One month later
Citadel - Huerta Memorial Hospital

I have never been what one might call an extrovert. For a good chunk of my life I've been able to keep myself entertained solely on the company of myself. It's a much more common mindset than people would realize. Tuning out the expectations of others and focusing only on one person's – yourself – opens up a realm of possibilities. It's very liberating, but indeed lonely.

It was fortunate that I apparently had the ability to activate some of my extroverted tendencies from time to time, especially within the last few years. It has helped to draw me out from the shell that had fabricated around myself, to introduce me to the universe that I had previously been blind to. Those few steps into uncertainty helped me get me to where I am today.

But that was not to say that I couldn't slip back into introversion every now and then. Sometimes, I just needed an hour or two to find some peace and quiet, to recharge my social batteries before the next interaction. It was almost like a massage for the mind, clearing the slate of imperfections.

I could have stayed in this state for the rest of the day, had I not been forcibly reminded of reality.

Someone was shaking my shoulder, gently drawing me out of my reverie. Blearily, I opened my eyes, my pupils tiredly finding focus, to find a nurse, garbed entirely in white to contrast against her scaly blue asari skin, smile warmly at me as I slowly but surely became roused from my little siesta. From where I had been reclining upon my plush chair, I swiftly sat up, a tiny hit of adrenaline jumping through my veins. I switched off the music that had been softly playing on my in-ear implant so that I could quickly listen to what the asari had to say.

The alien had a nametag that read "Dr. Amone" upon her left side. Reconstructive Surgeon: Johns Hopkins, it elaborated below in smaller print. Funny how my alma mater can turn up in unexpected ways. Even funnier was the fact that we were pretty damn far from Johns Hopkins in the literal sense – instead I was seated in the waiting room outside of Huerta's many operating rooms, a few hundred miles above the surface of the Earth on the Citadel.

If anything, you get much better views from Huerta than Johns Hopkins. Not so from the waiting room, though, which looked like the interior of any other hospital, except that one of the walls was a translucent sheet of glass that allowed the bright green glow from the glistening ferns in the atrium to soak over the visitors of the room. A very calming, cool color to emphasize the nature of healing as well as an effort to dispel the artificialness of the space station we were encamped upon.

"Doctor McLeod?" the asari nurse asked, the usual courtesy to which I responded with a nod, my voice halting for the moment. "They just finished with your wife. Everything's all wrapped up and stable. They said that you can go back now, if you wish. She's just starting to wake from her sedation."

I didn't want to inquire further, lest I should discover a problem that I had not already considered, but I had to get any bad news out of the way, if there was any.

"Were there any issues with the procedure? How did she take the… the…"

Dr. Amone simply patted my shoulder in a comforting manner as I rapidly stood to calm me. "She's fine. No complications with the surgery. Her body accepted the transplant without incident. A few months of taking anti-rejection medication and she'll be back to normal."

The relieved sigh made itself forcefully heard as it escaped through a strained windpipe. Gratefully, I looked over to where Chandler and Rie had been sitting next to me, giving them a knowing look followed by a tired grin. This merely served as their cue for them to leap up and, one after the other, strangle me with their own respective hugs. I returned their gestures just as firmly, almost getting tears squeezed out of me, especially from Rie with her iron turian grip.

"Thank god, Sam," Chandler mumbled.

"This is wonderful news," Rie sighed happily, her yellow eyes glowing.

"Best outcome that we could hope for," I affirmed as I tenderly scratched at my beard, noting that I should probably give it a trim at this point. I had been neglecting my appearance, with all of these stressful events that had been transpiring lately. Good thing that I could get back to my old routine very soon. To the nurse, I then asked, "How's Nya holding up?"

The asari gave me a knowing look, the kind of expression that told me she was also relieved to be sharing good news to people instead of bad. "She's doing really well, all things considered. Very strong constitution, that woman. As far as I know, the procedure went entirely by-the-book – no unforeseen issues to be found. After we finished with the transplant, we tested feedback upon the limb to search for any nervous system electrical responses and she was able to utilize most of her core muscle groups in her arm when exposed to slight electrode therapy – at this point her condition with her limb is almost as if she had some slight atrophy occurring there. Like I mentioned before, with medication and therapy, she will not be able to tell the difference between her arms before a year has even passed."

