Well I'm back! And so is everyone else! I hope you enjoy!

Bringing Up Baby

On every tree in the city new buds were beginning to bloom. The only thing I could think about was at that very moment, their might be something blooming inside me.

"Everywhere I go all I see are kids and babies," I was talking to Jackie. I had come to her office to pick her up for lunch. I went to Jackie's office any time I could; being around that much fashion was thrilling.

"Have you taken a pregnancy test yet?" Jackie asked me, quickly putting some papers away and grabbing her bag.

"No," I moaned, "I'm to…" I didn't know what I was. Suddenly a big black print on Jackie's wall caught my attention, "Jackie…is this new?" I pointed at the picture.

"No! Come on you have seen that before!" Jackie said, she pointed to the girl in the middle of the picture, "This dress single handedly started a fashion revolution in Paris!"

I was me. It was true that the print was old and so the face was blurry, but there was no mistaking that dress. And there was no mistaking the two girls on either side of me. I wondered how their lives had turned out. I looked down at the bottom of the picture; the title of the print was Gala, 1882. I would have to google it and show Erik.

Jackie was already leaving so I hurried to catch her.

"So, if you are…what are you going to do?" Jackie asked me. We were walking to meet Rebecca and Susan.

"I don't know!" I said miserably, "I mean…I don't think I really want to have kids yet…I always thought that I would be married at least a year before we started trying,"

Rebecca was waiting for us at a table when we got there.

"Well there you two are!" Rebecca said, checking her watch, "You are late! And so is Susan,"

"She is with Greg," Jackie said, and she couldn't hide the distain in her voice, not that she would have tried.

"Wait what's wrong with Greg?" I asked, wondering if I had missed some annoying habit of his.

"Nothing! It's just what is he, Prince Charming number 546 for Susan?" Jackie said, "I swear to God she is picking out china already,"

"What about you Liv? Are you picking out china yet?" Rebecca asked me with a sarcastic smile.

I stared at her, "I still don't know if I should be picking out china or child's clothing,"

"You still haven't taken a test yet?"

"Nope,"

At this moment Susan came bounding up to our table, "Sorry I'm so late!" she said, thought she looked anything but sorry; she was grinning from ear to ear.

"How is Greg?" I asked her dutifully,

"Oh he's wonderful! Liv I can't thank you enough!" Susan literally hugged me.

"Ok easy there," I said, looking around at Jackie and Rebecca for help.

Susan didn't stop smiling, "So what are we talking about?"

"My maybe baby," I said.

"Oh Liv! I think I would be wonderful if you had a baby!" Susan wanted a child almost as much as she wanted to get married.

"Yeah well if you want one so bad you can have one," I said, trying to distract myself with the menu.

"I would love to, but I'm not the one getting married," Susan reminded me sternly.

"So what about the maybe baby? Are you late?" Rebecca asked me.

"Just a few days," I said. I really was to.

"How many days?" Jackie asked.

"Three,"

"Oh gray area," Said Rebecca, "It doesn't mean anything!"

"Do you feel…pregnant?" Susan asked me.

"I've never bee pregnant before! How am I supposed to know what if feels like!" I said.

"I think you need to just take the test and find out for sure," Rebecca suggested.

"I know, I know…but I don't know what to do!" I put my menu down and looked around at the girls, "This is where you tell me what to do," I said.

"If you're not ready than you're not ready," Jackie said soothingly.

"But a child would be wonderful," Susan said.

I bit my lip, "I just don't think I could…I mean it's not like this is just anyone's baby…this is Erik's baby,"

"Have you told him yet?" Susan asked.

"No,"

After lunch the girls dragged me to a drug store. One embarrassing ept later, I was on my way back to the office.

That night I knew I had to tell Erik. It was strange, though we had spoken about everything else, we had never mentioned kids.

"Olivia!" I heard Erik call out to me as he entered the apartment. I had beaten him home and I was waiting for him, pacing back and forth in the living room. "Olivia! I have to tell you before I forget…" But then he saw the worried and nervous look on my face, "What's wrong?"

"Erik, I need to talk to you about something; maybe you should sit down,"

"Olivia you're scaring me," Erik said in a low voice as he came over to me and rested his hands on my waist, "Tell me,"

I sighed and stepped out of his embrace. I reached over and picked up the bag from the drug store off the sofa. I took the box out of the bag and handed it to him. Erik stared at me and then down at the box. He read 'early pregnancy test' on the front.

