AN: Here it is the start of the hopefully long awaited sequel to Swelling With Love!
First of all I'd like to say that "Second Stretches" is by this point a what if, to a what if, to a what if, because as you'll soon see it involves another pregnancy of one Susan Storm/Richards also known as Ultra Woman. While I find pregnancy one of my fetishes I also realize that having to many kids limits what I can do with this particular reality, also scratch my head as best I can, I don't think I can really work pregnancy into the stories as well as I did in SWL when those particular adventures never would have turned out anything close to the same if Susan hadn't been pregnant.
Moral of the story is that I lay this story down for fun and what not and don't be surprised if I write stuff in the future where Susan and the six kids she had in SWL are older and she never had a second pregnancy if the mood strikes me. Also I don't think I can do as much sex stuff as in SWL. Manly because I tried to have each sex scene be tied into some facet of Reed and Susan still developing relationship, so now instead of sex filling in the edges around their superheroic adventures you're going to get to see them being parents to their kids. Some of you will approve of this change some of you won't but there it is I can only write what my muse wants me to.
Also, I have no intention of giving this story a proper "ending" the way I did with SWL (I expect to end this story during the eighth month of Susan's pregnancy at the moment), because SWL was about looking at a particular event in these character's lives, while this story will be more like a collection of "slices of life" with a pregnancy involved to properly string them all along together and make the characters a bit more introspective than they might normally be.
So yeah this might turn out not to be my best work, or who knows it might be better than the others, I don't know for sure until I hear what you guys have to say. In short, feedback has never been more important to me than it is now...
Chapter one: Repetition. In which Susan Richards can't help thinking she's been here and done this before and Reed Richards keeps finding the same answer no matter where he looks.
Just like she expected now that Susan Richards (also known occasionally as Ultra Woman when she was saving the world, though it was an open secret identity) felt a little bit better as she flushed the mix of last night's dinner and various gastric juices down the toilet. But then she expected to, when you threw up quite frequently it meant you got rid of whatever it was that didn't want to be inside you anymore.
Or at least she physically felt better, her mental state was another story entirely, and one she'd rather not think about at the moment. Instead she just turned on the sink's cold water tap, put a hand underneath the stream of water and stretched out her palm into a cylinder with an open top to capture the water. It was much more efficient way of holding onto liquids than two cupped hands, and once it was full she drank.
After pushing the liquid around in her mouth for a few moments she then spat it back out into the sink. She repeated the process three times, and as she did so she couldn't help but think just what her teammate and husband Reed Richards (Mr. Fantastic when he was actively "on the clock") would say about her actions. She wasn't anywhere near as smart as her husband, but being married to him had inevitably lead to her absorbing at least a fraction of his knowledge over their six years of matrimony.
The process of throwing up had left at least some digestive acids in her mouth which was what was causing that unpleasant taste Susan was currently experiencing. But water with a pH of seven (in theory at least) would neutralize the acid and thus remove the aftertaste of vomit from her lips. Several rinses later her mouth felling reasonably clean, she paused for a moment and crossed her fingers. Then she crossed them again, and again, and a fourth time just for extra luck.
Yes, it was a sort of frivolous use of her powers to let her bend her fingers around one another so many times, but when you'd also used your powers to save countless lives you were rather entitled to a few frivolous uses of them. She didn't actually say out loud what she was hoping for, since doing so might ensure she didn't get it, she just thought about it very deeply. It wasn't until she had finished doing that when she realized that since Reed in addition to being a genius was also mildly psychic, thinking extremely deeply might not be the best way to keep her wishes private, but the realization did her precious little good now.
Either way, she just slowly walked back to her bed, careful not to just stretch her body in even the slightest way, all to keenly aware of how Reed was extremely familiar with and likely to be awakened by such a sound. She lifted up the covers, slid back under them, pulled them back up to her chin grateful for the warmth they provided (she had only quickly grabbed her bra and panties to thrown on between the bedroom and the bathroom) and rested her head on the pillow. "Susan?"
She tried not to even think about cursing, though clearly her efforts to remain undetected had been in vain. "Yes Reed?" She waited about ten seconds before answering and tried to put a sleepy tone in her voice, as if it his question had just awoken her. "My mind might just be playing tricks on me, but did I here you vomiting a few moments ago?" Susan didn't even want to look into the brown eyed, black haired (it was a mix of what he had looked like before the accident that had granted him his powers and destroyed his body and the new body that he had taken from its previous occupier of Victor Von Doom (long, long, LONG story), but it was a mix Susan was now used to) face of her lover.
"Yeah, but it's nothing, probably just some bug I'll be over in a day or two." Susan slowly felt warm arms wrapping around her still somewhat chilly body. "Susan, you'll always be my Ultra Woman, even when you're feeling sick. Granted that's a very rare occasion ever since you got your powers. The last time I can remember you feeling sick enough to vomit was about six years ago..."
Part of her wanted to wriggle free of Reed's hug, but she suppressed that urge. She wasn't a little girl any more by anyone's imagination; she could face this like a grown woman. "We're going to have to go to your lab, aren't we?" Reed laid a gentle kiss on her face before answering. "Yes." "Well then give me a few moments to get fully dressed first." "Don't worry. I need to do the same thing."
The reproductive cycle of the woman born Susan Storm had been dramatically changed by the accident that had given her a body that could let her stretch, bend, and otherwise shape herself anyway she wanted. For the first six months after the accident she hadn't menstruated because each time an egg went down one of her fallopian tubes the walls of her womb wrapped themselves around it to hold on until it was needed. This had resulted in her becoming pregnant with sextuplets six months later and neither she nor her brilliant husband had ever guessed at the reason.
The two had made love a great many times during that pregnancy and continued to afterwards though they resumed using protection. Meanwhile Susan's body had gone right back to collecting eggs until it had enough for what it felt was the most efficient manner of reproduction possible ready when the time came.
It had thus come as quite a surprise to Susan when she stared menstruating again nine months after she'd gave birth to her six children (four girls two boys) but she'd learned how to roll with the punches (be they literal or metaphorical) quite well in the process of becoming a super heroine and just accepted it. She and Reed had both been careful when it came to making love, but they need not have bothered. Those eggs that were wrapped up in her womb were being held there not just until sperm was available to fertilize them, but until Susan once again felt like having kids.
About a month ago she'd walked past her children's bedrooms on her way to her own, and smiled at their sleeping forms, quite confident that she had this mothering thing down pat. Then since she'd had her period less only four days ago she and Reed hadn't bothered using protection since logically there was no way she could be fertile.
Unfortunately that logic didn't mesh with the fact that as Reed's sperm flowed into it her womb it unwound itself sending eight eggs drifting about the confines of her uterus like mines drifting aimlessly at sea. All of them were hit by careening seamen and all of them returned to the walls they'd spent so much time encased in. What would happen next was obvious, at least from a purely medical point of view.
Susan tapped her hands on the metal table humming to herself. "Doctor doctor, give me the news, I've got a bad case of loving you..." She smiled at just how foolish it was. Her six years of being a super heroine and mother had most profound effects on her and she knew it. Wallflower was the last word anyone would think of using to describe Susan now, she was a confident woman who was sure she could not only save the city or the world, but do it in time to get back and tuck her children into bed.
Ironically the changes that had come over her the last few years had been almost all mental in nature. A side effect of the cosmic rays that had given them their powers was that apparently their physical age seemed more or less stuck at exactly where they had been when they had first gained gotten bombarded by said rays.
She'd also rather dramatically changed her hair style during her first pregnancy, (she'd done it several times in fact (those the other ones had all been more for her own amusement rather than for public consumption), because since her hair was as elastic as her body she could change her hairstyle just by thinking about it hard enough) instead of the curls that framed her face she now where her blond hair long and down past her shoulders in a look that at the very least she felt did a good job advertising her femininity and free spirit.
Simply put, for a woman in her thirties who was a mother of six, Susan was both absurdly healthy and beautiful. Luckily the frozen aging process had also applied to Reed's new body as well, or else pretty soon Susan would have found herself in the ridiculous position of while being reasonably close to Reed's age, looking at first like she could have been his daughter, and then his granddaughter and then.... then she didn't like to think about what would have come next.
She didn't have to either, as Reed looked up from his results, a whole host of new things for her to worry about came to mind. The examinations had gone much quicker this time but then not only did he have faster toys to play with but he also knew just what to look for.
