Title: The Silver Rings

Pairing(s): Interpret as you will.

Rating: T

Warning(s): Feminine... details. And language.

Note(s): Enjoy.

Chapter 5: The Miracle

"Not flesh of my flesh, Nor bone of my bone,
But still miraculously my own.
Never forget for a single minute,
You didn't grow under my heart - but in it."

- Fleur Conkling Heylinger

As the days dragged on into weeks, the number of officers surrounding the drugstore slowly began to disappear one by one until the area was deserted once again. Detective Ono would regularly drop by with the excuse of wanting to more closely examine the crime scene for details that might have slipped by; the key word being excuse. It seemed that the more often he visited, the less time he actually spent hunting for clues and the more time he spent asking Martha questions.

"Nothing's changed since last time, detective," Martha grumbled, finally fed up. "I didn't see anythin' that night and I haven't seen anythin' since then. Dammit Jack, eat your damn cereal." The boy, who was sitting up on the countertop, grinned at the sound of his name; a couple of small, pearly white teeth had grown in. However, Jack was much less interested in eating the cup of dry cereal given to him than he was throwing the individual kernels at Lyman. He squealed with sadistic glee each time he was lucky enough to hit the doctor in the head. The detective eyed the child warily for a long moment before returning his attention to Martha.

"Sorry to bother you then, Miss Saito." Martha rolled her eyes; he certainly didn't sound sorry. "Just thought you might have remembered something."

"Yeah, well, it's like I said; I didn't see anythin' so there's nothin' to remember," she retorted. The officer ignored her.

"Have a nice day," he said before stepping outside. It was only after he had gotten into his police cruiser and driven off that she spoke up again.

"I swear, if this government wasn't so corrupt, I'd sue his ass for harrassment," Martha said with a huff. Lyman winced as a cereal kernel hit his eye; for a kid who was only seven or eight months old (they hadn't been able to figure out the exact number yet, but Lyman had estimated he was within that range), he sure had good aim.

"He knows you're lying," he began frankly. "They're trained to tell the difference. He's doesn't have any leads and he's looking for answers and he knows you've got them." Martha didn't reply, heaving Jack off the counter. She pursed her lips; he was getting a lot heavier and a lot harder to hold. Jack whined, upset that he had been pulled away from his ever-so-amusing game. Lyman sighed.

"You're being just plain stubborn, Martha," he said with an edge of frustration in his voice. "It shouldn't matter whether or not you like the detective assigned to the case; some poor woman was murdered and you're letting her killer get away with it. That just isn't fair and you know it too." Martha sat down, setting Jack down on her lap. She looked at him fondly, curling his light, whispy blonde hair with her fingers. She was starting to get concerned- Jack was an extremely picky eater and he barely ever touched anything she gave to him.

"I have my reasons," she mumbled half-heartedly. Lyman raised his brow.

"You know, Martha," he began casually, leaning up against the counter. His gray eyes were suspicious and watchful. "You said that you would take Jack down to the station once all the chaos surrounding the murder died down. It's been nearly a month since then and now I'm beginning to wonder..." Martha froze. Her gaze hardened.

"Lyman," she warned. He smirked, and there was a hint of smugness in his expression.

"I knew it; you're attached." Martha shook her head.

"Don't say such stupid things," she growled. He ignored her, pressing forward.

"I'm actually pleasantly surprised. After your mother passed away, I never thought I'd see you love someone again." He paused before adding. "She'd be proud."

Martha was silent for a long moment; Lyman never brought up her mother. He knew it was a sensitive subject and that it dug up some rather painful memories for her. Martha closed her eyes and lowered her head, thinking.

"I love you," she said slowly, though the phrase was empty and meaningless. Lyman's eyes dimmed and he smiled sadly.

"Let's not fool ourselves," he replied plainly. He then stood up and went to the back room, leaving Martha and Jack by themeselves. Martha heaved a heavy sigh; she knew the day would come she'd have to break his heart. She knew it wasn't fair; he had been nothing but a good friend to her. But that's all she ever saw him as: a good friend.

She held Jack closer to her. Things would be so much easier if she just fell in love with him, too.