"Olivia…are you saying…?" I nodded. Erik let out a huge sigh, "How the hell did this happen?"

"How the hell did this happen!" I cried. I had not expected Erik to sound so angry, "You know damn well how this happened! You insisted on sleeping with me just after we got back! Even though you knew there was a chance of this happening!"

"Oh so now this is my fault!" Erik growled at me.

I didn't know what to say. I had never thought he would sound so mad. I wanted to yell back at him but I felt my eyes start to burn. Erik stared at me through irate eyes for a moment. When he saw my eyes begin to water he realized he had made a mistake.

"Oh Olivia," He whispered, and he wrapped his arms around me, even though I still stood stiff with my hands on my hips. "I'm sorry; I didn't mean it like that,"

"What the hell's the matter with you Erik?" I snapped at him. I sounded both angry and like I was about to cry. I hit Erik on the chest before I let him embrace me fully.

Erik stroked the back of my head in an attempt to comfort me. Damn it, he thought, he had never meant to make me cry.

"Are you sure you are pregnant Olivia?" He asked me gently.

"No I'm not sure yet," I snapped, pulling away from him, "I haven't taken the test; I wanted to see how you felt first. I'll see you in a few minutes," I said angrily and I stalked off to the bathroom, slamming the door.

Never in a million years had I expected Erik to be mad at me. I had thought he would be excited about this, not yelling at me like I had planned it! I looked at my face in the mirror and whipped the tears from my eyes. Taking a deep breath and shaking slightly, I opened the box.

Waiting alone in the bathroom was hell but I felt like I couldn't see Erik at the moment. He didn't want me to have his child. He didn't want us to have a child. I checked my watch. It was time.

Erik was pacing in our bedroom. He had never meant to upset me like that and he knew he had really made a mess of things. He looked up as I came out of the bathroom.

I thought he was going to say something to me but he didn't. He just looked expectedly at me.

"Well you will be happy…I'm not pregnant,"

Erik let out a sigh of relief that made me so angry I turned right around and went back into the bathroom, preparing to slam the door shut again.

"No wait Olivia!" Erik put his hand on the doorframe in an attempt to stop me from shutting myself in the bathroom. Unfortunately I did not see his hand there and I slammed the door right on his fingers. "Shit!" Erik cried, pulling hand away and flexing it, "Ouch!"

I did feel bad about his fingers, but not too bad, "Well you deserve that," I said.

"Can I get to the sink please?" Erik asked me, irritation in his voice.

"No," I said defiantly, "You deserve pain…why don't you want me to have a baby?"

"Oh Christ Olivia!" Erik said crossly, holding his fingers, "Of course I'd like you to have a baby…our baby…but I don't want to bring another child into this world that looks like me!"

I bit my lip. Of Course…his face. I let him get past me and into the bathroom. He turned on the cold water and let it run over his throbbing fingers. I walked over and sat on the side of the bathtub. I looked at my feet and continued to chew my lip.

Erik stared at me, "You know this reminds me of when we got engaged,"

I laughed and looked up at him, "I guess when I do dramatic things I have to do them in the bathroom,"

"Interesting fact about you darling," Erik said dryly.

I smiled and stood up, running my hand up and down his arm, "Hey…sorry I shut your fingers in the door,"

Erik sighed, "I guess I had that coming," He turned and looked me in the eyes, "Believe me Olivia I would love to have you…bare foot and pregnant in the kitchen…" he teased me.

I laughed, "Did I shut your hand or your head in the door?"

"Olivia I would love to start a family with you," He said seriously, "But I don't want to curse a child with half of my face," He spoke in a low voice and he turned his eyes back to his hands.

I turned off the water and led Erik out to the kitchen. I pulled out a chair and motioned for him to sit down. I put ice in a plastic bag and covered Erik's fingers with it.

I sat down next to him.

"You know…I keep getting physically hurt around you Olivia: there was the wedding, the car accident, now this…"

I smiled a little, "You are clumsy,"

"Remind me to put that on my epitaph; here lays Erik. He was clumsy."

"Erik, we've talked about everything else…don't you think we should talk about kids to?" I said.

He shook his head, "I just don't think we should do it Olivia…You don't know how hard it is to live with only half a face,"

"Erik, you know that whatever our baby looked like, I would love it because it was ours," I placed my hand over his on the table.