"Well you've done it again Susan, Mary might have been supposedly able to get pregnant to a child without having sex, but this makes twice you've proven at fertile at times when it shouldn't have been scientifically possible. Needless to say, your situation has also been much more accurately documented then anything that occurred just before the birth of Christ." Susan sighed as she moved from tapping her fingers on the metal bench to drumming them along her belly.
"So, how many this time?" The last time she'd gotten pregnant she'd been forced to watch her belly swell up with her six children to the point that if not for her powers she would have ended up completely bed ridden.
"Octuplets. In case you're wondering that's..." Susan sighed and hung her head in defeat before he could finish the sentence.
"Eight, I know. I guess I must have brushed up against some ancient fertility statue at some point in my life before I realized at least every other legend I've ever heard is true in some form or another." Reed helped her off the examination table and over into the bed they openly kept in his laboratory. Normally it was there so that Susan could at least be in the same room as him if he had some work so important that they couldn't spend the night together in a more enjoyable sense of the term, but it also made a fine place to lie down at the moment.
"Once again I could..." Susan laughed so hard she felt some very unladylike globs of saliva leaving her mouth before she regained control of herself.
"Screw it, screw it the exact same way you screwed me, and I intend to enjoy both experiences. Let's just let nature and whatever inventions your brilliant mind can conceive of take their course." Reed sighed mightily as he if had been afraid of this answer.
"Susan you do realize that..." Her memories of the conversation were still clear regardless of how long ago it had been.
"Yeah I know, there have only been about a handful at most of cases in which a woman managed to successfully deliver octuplets and have all of them survive." Reed nodded and Susan continued on without any hesitation.
"I know I'm taking a risk for myself and my children, but being a super heroine I figure I'm doing that every day I decide not to go out there and fight crime one way or another. I figure I'll be able to live with myself through this the same way I have through everything else, with the knowledge that I've got my faithful and loving husband and my elastic body on my side. Let's review the facts, a normal pregnancy is supposed to last nine months from conception to delivery.
Doing some math that is luckily well within my mental capacity, nine months times four weeks per month is thirty six weeks. But because the skin of a normal human body is only able to stretch so far, multiple child pregnancies frequently end with the woman going into labor prematurely. Mix that in with the fact that there are so many unborn mouths to feed and its understandable why when a normal woman tries to carry half a dozen, let alone eight to terms, there are often problems.
Luckily, I'm not a normal woman. I'm a super heroine, and my power is pretty useful for this situation. I know because it's the second time I've found myself in it. How many weeks was I along when I gave birth, Reed?" She smiled as she asked the question, and Reed smiled back at her as he answered. "Thirty six." Susan patted her belly as if to reward it for what a good job it had done.
"Yep. And they came out of me as neat as you could please happy and healthy. Reed, it goes against all normal logic related to this kind of thing but I gave birth to sextuplets who were all more or less smack dab in the middle of a perfectly healthy birth weight. Back then I never once worried about if I'd give birth properly to healthy kids and I think the record would agree with me that I was right not to worry.
So I figure what the hell, it sort of feels like somebody somewhere is laughing at me and there's no better way I can laugh right back at them than by successfully giving birth to eight new members of the Richards family. I'm feeling psyched. My body is feeling ready to stretch, so it all comes down to one question, how do you feel about it?" Reed lay down in the bed next to Susan.
"I'll be right with you just like I always have. That said, I think there are two important things we need to consider. The first is how do you think our children feel about us suddenly dumping so many new members on the family all of a sudden, or at least with only eight or so months worth of warning? The second which I'll admit might be a little less pressing is, would you mind terribly if I considered getting a vasectomy? Not to insult you, but given how unusual your fertility cycle is proving to be, I'd rather not find out a few more years down the line that you're pregnant with so many children that I need to invent a scientific name for it." Susan blushed in embarrassment, at times it was a bit too easy to get caught up in thinking that things were as simple as they had been back during her first pregnancy.
As a good mother she should have thought of that first point right off the bat, but then that was why humans didn't reproduce asexually, so that if all went according to plan children would have two parents to look after them and if one made a mistake the other could pick up the slack.
"Yeah I suppose we should go tell the kids about this. Umm..." Susan's blush deepened as she could swear her tongue was trying to tie itself into knots.
"How much do we tell them?" She hopped Reed understood the meaning of her words, super heroine, mother and wife, were all three distinct jobs each one requiring Susan bring a different set of skills and outlook on life to the table. Thankfully, as she'd be the first to say, (and Reed would be the second) flexibility had always been one of her strengths.
As a wife, one of the wonderful things about being married was that she could feel confident and secure about using her elastic (and seemingly tireless) body to have lots and lots of really enjoyable, really kinky sex with the man she loved. As a mother of six children who were the right age to be starting school fairly soon, she wanted her children to know that their parents loved each other very much, and have absolutely no clue that they physically showed affection for one another beyond hugs and kisses.
"Well given who their father was, I think even at this age they could probably reason out what it means if their mother's belly starts to grow bigger and bigger then suddenly shrinks back to normal in tandem with the arrival of their siblings. Also Susan, could you promise me one more thing? This time no more flashy super heroics, I'm not saying you can't stay an active member of the Fantastic Five, it is just that I think by now we all know our individual strengths and weakness pretty well, makes sure you play to yours. Don't let yourself get carried away trying to impress me, our children, the public, or anyone else.
I know you had to put up with three months worth of morning sickness, well some of the things you did made me feel like regurgitating my last meal even if for a completely different reason." Susan leaned over and kissed Reed on the cheek.
"Deal." Six years back, being a super heroine had been to a certain degree a way for her to prove her worth to herself and her others of her worth in the world. Now it was still important, but no different from any other job, you went out and did it. No more needing to show boat or feel like she had to throw the first (or at least second given that her brother almost always threw the first) punch. It wasn't a good use of her powers anyway. She was much better off using her elastic body to trip up her foes, bind their limbs, and otherwise create an opening for one of her teammates to take advantage of.
"That said a few things I'd like to ask of you Reed." Reed kissed her back on the lips.
"Ask away." Susan sighed since she was planning on asking for two things while Reed had only asked for one. Granted she was the one who was going to be pregnant with eight kids so all things considered she probably had a fair amount of extra leverage coming her way in the relationship.
"It'd be wonderful if you'd agree that 75 to 90 percent of the inventions you're going to be working on over the next few months are things like vitamin supplements that'll help me have a more hassle free pregnancy or give birth to healthier kids.
That and... I know even with everything on our plate we've hardly been bad parents, but we haven't really been doing a fantastic job at it either. I figure since we'll both want to take things a little easier than normal on the superhero front, that'll give us more free time, so why don't we try kicking some extremely proverbial ass in the parental area of our lives?" There was a strange look in Reed's eyes, but then for Reed it wasn't so much that a light bulb went off in his head as suddenly an entire chandelier was illuminated.
"You know, I do believe that gives me an idea for how to solve that other problem we were worried about. Seeing as its early August right now, that gives us a month to prepare, and you'll probably be pregnant through April, not to mention how close we'll have to look after our children for the first few months once they're born, why don't we just consider only taking care of super heroics when the team needs us and the rest of the time we home school our children?"
The issue of how to handle their children's education was a rather serious one for Susan and Reed. It was one thing to be a superhero with no secret identity, because while your foes might know who you were, you were also ready to defend yourself against them. But your children were another matter all together as Reed and Susan had both quickly realized.
Though technically each of their children had more power than either of their parents, the skill with which they wielded that power was another thing all together. Susan sure as hell didn't want to imagine one of her children (or even worse all of them) going toe to toe with some of the people who the Fantastic Four (and later Five once her brother's wife Crystal had joined) had faced.
One possible idea they had considered was having Reed use his connections with SHIELD (a government organization that handled human to superhuman interaction of one kind or another among other things) to get six separate new identities set up for their children who attended six separate schools.
Of course Reed would have also supplied them with ordinary looking clothing made out of unstable molecules so that if they needed to use their powers they could do it without leaving telltale signs of it behind, like stretching out of their clothing. They had all already been firmly instructed that if anything went wrong they were to find a small secluded place, squeeze themselves into it and not come out until they were sure it was safe.