"I suppose I'd better go to her if she's awake. Nya hates hospitals and will want to see me, I bet. What room is she in?"

"Room 19. Do you need me to walk you there?"

"No need," I replied with a polite shake of my head. "I work here. I know the way."

"We'll hang back," Rie waved to me. "Nya's going to want to see you first."

Gratefully, I sent the gesture back. "I'll try not to be too long."

Bidding farewell to Rie and Chandler, I quickly walked to the door separating the outside world from the sterile and chilly world that comprises the beating heart of a hospital. I did not even need any credentials to be let in – all the staff here recognized me and allowed me access without a word, shredding any potential barriers that were keeping me from my wife.

You know, despite being in a place where hundreds of people come every day to get some injury or another all fixed up, occasionally requiring some blood to be spilled or some guts to be pushed back in, despite all the sort of disgusting and potentially traumatic operations that took place just walls away from where I was standing, I was so relieved to be back in a place that was familiar to me. I could take solace in this, knowing that I was on safe ground once more. No one was going to threaten to blow my head off here, count on that.

For a month now, both Nya and I had been anticipating this day together. We had done all the preliminary research together and had made all the proper scheduling so that her recovery could be performed with the best sort of care that could be given in her state.

Today was the day when Nya was receiving her new flesh-and-blood arm.

It took weeks to coordinate this event today. A transplant, a perfectly manageable operation by today's standards, required a ton of cross-coordination between experts across a wide range of studies. Teams of surgeons had to be flown in from Johns Hopkins, the birthplace of the modern transplant procedure, an anesthesiologist had been selected from among the best living on the Citadel, and several experienced aides had been culled from the cream of the crop just to make an operation like this a success.

Normally, it would not be such a circus trying to organize such a team for this one operation, but there was one factor that had a major influence on all this caution: the fact that Nya was a quarian. It was rare, even for the most experienced of doctors, to operate upon a quarian, let alone perform such major surgery on one. An entire wing had to be reserved and supremely sterilized a week in advance just to accommodate Nya's atrocious immune system. Apparently the surgeons had to routinely step into a portable shower every hour to minimize the risk of infection. Knowing the controlled sort of chaos that could transpire within an operating room, I definitely knew that tempers would be flared and that tensions were no doubt high.

The operation itself had taken the better part of seven hours to accomplish, by my watch. I had sat inside the waiting room the entire time, as did Chandler and Rie (which they certainly did not need to do, yet they went with me anyway). I was going to have to send them over a couple of bottles of nice wine for their generosity. With my credentials, I was offered the chance to stand by and observe the operation, but I declined knowing that I would be way too tense to see Nya being operated upon, even if the surgery itself was non-lethal.

Thus I had sat in the waiting room for the entirety of the operation, sans the times I had gotten up for a snack or to go to the bathroom. Initially I had planned to sit back for the first half and read some magazines but once I had sat down to find the nearby tables magazine-less, I had to slap my forehead for my stupidity. No one used print media in the 23rd century – magazines had been made obsolete for decades. Thus I had turned to my omni-tool for my entertainment, which was what everyone did in this day and age when they had time to kill. That was what I had been doing when I had been roused by the nurse, actually – listening to the kind of classic bands from my childhood while I dozed.

Noting the click-clack of my shoes hitting the metal of the hallway floor, I sidled around empty gurneys and stretchers, bustling my way past clomps of pure-white suited doctors and nurses of all races and genders as I headed in the direction of room 19, my pace ever quickening.

Maybe I was just eager to find out if absolution was in my future, after what I had done to her. Hell, I was never going to hear the end of this from Nya, even if everything would turn out all right.

At least I had room to recover – there were others who were not so lucky. On the flip side, Iroa and Eyzn were far worse off than I was. Far, far worse. Last I had heard, after they had been taken into custody, the quarian Admiralty had exiled the two of them in apparently record time once their misdeeds had been brought to light, forcibly kicking them off of Rannoch before they could even blink in surprise. Desperate for an easy way out, the two members of my extended family had summarily been transferred over to the main military force upon the Citadel due to the fact that they had technically assaulted Citadel citizens: Nya, me, and the others. That way, the Admiralty could wash their hands clean of the matter, fully closing the book of what had been the sordid story of Iroa'Kannos. And with Kraana having died out on the ocean, that also must have relieved the quarian leadership about a potential thorn that they had not previously considered.