"I know you would!" Erik cried, "I know you would…but other people wouldn't," He added darkly.

"Who gives a damn Erik!" I argued, "Are we going to let other people stop us from having a family?"

"I couldn't stand it Olivia! I just couldn't!" Erik cried, pounding his fist on the table and rising from his chair, "I couldn't handle anyone looking at something I know I would love so much! Something you and I created! With horror or distain!"

I opened and closed my mouth but I said nothing. Even as a lawyer, skilled in arguing any opinion at a moment's notice, I didn't know what to say to that.

Erik sat down and lowered his voice, "Maybe we never talked about kids Olivia but I thought about it a lot. I thought about being so proud of our little boy or girl…and then it having to wonder why people hated it so much…We couldn't put a child through plastic surgery, not until it was older, and I wouldn't want to subject it to ridicule at any point before that. The only way to do that would be to keep it inside until it was older…and we couldn't do that,"

Clearly he had thought about all this, "Erik you could have shared this with me at some point," I said.

Erik paused. He looked into my eyes and then away, shifting a little, "I was afraid that if you know I could never give you kids of your own you wouldn't marry me," He muttered this in almost an ashamed voice.

"Erik, when are you going to get it through your thick, brilliant skull that I love you no matter what? For Christ's sake! I agreed to live in 1882 for you!"

"Olivia…we can't take the risk," Erik said somberly, his eyes starting sadly at me, "I know the way people look at you when you are different…It's too horrible,"

I nodded, at the moment at a loss for words. It was strange, I had never thought of myself as particularly maternal…but now that it looked like that option was being taken off the table forever I started to realize that someday I did want to have kids.

"There is always adoption Olivia," Erik said quietly.

"I know," I said sadly, and then I realized maybe I was being a bit too sad. It was not as though it was Erik's fault. Getting up from the table I kissed his forehead, then headed out to the living room. I needed to think about something else so I switched on the TV. Why did it seem like everyone had a child all of a sudden?

That night I climbed into bed a little earlier than normal. I curled up on my side and shut my eyes. A few minutes later I felt the pressure on the mattress as Erik lay down.

"Olivia?" I heard him whisper. I just lay there, my back to him. My eyes were wide open but I didn't say anything. I heard Erik sigh and then lower his head to the pillow.

I wasn't angry with him; I had been at first for yelling at me but not anymore. I just felt…different. Somehow, even though I knew it would be uncomfortable and put a serious crimp in my wardrobe for awhile, I had always imagined that one day when the time was right I would give birth to my own son or daughter.

Erik wasn't sleeping either. He knew that one day this would come up, and he felt terrible about it. He knew he would love a child. But it was selfish to put a child through all that he had once suffered under the scrutiny of others. And now he thought I was mad at him. He closed his eyes and hoped that tomorrow would be better.

While Erik drifted into a light and often wakeful sleep, I simply couldn't. With a sigh I sat up in the bed. It wasn't right to be cold toward Erik; he had everyone's best interests at heart. By his breathing I believed he was sleeping. His back was to me. I slid myself over to him. Craning my neck I looked down at his face. The one eye I could see was closed.

Gently I stroked his dark hair with my fingers. I leaned down and kissed his temple. At this his eye opened. He rolled onto his back and looked up at me.

"Is something wrong Olivia?" He asked softly.

I shook my head, "No." I lay down beside him, throwing one arm over his chest. With relief Erik slid his arm around my shoulder.

Neither of us sad anything; we really didn't know what to say. We hadn't really had a full blown fight; I guess it was just a baby fight.

"So he doesn't want to have kids?" Rebecca asked me. I was filling in the girls over lunch the next day.

"Well, not our own kids…he did mention adoption," I said.

"Liv, if this whole matter is settled, can we talk about something else?" Jackie asked, "I can't take any more…baby talk,"

We all stared at her, "What's gotten into you?" I asked her.

"It's this new guy I'm seeing," Jackie had dropped Brent, much to all our dismay because we had liked Brent, and was now dating Rick Bachmann. Rick was a writer who had just started an 'ask the guy' column in VOGUE.

"Okay," Jackie lowered her voice and leaned in. We all did as well, "This guy…he baby talks in bed!"

We all stared at her, not quite sure what to say.

"Well?" Jackie looked at us for help, "What do I do?"

"Buy a bib?" Rebecca laughed.

