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Clean Shave

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They hadn't wanted to know the gender of the child, so the nursery was all set up in yellows and greens, baby clothes washed and put away. They had diapers and creams and lotions all set up underneath the changing table, and a photo of the last sonogram was already framed and hanging on the wall. Gifts were already put away, and the savings accounts were already set up under false identities. Ariadne and Arthur were both the sort to focus on details, so all of the minutiae were done and prepared for long before they were actually needed. That gave her plenty of time to continue doing research and sketches for dream levels on jobs that Arthur still took, though she worried about their extractor doing justice to her dreams.

"I'm eight months pregnant, and I can't even see my feet. I know it's utterly ridiculous, especially given that I can't see anything below my stomach, but I just hate the idea of my legs being hairy and my pubic hair looking like an out of control bush."

"So you want me to help you deal with it? Are you trying to impress your OB at your next appointment?"

Ariadne levelled a glare at Arthur. "You're not funny."

Arthur grinned in the face of her glare. "I think that was very funny, actually. You know your doctor won't care at all, and it doesn't even matter."

"It matters to me!" she cried, voice warbling as if she was near tears with frustration. Her emotions were all over the place, and she hated being told it was due to hormones.

He wrapped his arms around her and gave her a hug. She sagged against him tiredly. "I know it matters, I was just teasing. You're also tired and cranky, and you've been on your feet all day trying to help me with research. The design suggestions can wait, if need be. Do you want to take care of this now? Or later, when you're a little more rested?"

"Might as well get this done now." She patted her stomach, though their child seemed to be sleeping at the moment. "I know it's ridiculous, but it feels like one more thing that has to be done so that it's perfect for our peanut."

Arthur drew back far enough to drop his hand on top of hers on her belly. "I think she'll be fine, even if there's a little stubble."

"He'll be fine, yes. But I feel like everything has to be perfect."

"Wax or shaving?" Arthur asked, stroking her back gently.

She gave him a grateful smile. "We have all the shaving stuff already, so if we can do that?"

"Run a bath," he told her, kissing her forehead.

"I'm like a beached whale," Ariadne complained, wrinkling her nose. "Getting in and out of the tub is such a hassle..."

"Then you'll be a freshly shaven beached whale in a little while."

Once in the tub, Ariadne was clearly soothed by the warm water. Arthur had the shaving cream and razor on the edge of the tub and knelt on a folded towel. He wet her legs, then started to smooth the shaving cream on to her far leg, working from her ankle to her knee. Each stroke of the cream was a caress, a soothing touch to further calm Ariadne's nerves. Arthur smiled at her, and started shaving against the grain of the hairs.

"If you think about it," he said as he smoothed the shaving cream onto her thigh, "the mark is color blind. It won't make a difference if the arches in the buildings have the correct colors for the time period. I know you like the details to be just right, but Markham won't care enough about that, just that the maze can keep projections out." Arthur lifted her leg and began working on the back of her thigh. She sniffled a little and blinked back tears as he did so. "Doing okay?"

"Me? Yeah. It's just..." She gave him a plaintive look and bit her lip nervously. "Are we being selfish about this?" she asked quietly.

"The shaving? Absolutely. I'm not a fan of being poked by stubble, either," he said with a flippant smile. That got Ariadne smiling faintly, and he finished shaving her thigh.

"Will the dream turn out okay?" she asked soberly as he smoothed the cream over her other leg.

Arthur leaned in to kiss her, ignoring the fact that there was shaving cream being smeared over his shirt. "I think it'll be great. We've worked with Markham enough that he knows what you intend in your sketches. And I can correct him if he makes a mistake."

She pulled him in for another kiss. "Thank you."

"Let me finish this job and then you can really thank me."

Ariadne leaned back and let him finish, feeling better already.

The End