Xeph looked at the relatively tiny pile of boxes in the entryway of the sizable log home that was finally complete. He hadn't realized that the two of them collectively had so little stuff. Nikhila wasn't really a one-place-for-long kind of girl, at least she hadn't been before arriving in Nachton, and Xeph put not so much value on having things at all... so most of his furniture had belonged to the Den itself.
He looked at Nikhila. "When's the furniture arriving again?"
Being a Stafford had some advantages. Xeph didn't touch the family money ordinarily, having plenty of his own, but in this case his great grandfather, Gavin, had wanted to send his only grandchild a "present." In the form of a log mansion. It didn't help that Xeph's mother had wholeheartedly supported the idea, and had taken Nikhila on a mini shopping trip with the help of a credit card and computer.
So now they had a few small boxes to unpack and a truckload of furniture coming... well... soon, he hoped. It was a lot of space to fill. The cabin had a basement as well, with more rooms and a guest suite, and there was yet another bedroom and bathroom on the second floor. Over the garage was either a large bunk room or a studio apartment. The garage itself wasn't going to be useful for cars since they didn't plan to park here anyhow. Xeph hadn't decided what to use it for yet. Something. Definitely something.
She crossed through the foyer still a little astounded at the size of the home. When initially proposed he'd said 'cabin' to Nikhila that meant maybe two bedrooms, a living area and a kitchen. As the house had grown Nikhila had told Aidan plainly they were going to need more children to justify the home.
It was a little tricky to judge because they, she and Lily, had ordered from several different sites and stores.
Looking at the boxes she giggled.
"I'm not sure if this is a commentary on us or on the size of this place."Â?
Their pile looked like nothing more than building blocks.
"It could be worse," Charlie said with a shrug.
Charlie rolled his eyes and pulled the ramp out from the carrier slot beneath the floor of the container. With a loud rattle, the ramp was extended and the rest of the Pipers came over, save for Lewis sitting at his computer console down in the Situation Room. They were all wearing their ear-mics, easily able to communicate between each other and with Lewis who decided to chime in.
"Have fun, motherfuckers!!" he giggled happily in the ear piece.
Red snarled and did a cut throat motion with his hand, making Marko who came up behind them laugh.
"Maybe we can wheel barrel a few things at a time?" Testing the edge of a large table, he lifted it easily and then set it back down. "This stuff isn't that heavy, really."
"Not for you, no, Marko," Marthinus said from behind, smiling from his full five foot ten height to Marko's six foot seven.
Charlie shrugged and walked up the ramp. He was dressed in blue jeans and a Kellogg cereal t-shirt with the Fruit Loops logo on the front. "Come on, let's just get started."
He shrugged and looked at the boxes. Nikhila's were clearly, neatly labeled. 'Dining room,' 'kitchen,' 'bedroom,' 'office,' and so forth.
Xeph's were also labeled. 'Stuff,' 'stuff I don't like,' 'stuff I'm not overly fond of,' and 'fun stuff.' Other boxes had random doodles on him, interrupted when Nikhila had come by and poked him to remind him he was supposed to be filling them, not playing with them.
"Once they're empty, then can I build my fort?"
He couldn't help it... the childhood urge that said 'see a cardboard box - play in it' was still strong in him.
Xeph would have liked to be up the hill waiting for the delivery trucks to arrive; most of them were scheduled for today. He couldn't leave a seven-months-pregnant Nikhila to lift boxes on her own however, and it would have been wrong on many levels to ask his mother to do it for her while he waited around for the good stuff.
"Well, you point, I'll haul," he said to Nikhila, bending to drop a kiss on her forehead.
Nikhila was having odd images of having to put Aidan in a time out because he and the baby were fighting over something. Maybe she was more prepared to be a mother than she thought. She'd been raising Aidan for years.
But there was something to be said for boyish charm. She shook her head slightly and melted into a sweet smile.
"Yes. You can. But you don't get to keep them."Â?
She warned. Because this was only going to get worse, undoubtedly some of the furniture was going to come in boxes. Boxes of all shapes and sizes. This could quickly become a nightmare.
"Oh, and I call dibs on the bubble wrap."Â?
She added playfully. Nikhila wasn't always the serious mature one.
"Just put something in the kitchen and I'll start there... I think I hear more boxes for you to play with so these need to get out of the way. I can carry some of them if you can pick them up first.
Bending over was not something she did gracefully right now. But pregnant or not she was going to help. This was her home and Nikhila wasn't very good at watching.
Marko proceeded to carry one side of a wooden desk while Marthinus and Red took the other side and they made their way down.
As Charlie hooked a chair off his arm, he tried not to horribly maim himself, talking with the other Pipers as they laughed, enjoying the work out better than running full speed for an hour with the Commander.