I smiled, "I think we need an example,"

Jackie glared at me, "You are sick,"

"Hey remember when we went to the beach house and you listened to me having sex? You owe me!" I said.

Jackie sighed, "Ok, he's like, 'does Jackie want a visit from my penis-wenis,"

"EW!" Susan shrieked, which almost drown out the laughter from Rebecca and I.

"Guy's it's not funny! What do I do? It's a total turn off!" Jackie cried.

"Well how is the sex otherwise?" Rebecca asked.

"I don't know! I can't get around the baby talk!" Jackie said, "I think I would be great, if I could just get him to quit it!"

"Awe…poor Jackie wacky!" I said in a baby talk voice, earning myself a slap in the arm from Jackie.

"Seriously guys…have any of you ever experienced this?" We all shook our head's no, "What kind of freaky mother complex does this guy have if he likes to baby talk in bed?"

"You could find out online," Susan said, probably the first piece of helpful advice we had given poor Jackie, "You just type in the symptoms and then hit search,"

Jackie nodded, "Thank you! Finally something helpful!"

"If he has a mother complex," I said, "He might just be a regular old freak,"

"In which case what do I do?" Jackie asked.

"Talk to him I guess, tell him to quit it or it's bye bye baby," I said.

"Speaking of talking…Greg said yesterday that he had something important he wants to talk to me about," Susan said; she was practically bubbling over. "I think he is going to propose!"

"You have known him for like two weeks!" Jackie said, "How can it be wedding bells already!"

"I think you are forgetting about love at first sight," Susan said smiling. Jackie and Rebecca laughed; normally I would have to but this time I didn't.

"Come on guys…Liv, how long had you known Erik before you knew you wanted to marry him?" Susan asked me, looking for validation for her theory.

"About three weeks," I admitted lamely. Sure enough Rebecca and Jackie responded just the way I thought they would.

"Oh no! Susan and her cult have you to!" Jackie sighed, "Where is my cynical, smoking New Yorker?"

"I'm still here!" I protested, "I just-"

"You believe in love now!" Susan said excitedly, "I've been telling you guys all along and now look at Olivia! She is getting married!"

"So you think Greg is going to ask you to marry him?" I asked her, wanting to shift the focus off of me.

"I do," Susan said dreamily, "Maybe we can have a double wedding Liv!"

Later that night I decided to ask Erik what he thought about Greg and Susan;

"Susan thinks Greg is going to ask her to marry him," I said over dinner.

Erik gave Sammy, who had been whimpering at his feet for about five minutes, a scrap of chicken from his plate and looked up at me. He was glad I wasn't holding the baby against him. He was happy to be conversational.

"Really?" Erik said, "I had no idea they were that serious,"

"Yeah well neither did I," I admitted, "I mean I knew she liked him, but I had no idea…" I trailed off. "So he hasn't mentioned anything about it to you?"

"No," Erik said, "But then again, it's not really something a man would talk to another man about. If he is going to propose, he is probably nervous as hell and wants to call as least attention to it as possible,"

"You think?" I asked him, completely not sarcastic.

"I don't know honey, how did you feel when you proposed?" Erik teased me.

"I felt wet but that is another story," I hadn't meant it the way Erik took it and I scowled at him, "I mean that I was all damp from the shower, not what you are thinking you evil man,"

He laughed at me, "Awe, I'm not so bad am I?"

"Don't give me those sad puppy dog eyes Erik; it won't work,"

"Well then look at his eyes," Erik took Sammy's head in his hand and turned it to face me.

I laughed and called to our dog, "Come here Sammy baby!" I hit my leg with my hand and the dog came immediately to my side, his tail wagging so hard his whole butt was actually shaking. I had a sudden thought,

"Erik, do you think baby talk in the bed room is even remotely sexy?"

Erik stared at me, clearly not quite following my line of thought, "What? You mean baby talk like what you just said to our dog?"

"Yes, like that,"

"I'm going to have to say no, not even remotely," Erik said, hoping I was not trying to get him to try something new in the bedroom.

"Good…the guy Jackie is dating baby talks in the bedroom,"

"You know darling I never get sick of you sharing your friend's weird love lives with me," Erik said, and his sarcasm was not lost on me.

"Well it should show you why I was desperate enough to propose to you; when you find a non freak you should close the deal as soon as possible," I may have been converted to a more Susan like belief in love but I still had a practical outlook as well.

"You consider me a non freak?" Erik asked, "You do remember that whole…Paris incident don't you?"

