The first step was telling everyone.
Well, technically that was the first step. Right after she could manage to climb off the examining table, which would only happen if she could convince the room to stop spinning and for her bones to be made of, well, bone and not Jell-O. That didn’t seem to be happening anytime soon, so she just sat on the edge of that cold metal table staring down at her fresh boxers. Daniella had brought her her favorites; the black ones with the skull and crossbones and “ENTER AT YOUR OWN RISK” printed in white over the crotch.
“Klar,” Belle came and stood next to her, putting a ghostly hand over her own. “You’re gonna have to tell them.”
“I know, I know. I just-“ Klara sucked in a slow breath. “I need a minute.”
Belle pursed her lips, but nodded. Aside from the chill of the table Klara couldn’t feel much of anything at the moment. The room felt fuzzy. Reality had lost definition. Her brain was a mishmash of emotions- shock turning to fear turning to hope and turning back again- which all just resulted in a numb fog filling her from head to toe.
Suddenly there was a soft knock at the door and crispness came back to the world. The room was real. This was real.
Klara quietly told whoever-it-was to come in an Daniella stepped inside, closing the door behind her. “Five and Luisa have been arguing for the past hour and I’m pretty sure if either of them don’t get some answers soon there’s gonna be blood.”
She raised an eyebrow. “And you want me to stop this… why? ”
“Look, under normal circumstances I’d be all for watching Lu get punched in the face by a twelve-year-old-”
“Thirteen,” Klara corrected.
“-But an hour ago you were bleeding all over your bed and in so much pain you couldn’t stand up, s-s-so-” Daniella paused and glared at the floor. She was clenching and unclenching her hands in the gesture that Klara had long-since learn meant she was scared. Her heart sunk a little deeper as Daniella took a deep breath through the nose and finally continued, “So I think you owe us an explanation, eh?”
She didn’t need to see Belle’s expression to know that there was no way out of this one. Staring back down she wiggled her toes, willing sensation back, before looking up at her sister. “Could you get everyone in the living room for a family meeting?”
It felt like the air had been sucked out of the room, or like she had taken it all by just stating the simple truth aloud. She was carrying the baby of the woman who had been her moon and stars in the jungles of Vietnam. It had been in her for almost two months and she had almost miscarried, but Pogo and Mom managed to save it. She wanted to laugh and scream and cry and punch something really hard and throw confetti around the room like a maniac.
Klara was pregnant.
Daniella opened and closed her mouth a few times before closing her eyes for a moment, then opening them and nodding. “I’ll get everyone in the living room.”
Starting talking was more terrifying than anything else. Standing in the middle of that overly-ornate room in boxers and a giant t-shirt before a menagerie of expressions she knew far too well. Luisa’s dismissal. Arthur’s humoring. Five’s suspicion. Ivan’s vacantness. The mill of ghosts circling the room (there were far too many of them around nowadays) made a low howling noise in the back of her mind and she bit her lip, nails digging into her palms as she tried to get them to stop.
“Klara,” Luisa finally said after a minute of her standing and lip-biting. “Sometime today, please.”
They’re not going to listen. They’ve never listened. Why should they start now?
But then Belle’s hand closed over her shoulder, finally solid, and Daniella gave her a nod and a small smile. She took a deep breath.
As it turned out, once she started talking, she couldn’t stop.
Because the circumstances were so (extraordinary-unique-crazy-fuckin’ weird), there was a little more to explain than just the baby. “I’m pregnant” turned into “I timed traveled to the Vietnam War” turned to “I got kidnapped and tortured by those furries who attacked the house last month,” which continued on and on to pretty much every other (extraordinary-unique-crazy-fuckin’ weird) thing that had happened that since their so-called Dad's funeral. It felt good to finally tell someone all of this shit, even as she watched everyone’s faces go paler and paler as the story progressed.
She was just around the part where she met God when one of them spoke up. Naturally, it was Luisa.
“Wait a second,” she shifted in her seat on the couch and raised a hand. “Are you saying you died? ”
“No, Lulu, I had a spiritual awakening in the middle of a rave while you were having a dude shove his face in your monkey tits. Blues Brothers style. Big blue spotlight and everything.”
Luisa narrowed her eyes and shook her head. “No, no, that’s impossible. I was there. You were fine.” She had this too-bright, panicked look in her eyes. The last time Klara had seen her look like this was when Belle died. Dad, Pogo, and Mom worked on her in the infirmary and Luisa had sunk onto the floor outside the door, face in her hands and blood on her uniform. She wouldn’t wash it for days.
“Yeah, you were there, but you were also so high you could have gone back to the moon without a rocketship.” Klara sighed. “Look, some guys looked like they wanted to give you trouble, so I went to stop them. They threw me on the floor and cracked my skull open, but I guess I wasn’t God’s ‘cup of tea’ so she sent me back here. Though not before letting dear old daddykins tell me what a disappointment I was and that he Harry Carried himself so we could stop the apocalypse he technically caused. You’re welcome, by the way, but Pogo told you all that so I guess it was all for nothing. Old man gave a fan-tastic haircut, though.”
There was a beat before Daniella whipped her head at Luisa, ponytail swinging and red eyed. “She died and you didn’t even NOTICE?!?”
Before the issue could be pressed further Luisa abruptly stood and ran from the room. Daniella stood and started after her, but Arthur grabbed her by the arm without looking. “Let her go,” he croaked. “She’ll hear it when she’s ready.” Somewhere deep in the house a door slammed. Klara closed her eyes.
“You conceived a child with someone from 1968,” Five said slowly. “While still in 1968.”
Her eyes opened. Five still looked suspicious as ever, but not in a mean way. Just in the Five way. “Um, yeah. That’s the gist of it.”
“But the fetus still exists in the present, which means…” Five was on her feet now and beginning to pace. “Time travel is the projection of one’s self into continually existing temporal selves that exist throughout time, but no other selves but the one you accidentally created in Vietnam have been pregnant. A fetus is a human, but how can it have enough personship to have already theoretically existed? I’m not saying that this is impossible, because it’s clearly possible, but the exact question of how it is possi-“
“Is the baby okay?”
Five stopped mid rant. Ivan hadn’t spoken a word until now, but that was the million dollar question, wasn’t it?
Klara felt her arms fold over her stomach. It didn’t feel any bigger than before. She tried to do the math in her head: she’d been sober for about a month now, so that meant she’d been using for half the time she’d been pregnant. She knew she wasn't technically healthy, but she was in better shape than she'd been a month ago. That had to count for something, right? Mentally, well, she saw ghosts , for one, but she probably also had depression and anxiety and probably now PTSD- in general she was pretty fucking stressed. Not too long ago she was legally dead for about three and a half minutes.
She had literally just almost miscarried.
But the baby was alive. Miraculously, indisputably, perfectly alive.
But in what state?
“I don’t know.” It came out quieter, weaker than she wanted it to. She tucked her chin down and hugged herself tighter. “I really don’t know.”
Then there was a warm pressure all around her as Ivan rose from the couch and hugged her. Klara felt her body stiffen as he held her close, face buried into her shoulder.
“It’s gonna be okay,” Ivan mumbled. “We promise.”
Klara blinked and looked up. Five had already ported off to run the numbers, but Daniella and Arthur looked at her with the same warm eyes, and Belle’s presence flickered kindly like a candle in her peripherals. She felt tears begin to prick at her eyes and she sunk into Ivan, inhaling the old book and oatmeal shampoo smell he carried like it was a lifeline.
Everything’s going to be okay.
(For a moment, Klara could have sworn she smelled napalm and crushed leaves mixed in with everything else.)
(But then it was gone.)