Author's note - Hi everyone! I know I should be concetrating on my long-fics right now, but I had to write up this idea when it came to me. It's basically a set of six oneshots, each focusing on one of Mineral Town's canon pairings (including Jack x Goddess, though it's not really canon) having to deal with the female character's pregnancy. Each one's kind of a snapshot and when put together they'll tell the story. For example, this first one is Rickaren, with Karen discovering she's pregnant and the last will be Jack x Goddess where the baby arrives.
I hope that all makes sense, though I have a feeling it really doesn't! Ah well. Once more oneshots are posted it should be clearer (hopefully). Enjoy!
A Tiny Beginning
Snow was falling lightly, aided by the icy wind, onto Mineral Town's frozen streets. So far it had only amounted to a dusting, but it was slowly getting heavier and everyone was getting excited. Well, almost everyone.
As she exited the Clinic alone, Karen was anything but. Her thoughts took her a million miles away from snowmen, sledging and ice-skating. Anything that could be considered fun really.
Suddenly she shivered and, thrusting her hands in her coat pockets, set off walking. Her destination she was currently unsure of, but decided it didn't matter as long as it kept her warm and gave her time to think. And there was so much to think about.
It was all so sudden, too sudden. She could scarcely believe that after going into the Clinic for simple hangover relief, she'd emerged pregnant. Her! Pregnant! Unable to contain herself any longer, Karen let out a snort of bitter, almost hysterical, laughter. Her long, light brown hair was blown into her face suddenly as the wind picked up and she brushed it aside, feeling irritated. Irritated with everything really, but to be more specific, herself.
Why, she thought desperately, as she marched on, why did this have to happen? In fact, in the Clinic she'd completely refused to believe them and was on the verge of causing a 'scene' when Elli worriedly suggested calling Rick. That snapped her out of it alright. Somehow - and Goddess she still wasn't sure how she managed it - she pulled herself together and sauntered out looking almost like her usual, optimistic self. After all, telling Rick so soon was not an option.
She stopped dead at the entrance of Rose Square, finding herself blissfully distracted by the scene. The snow was falling thicker and faster now, in wide swirling circles. Watching it reminded of her of being a child during the bitter Mineral Town winters. She could remember every moment of those years, down to the tiniest detail. Trying in vain to catch snowflakes, sledging down Mother's Hill on flimsy planks of wood, building snowmen, making snow-angels...and always, always being in the company of her best friend, Rick.
In spite of everything, a smile crept onto her face and it was then that the image of her child doing these things in the future entered her head. Entered her head uninvitedly, she might add, but it still sent a strange burst of warmth and seemingly happiness spreading through her.
Karen blinked, bringing herself back to the present where she was currently stood feeling both cold and wet. At least externally. It was odd, but she couldn't seem to shift the warm, queasy feeling that had settled in her stomach. It didn't sound pleasant, but, strangely, it was. She felt excited, almost. Really, truly excited. Scared too, oh yes, more than she'd ever been, but in a good way. Weird didn't begin to describe it.
By the time she'd reached Poultry Farm, her home, Karen's attitude had changed somewhat. She was still shivering through both nerves and the worsening cold, but now she felt a steely determination overpowering every other little worry. She felt like Karen again, though it was getting increasingly difficult to stay so strong.
The worries, while probably only small and niggling, were hard to suppress. They made her wonder. Wonder if Rick would be happy about the pregnancy, wonder if they'd manage...
Karen simply decided it was up to him. If he didn't like it then that was fine, she didn't care. Nope. Not at all.
It was then that she spotted him - her Rick. He was crossing the yard, a lone figure in amongst a blanket of snow. Apparently the wintery storm hadn't deterred him from going about his chores as normal and, honestly, Karen doubted anything would. A gale could be blowing out there and the chickens would still come first. Or second, of course. After her.
Once again, an inappropriately timed grin appeared on her face and with it came a burst of sudden, unexplicable laughter. Rick must have heard because at that particular moment he glanced up, blinking owlishly from beneath his glasses.
"Karen!" He came rushing over, his dark blond hair flying all over the place. "Are you okay? Did they give you some medicine then? Actually, you look kind of pale - "
Karen was very used to her husband's concern and usually loved it. Today was different though. Today she ignored it, knowing full well that it would be harder to leave, should he want no involvement. "I'm fine," she assured him, taking a deep breath. "Least I will be once I've got this out. And whatever your reaction, I - I don't care, right? No arguments. No changing your mind. No nothing. I'll manage, okay?"
Rick just gaped at her, his blue eyes wider than ever. "Karen, I don't - "
"I'm pregnant, Rick."
There was a horrible silence. The snow continued to fall between them.
Rick opened his mouth once, twice, three times, but still made no sound. He simply shrugged weakly.
Karen did too, but in an offhand way. She began to answer in what she hoped was an equally unconcerned sounding voice, when she was cut off by this almost animal like whoop. Rick spun away from her, throwing his arms into the air delightedly and yelling indistinctly. His joy radiated out, seeping infectiously into Karen and causing a childish giggle to escape her. Whether intentional or not, Rick mirrored her and for moment it was like they were kids again. Young, innocent, carefree...and yet, at the same time, what with Karen's revelation the idea was shattered forever. But while they both knew it, neither of the pair seemed to mind.
Calmer now, Rick returned to his wife and, throwing his arms around her neck, enveloped her in a tight, lasting hug. "You're okay with it?" Karen whispered after a moment.
"I'm thrilled, ecstatic, overjoyed...however you want to put it," he replied softly. "You're the wonder! I never thought you'd be the maternal type, I thought you'd run miles from this - "
"I guess I surprised myself," she laughed back, hoping her nerves wouldn't show. Just as Rick went to pull away though, she clung to him tight.
"What is it?" he soothed. "You scared?"
"Yep," Karen told him, her voice barely audible this time. "Terrified. Aren't you?"
"Uh-huh." It was Rick who was holding tight now. But just then he pushed her away so he could look her right in her big, green eyes. "We'll be fine though, Karen. It's good scared. Excited scared."
She repeated his words like a mantra, until they both burst out laughing. "So, you're definitely fine?" Karen repeated, as Rick sighed. He sounded highly exasperated with her, but luckily not irritated.
"Of course I am! How many times do I have to tell you?" he laughed, before his eyes grew shiny and wide with anticipation.
"What is it?" she asked.
Rick was practically buzzing with excitement by that point. "I've just thought," he breathed. "We've got to tell Mom, and I've got to write to Popuri and - "
Karen rolled her eyes while her husband babbled on; he sounded just like a proud parent already. And as they wandered back to the house a little while later, his arm draped proctectively over her shoulders, she smiled.
She had hope again.
A/N - Well, there you have it. I have a feeling this chapter was a bit too short, so sorry about that. The next one, which will be Kaipuri, should hopefully be longer, though they'll all probably be a similar length in the end.
Thanks for reading!