"Erik freaks are men who do weird, un sexy, stupid, or annoying things; like bad clothes or creepy laughs or…toe fungus,"

"Do you have to talk about toe fungus when I am eating?"

"Anyway…yes, I consider you a non freak,"

"Well that is very sweet...I also believe you are a non freak," He said.

"This is just too romantic; I can't stand it,"

That night Erik and I curled up together in bed. Erik was reading some book aloud to me for awhile, but the sound of his beautiful soothing voice mixed with the gentle embrace of his arm caused me to fall asleep quickly.

I didn't even notice when Erik switched off the light and pulled my body down so we were lying side by side. We had both fallen asleep when a sound cut through Erik's peace. A ringing; at first he thought he was just going mad…but then he realized it was the phone.

With a huge groan Erik let go of me and turned around to pick up the phone on the bed stand.

"Hello?" Erik answered in a groggy voice.

"Oh Erik! I'm sorry I didn't mean to wake you…this is Susan by the way,"

Erik looked at the clock which was by the phone, "It is five in the morning Susan! Why on earth would we be awake?"

"I'm sorry…I just thought…is Olivia there?"

"She certainly is, but she is asleep," Erik waited for Susan to say he didn't have to wake me up. When she didn't Erik continued, "Do you want me to wake her up?"

"Oh…no, I guess not," Susan said finally, her voice was downcast.

"Are you alright Susan?" Erik asked her, not wanting to hang up on her if she was distressed or something.

"Oh I'm fine!" But Erik thought her voice was a little shaky.

"I'll tell Olivia you called in the morning," Erik promised her.

"Okay…thanks!" Susan said before Erik hung up the phone.

Erik sighed sleepily, rubbing his eyes and shaking his head. His body felt like it weighed a million pounds as he gratefully lay down again. He slid up to my back and wrapped an arm around my waist. Contentedly he sighed as he settled his head next to mine on the pillow.

"Who was on the phone?" I murmured as I felt him relax next to me.

"No one," He said, just wanting to go back to sleep.

"Really Erik," I said; my voice louder as I woke up a bit more, "Who was on the phone?"

"Erik is sleeping,"

"Oh you are not!" I took the arm he had placed around my waist and shook it. I rolled over to face him.

"Olivia please! It's five in the morning!" He cried.

"Erik who was it? Was it important?" I started to crawl over him to the phone, but he had other plans.

He caught me and pinned me down on the bed underneath him. His grip was firm, but still playful.

I laughed at him, "I swear to God Erik, you go from sleepy to horny in under one second,"

"Well," He said in a deep voice as he kissed my neck, "This is worth staying awake for," He pressed his lips hungrily to my skin again, "A phone call not so much,"

I let out a sigh that turned into a moan as Erik slid the straps of my nightgown off my shoulders; pinning my arms to my side and exposing my breasts all at once. For a guy who didn't want to get me pregnant, he sure didn't mind doing what might get me pregnant.

"Olivia you look tired," Jackie said to me. We were meeting for a quick lunch at a little deli.

"I am," I knew there were bags under my eyes and I kept yawning. "Someone called at five in the morning and we never got back to sleep,"

"That was me! I called you last night…well this morning. Erik didn't tell you?" Susan cried. We had all assumed that things with Greg had not gone as planned as no one saw a giant ring on her finger.

"No," I said, biting my lip, "He must have forgotten,"

"Oh I'm so sorry! I didn't mean to keep you two up all night," Susan said apologetically. But then she saw the looks I was giving Rebecca and Jackie and the knowing smiles they returned. "Wait…were you two…" She lowered her voice and looked around before she spoke as though their might have been someone waiting to punish her for crude language, "were you two having sex?"

I nodded.

"Oh my God! I was going through a crisis and you are having sex?" Susan did not bother to lower her voice this time.

Jackie, Rebecca, and I all laughed.

"I'm sorry! I didn't know you called," I was laughing very hard. I was so tired I was a little slap happy, "And Erik's really sexy…and when he wants to do it…" I closed me eyes and smiled. Then I realized I was starting to fall asleep right there and I had to force my lids apart again.

"So what happened with Greg?" Jackie asked Susan finally.