Ironically, Iroa did wind up closer to his daughter than he figured in the end. Just not in the manner he expected. Nya having disowned him also must have been a shocking blow, a lasting cut to forever remind him of his failure as a parent and as a decent, intelligent being.

The most recent rumblings I had discovered about the two assailants is that they had also required extensive medical care once they had been practically dumped on the Citadel, prior to their detention. Iroa had suffered multiple broken bones, which I had learned that I had caused when I had been rabidly beating the man (I think I must have blacked out while doing so, because I had no idea that I had been so feral and violent during my attack). Iroa had also managed to catch a small infection from a suit breach that required him to be hospitalized for a week – he had managed to pull through with no lasting effects, but I would not have shed any tears if he did die. Nya might have celebrated if that had been the case.

Eyzn, on the other hand, had been the one worse off. He had received cybernetics upon the foot that had been blown off during our little scuffle inside the shuttle, repairing the damage to the flesh and bone that had disintegrated when his shotgun had fired on his extremity. He now had a major limp on his wounded leg, lasting nerve damage that he would never be able to fully shake for the rest of his life. Apparently, I had also unintentionally crushed part of his windpipe when I had thrown him across the room while the gravity had been switched off, permanently altering his voice to a lower pitch – poetic justice in a sense. Iroa, by the end, seemed contrite at least but I knew that Eyzn would continue to hate me long after this event had passed. He was the one who practically lost everything after all was said and done.

For the moment, I could remain ignorant about the man's contempt. There were other pressing matters to concern my mind with.

Like the matter right now, for instance.

Hurrying to the door marked "19," I quickly hurried through the automated barrier and into the cramped decontamination booth. Particalized cleaning agents rained down in a fine spray, misting my clothes with an antiseptic that had a rather acrid scent before the booth pronounced me relatively safe with a blinking green light. Practically prying open the airtight doors, I jogged into the spartan room, barely concerning myself with the huge windowed backdrop into space and the planet below as I, with my heart in my throat, walked up to the bed and yanked aside the curtain concealing my wife from me.

Drawn to the noise, dressed in a powder-white gown while the blankets of her similarly colored bed smothered her form, Nya's unmasked head turned toward me, a wide smile gracing her gray face as she visibly brightened in my presence.

"Hello, honey," she croaked out in a creaking voice, yawning sleepily.

I had been planning to make a few snarky quips, maybe a cheesy one-liner or two, in preparation for this moment. As did most of my plans, this one shriveled up into nothingness the second I saw her face, happy and longing as she had anticipated my arrival. Rather than continue on course and ruin the rather saccharine tone that had begun to permeate the both of us, I decided to go with the natural flow of things as I bent down without hesitation so that I could kiss Nya deeply on the lips.

I felt Nya make a tiny squeak of joy that turned into a purr of content as she synched her desire with mine, returning the kiss eagerly. Every moment was to be savored, to feel her soft lips upon mine, to share the warmth between our bodies, to draw out the taste that we took from each other. In our sensual haze, my fingers found Nya's face, gently touching her skin all over and causing goosebumps to rise from her flesh at the foreign sensation. Becoming drunk from the passionate attention, Nya mimicked my actions, only drawing this moment to a close when I suddenly felt two hands gently planting themselves upon my cheeks.

Breaking the kiss with a gasp for air, I withdrew only to quickly clasp Nya's right hand in both of mine. There it was. Good as new. Right there all along, just like normal. A brand new arm for Nya – 100% natural.

Gingerly, I squeezed Nya's palm and her fingers slowly clenched over my hand. Good muscle response. Very slowly, I traced with my fingers up her arm, trailing over her hairless, warm, and smooth skin, with a simple IV taped onto the back of her palm. I could feel the muscles squirm and tense accordingly, the bones shifting in their usual manner, and the firm tendons twanging as they suitably twitched.

Holding her hand again, I hoped my face didn't look too ashen. "How are you feeling, dear?" I asked her.

