered her, but she didn't want to ruin having him here right now. Besides, she felt like she'd been slacking a bit, possibly a lot. She did generally try to keep up with the new arrivals, welcome them, and help them get settled in. But somehow she hadn't found the time to keep up with that. Vivienne was a prime example of that, and Nikhila felt a bit bad about it.
She sucked a sharp breath through her teeth at another kick. There was no doubt she was giving birth to a wolf in the making.
"I think you're just irritating him. That or he is trying to dance. Either way, you might want to reconsider."Â?
Nikhila moved one of his hands so it was flat against her belly and he could feel the result of his humming. But she kept the other arm tight around her, afraid he'd disappear.
"Sorry love," he said softly to Nikhila. "Apparently he inherited my dancing ability too."
He stopped humming though, and kept up the rocking since it seemed to soothe all three of them. Xeph wished he could tell Nikhila why he was so uptight and nervous about her pregnancy, why it was so important that she stay safe. She'd been so good about it, honoring his request when it was she who should be getting every single thing she needed and wanted right now. He had no way to tell her what he wanted to tell her though.
She almost laughed, but the urge was short lived. It worried her, he could be lost and distant some days. Of course that worry competed with her irritation and both sort of lost. She'd tried to talk to him about some things but Aidan either couldn't or wouldn't say anything. All she could do was respect that and be there for him.
"But maybe we won't even bother with dance lessons for him."Â?
With a sigh she let one hand rest on his leg and gently squeeze his knee while she intertwined her fingers with his with the other hand. It took a second or two but Nikhila managed to express some of her doubts.
"Do you think that maybe we aren't ready for him?"Â?
His chuckle rumbled deep in his chest and felt good. Nikhila's next words stilled it but his smile didn't fade.
"Not for a moment," he said. "Moments like these are too few, but I won't ever forget sitting with you, just the two of us and the little bit in there that we managed to make together."
He kissed the top of Nikhila's head softly. "You'll see. It's going to be perfect."
It was as much of a promise as he could make. "Besides, if we take a wrong turn at all he'll have Grandma Lily and Grandpa Hammer to set us straight."
Their son would have an entire wolf Pack to help watch over him. He just had to reassure Nikhila, to let her know he wouldn't let anything happen to either of them. No matter what.
The rumble she felt in his chest, laughter, had inspired her own lighthearted response.
His confidence helped a little. Nikhila let herself latch on to it and turned to smile up at him.
"We need more moments."Â?
She said quietly. It was as close as she had ever come to saying flat out she wanted, needed, more of his time. That she couldn't have it all was a given, but there had to be away to find more time together. Especially as parenthood put a crimp in any relationship, still there had to be time for each other as well. She was worried they might not, they might drift apart again. And as long as she was worrying, she added in the worry that he might not find her attractive any longer. Either with the swollen belly or in its aftermath.
Regardless of any of this though, she was going to need his help. A lot of things Nikhila could do alone or with limited help or input, raising a child was not on that list of things.
But again she let his confidence, his promise, bolster her spirits and didn't press the issue. Lily was a natural as a grandmother, but she took a second to consider Hammer with a grandchild, a baby. It took a second but the picture came to her and it wasn't as odd as she'd thought it would be.
"Or spoil him silly."Â?
Her mind wandered a bit, Nikhila had a tendency to go a bit day dreamy now and then recently. But when she came back she brought a new idea.
"Do you think we should name him? After all we know it is a boy now. And don't you dare say you knew it all along."Â?
She sharply jabbed a finger into his thigh to prevent his 'I told you so' moment.
Nikhila's smile was wistful, a little sad, and Xeph knew his busy schedule had been noticed and, moreover, felt. He shook his head apologetically. "We do," he agreed. "I'm trying to work on that."
He was a work in progress, he knew it. And Nikhila was a saint to put up with him. Who could have predicted, after all the two of them had put each other through in the past, that it would be Nikhila who ended up staying put (even if it was at his request), waiting for Xeph? Yet no part of him felt justified or vindictive; at no point did it cross his mind to assume that was "what she got" for having left him decades ago. Instead he just resolved to work harder, to find more time in a day, to be there when she needed him and when she wanted him.
"Who says they can't do both?" he countered. He fully expected his parents to spoil their grandchild. After all, Hammer had a lifetime's worth of it to do and Lily was just delighted to be a grandmother at last.
He nodded against Nikhila's hair. "Did you have a name in mind?" Xeph wasn't opposed to picking out a name before the baby was born. He was a healthy pup to all indications, and he had no reason to think anything would go wrong at this point.
It took some effort, everything took effort these day, but Nikhila twisted around a bit to kiss him. Soft sweet and lingering, wordlessly reminding him how much she loved him and wanted him about.
"I know. Keep trying though, I need you too."Â?