"He didn't ask me to marry him…he told me…he has a child already! With an ex girlfriend!" Susan cried. She shook her head, "I always wanted kids, but I don't know about this…"

"Oh honey, get out now," Rebecca said, "Kids are just too complicated,"

"He waited this long to tell you about…" I asked,

"He has a little girl; Donna. He waited to tell me because he doesn't like her to meet a lot of different women. But he said he really liked me and he wanted me to meet her!"

"Isn't this a good thing?" Jackie asked her, "Doesn't this make you that much closer to a really serious relationship?"

"But now everything has changed! I will have his ex to deal with all the time…and what if his daughter is a brat and I hate her! And…it won't be new anymore…he won't have his first child with me," Susan looked with conflicted eyes around at all of us.

"But he could have his last child with you," I said, "And Donna could be really sweet,"

"I just don't know if I want all that drama," Susan sighed.

"Oh Rebecca! Before I forget, how is Josh?" I asked her. Josh White was the model Rebecca had met at the Met Ball and somehow, they were still together. Not to mention that Josh was ten years her junior.

"He is getting boring. I mean, the sex is still great, but he is too immature for me really. I will probably get rid of him tomorrow," Rebecca said in an off hand way.

We all looked at each other and smiled. Every time we asked Rebecca how Josh was this was how she responded. She was still yet to dump him. Rebecca would never admit it, but we all suspected that she really like this guy.

Back at my office and still just as tired as ever, I got to thinking about children again. It seemed like there was never quite the right time to bring up the subject, but kids and babies were everywhere!

Again I began to think about Erik and I having a child. I knew that there were ways of predicting things about children, from their hair color to any disease they might inherit. Maybe some geneticist would be able to tell us what the chances were of us having a child with a disfigurement.

I met Erik after work and we shared a cab home. I hid my nervousness about bringing up the subject with him again behind the façade of being tired.

"Olivia, did I ever tell you that it was Susan who called last night?" Erik asked me when we reached our apartment again.

"You mean she called this morning," I said, "But no, you never did,"

"What happened?" Erik asked, landing on the sofa before Sammy jumped excitedly into his lap.

"Well…Erik get the dog off the couch!" With a laugh at being scolded Erik gently pushed Sammy off the sofa, "Well Greg didn't propose…he told Susan he had a kid,"

"Yeah, Donna, she's about three…really cute…he shows pictures of her all the time," Erik said.

"You knew! Why didn't you say anything about it?" I asked.

"I didn't think it would matter…does it?" Erik said mildly.

"It does to Susan…she doesn't know if she wants to get involved with all that,"

"But she wanted to marry him yesterday!" Erik said disbelievingly, "And now she wants to break up with him?" He sighed, "What a difference a kid makes,"

Indeed, I thought, "Erik…since we are on the topic of kids…"

"How did we get on the topic of kids?" Erik asked, shaking his head he spoke in a heavy voice, "Well my little conversationalist now that you have me where you want me, what do you want to talk to me about?"

"Erik, I know why you don't want us to have kids of our own, and I think it is a valid reason! I just…" I bit my lip, "There may be a way to determine if our child would look…" I didn't know how to put it.

"Would look like a monster," Erik said, his voice rising, "Olivia I thought I already told you that I didn't want to take any risk!"

"Just hear me out alright!" I shot back, "I found a doctor, a geneticist, who might be able to tell us why your face looked the way it did and if it would be hereditary or not…we can bring a picture of you before the operation and…"

"And I can hear it straight from the mouth of a medical professional," Erik cut in angrily, standing up from the sofa, "Mr. Duval…we have never seen this kind of hideous deformity before! You must be a whole new strand of freak! Not only should you not reproduce, you should be locked up in a lab somewhere for further study!" Erik was shouting by the end of this little rant.

"Are you finished Erik?" I asked in a low voice.

"Am I finished? Christ Olivia!" Erik yelled, pacing angrily back and forth. I was asking him to face his face once again, after he had finally thought it was behind him. He was also desperately afraid of hearing that he had some rare illness and that he only had a year to live. He knew his mind was beginning to run away from him and he tried to calm himself. He sat down and took my hands, "You really want this?" I nodded, "Alright…if it's what you really want," He sighed, just hoping that whatever the doctor said would not be too terrible.

"I could go alone," I offered, "If you don't want to hear what the doctor has to say I could just go and find out,"

"Do you want me there?" Erik asked in a low voice, all the while staring at our joined hands.

"Of course I do!"

"Then I'll be there,"

Erik felt like he was being brought to the executioner when I brought him to the medical offices of geneticist Thomas Gunn the following Wednesday.