Not to mention while around the Baxter Building stretching was at worst ignored and at best encouraged, if they were at school and supposed to be ordinary children unless something went incredibly wrong, it was firmly out of the question.
Despite all of the planning they'd done on the subject, Susan was still sure she would find herself so worried about the prospect of how her children were doing that she wouldn't be able to focus on the little things she had to deal with in her own life, like automatic gunfire being aimed in her general direction, which proved to be a rather depressingly uncommon occurrence.
Plus, the idea seemed to be putting an unfair burden on her children. While she could prance around the city in her unstable molecule uniform on twenty foot long legs any time she liked, her children would have to live double lives. Also any "come over to your house" or "meet your family" kind of social occurrence was rather firmly out of the question should they make friends at their respective schools. All in all, she was sure that someone would end up having a nervous breakdown before next June came around and no telling if it would be one of her children or Susan herself who snapped.
So while the idea of homeschooling had plenty of advantages (like allowing the kids to just be themselves), hearing Reed make the suggestion left Reed helpless as she laughed her head off. Before she could shut her out of control yap she blurted out the reason for the giggle fit in between yet two more guffaws.
"You really think that you could teach school children?" Reed looked at her inquisitively.
"I'd need some time to brush up on what material to cover, but what makes you so sure I couldn't rise to the task?" Susan made sure to kiss her husband before she responded as a none too subtle way of buttering him up.
"Reed, it's nothing personal, but teaching or otherwise imparting your knowledge onto other people has never been your strong suit. Ben is a graduate of the same college you went to and how many times in the last few years has he just stared at you blankly after you've said something? If your explanations tend to leave a college graduate like him or even just a high school graduate like me wondering if you started speaking a different language halfway through, and thus require an explanation of an explanation, what are the odds you'd be able to successfully teach six year olds?" Reed frowned for a few moments and then he smiled.
"Well you can help me make sure I approach the task with the proper mind set and level of sophistication. After all, by working together Mr. Fantastic and Ultra Woman have helped save the world several times and countless lives, I think we can find a way to educate our own children." Susan could imagine what a challenge it would be interpreting something her husband might say down to a level at which a one of their children would understand it, and it would not be an easy task. But she'd promised to love, honor, and obey him through the good and bad times, so that's just what she'd do.
"How about we just go and give it that particular plan a trial run right now? Between the two of us let's figure out exactly how we're going to explain pregnancy to our kids."
As usual Susan smiled as she walked into the room that her four daughters shared. The Baxter Building was of course more than large enough for them to all have their own rooms but they preferred to stick together, and so the room was home to a pair of bunk beds. Samantha, Rachel, Jane, and Valeria Richards where all apparently sound asleep as she entered the room.
Before they'd drifted off to dreamland though they'd evidently all stretched out their right arms which met together and twisted around one another to form a knot in the center of the room. Susan looked at that connection between the four of them and wasn't sure how to feel. As their mother she had been quick to notice that all of her children had inherited more from her than just her powers, varying degrees of her appearance and an "X" chromosome. They also apparently had their mother's desire to touch and be touched by the things that mattered to them, like each other.
Seeing them like this brought to mind the one real concern that Susan had about the children who she had given birth to during her first (her only up until this morning as far as she had known) pregnancy, and that was how they related to one another. Of course being the only kids growing up in the Baxter Building together it was understandable that they'd be closer then siblings usually were, but their bond went a bit beyond even that.
They really didn't like to be apart from one another, it hadn't been until they were four years old that Susan had been able to bring herself to make the girls sleep in different rooms the boys, and even then the two rooms were still right next to each other) and they'd only actively been sleeping in different beds for about a year or so.
Up until their parents had intervened, Susan's children had evidently not felt the slightest bit disturbed by the prospect of curling their own bodies around one another into one communal heap at night.
But what was apparently second nature to them, had somewhat pointedly reminded Susan of her own elastic exploits with Reed, and no matter how many times she told herself there wasn't anything sexual about it, just kids taking the old trick of huddling next to one another for warmth to a slightly higher level, her memories begged to differ rather fervently.
That was one of the big disadvantages to being both a loving mother and a practitioner of incredibly kinky sex while you were in the sack, you could do both, but once you'd gone and made something erotic there was no putting the proverbial cat back in its box. Or just like the song said "when correctly viewed, everything is lewd." If she wasn't careful and actively aware of what she was doing Susan knew she could end up seeing sexuality where it had never been intended.
Luckily, being a super heroine had also taught her quite a bit about how to draw the line between practical vigilance and outright paranoia. It also helped that Reed had managed to come up with an interpretation of her children's behavior that in retrospect made perfect sense. Since they were already starting to show some outward signs of his psychic powers (part of him expected they'd be able to bend plastic spoons with their minds in a year give or take) it was likely that they had also possessed them back in the womb the same way they'd always been elastic even before they knew they had superpowers or how to control them. Thus, due to the time spent together in such close quarters as their minds began to develop might have to the creation of a special unconscious telepathic connection between the six. One which left made seeing through one another's eyes just as easy (and sometimes just as unintended) as blinking was for most people. When they were together it probably barely registered, but when they were apart it lead them to having occasional flashes of Deja Vu or out of body experiences.
Since like anyone else would have they found such experiences unsettling, they tended to stick together so that they only saw things from a slightly different angle rather than what must feel like a full on break from reality as they knew it. Reed had also suggested that he might be able to properly break the connection in time, though since there just weren't that many psychics in the world, (especially ones who could experimented on) it was unknown how doing such a thing might affect their children.
So they had shaken hands and agreed that they'd cross that particular bridge when they came to it, until their children were eighteen and capable of properly making their own decisions their parents would bring up neither the theoretical mental link nor the possibility of dismantling it. When the time came, whether they wanted to maintain or get rid of the link with all the possible outcomes of either choice, it would be their own to make.
Not to mention there was still the possibility that they'd grow out of it before they turned eighteen, children went through phases, after all and when they had not just one but two distinct superpowers those phases were probably just that much more dramatic for it.
She calmly stretched out a hand and started flipping room's lights on and off rapidly, a process that had exactly the result she wanted and expected. A series of groans and squeals went up from her daughters as the strobe light effect shocked them awake. The conglomerations of limbs in the middle of the room broke apart quickly so that each of the girls could have both hands free to rub their own eyes. Jane as usual was the first one to speak up.
"Jeez mom what gives? You promised we could sleep in!" Susan would be the first to say that she had told her children to enjoy their summer while it lasted, since it would be their last before they started some form of education several hours a day.
"I know, but as it turns out today is special because your father and I have something very important to tell you during breakfast. So hop to it girls." Susan clapped her hands and sure enough it didn't take long before she had results. Samantha and Valeria who had two of the top bunks jumped out of bed without a care in the world.
This predictably lead to them splattering themselves all over the floor, not that they minded as they gleefully began to pull themselves back together. Providing their children with the clothes they wanted/needed had ended up costing Reed and Susan one of those many fortunes that Reed's various patents had generated for the team, but Susan had to admit it was money well spent.
Preparing for the horror of being cooped up in one "solid" body throughout several months of school, her children were really cutting loose in the preparation of the dreaded event they'd been told to expect. Of course she could well enough remember the wild exuberance with which she'd started testing the limits of her own elastic body as soon as she'd gotten over the shock of it all.
She'd been a very mature adult who's joy had been diluted by her sorrow over what had become of Reed at the time, and yet she had still embraced her new body (sometimes literally) like it was the biggest shiniest toy she had ever gotten. So it was no wonder her children still loved going wild with their power of elasticity. Which was why their clothing had also been designed to allow them to do just that, to start with for sleeping they had their unstable molecule pajamas, and for the day wear they had the outfits made of the same material that they now either simply pulled on, or actively used their powers to slither into.
Those outfits were more or less clearly a derivative of the standard Fantastic Five outfit, except with one major change. It was still blue and white, except that instead of just an ordinary blue five surrounded by a small circle of white, they're outfits displayed "1/5th" a numeral which her children understood the meaning of quite well since it had been explained to them several times just to be certain.
Working all together they might be a bit more than a match for any one other member of the Fantastic Five, but that didn't mean they should go trying to prove themselves unless they wanted to find themselves wearing outfits adorned with "1/7th" instead. It was an empty threat since the price of making new "uniforms" would be prohibitively expensive or at least not worth the small gain for such a large investment. But then part of being a parent was making hollow threats since as long as the ones who you made them to didn't realize you had no intentions of following up on them then they could still be quite effective. Once her daughters had finished getting dressed they all turned their eyes expectantly towards their mother who gave into their unasked question.