Red asked, "Where is he, by the way?"
"With the Beta, I'm guessin'," Marko replied.
"This is his son's house, why are we here?" Domingo whined pitifully as he pushed two heavier boxes with another dolly.
"Wow, whine much?" Charlie said with a smile as they made it to the house and stepped in the door. Charlie set a chair down and maneuvered the table in as he yelled out to anyone in the house.
"Miss Nikhila? Alpha? Your stuff is here." Charlie pointed to the others and they double timed it back up to the Den for more furniture. Charlie wiped the dust off the table top and waited for someone to tell him where to put it.
The idea that Nikhila would carry a box in her shape was laughable. Yet somehow she seemed to think it a perfectly reasonable request.
"Okay, fine. Hold this." Xeph handed Nikhila the box full of kitchen stuff and, once she closed her arms around it, leaned over and picked her up, box and all.
"Let's get one thing straight," he said sternly. "You're. Not. Carrying. Anything. Are we clear?"
Right at that moment Charlie shouted through the (open) door. Xeph turned, marched over to it with Nikhila in his arms, kicked it further open with his toe, and lifted his wife-to-be as if showing her to Charlie.
"Please confirm that she's not allowed to lift things. Or carry them. Doctor's orders. Oh. And thanks."
He grinned at the Pipers. "I can get it from there."
He felt kind of bad to have enlisted his cousins' aid in unloading their new, well, entire house. But it might take a while if Xeph was the only one working. "There's drinks in the fridge already. Help yourselves."
She blushed faintly but decided to get some bubble wrap in two or three months. It might be fun. Was it wrong that she was very much looking forward to being able to get at him properly again? Granted there were ways even at her size but...
Any further day dreaming was brought up short as he apparently agreed to her request. It took a second to figure out how to hold it comfortably but she managed... just about the time Aidan decided to pick her up too.
Nikhila squeaked in protest, her earlier faint blush became a rather interesting shade of red as carried her too the door. If her hands hadn't still been full she would have slapped at his arms in an attempt to let him go, but that was closed to her. Instead she did her best to ignore the position she was in.
"Just this one box? Maybe?"Â?
Nikhila felt terribly bad about the Pipers having been drafted into this but she was pretty limited in the help she could offer. Apparently, even more limited than she thought. But she smiled brightly at them.
"Thank you very much for your help."Â?
"When you're pregnant, your ligaments become looser and your joints become less stable, making it easier to get hurt. As your belly grows and your center of gravity shifts forward, there's also more pressure on the lower back, making it more vulnerable to strain."
Charlie rolled his eyes and turned to shove Red back out the front door.
"That is ten seasons of ER and six seasons of House talking. I am currently waiting on season 7 though."
Charlie shoved Red out the door and Red ran off laughing. With a sigh, he nodded politely to MIss NIkhila. "We're happy to help, ma'am. We should have everything down fairly quickly. I guess we'll bring it all down to the front and then you can decide where you want everything."
"You make me wonder why I spent all that money on med school," he said. "I could have just bought the boxed sets!"
Once again he turned to Nikhila. "You point, I'll haul, lady."
He looked at Charlie. "Unless you guys need my help?"
His eyes had a pleading quality. Xeph was pretty sure if he left the room Nikhila would immediately start trying to lift things. Unless one of the Pipers wanted to hang out and shift things around to Nikhila's satisfaction, he was reluctant to go.
"I'm glad you pay attention."Â?
Well many hands did make light work. She nodded agreement to that plan. She didn't know exactly what had arrived today, but knew about where everything should go. So it was just a matter of inventory really.
She half glowered at her mate. She hated not helping. But he, and Red, were probably both right. And damned if she was going to have spent all these months trapped on the grounds in order to protect their child just to hurt the baby trying to move in.
"I'll be good I promise... start with the boxes. Anything with a proper labels in that room... doodles and anything you can't remember what is in it goes in the garage. And I am going to laugh when you realize you can't remember which box has the X-Box."Â?
She cheerfully rolled her eyes at him.
Charlie grinned at the Alpha's pleading expression. Charlie, LT, and the Alpha had spent time together growing up and training with the Beta to be able to joke with Xeph even as his Alpha. He had never been one to throw his title around and Charlie respected him for it.
The sounds of laughing filtered into the front foyer of the large log home and Charlie turned to direct the Pipers and then run back up the hill for more furniture.
Muttering good-naturedly, he turned back to Nikhila and indicated the boxes. "Of course I know which one the Xbox is in. Where else would it be, aside from 'fun stuff?'"
There might be madness, but with Xeph there was also always a method. As his friends, cohorts, whatever they were, headed back up for another load Xeph picked up the table Charlie had brought in.