"Mmm," Nya murmured happily as her eyes blissfully shut for a second. "Looking up right about now."

"Is it the sedatives or being out of your suit that's making you sappier than normal?"

"Why don't you come closer and find out?" she licked her lips in the dry air.

I chuckled and dryly shook my head. "In a moment, Nya. I want to find out if you're okay. How about your arm? Is there… much of a difference?"

Nya screwed her face up in thought, her arm moving slowly, methodically as if it took a greater effort than normal to use it. "It's weird having six fingers again," she flexed her hand for emphasis. "There's a little numbness… minor delay in response time, but they said that's all normal. I think… I think that I'm going to be fine, Sam."

"You kidding? Of course you're going to be fine," I ruffled her already messy hair teasingly, drawing a laugh out of her plus a playful swipe at my chest.

Nya shot me a wry look, a taunting smile gripping her mouth. "No thanks to you, honey. You're the reason I'm here, remember? Hah! This goes well beyond domestic violence – cutting your own spouse's arm off."

"You trying to make me feel miserable? I'm fighting not to throw up whenever I remember that awful day."

Sensing that she had gone too far, Nya reached over and hugged my head close to her chest, rubbing my scalp soothingly. "I'm sorry, Sam. I couldn't resist the easy points."

"Oh yeah," I sarcastically mumbled, smothered by her hospital gown. "That's you, all right. Always going for the low blows. Mark my words, there will be a time when we will be able to look on this moment and laugh… but it is nowhere near that time."

"I'll wean you into it, you soft human. I can always cut one of your limbs off to make us even."

I jokingly recoiled in Nya's grip. "No thanks! Already had that happen to me, remember? The hell's gotten into you, anyway? You're in a feisty mood."

"Must be the lack of my suit."

"Must be," I agreed. "But that means I can get away with a lot more. Example A…"

Before Nya could inquire as to what I meant, I quickly sent my hand down to tickle mercilessly at Nya's stomach, causing the quarian to squeal and writhe upon the bed as she howled in laughter, her limbs jerking fruitlessly.

"Not… fair!" she managed in between peals. "I'm all… tied up… on this bed!"

"That's karma for you," I retorted, ducking around her flailing arms but quickly stopped lest she accidentally damage herself. Wiping at her now sweaty brow, I lovingly held my panting wife as she slowly calmed down, smug looks on each of our faces. "Truce?"

"Truce," Nya nodded breathily (after she had bitten her lip in mock disgust). "Okay, you win this one. Now we're even. Ugh, I hope I didn't rupture my gut from laughing so hard."

"You're in luck then! You're already at a hospital, with the best people looking after you. If they can fix your arm, they can fix your gut."

"I'd rather have one injury to focus on right now," Nya replied with an impish look in her eyes. Her lips curled upwards faintly. "But I don't care about the best people looking after me here anymore, Sam. That's not what I need – their work is done. All I want – and need – is just the best person to look after me… which is what I have right here. You. If that isn't the best thing ever than I don't know what is."

It was almost becoming a recurring gag with Nya that every time she was either unmasked or out of her suit did she start to wax in a sappy romanticism. Not that I could blame her – being liberated from such a form-fitting enviro-suit, even for a brief period of time, had to be one of the best feelings imaginable. Even as she was recovering on this hospital bed, there was still a hint of giddiness within her that refused to be extinguished. Always a ray of optimism locked away, it turned out.

I said nothing for a moment or two, but continued to muss up Nya's always tousled hair. She submitted to this affection with a weary sigh, but with a droll smile upon her face nonetheless. She always had maintained a bit of enviousness towards humans who always seemed to have perfect hair, but I liked the natural, tangled look of Nya's short, black locks. Any other style on her would just look artificial. Either way, she adored the attention imprinted upon her, especially considering that she was getting a scalp massage in the process. It was almost too easy with her in this state to provide comfort and affection.

Nya raised her new arm again so that she could cup my chin. Before she could succumb to a euphoria of tactile stimulation, she pried open her eyes to look serenely at my face.

"One would think that I could have gotten this arm earlier," she sighed as she tested the pliancy of my skin through gradual changes of pressure with her fingers. "A month of waiting, not including all the pre-checkups beforehand, having to suffer through the agonizing phantom pain for what felt like hours at a time. Gah, at least it's over now."