"Bounce you to the kitchen!" Susan jumped slightly curling her body into a sphere before she hit the ground and then took of careening through the hallways of the Baxter Building, with the quartet of slightly smaller spheres her daughters had turned into in hot pursuit. Susan still managed to beat them to the kitchen of course, and with more distance between them than with when they'd started. She uncurled herself and landed on her own two feet just in time to elongate her arms and surround her two sons Franklin and Benjamin (who Reed had brought to the room) who for their part consented to be hugged with the same (lack of) enthusiasm as any pair of growing boys.
Their reluctance brought to mind another important difference Susan hadn't been able to avoid noticing, that her children weren't staying children for as long as she'd thought they would. They tended to display greater emotional and intellectual maturity than she remembered herself being in possession of at their age. But then the later was probably be explained pretty well just by looking at their shared last name.
Granted, Reed Richards wasn't genetically their father, but Victor Von Doom hadn't exactly been lacking in the brains department either. As for their greater emotional maturity, Susan figured it was probably due to the fact that while most children growing up had to worry about things like not touching the stove while it was on or else they would burn themselves. Her own had to learn why not to touch at least a dozen different pieces of equipment in their father's lab or else they might end up opening a portal to another dimension.
Susan released the hug as the girls arrived and quickly got to work making breakfast for eight, but no sooner had she started than a question which demanded her attention came up. If her ability to tell children apart by their voices was as good as she thought it was, it was asked by Benjamin.
"So Dad, how come Mom has the cool power?" Susan spun around or at least twisted her upper torso about before Reed could even utter a single syllable.
"Firstly because the cosmic rays which gave us our powers didn't exactly stop halfway through the process to politely ask exactly what superpowers ability we'd like to develop. Secondly there is nothing pathetic about your father's intelligence." Of course now that the topic was out there for discussion Benjamin wasn't the only one with an opinion on the matter. Samantha rose up, stretching out her torso a bit allowing her to appear taller as she spoke.
"I'm not saying it doesn't have its uses, but being stretchy, that's way more useful not to mention fun from what I've seen." Susan gave her daughter the particularly withering stare of a mother, which practically shouted the unspoken question "and just how much exactly have you seen compared to me?" in the process.
"Do any of you six know why you always fail to keep up with me when we bounce to the kitchen?" Six heads were shaken back and forth and then Susan wrapped her midsection around her husband's body before answering.
"Because your father showed me how to do it so quickly. He figured out my mass and standard starting velocity then calculated exactly how I need to angle each and every single one of my bounces so as to hit the spots guaranteed to help get me here as fast as possible. You see kids, elasticity and intelligence go together every bit as well as the two of us do, because they give you the same core strength, the ability to approach a problem from many different directions and figure out from which one, and in what way you want to attack it." Rachel arched an eyebrow in surprise.
"You really figured all that out, Dad?" Susan looked appreciatively at her husband who shot a small smile back at her. Another useful thing that the two had picked up from their time spent as superheroes and applied to parenting was how to best to deal with situations in which you were outnumbered.
So in the kitchen just like in the field Reed and Susan watched each other's backs. Reed with all his armor's shields and what not was better able to shrug off energy based attacks and Susan's elastic frame made her able to laugh off most physical ones. In this particular case the net result was that their children saw Susan praising Reed, rather than defending someone who couldn't do it themselves.
"Well if you want to see me prove it, I should have time to give you all a rather brief overview of the some of your mother's tricks while she takes care of cooking breakfast." Fairly soon Susan was the only one left in the kitchen, a privacy she was grateful for. Trying to make a meal for herself, her husband and her all of her children while supervising said children could be a task and a half, even for super heroines.
That said, practice makes perfect and she had plenty of practice, allowing her to easily finish this particular chore with time to spare. So when he children finally returned to the room with Reed following behind them they found Susan Richards seated serenely before them. Jane smiled with glee as she got herself sorted out herself after managing to bounce over the back of her chair and land in it momentarily being slightly flattened from the her sudden stop.
"Tomorrow morning you're so going down mom!" Reed coughed slightly as he made himself at home in his own respective seat.
"Actually children its important you bear in mind that even with your elastic bodies, you still have to obey some of the laws of physics. Though the difference is reduced while you're all in spherical form, you still have less mass than your mother and therefore you'll end generating different amounts of momentum. The path I just showed you is perfect for her, but you'll need to figure out your own." That particular issue over and done with, everyone got down to eating. Of course even as she ate Susan couldn't take her mind off of those of her children who weren't currently residing within her body.
They'd end up being known as "The Storm Sextuplets" even though Susan had changed her last name by the time she'd given birth, probably because the press like superheroes (and super villains for that matter) felt quite firmly that alliteration always made monikers much more eye catching.
Since they had been conceived prior to her marriage, and a belly full of sextuplets wasn't exactly kind of kind you could hide, (especially not in a form fitting super heroine costume) they had ending up getting plenty of attention from the media even before they'd been born, and continued to do so after the fact. This was one of the reasons Susan had been in such a hurry to think up names for them, lest she be buried in an avalanche of suggestions from various well wishers.
The boys had been easy, Franklin after Susan's farther, and Benjamin after Benjamin Grimm who had been Reed's friend since high school and a faithful member of the Fantastic Five since it had originally been the Fantastic Four.
The girls had been trickier, but in the end she'd decided to just take the most blatant and obvious solution to the problem, and started throwing out modifications of the names of those important to her. This was how Samantha, Jane and Rachel Richards had gotten their appellations. She hadn't been sure about her fourth daughter, but luckily Reed (as was his habit) had provided a solution to that problem.
Apparently despite being otherwise one of the coldest, most methodical men to ever be born, Victor Von Doom had momentarily had his heart melted by a girl named Valeria and Reed suggested that this more than anything else was proof that the name was worthy of being passed on to one of their offspring. Susan had heard of worse names, and it filled the last opening.
Of course, she'd probably need to start thinking of what to call her eight kids... well if she could come up with one name for a boy and girl per month then she'd be set no matter how the chromosomes were split, and that wasn't such an impossible task was it?
Susan had no sooner thought about the subject of names for her children to be then her mind seized on the subject of how their given names had affected her children who already were. There were six adults currently living in the Baxter Building: herself, Reed, her brother Johnny, his wife Crystal, Benjamin Grimm, and his blind wife Alicia who he'd married not long after Johnny and Crystal had tied the knot. So was it nature or nurture that lead to each of the adults having their own daughter or son, who in turned seemed to resemble them?
Samantha was Susan's daughter through and through, blond hair worn long, and she had expressed since childhood the steel spine that Susan hadn't even realized she'd been in possession of until she'd faced down those bent on world domination or some other equally vile goal as Ultra Woman.
Black haired Rachel tended to take after her father to the point that her mother was surprised that she had 20/20 vision while Reed had needed glasses growing up. She was the quiet (unless she felt there was someone in need of being enlightened in regards to some of her already impressive store of knowledge) and studious type who just about everyone agreed was bound to follow in Reed's footsteps and become at least as well known for her intelligence as superpowers when she grew up.
Jane was an impetuous tomboy who loved to subject her elastic body to any bizarre dare that her uncle Johnny could come up with. She like to wear her blond hair short (luckily since Susan's children had every aspect of their mother's powers they could all figure out whatever hairstyle they wanted and as long as it passed muster with their parents they could stick with it for as long as they liked) and was the one who the fingers inevitable drifted towards whenever they heard dreaded question "which one of you is responsible for this" regardless of whose fault it really was.
Valeria had spent a lot of time hanging around with Crystal and subsequently had picked up some of the inhuman princess' regal demeanor. Ironically she had some streaks of black in her blond hair that tended to mirror the black birthmark in Crystal's orange hair which could have been just one of life's many tricks on the Richards family. She was currently "growing" her hair long, so she also had enough to make a reasonably sized pony tail which in addition to her dual colored hair helped her stand out from the others.