Standing up and shifting Jack over to her left hip, she followed Lyman into the back room. He didn't look up when she entered, continuing to unpack the boxes of over-the-counter medicines that he had asked to be shipped to his store (over six months ago, no less).

"Lyman," she began quietly and seriously. "I've been thinkin'. Maybe it's about time Jack and I moved out of your place; we ain't nothin' but a couple of moneysucking leeches anyway. I read an article in the newspaper sayin' that the economy is picking up again; I could find a job, start supporting ourselves-"

"-Stop right there," Lyman began, holding up his hand. "My house has always been open to you and it always will be; the money has never been an issue. Besides, what will you do? Go back to living in your car until you save up enough to afford an apartment?" Martha furrowed her brow, irked, but Lyman plowed on. "I'm sorry, but you can't live a homeless lifestyle anymore; you've got a baby and you and I both know you're never going to turn him in to Security, no matter how many times you say you will." Martha's hands began shaking with anger.

"Fine then. I'll take him down to the station, right now," she shot back.

"You know you don't want to do that, Martha. For once, just get over your pride and put Jack first." His voice was calm, but this was perhaps the angriest she had ever heard him in her entire life, and it caught her off guard. She stood rooted to the spot for a long moment, unable to find her words. She swallowed.

"Alright. But I'm still gonna get a job. I'm sick of being a liability," she said stiffly. The edges around Lyman's eyes softened.

"You never were," he said quietly. Before Martha had a chance to reply, the pair heard the bells attached to the front door ring as it swung open.

"Hello, anyone in here?" said a familiar voice from the other room. For a split-second, Martha forgot how to breathe.

"Masato?" she asked, practically running back into the store. He looked just as surprised to see her as she was him.

"Well, I'll be damned. Martha, it's been awhile. How've you been?" he asked as a grin formed under his bushy moustache.

"I've been gettin' along. What are you doing here?"

"The pharmacy down by where I live went out of business- and Zora's been feeling awfully sick lately with her pregnancy. So I drove down here to see if I could get anythin' that might help here. I didn't know you worked here though. Small world, huh?"

"Oh, I don't work here," Martha said, waving her free hand dismissively. "I'm just friends with the shop owner, Lyman Schmitt, and I stake out here often." As she said this, Lyman rose from the back room, looking a little confused by all the excitement caused by this customer.

"So, you must be Schmitt-san," Masato said, reaching out and shaking his hand. "Name's Masato. Pleasure meeting you."

"The same applies for me." He looked cautious. "How do you and Martha know each other?"

"Ah, she didn't tell you? She stayed the night at my place after her ol' Volkswagon broke down in the middle of the road. That was the day you picked up Jack, wasn't it?" Martha nodded sheepishly, noticing the look Lyman was giving her; she hadn't told him because she knew it would upset him to think she was more willing to spend the night at some stranger's house than at his. But he couldn't blame her- the damn truck broke down before she could reach his house.

"I see," Lyman began, straightening up. "So, what can I do for you?"

"Well, it's like I said; my wife's in her last month of pregnancy and she's been real queasy. I've felt bad 'cause I've been so busy that I haven't really been able to take good care of her. But I'm hoping there's some kind of medicine that might help her out a bit." Lyman paused and looked pensive, running through possible options in his head.

"It's tricky because she's pregnant," he explained thoughtfully. "You generally don't want pregnant woman popping pills if it can be avoided, because it can affect the baby. My advice would be to buy her some gingerale or, if that's too strong, make her some mint tea. That'll help ease the pain in her stomach. Make sure she drinks plenty of water too; she may actually be dehydrated, and that could be what's causing the nausea." Masato eyes widened, surprised.

"Well, thank you sir. I've never gotten advice like that before from a drugstore owner." He broke into another smile. "I think I might be coming here more often." Martha grinned.

"Lyman's the best uncertified doctor you'll ever meet," she said with a laugh.

"I can see that." His eyes wandered over to Jack, who was looking rather restless in Martha's arms. "So, you kept Jack? Zora'll be glad to hear that." Martha's smile eased.

"Yeah..." she began tentatively, readjusting her grip on him. "He's a handful though. An expensive handful at that." There was a mischevious glint in Masato's eye.