"Yeah, but you said it yourself before," I pointed out as I kissed the back of Nya's hand while I rubbed at her smooth palm. "It takes a month for fully viable tissue samples, crafted from your DNA, to be grown in a vat and ready for transplantation. Plus you have to take into account all the preparation that went into the act beforehand, when they did a complete body scan of you to get the proportions of your lost arm correct for a perfect "fit." The longer the wait, the longer the life of the tissue. Besides, you didn't want to have a cybernetic replacement for the rest of your life, right?"

"Well… yeah, but…" Nya trailed off as she looked at the metallic limb that had been laid gently on the desk beside her bedside next to the gaping window, left there by the medical staff as a memento.

For the weeks leading up to the surgery, Nya had been using a prosthetic to assist her in her daily activities – 3D printed to the dimensions of the arm she had lost. The limb was operated by the use of electrodes, placed upon specific points at what had been the stump of Nya's arm, which enabled the prosthetic itself to be easily attachable and detachable. The electrodes were scarily accurate at translating myoelectric signals from the brain into movement for the prosthetic to enact. The prosthetic itself utilized fiber-optic wiring with a synthesized material on par of the hardness of a diamond to reduce input lag, resulting in a rather responsive faux limb. Despite the seemingly wildness of how far the field of prosthetics had come over the years, this was on the low end of the technological spectrum as the limb itself lacked any sensors for palpable sensation. It could bend and flex like a real arm, but that was about it.

Now the three-fingered artificial limb simply sat on the desk all by its lonesome self. It had fulfilled its purpose for its owner and no one else.

"But, nothing," I cut Nya off with a firm shake of my head. "This is how things work these days. If you were really impatient, you could have applied to have a new arm flash-cloned and attached within a few days. Although you'd be regretting it almost immediately when the arm begins to rot from the rapid decay of nucleic acid bonds before the week is up – which, as you very well know, is a side effect of flash-cloning tissue. They're not meant for long term use. This arm is."

"Yeah, yeah, yeah," Nya groused as she crushed my fingers with hers in response.

I gave Nya a playful shove on the shoulder. "Don't be like that, honey. You're walking away from this with a brand new arm and not a single scar to be found. See, look at mine!" I brought my left wrist to her arm, the one that had been mauled by Vhen years earlier. True enough, there was a thin line circling around my wrist whereas on Nya, there was not a mark to discern.

Nya did not respond and drew her arm closer to her body with a tiny huff, but followed with a simper and a knowing look that signified that this was one of those rare moments where I had a valid point. If I wanted to be a jerk, I could deign to rub this little victory in my wife's face further, but the timing of such a thing would be highly inappropriate, considering our current setting.

"How's everyone else doing?" Nya asked through bleary eyes. "Do they all know that I'm doing well? I'd hate to keep them worrying."

"You mean Rie and Chandler? They're waiting out in the lobby and they know that you pulled through. They're not all that disappointed that they missed the fun adventures we had on Rannoch, not that I could blame them."

"And Sagan?"

"Still helping with coordination efforts between your people and his at the embassy. He let me know that he'll stop by soon."

Nya gave a nod that she understood – no further elaboration was needed on that point.

The enigmatic geth had, for some reason, chosen to remain with us after our little excursion on Rannoch, like a puppy that followed us home. I think that there was some intrinsic intuition within Sagan that enabled him to place his complete trust in his newfound allies while recognizing the benefits of being around others that treated him with anything other than fear and disdain. It was not like he was actually needed back on Rannoch as his memories and experiences were all collectively shared by the remainder of activated geth down on Rannoch and the cadre there were already making leaps and bounds by leading the firsthand efforts to help reunite their creators with the technological legacy they had forgotten, namely the abandoned buildings as well as the ancestor databanks. The quarians were calling it their most significant re-discovery in their entire history, from what the news outlets were reporting. Flocks of new pilgrims were arriving to Rannoch in light of this new knowledge, now more eager than ever to bask in the wealth their world offered.

Not Nya, though. There was no more interest in returning to Rannoch. She knew where her future lay and it was not on her homeworld.