Benjamin, of course, had quickly taken after his namesake and godfather. He wasn't really a daredevil like Jane, but he rarely backed down and seemed to enjoy sparing more than any of the others. Other mothers probably would have been remarkably concerned at the prospect of their children learning how to fight (especially when one of their teachers had picked up most of his training from his time in the air force), but Susan encouraged it as long as they only did with each other under while well supervised. After all given their elastic bodies, it wasn't like they could actively hurt one another, and the more any of her children knew about how to use their powers the safer Susan felt letting them out of her sight.
Franklin also took after his namesake, like Susan's father he apparently had a considerable skill with his hands. Or at least that was what Alicia Grimm said, and considering that even though she was blind, her work in sculpture was very well regarded. She probably knew good work when she got her hands on it. She said that Franklin had "an artist's eye" even if he'd need years of practice to hone his skills, and Susan had just shrugged in response. Considering that the closest she came to sculpting was how she used her powers to rearrange her body she wasn't about to stand in the way of her son following up in whatever (law abiding of course) profession he enjoyed.
So there they were, her half a dozen children and no two alike. Reed was still a little surprised by that, apparently they were fraternal sextuplets, which meant not only had there been six fertilized eggs growing in her womb, but they had started out as six independent eggs released from her uterus, which was pretty darn unlikely in a woman who'd prior to gaining her powers had possessed a menstrual cycle you could set your clock (or at least calendar) to.
And now she had eight in there. Big freaking deal, she'd always wanted to have a large family with Reed. Of course originally a 'large' family had meant three or four children, not fourteen, but then superheroes were known for doing everything larger than normal and fourteen kids as a result of two pregnancies certainly fit that particular bill.
"So Mom, what was it you wanted to talk to us about that was so important it couldn't wait till noon?" Unsurprisingly Jane had finished eating first, and had immediately sought other means of keeping herself entertained. The words shook Susan out of her mental revelry and lead her to accidentally blurting out the fact of the matter without any sort of build up.
"I'm pregnant." Samantha put down her spoon swallowed, peered intently at her mother..
"Is that like being sick, is it contagious?" Susan couldn't stop herself from chuckling and put on her best beaming smile as she answered.
"Well, for me, it is like being sick, well maybe for a month or two, but you six don't have to worry about catching it in the least. Reed, do you want take over since you're good at defining things?" Reed nodded and broke into what was not very much like a textbook definition of pregnancy.
"Well sometimes when a man and woman love each other very much, it turns out that the love they have can't simply be kept between the two of them. So the woman ends up pregnant which is a nine month long process through which children come into the world."
There was a strange look in her children's eyes, but privately Susan couldn't help but think that she would have gladly kissed her husband then and there. Their six offspring been members of the Richards family long enough to recognize what it meant when Reed spoke in that tone of voice. It meant he was describing "Science" (you could hear the capital letter and possibly even an exclamation mark) and nobody, but nobody, argued with Dr. Dr. Dr. Dr. Richards (Chemistry and Psychics were the two of his PhDs that came most easily to Susan's mind) when he used that tone of voice. So between it being more believable than the stork, finding children in the cabbage patch, or half a dozen other such stories, it was clear from the looks on her children's faces that they were more than ready to take their father's words for it.
"Of course when the two love each other more than your average couple does they end up having more than one child, which is why your mother was pregnant with all of you at the same time." Susan stroked her belly as she jumped back into the conversation.
"And of course it goes without saying that the two of us have only come to love each other even more over the years, which is why this time around I'm pregnant with eight siblings for all of you." A moment later Benjamin's neck was stretched out his head only a couple of inches from Susan's belly staring intently at it.
"So you're saying we've got eight brothers and /or sisters in there? Wow, I mean I knew we were good at fitting into small places..." Reed promptly interrupted his son before he could go any further.
"I repeat pregnancy is a nine month long process. At the moment she's only one month along, and needless to say her condition will become more obvious as time passes. If you ever want to see more or less what's going to happen to her, you can just flip through that second photo album from back when we were the Fantastic Four." Rachel nodded slowly, very slowly.
"So that's what was going on in those wedding photos. I always assumed it was some weird Richards or Storm family tradition that you'd eventually get around to telling us about." Susan shook her head her smile not wavering in the slightest.
"Nope, and it certainly wasn't something I had a choice about at the time...." Of course that wasn't strictly true. She could always have used her powers to make herself look every bit as unpregnant as she had been on the day the Fantastic Four were founded, but it would have seemed like cheating, and besides, if you could laugh at the fact that they were getting married while visibly (make that more or less startlingly for a woman only four months along) pregnant, then you could count on everyone else who mattered laughing along with you. Valeria looked up from her bowl of cereal her eyes twitching slightly.
"So just for the record, how should we expect this to affect us?" Reed stood up walked over, and wrapped his arms around Susan's shoulders.
"Well ironically enough, the first trimester which will last for another two months is probably going to be the worst, your mother is going to be a little bit under the weather, so if you six could be on your best behavior both of us would greatly appreciate it. Then during the second trimester, months four through six, she'll be more or less herself as normal except that her midsection growing outwards to make room for the eight children who are taking up more and more space inside her.
For the third trimester, month seven till she gives birth, she'll be rather severely encumbered by her belly, but she managed to handle herself fairly well last time, and her control of her powers has only gotten better over the years. But once the children are actually born, well... it won't be that we will love you any less, it's just that they'll need our help and time more than you will." All at once, as if they'd been given some sort of signal the six children seated at the table burst into laughter, and Susan gave them all an eagle eyed stare crossing her arms in irritation.
"Some joke I'm missing?" Samantha stopped laughing, but still needed to give a slight wistful sigh before she could voice actual words.
"Sorry Mom. It's just that if having you two for parents has taught us all one thing it's that you're sorry life isn't fair, but there are other people out there who need you more than we do regardless of how much you love us. Yes we're generally getting that speech because you're superheroes and need to go stop some villain, but this entire having new kids thing seems to work more or less along the same lines. You'll still find time for us, even after the new kids are born right?"
"Glacatus himself couldn't stop us from finding time to do that." She said it half jokingly, half seriously. Many where the villains who regretted ever hearing Susan Richards utter the words along the lines of "I promised my kids I'd be home ten minutes from now, it's a nine minute walk for me, do the math..." since they also usually lead to her letting loose with a flurry of blows from whatever part of her elastic body she felt was appropriate and with equal frequency leading to her foes looking like they'd had several clips worth of rubber bullets emptied into various parts of their bodies. A wicked smile flashed on Jane's face.
"Well then, if we've only got mom to ourselves for the next few months it sounds like we should squeeze them for all they're worth." Reed of course knew what his daughter was thinking (without even needing to read her mind) and immediately prompted her.
"Not in the kitchen if you please. There's a reason the Baxter Building has so many rooms set up for training and sparring, it's to prevent needless property damage in the rooms that aren't." Jane hung her head and sighed.
"Awww, why is my favorite niece looking so down?" Susan's brother Jonathan "Johnny" Storm also known as the Mandroid for his ability to transform his body into a metallic form which allowed him to interface with other machines at a level even Reed found uncanny tussled Jane's hair as he walked into the kitchen. Jane gave her head a quick shake and her hair sprung back into its traditional appearance, a very carefully ordered sort of chaos.
"Same kind of thing as always Uncle Johnny. Today Dad is being all, don't go getting into fights with Mom at the breakfast table."
"Well it is good advice whether or not you choose to follow it." Johnny's wife, Crystal, followed her husband into the kitchen. She had bright orange hair with a pair of unique looking black birthmarks and bright green eyes. In any other superhero team she probably would have been something of an odd woman out for numerous reasons.
First off the other four members of the team had gained their powers by being bombarded with cosmic rays during an attempt to be the first civilians to put foot on the moon. Crystal on the other hand was an Inhuman. A member of a small group who had due to extraterrestrial intervention had become a branch all to itself on the homo sapien family tree a very long time ago. No matter how many branches a tree sprouted however they were always all fed by the same set of roots, a fact proven by how she and Johnny had hit it off more or less from the moment they'd met. It was a longer story than that, obviously, but suffice to say even though on paper Crystal should have stood out like a sore thumb (especially given that she joined the team about a year after it was founded) she still somehow managed to fit in just fine.
Personally, Susan found her a wonderful moderating influence on her brother's behavior, and since she had her own brood to look after, she didn't miss having that particular burden on her shoulders one bit.