We were brought into a nice, if a bit bland, office. As we walked in the man, Doctor Thomas Gunn, stood up from behind his large white desk and shook hands with both of us.

"Good to meet you Mr. Duval, Miss Moss," He said as he motioned for us to sit down in two gray chairs in front of his desk. "I understand you have some questions about becoming pregnant?"

Erik looked away and I knew it was on me to speak to the doctor, "Yes; it's hard to say but, well…" I took a picture I had of Erik before the accident and handed it to the doctor.

Doctor Gunn took it and put on his glasses, "Good God!" He muttered, and then he looked up at Erik, "Is this you?"

Erik gave a short nod in the affirmative. His jaw was set and his eyes were cold. I placed one of my hands over his which rested on the arm of the chair.

"You see we are afraid that if we did have a child, it would…" I explained.

"Oh yes I understand completely!" Doctor Gunn said, "May I scan this?"

I nodded and watched as he turned to the scanner beside his computer. A moment later he had the picture blown up on his monitor. Erik averted his eyes as his wretched deformity filled the computer screen.

"Well…we usually don't see things like this anymore," Doctor Gunn said, "May I ask you a few questions Mr. Duval?"

Erik nodded again but he still didn't look at the doctor or the computer screen.

"How well did you know your mother?"

"I hardly knew her, she got rid of me when I was young," Erik said, fighting to keep any emotion what so ever out of his voice.

"I see…and where were you borne?"

"France,"

"And was this only on your face? No where else on you body?"

"No. It was only my face,"

"I see…well, I have a few blood tests in mind that I would like to do, but it is my belief that this was probably caused by something your mother did while she was pregnant with you Mr. Duval,"

Erik's eyes shifted to the doctor as he continued.

"Am I right in assuming you are not in contact with your birthmother?" Erik nodded, "Well, and forgive me if this insults you, but I suspect that a combination of things; poor diet, alcohol, drug use…things you don't see so severely anymore because of improvements in knowledge of safe habits during pregnancy…all contributed to this birth defect,"

"Really?" Erik was stunned. He had always thought of his deformity as his fault and that he deserved to be punished and hated for being imperfect. He had never thought that it was his mother's fault.

"Well I can't know for sure just yet. If you are willing I could get a nurse to take some blood, I will know more when the tests come back…but my first opinion is this; if Miss Moss were to become pregnant and she abstained from all alcohol and cigarettes and such, and had a proper diet, the child would be absolutely fine,"

"Really?" Erik said, and in his stunned voice I detected excitement.

Doctor Gunn smiled, "Really. Now, if you want I can take you up to the next floor and have a blood sample taken right now and we would have the results back in about a week,"

Erik was too surprised to speak so I answered for both of us, "Yes, that would be perfect,"

Doctor Gunn took us upstairs and filled out some paperwork for us before he said goodbye and headed back to his office. A nurse came over to us and asked Erik to roll up his sleeve.

"Do you want to hold my hand honey?" I asked him as I saw him warily eyeing the nurse as she tied a rubber tube tightly around his upper arm.

"Don't be silly Olivia, I am fine," But then he saw the nurse pick up the needle and he grabbed my hand. I decided that this was not the time to call him on this though.

It only took a minute to take the blood and then we were done. It hadn't even taken twenty minutes.

"Five hundred bucks for that…that blood had better be getting the Pent House Room," I joked as we left the building.

Erik wasn't listening to me. His deformity had not been his fault. He had done nothing wrong; nothing to deserve it. And now he wasn't going to be plagued by it any more.

"Olivia! We can have a child!" His heart felt so light. All those years he had hated and blamed himself and now he knew it had nothing to do with him. He had never failed his mother, she had failed him.

I turned and smiled at him, "I know darling I know!" I was happy to. We stopped and embraced each other right there in the street.

"I guess I get to have you barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen after all," Erik said in my ear, and by his voice I could tell he was fighting tears.

"That is still not funny," I said, even though I kissed him right after I said it.

"Olivia," Erik said, his voice suddenly more serious, "You didn't want to start trying for kids…right away…did you?"

"No!" I said quickly, "I was thinking in a year or so maybe…"

Erik smiled and kissed my forehead, "Perfect darling, because we do have a wedding, and then a honeymoon to go through first,"

I slapped him playfully on the chest as that wicked look came into his eyes.