As such, Sagan put himself to use immediately by opening up a line of communication with the newly established quarian embassy on the Citadel in order to help transition awareness of the geth back into the minds of the public. Gradually the word got out that the geth still lived, even after the war, and this news was met with skepticism but also with a healthy dose of optimism once citizens realized the enormous amount of opportunities this could bring about. It certainly boded well for the quarians, now that they were beginning to renew their partnership upon Rannoch, with the geth assisting with the colonization and manual labor while the quarians helped to facilitate the creation of new geth units. Life was slowly coming back to normal in one corner of the universe, it seemed.

In the interim, Nya and I allowed Sagan to remain in our apartment, to which it could be said that a geth had to be the most amenable sort of roommate I've ever seen. Sagan, being a synthetic, required no amenities nor room, and maintained a respectful and vigilant silence within our presence. It was almost as if he was a statue that only came alive when absolutely necessary, even though this statue had all the free will that could be afforded unto him.

As far as housing goes, Sagan was living the life of luxury, even if he didn't fully understand just how lucky he was.

Upon her stiff hospital bed, Nya squirmed as she scooted to make room, a new longing humming through her body.

"Sit by me," she requested, as far from a command as it was imaginable.

I raised an eyebrow skeptically. "Only if you promise to take it easy? You're still healing."

"I promise," Nya answered immediately as she raised her arms wide. "Come here."

Finding myself eager as well, I shrugged off my jacket at the same time I slipped off my shoes before I very carefully climbed into the rigid frame of the bed, trying not to dislodge any vital tubing that snaked over the sheets. With only a minimal degree of difficulty, I managed to crawl forward so that I could partially lay atop Nya, her arms embracing my shoulders as she sighed in content from the warm contact and weight of my body.

Lying on my wife's thin frame, I breathed in her scent with my nostrils. My cheek rested upon a breast and one of my arms flopped lazily over her belly. The two of us remained enveloped upon the other, for warmth, companionship, love, in an instinctual action that defied explanation. My head was repeatedly and gradually pushed upward as Nya's chest swelled with her breathing. I might have fallen asleep for some period of time, I truthfully have no idea, but the next thing that I can remember is Nya's voice softly flitting into my ear.

"I meant it, you know."

My eyes refused to crack themselves open. "Meant what?"

"When I said that I would rather live on Earth, in California. I… didn't know if you were also considering it as well."

Yawning, I propped myself up on an elbow, slowly blinking. "What brought this on?"

"Nothing did," Nya shrugged. "It's… just something I've been musing on, now that all this craziness has finally passed us by."

"From one issue to the next, huh?" I gave her a mocking grin.

Nya sheepishly bumped her eyebrows now that I scooted myself up to her height on the bed. "You had something else in mind?"

"Actually, I did," I said as I trailed my fingers up her arm, smiling smugly all the while. "I pretty much considered a move to California to be a foregone conclusion eventually. I wouldn't mind going back there and getting a house built near the beach, but that's not what I've been thinking about for the past month now. And something tells me that you've been thinking the exact same thing I have. Call it… paternal intuition."

Now Nya's teeth brightly shone as her lips too parted in a smile. "You mean our family."


"You… you still want to go through with this?"

"One hundred percent. Do you?"

"D-Do… I?" Nya stammered, caught off guard. "Do I? Uh, yeah! I so want to go through with this! I'm all in! I'm-,"

The lithe quarian snuggled against me in a firm manner, trying not to shriek in joy as she broke off from her babbling. Instead, as her words trailed off, her entire body jittered as if she was being electrocuted, completely beside herself with excitement.

"I… I don't know anything on how to be a good parent," she admitted as her eyes darted all over the room.

I chuckled a rough laugh of my own. "We'll learn together. There's so many resources that we can look up. Books, the extranet, et cetera. Believe me, no one's truly prepared for something like this the first time. We're going to be fine. We can do it."

"And you're sure that you will be fine with… with raising a quarian child instead of a human? And that they won't have any of your genes too?"

"Nya, Nya," I murmured as I gently pulled her closer to me, touching my forehead to hers so that her momentary concern could evaporate from her face. "What would you think of me if I backed out now? If I really was so opposed to raising a child of a race different to mine? What's there to stop me? At this point, I have no more reservations. If the end result is just going to wind up with you and I raising a kid together, then that's a kind of future I can definitely get behind."