"Well, maybe I can help you out there," he said. Martha's head perked up.

"What do you mean?"

"I've been wondering whether I should hire someone to look after Zora while I'm working. Problem is, a whole lotta' folks around these parts of the city are kinda shady. Wouldn't trust 'em one bit. But you, well, I'd let you babysit my unborn son, no questions asked. Why, you could just drive on up to our home and keep Zora company; Jack can come too. You can help her with whatever she needs and then you can drive back down at the end of the day. I know it's only a month-long gig, but I'll pay you alright." Both Martha and Lyman looked taken aback by this offer.

"Masato, I hope you ain't offering this just to be nice," Martha said, sounding a little skeptical.

"I promise I ain't," Masato replied, raising his right hand. "You can start tomorrow. You remember where we live, right?"

"Sure do."

"Great! Then I'll see you in the morning at around, oh, say 9 a.m.?" Martha nodded and Masato grinned. They exchanged a few quick goodbye's and just as Masato was about to step out of the store, he faced Martha again and said, "By the way... And don't take this to offense, but if he's being a handful, maybe you oughta try breastfeeding him." Martha looked confused.

"What good will that do? It's not like he'll get anything out of it."

"Couple of years ago, after we'd just gotten married, Zora and I got a puppy. Cutest thing ever. It missed it's mom like no other, though. It used to suckle on pillows and the like; comforted him, I suppose."

"I still don't see what you're getting at," Martha said, turning her head slightly and cocking her brow at him. Masato shrugged.

"Maybe Jack's missing his mom, too."

It wasn't until evening when she was in the comfort of her bedroom that Martha tried following Masato's advice. She sat Jack up on the bed as she awkwardly lifted her shirt up and unclasped her bra. She briefly wondered if this could be considered child abuse- sticking a baby that didn't belong to you up to your breast and hoping it would suck on it. She shook away the thought; she couldn't let herself think that way. She was doing this with the hope it would stop making Jack so fussy all the time.

He immediately knew what to do when she brought him close to her. He bit down on the nipple, hard. Martha flinched in pain, forgetting he now had teeth. As the pain subsided, she tried to adjust to the strange sensation of a child suckling at her. It tickled a little bit, and sent shivers up her spine. She supposed Masato was right; this was comforting to him.

She suddemly became aware of a warm liquid leaking down her breast. At first, she thought he was just drooling. Disgusted, she pulled him up a bit to wipe off his chin, but was shocked to see that it was not his own spit that he was drooling. Her eyes widened.

Holy mother of God-

"Lyman!" she yelped, jumping up, though she was careful not to disturb Jack, who had turned his head to her breast once again. "Lyman, come here quick!" The door to the bedroom opened and there was Lyman, worried that something bad had happened to one of them.

"Yes, what is-" His face flushed scarlett when he saw that she was uncovered and he turned his head away politely. "Martha..."

"Lyman, look, I have milk!" she practically screamed, ignoring his obvious embarrassment.

"What?" Forgetting all about the fact that she was halfway shirtless, he scrambled to get a closer look. "Well, I'll be damned. You do."

"But how is this possible?"

"I honestly don't know; there must be a medical explanation though..." he said, scratching his head. "I'll have to do some research." All a sudden, both became painfully aware of her naked breast. Their faces heated up and they jerked away from each other; Lyman faced the door and Martha turned her back to him, silently continuing feeding Jack.

"I'll... I'll just leave you two to yourselves then," Lyman said with an awkward cough. Martha sighed when he stepped outside, trying to push their last encounter out of her mind; it was a good thing she was heading driving up to take care of Zora in the morning. Hanging around with Lyman all day tomorrow would have been just plain uncomfortable.

As Jack finished up, Martha pulled her shirt back down and cuddled him close to her.

Lyman was right. No matter how many times she said she would, there was no way she'd ever give him up now.

Comment(s): Reviews and analyses are greatly appreciated. :)

Yes, it is possible for a woman to produce milk, even if she was not pregnant. It's very rare, but it happens nonetheless. Certain hormones can begin being produced when a woman is caring for a child and when that child sucks at her, it stimulates the breast, thus bringing forth milk. Aah, the wonders of mother nature.