Johnny and Crystal both headed towards the refrigerator, Johnny selecting a few bits of leftovers, and handed them on a plate to his wife. Crystal's blue gloved hands (as an official member of the Fantastic Five she wore a blue unstable molecule uniform just like the others) glowed for a moment as she channeled her elemental control of fire for a fairly mundane purpose, about ten seconds the glow vanished and she handed the plate back to Johnny at which point he gave her a quick peck on the cheek.
"Thanks a ton, Crys." Johnny joined them at the table pulling up a chair next to Jane, though he made sure there was enough room at the table for Crystal to sit on the other side of him.
"So was it you wanted to pick a fight with your mother before even leaving the breakfast table?" Jane shrugged as she leaned back in her chair, earning a glower from said mother.
"Four legs on the floor young lady." Jane just smirked lengthening her own actual legs, so that the back legs of the chair and her own where on the floor.
"Like I was about to say, Mom told us we're going to be getting some more siblings soon so I thought it'd be a good idea to have all the fun we can with her before they arrive."
"WHUMP!!" Johnny leaned back even further and much more suddenly than Jane had, and thus his chair ended up falling over. He sat on the floor for a moment, only his head visible to his sister at the other end of the table.
"You're pregnant, again?" Susan shifted her glare from her disobedient daughter to her brother.
"Johnny, I'm married to a man who even the better part of half a decade after our marriage I'm still head over heels in love with. There are plenty of married woman who end up getting pregnant a lot more frequently than twice in seven years." Johnny slowly readjusted his chair and resumed his seat.
"Yeah, well all those other women aren't my sister, and more to the point they didn't have six kids the first time around. So, brother in law, how many is it this time?"
WHUMP!! Over the chair went again and Jane wasn't the only one of Susan's children who chuckled at it this time around, just the one who did the loudest. For his part Johnny's eyebrows seemed to be pinned to the top of his forehead.
"Eight? Come on that's not even funny!"
"Whether or not it's funny it's true." Crystal placed her own plate on the table a wide smile on her face.
"What I'm sure my husband is trying to say is that he stands in awe of how great a mother you are. I can't wait to hear what Medusa has to say on the matter when she visits today." Susan's eyes stretched out of their sockets.
"Medusa is visiting today?" Valeria hid her mouth behind a gloved hand in a fairly ineffective attempt to keep Susan from realizing it was no longer her uncle's antics which fuelled her mirth.
"Mom, you forgot? Aunt Crystal only told you about it three times over the last week. Why do you think we got out bed so fast?" Susan sighed and shook her head in irritation. Yes, she was pregnant, but that didn't mean the world rotated around her all of a sudden.
"Right, right, now I remember, she and Blackbolt are coming over because she's been feeling weird recently and wanted Reed to give her a checkup." Medusa was Crystal's sister, and Queen of the Inhumans. Reed made a small motion with his left hand, and Susan recognized it. It was the one he made when he wanted to check what time it was on his armor's internal chronometer, or as most people called it, clock.
"She said she'd be arriving about an hour from now, I was planning to spend this morning getting the necessary equipment ready but then this came up. Luckily I should still have enough time left if I hurry." Susan nodded towards her husband letting him know it was okay to leave.
"Well then, you best get to work, though I'd be only too glad to pitch in since I'm the reason you're running late in the first place. Johnny, Crystal, I trust you two can look after the kids for a while?" The other pair of adult adults in the room nodded firmly, while Reed offered Susan a bit of unneeded assistance when it came to leaving her seat.
"Of course Susan, I'd be glad to have your help. Okay, you six, if you are on your best behavior while we're busy I'll see to that Aunt Medusa pays you a visit." Without further ado Reed and Susan departed, though Johnny made sure that they were well out of earshot before he spoke.
"So kids, who wants to practice bungie jumping down the elevator shafts?" A dark eyebrow went up and a pair of very deep blue eyes looking deeply into his own was the first response this question garnered.
"Are you sure we'll be able to get away with it?" Johnny as always was never far away from either a smile wide open friendly or a slightly egotistical smirk.
"Please Rachel, this isn't going to be like the time we all went hang gliding together around the city with you providing the glider and Crys providing the right wind conditions. Not only will it be fun, but this time around no witnesses." Benjamin took up the cause and also began to glare skeptically at his uncle.
"You know you weren't the one who got spanked when mom found out about that." Johnny didn't seem concerned in the slightest waving off his nephew's remarks.
"Hey you kids don't even know what corporal punishment means. Trust me I've had enough experience with my elastic sister to know how resilient the seven of you are to any sort of physical trauma. Besides if you couldn't figure it out on your own, when we do this instead of being out there for the entire city to see we'll be indoors, and while Reed does have security cameras in the elevator he only looks at them when we're under attack. Remember, your parents are the ones who always going on about how important it is for you to be practicing your powers. What better way than this to measure just how far you can stretch and how much weight you can comfortably support."
"Did the entire 'training with your powers' excuse ever work for you, Uncle Johnny?"
"Well I haven't been turned into a food processor yet, so that's got to count for something."
There were several soft raps on the door to Reed's lab. He glanced toward a particular lever in an offhand sort of a way, and it shifted downwards. It was such a simple thing that an uninformed observer never would have guessed that Reed was making use of the psychic abilities that Mr. Fantastic had honed to a monowire like edge.
Slowly the door to his lab slid open and two of the Fantastic Five's greatest friends walked in. In fact they were more than friends. All things considered Medusa and her husband Blackbolt, the respective Queen and King of the Inhumans, were by nature of Crystal's marriage to Johnny, brother and sister in law to Reed and Susan. Of course despite getting along quite well the four didn't meet very frequently since the Fantastic Five were usually busy being superheroes and raising Susan's children most of the time, while Medusa and Blackbolt were in turn busy ruling their people.
The two together were quite a sight which given that they were a monarch and his queen was par for the course. Blackbolt wore a complicated outfit with white lines running across it that managed to do a fair job of representing lightning.
Medusa managed to possess an even more eye catching appearance, she dressed in a royal purple outfit, and had bright green eyes, but mainly the reason you couldn't avoid noticing her was her hair.
Susan liked her own head of blond hairs that fell down the back of her head to about the level of her breasts in a complicated series of curls, but she was willing to bet there were woman who would have killed to have hair like Medusa's. It fell down to her knees and was a bright red color that Susan would have been sure wasn't natural if the two women hadn't once spent the better part of a month living together.
Not just did she have a lot of beautiful hair, but there was something almost hypnotic about, pieces of it kept twisting this way and that. What made it all the more impress was that this happened to be the least impressive thing that Medusa could achieve using her prehensile hair.
The relationship between the Inhumans and the Fantastic Five was a complicated one, the two groups had fought with one another in the sense of up against, and fought with one another in the sense of side by side, though after an initially rocky first impression they tended to do much more of the later than the former.
Susan stretched her arms so that she could exchange handshakes with the two, though she ended up getting a 'hairshake' from Medusa who was prone to delegating any most trivial formalities to her hairs rather than actually using her hands.
Medusa kicked the conversation off, which was a good thing because Blackbolt had the equivalent of an hydrogen bomb built into his throat, if he whispered he could knock down walls, if he shouted he could level entire mountains, if not mountain ranges.
"You know Reed, you might have been going just a bit too far when you adapted negative barrier technology to your laboratory's walls so that Lockjaw can't teleport directly inside it."
Lockjaw was an Inhuman who after being exposed to the Terrigan Mist the substance that was all source of all the Inhuman's powers had transformed into a giant doglike creature. He had the ability to create portals between just about any two places you could imagine, which was how Medusa and Blackbolt could go from the Great Refuge of the Inhumans to the Baxter Building in about five seconds even though they were on entirely different hemispheres.
"I say the same thing to you that I say so frequently to Susan, it's nothing personal. I just want to make sure that this lab is 100% secure or barring that as the only realistic way to achieve it would be to place it inside the earth's molten core, at least 99.9 repeating towards but not actually reaching infinity percent secure. A fact that's driven home rather pointedly every single time that despite all the double, triple, and quadruple plating I've done, Susan still manages to squeeze her way in. Granted now it takes her about a minute to do it, so if she harbored any villainous intentions that would give the security system plenty of time to activate itself. So now that the pleasantries are out of the way, what seems to be the problem?" Medusa drew in a sharp breath, and from the inner folds of her hair, one strand of it immerged holding some kind of fancy handkerchief that she sneezed into.