Perhaps that was a bit demanding, but some days she had to hit him over the head with the obvious. So, today she did.
She shook her head. While Nikhila only had vague shadowy memories of two of her grandparents, he was probably right. The not spoiling was probably a completely lost cause.
"If it makes them happy, they can do both."Â?
She agreed ruefully.
The only thing Nikhila knew was that she'd ruled out any names from her family. Even if they'd been living in India, she wouldn't want those memories to follow the child.
"Not really. I had been thinking that for his middle name perhaps Aidan or Iov. Which ever we don't use this time we can use for out next son. If you think he'd approve."Â?
There might be issues, tension, regarding Aidan's paternity, but Nikhila was happy the child was going to have a grandfather.
He just nodded at Nikhila's request. What else could he say? She was a patient mate. Any one else might not have understood the tremendous involvement it took to lead every Kadzait. Not just the ones in Nachton but all of them. Not a day went by that Xeph didn't deal with questions, concerns, issues, from Alphas all over. There were challenges too, plenty of those. Mostly because of his liberal treatment of Illamar. It was an uphill battle still.
thinking about what to name their son proved to be a much happier topic. Xeph smiled and nodded. "I think Iov would be appropriate. Should we ask him?"
Xeph had obviously kept Liam's surname as his own. As he'd told Brig, it seemed a fitting way to honor the man who'd raised him as a son considering it was Hammer who would leave a legacy when he was gone. But for Xeph, it stopped there. Their son was no more a Xephier than Xeph himself, and there couldn't be a better namesake.
It didn't surprise her he'd gravitate toward Iov over Aidan and Nikhila grinned when he seemed to think it was a good idea.
"Yes. I do, very much so."Â?
If there ever was a girl she would do Lily the same honor, although there was one of the sister's Nikhila would considered as well. Both women had been surrogate mothers to Nikhila and meant a great deal to her.
"Well, providing Hammer agrees, he has a middle name and will know when we he is in trouble. We still need one more, I vote your turn."Â?
With any luck Hammer would agree, Nikhila felt very strongly on this point. He had been cheated out of the raising of his own son. This was the very least they could do. As far as first names though, she really was at a loss, but right now she didn't care. They could sit out here all night and consider their options or they could wait until he was born. It didn't matter.
He tightened his arms around Nikhila, ready to bring up the topic he'd been pondering for some time now.
"I'm not horribly concerned about the first name yet," he said. He released Nikhila's hand, fumbled for a moment, and then slid something cool onto her ring finger.
"I was kind of thinking more like last names. Specifically, what variation of the three or four we have available you'd want to use. You know. If you were pondering a change."
Tears started, but she did her best to control them. The wolf in her didn't need this, he was hers and she was his and that was the end of it. The woman, the one who occasionally read the society pages and occasionally saw her mate referred to as an 'eligible bachelor'... oh it didn't matter. It didn't and she knew it. The jealousy was hers. Nikhila knew she could trust him to the ends of the earth and beyond, the woman didn't need this either. But to have it offered, the feeling was huge. Happy didn't begin to cover it. She'd come up with an adjective later.
With more grace than she'd managed all day Nikhila rose to her knees, turned to face him fully. She was smiling, and fighting happy tears but her voice was quite serious.
"Pick one. Any of them. All of them. Change them every day if you want."Â?
The other part of him worried, still, that Nikhila didn't really want to settle down yet. That maybe she regretted. And that, too, was doing her a disservice. Nikhila wouldn't lie to him. Not ever.
So in the end it was he, Xeph decided, who had dropped the ball here. And Nikhila deserved to know that her mate felt that way about her. Wanted her always. Loved her and cherished her. Xeph hadn't really ever thought about having a wife before but when he associated the term with a mental image of Nikhila, it seemed like he'd really been missing out.
"I am too fat to tackle you as I should."Â?
She tried any way though, failed, but tried. Some how she wound up falling backward on to her butt in a very undignified manner looking frustrated.
"Come here please?"Â?
Nikhila was a little shocked he'd proposed but the best kind of shocked. And damned it she wanted a kiss. She wanted him next to her.
"You're not fat. You're gorgeous, and you're going to be my wife." It was said with Alpha authority, his tone daring Nikhila to challenge him.
"And on top of that I love you."
The sun hadn't set yet and the night was warm for fall. Xeph continued to carry Nikhila in his arms all the way back to the Tikerak, kissing her every few minutes and not caring who saw. Once there he crossed it and continued on to the new cabin just behind the Den, still not entirely finished, but ready to be walked around in while they planned out exactly what they needed to furnish it together.
The next afternoon, true to his word to make a better effort, he called for lots of eyes as backup and took Nikhila into Nachton for lunch, in spite of his irrational fears of daylight vampires.
((ooc: Xeph and Nikhila out))