"Where are we putting this?"
There was no sense unpacking boxes, really, until they had things to put other things in, on, or around. So, big stuff first. Little stuff later. And, so help him, if Nikhila ran him ragged moving furniture a half-inch this way or a centimeter that way, well, he probably deserved it.
"I might have reorganized some of your boxes."Â?
She hadn't, but she might have. Nikhila was in the mood to tease today.
OK if he wanted to work big to small that was fine, she just hoped no one tripped over anything.
No sense starting easy she supposed.
"That one goes down stairs in the family room."Â?
Her goal right now was just to get things in the right room. She didn't even want to think about arranging and, god help them, assembling. But something like the bed would have to be put together. It was remotely possible either Aidan or Lily would have arranged for it to be assembled first but even in a house this size with a larger than average front door she just didn't see how it was going to fit through the door.
He hefted the table easily, maneuvering it through the doorway and at least into the room it needed to go to. Stairs didn't bother him but he supposed it might be easier to bring certain things around the back instead of lugging them up and down stairs.
Coming back up he said to Nikhila, "Better idea. Why don't you park yourself right there and let the guys know what goes here and what goes downstairs?"
It would make things smoother, and Nikhila would be unable to lift boxes if she had to direct the traffic flow.
"As I've been strictly forbidden from lifting or carrying... yes. I think the roof is a good alternate plan."Â?
Only one of them was going to be able to get it up there, and it wasn't her.
Yes he was a werewolf and yes she seen him do things like this before but there was still something... rather appealing about watching him carry around large heavy objects. It was probably a wolf thing, just the primal display of power. It was going to be a long two months yet.
"On what? All the furniture is out there yet."Â?
She wasn't going to sit on a box. First off she would probably crush it, second she wasn't sure she'd be able to stand back up.
"Go help, I promise to behave."Â?
It wasn't that he didn't trust Nikhila. It was more like he knew how stubborn and independent she could be and they didn't need a 'well I can just lift this one little...... OOPS' to happen right now.
When Nikhila made a little shooing motion at him he headed for the front door. "Just tell me if you need anything moved. I mean it," he half begged and half warned.
He did leave though, and headed up to follow the Pipers to the delivery truck up the hill in the lot.
Helping Nikhila shoo her son along, Lily entered the foyer of the enormous cabin and hugged her daughter-in-law (it was close enough). "I hope you don't mind," she said with a smile. "But I think if we can get this done before this evening, that you and I will take a little time to go into the city for dinner."
She picked up a box and held it out for Nikhila to see. "Would you like to unpack this first, or shall we show them where everything goes and then worry about boxes?"
She'd be fine, the baby would be fine, the boxes would be fine. She could behave herself for ten minutes. Some days it was a wonder he let her climb the stairs to their rooms or to her office at the academy. He might be worrying too much.
Nikhila was slightly relieved to see Lily and and that she was chasing her son out to be useful instead of hover.
"I think that would be lovely."Â?
Aidan had been getting a little better, he'd let her out once since the night in the preserve, but another outing would not go astray.
"I think, since they have to bring everything around back we can probably multi task. I'd like to get at least the kitchen and bedroom useable."Â?
Probably the master bath too.
"Maybe we can start by getting the boxes in the right rooms? Anything that... doesn't make sense... we'll improvise. Kitchen first? At least they won't have much furniture to put in there so we won't be too under foot."Â?
"Oh-aye, the Alpha be here to aid in the transporting of his worldly goods, men!" Red said in his best pirate-speak.
"Argh!" all the men replied, holding up hooked fingers and big smiles.
Charlie stepped down with a heavy column from the center piece and grinned. "He came to supervise. Go get me a beer, dear, will ya?"
"Ooooh, no he didn't!" Marko said from behind a file cabinet that was almost as tall as him.
The men happily goofed with their Alpha, but they also knew the him as just plain ole Xeph. Now that he was officially a Hammerthynn by blood, he had been easily accepted into the Piper fold by right instead of by proxy.
It pleased her to have something helpful to do, and she thought perhaps it would do Aidan good to stop hovering for a few moments and just be a guy. So often during a pregnancy, everyone forgot the father. As far as she knew Aidan was doing his best to be perfect. The perfect Alpha, the perfect father, the perfect mate. He would never succeed. No one did. It was the journey that defined the man though.
For her part, Lily didn't see any reason not to take care of both mother and father-to-be at the same time. So it was fortuitous that she'd arrived when she had.
"You seem happier," she observed. "At least since we spoke last."
It was true. Nikhila seemed a little less edgy. Whether it was the fact that she was closing in on her birthing or that she had been getting out a little bit more, or a combination of both, Aidan's mate did look more satisfied. Setting up a new home would give her something more to do.