"Well I've been a having this sneezing fits fairly recently, so I think I'm pregnant." Susan who had by this point returned her arms to their normal length twisted her neck in a corkscrew to show just how confused she was.
"Umm, Medusa, speaking as a woman who knows a thing or two about pregnancy, I'm pretty sure having sneezing fits means you have a cold, not kids on the way." Medusa for her part suddenly seemed every bit as surprised as Susan.
"Crystal never told you?" Susan returned her neck to its traditional length.
"Told me what?"
"Among Inhumans during her first three months a pregnant woman is prone to sneezes and..." Medusa stooped halfway through the sentence as her voice suddenly uttered a fairly well known onomatopoeia. After inhaling an exhaling three times she finally got around to finishing it.
"Hiccups. Anyway, even though Inhuman technology is miles ahead of yours in some areas, in this one your husband is ahead of us, so I was wondering if you could check and find out for sure if I am pregnant."
Susan Richards was not a woman who had a strong jealous streak in her, but that said, it would have taken a better woman than her to not have glowered in irritation at the Queen of the Inhumans right then and there.
"Medusa, just for the record, you're aware of what 'morning sickness' entails for humans, right?" The ruby haired woman nodded.
"I know Susan, our version of it is what you get when your genetic structure is designed by hands a bit more discriminating than mother nature's. But look on the bright side, I'm about to go through a wringer that you've already come out the other side of." Susan's glower deepened.
"If morning sickness for you means that you need to practice holding your breath, drink lots of water, and keep plenty of Kleenex on hand, then I somehow doubt that it's the exact same wringer I went through. Oh and by the way, apparently I enjoyed said wringer so much the first time around that my body has decided to put me through it again." A storm of Medusa's hairs seized Susan and lifted her up into the air.
"You're pregnant again?!" Susan carefully flowed between the many strands of Medusa's hair and landed on the floor.
"Yep, and it's with eight kids this time. Feel free to heap congratulations and consolations upon me as needed." Medusa did just that.
"So do you have any idea how you pulled it off this time?" Susan sighed.
"If you're asking me if I used some fertility enhancing drugs, nope, this was all natural. That said, I did once use my powers to reduce the scale of my body to the point where I could dance skyclad through the black brush chanting a hymn in praise of my husband's virility directly to the expression of said husband's virility."
An outcropping from Blackbolt's hood that looked sort of like a metal "Y" began to glow with yellow energy as he made a few hand signals. There were a very small number of Inhumans (at least compared to the total number of humans) and so they'd never ended up developing an official sign language, but because it was hard for a sovereign to rule without being able to communicate Blackbolt and Medusa had worked out a complicated series of motions that only his Queen and a few other Inhumans seemed to fully understand. But it worked for them though and so Susan wasn't about to complain. Once he was finished "talking" Medusa translated for her husband.
"Blackbolt says that he wishes you both his greatest blessings, and that its only appropriate that husband and wife who love each other as truly as you two do should be rewarded with many fine children to carry on your family's name." Susan nodded slowly to Blackbolt.
"Yeah, feels like too much of a good thing at the moment but I'm sure I'll be able to love the little darlings once I finish spending the next few months asking them why they couldn't wait their turn to be born one a time. We just found out today that I'm about a month along, and speaking of finding out, Medusa if you think you're pregnant how come you didn't just tell Crystal that when you were setting up this meeting?" Medusa struck one of those regally offended poses that she did so very well.
"Where I come from Susan telling your sister that you're pregnant should always be done face to face. Besides, I wouldn't want to get her hopes up pointlessly on the off chance I'm wrong."
Reed had allowed the two wives to make "girl talk" while he ran through a mental checklist of what equipment he'd need to make use of. "Well then Medusa, if you'll just follow me, pretty soon we should know everything there is to know on the subject of what is going on in your womb."
"WHAM!" Alicia Grimm's (who was born Alicia Masters) blue eyes went wide with surprise, even though she'd gone blind fairly early in her life.
"Ben, are we under attack?" Benjamin (though he preferred Ben) Grimm also known as the Dragonfly, quickly wrapped her arms around her comfortably.
"Not a chance Alicia. If we were under attack then right now there would be enough lights, buzzers, sirens, and what not going off to make you think it was the fourth of July. I've got some idea of what we're under but I'll have to check before I know for sure..."
Ben was the only member of the Fantastic Five who wasn't a member of the Storm/Richards family, and he'd been the last member of the team to get married. Even more importantly, while Johnny and Reed had married women who were capable super heroines in their own right, (even if Crystal hadn't tried her hand at it before she started working with the team) Alicia didn't even have all of the normal abilities that most humans possessed, let alone extra ones.
Getting Alicia used to the Baxter Building had been one of the greatest trials the two had gone through, since after managing to memorize the layout of her previous two story home she'd needed to go back to using a cane for a while after moving in until she felt confident working her way around the skyscraper that was the Fantastic Five's headquarters.
Despite her blindness Alicia was had a great memory and was extremely skilled with her hands to the point that she'd been able to make a living for herself as a sculptor, and Reed had been kind enough to set up a studio for her inside the Baxter Building even if it wasn't on the same floor as their shared bedroom.
Ben proceeded to flap the wings which had earned him his superhero name and fly up to the top of the elevator, removed a few panels and took a look at the slightly abashed metal face of Jonathan Storm whose body had landed on top of elevator and left a rather noticeable dent in it.
"Um, hi Ben, Alicia, I really didn't expect you guys to be using the elevator at this time of day." As he spoke Johnny rather frantically tugged on the blue chord that was wrapped around his waist. Said blue chord proved to be remarkably uncooperative however.
"Uncle Johnny, you should know by now I'm not strong enough to lift you upwards on my own...." A moment later the thing began to shift about, proceeding to dump Johnny into the elevator while it took on the appearance of Jane Richards who descended through the device's roof much more gracefully. Ben just sighed heavily looked at the pair of blond haired (or at least as much as Johnny could be considered a blond while in Mandroid form) trouble makers.
"One of you is going to be in a lot of trouble with your mother and one of you is going to be in a lot of trouble with your sister very shortly, I hope I don't need to clarify which is which."
Reed checked the lab results one last time before he finally spoke up.
"Well Medusa, you're right, you are clearly pregnant. In fact it looks like twins. They're about two months along, which means if you want to know the sex again before they're born you'll have to come back here a few months down the road." Medusa and Blackbolt exchanged looks and then Medusa's hands reflexively went to her belly.
"Looks like we'll have the traditional 'heir and a spare' taken care of all in one go then." Susan stretching out her left hand to let it rest on Medusa's middle while her right went to her own.
"Yep. It also looks like we're gonna be able to watch each other's figures go all extra, extra, extra curvy together. Heck maybe I'll get to find out just how well you fight when you're pregnant!" Medusa promptly declined that particular offer.
"Not a chance, I picked up my powers pretty early in my life while you've only had yours for a few years and you already managed to best me once. You've probably only gotten better in comparison to me as you acquired more and more experience to go with your natural skill, and I didn't have the handicap of being pregnant last time either." Susan blushed as she snapped her arm back to its natural length.
"You're much too kind Medusa, but I suppose flattery will have to win you something. If you want I can take some time to show you all the various different inventions we humans have come up with to try and make pregnancy a less painful experience. You'd be surprised how many useful things can come out of having a society that seems completely devoted to avoiding any sort of pain or strenuous activity." Before Susan could go any further Ben's voice suddenly chimed in over the room's communication system.
"Reed, Susy, I need to see you two by the elevators." The two who had been called glanced at the speaker and then at their guests, caught between two different sets of priorities.
"Well seeing as you've gotten the information you originally came here for... I trust you can see yourselves out and have Lockjaw transport you back home?" Both Blackbolt and Medusa just smiled and nodded, this time neither of them bothered to actually speak.
Susan listened to the less than convincing protestation of innocence and the general passing of the buck for close to a half a minute before she finally responded to them vocally.
"Okay that's it, I've heard enough. Johnny, I'll admit that this is considerably smarter than your last surprise plan for testing out my children's powers since at least this time you kept them on the Baxter Building's premises. However, you should have asked our permission first, checked to make sure no one was going to be using the elevators, and most importantly should have come up with a way to do it that would let all six get involved at once rather than leaving five of them constantly waiting for another turn.