That immediately seemed to satisfy Nya and she now took her turn to rest her head in the crook of my neck. She seemed so much smaller and lighter without her suit. I could almost imagine hefting her with a single finger, her body light as the air itself. Regardless, I reveled in the privacy of our togetherness, beholden to the rare privilege to witness my wife look upon me with a bare expression of adoration, knowing that no one else could experience such a thing.

In light of her pure and unobstructed love, I could only hope that my own veneration was not too overshadowed. Nya could say a lot without even a word escaping her throat.

I barely kissed her forehead, staring serenely out into space. "I'll make an appointment for us to visit a fertility doctor in a week or so, once you're all better. They've got a reproductive services clinic here on Huerta, so we won't need to go far."

"To find a donor with a similar DNA structure to yours, right?" Nya mumbled against my chest, starting to fall asleep again.

"Yeah, if we don't have a dextro substitute, this isn't going to work."

Nya raised her head so that she could look me straight in the eye. "No matter whose genetic information I'll take, I promise you, Sam, that only you will be our child's father."

My hand came to her cheek, ever so slightly brushing the raised scar that permeated her flesh there. I grinned so broadly I thought my mouth would split wide open. Curious, after spending what seemed like an eternity on a foreign planet being pummeled and beaten both physically and psychologically, it was miraculous that the two of us managed to claw our way out to where we were now.

From the cities of Earth's past.

From the slums of the flotilla.

A new dawn was rising for us both and we were itching to catch a glimpse of the rays.

"'Father'" I repeated breathily, the syllables lingering upon my tongue. "I'm looking forward to being called that. In the same vein that I can't wait to hear you be called 'Mother,' Nya. With the two of us together, honey, what can't we do?"

Her hands slid around my back, preparing herself for what was to come next. My partner, my wife, hid no doubts, no illusions upon her face. Something was transpiring upon those features, an emotion stronger than any that had preceded it. It filled her, sang within her, embodied her so strongly that even I felt elevated from just her touch, her sweet, bare touch.

"We're going to be the best damn parents ever to our kid," she fiercely proclaimed before she moved forward, our lips interlocking as we embraced in a passionate kiss.

The fickleness of time was a wonder to behold. Within our little white, sterile cube, it was hard to discern the events that transpired around us. With just us making up the entirety of our world together, we shed all others selfishly from our minds as we welcomed our higher selves, our deepest emotions to run free and wild. We inhabited our own plane, able to act out our deepest desires as we pleased in a stillness that lathered the both of us until we were drowning in it, our own private ablution.

Each precise and crystallized moment was savored as we drank from the infinite wells of our love together. With no other obligations pressing upon the boundaries of our minds, our thoughts were on the present and very much of the near future.

Yet the future, important as it was, could wait a bit. We were in no hurry.

A/N: And so, Progeny comes to a close.

It was interesting to gauge people's reactions the further I plowed through writing this thing, because I didn't know what people were expecting with a sequel to The Quantum Error. Even I had no idea what to expect for the longest time, which is why it took so long for me to finally figure out a plot that I liked that was not a rehash of the first story (not that I could expect this being my longest ever story in terms of word count). My overall goal was to differentiate it as far as possible from the original entry and get a little more experimental in my approach with regards to characters and the overall setting. I was able to have fun again with my writing, but it will be nice for a little break now, especially after eight months of doing this.

Funnily enough, I wrote Progeny with the intention for there to be a sequel taking place after this one, to create a trilogy. I actually wrote the outline for the third installment at the same time as the second one. So, unless life happens upon me in ways I do not expect, I fully intend to return at some point (perhaps after I tackle some smaller, more original projects) and write the conclusion to the trilogy, placing a thoughtful end on the Quantum Error once and for all. While the outline is technically finished, it needs at least another draft in its current state before I feel that it is ready to be written. I'll try not to leave so long of a gap between stories for the next time, but no promises!

As I say with all my stories, I hope you enjoyed reading Progeny. Please let me know what you think of it! I appreciate feedback in any form!

Oh, and be on the lookout for The Quantum Error: Patriarch when the first chapter drops!

Thank you for your attention and patience.

-Rob Sears