So here's what we're going to do instead, first we send the elevator's to the top floor so that we don't cause any more property damage to them. Then Jane is going to wrap her arms around you, have Crystal make sure my daughter's legs as securely tied to something that can support your weight. At which point I'm going to push you down the shaft you're currently standing in front of.
Then because I don't trust any of my children's to be able to actually stop the descent of several hundred pounds of metal, Valeria is going to stretch herself out as a trampoline for you to land on twenty stories above the ground. At which point, because my powers have taught me plenty about how Newton's Third Law works, Franklin is going to stretch himself out and cover the shaft twentyone stories above the ground when he sees you go past, so that you slam of him on your way back up instead of possibly getting catapulted into the underside of the elevator.
So then you'll bounce back and forth between those two for a while until Jane feels that he's killed off enough momentum and lets you go. At which point Valeria you roll yourself up and let Benjamin catch him ten stories above the ground. Sound like fun?" There were a great many different answers that could be given to a question like that, especially when asked in Susan's particular tone of voice, but Johnny knew exactly what to say when his sister had found about him doing something stupid (especially involving her kids) halfway through.
"Whatever you say, sis." Of course one of the children who hadn't been mentioned did care to weigh in on the issue.
"So what exactly are Rachel and I supposed to do?" Susan stretched out a hand and stroke Samantha's hair.
"Well here's a reason why the Baxter Building has two elevator shafts. While Uncle Johnny is busy using one of them, I'm going to secure my legs around something nice and stable, my arms around your father and he'll jump down the other one. At which point I expect you to catch us twenty stories above the ground and you to catch us on the way back up Rachel. I'll, of course, be perfectly capable of making sure that once we've killed off most of our momentum he makes it to the ground okay by myself. Think you're up to it?" Both her blond and black haired daughter who that question could have been addressed to remained silent.
"Great then why don't the five of you scamper off to the necessary positions while I help your father into his armor, he'll give you a telepathic 'call' you when we're ready to go."
Several hours later that night Susan and Reed had after tucking their children into bed retired to their own place of rest.
"So now that we're finally alone, it might be a good time to go over what I meant this morning when I use the phrase 'flashy super heroics' just to make sure we're both on the same page." Susan blushed slightly as she removed the top half of her uniform, her face coloring from thoughts of her past rather than the actions of the moment.
"Let me guess, elevator bungie jumping doesn't strike you as a reasonable family activity for a pregnant woman?" Reed just looked at her saying nothing and Susan sighed as she sat down on their bed.
"Yeah I know. Sorry if I railroaded you into it, but the idea just suddenly occurred to me and I felt it was too appropriate not to use. The kids had fun, nobody got hurt, and hopefully thanks to the smile he saw on my face when I pushed him into that elevator shaft Johnny learned a lesson. Reed gently removed and placed the upper half of his uniform on a nightstand alongside their bed before responding.
"That more or less sums it up pretty well." Susan looked up at the ceiling for a moment then rolled over onto her side smiling all the while. "I know that being one month along I should probably be feeling tired and what not, but for some reason right I just feel like I could start bouncing off the walls of this place and never stop." Reed playfully ran a hand through Susan's hair.
"Well, I've always said that you were one of a kind even before you got your powers." Susan nodded wistfully, despite her exuberant words there seemed to be a great burden pressing down on her.
"Yeah there's that. It could also be because if I'm perfectly honest, not to demean all the other stuff I've done as both a super heroine and a mother in the past, I still feel like being pregnant was quite possibly the best nine months of my life. I mean to start with the two of us were more or less firing on all cylinders for the first time: we got married, I really got my confidence as a super heroine. Corny as it sounds, it was the first time in my life when I really felt like an Ultra Woman." Reed gently kissed his wife on the lips.
"I'll agree, but I don't see your pregnancy as the best time of my life. I see it as the period over which we built up a certain amount of 'momentum' for lack of a better way to describe it, and we've been coasting on and adding to it when necessary ever since." Susan nodded in agreement.
"Yeah I see your point." She paused for a moment and smiled.
"As juvenile as it sounds, we really do rock at this super heroing thing. I mean think about all the stuff we've accomplished. We've been in the business for seven years and to start with, none of us have died. I know it might sound like I'm setting the bar a little low, but don't you think it might have been just a bit on the nose when Jean Grey decided to change her name from Marvel Girl to Phoenix? I mean she's been 'dead' what, twice now? Yes she came back both times, but all things considered I'll be perfectly happy to eventually have a tombstone with only one date of death on it, not that I want one any time soon. I'm not jinxing myself, am I?" Reed shook his head answering her smile with one of his own.
"I'm pretty sure luck and superstition barely enter into it, Susan. We've all managed to gain a considerable amount of experience using our powers, working as a team, not to mention it's gotten to the point where I'm pretty sure that there's nothing which could take me truly by surprise any more. I could be wrong, of course, but I won't know till I am."
Susan's smile grew even larger as she thought back to all the things they'd accomplished. The Fantastic Five were easily New York's most loved and respected superhero team, not just because they could always be counted on to save the day; but because they'd forgone the secret identities which were usually standard operating procedure for superheroes, and regardless of the countless other tasks he generally had on his plate Reed still managed to find time to develop and file patents for a considerable number of inventions which the common man was quite appreciative of. Susan reached out and took Reed's hands and opened mouth using an elongated tongue to lick a few strands of his black hair.
"Hey Reed, can you guess what part of being pregnant with eight kids I'm most worried about?" Reed shook his head and Susan gently guided his hands to her breasts which were still covered by her unstable molecule bra.
"These." Reed leaned forward and planted a tender kiss on his wife's neck.
"Why are you worried about your breasts?"
"Well, as you pointed out way back then, because of my powers even a six child pregnancy didn't do much to my figure. But it did make my breasts bigger, even after I stopped lactating regularly. So this pregnancy is bound to give them even more a boost, and by the time the process is over I think I'll look sort of ridiculous. After all, there's a fine line between being a knockout, and having "FF" describe not just what team I belong to but also my cup size.
I know you won't mind, and since I don't actually have a spine don't need to worry about back problems down the line... but still.... I know I once said that by conventional wisdom there are certain parts of the male and female anatomy that can't possibly be too large, but imagine walking around all day with a member so long that you can tuck it into your sock. Yes I'd enjoy because I'm elastic but to your conventional woman it'd probably be something of a turn off." Reed began to slowly and gently remove Susan's bra.
"Well Susan modern plastic surgery can be used to reduce a woman's breast size, not just increasing it.. Though I suggest we more or less bide our time on that particular subject and see how you feel about our bosom after you've actually given birth and our children have finished nursing." Susan moan softly as Reed began to gently massage said bosom while continuing the conversation.
"Besides, there are a great many other possible solutions for that particular problem. I could probably play around in my lab for a couple hours and create an unstable molecule sports bra that would you make them look smaller and be more manageable while you wear it. Or you could just use your powers to make them look smaller when you're in the public eye." For the second time that day something Reed had said left Susan laughing so hard that tears streamed from her eyes, though this time she didn't bother trying to hide how humorous she found his suggestion.
"Sorry Reed, it was the irony that got to me. I mean usually the transition from mild mannered housewife to super heroine involves the woman trying to make her breasts look bigger instead of smaller. I could be wrong, but how many other women do you know, who feel a pressing need to reduce the size of the bosom when they go out to fight crime?" Reed proceeded to lick one of her nipples eliciting a very deep cooo from Susan's throat.
"Well that could be because you've 'stacked' the deck in your favor to say the least. How many other super heroines do you know who have children?" Certainly Susan didn't know of any who had more (or even as many) as children as she had, not even counting the ones she was going to be having a year from now.
"Not many, but then it probably helps that between how brilliant you are and how much money the team has because of how brilliant you are, we've got access to the best child care in the world. Though still, it's gonna be damn near impossible to be a mother to fourteen kids and a super heroine." In response to this particular statement Reed simply leaned forward and kissed her once on the cheek.
"That's also a task we won't have to worry about for another few months giving us both ample time to plan for it. As things stand, let's just try not to let our worries about the future get in the way of enjoying today." Susan kissed her husband back, on the lips, with plenty of tongue.
"You saying that is yet more unneeded proof that you're way smarter than me."