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It happened on a relatively unassuming day, when the Captain, Burnham, and Tilly were investigating some otherwise boring ancient alien ruins on some M class planet that Discovery stumbled upon. After days of endless space, they were no closer to finding out anything more about the Red Angel or the seven signals and this M planet, as boring and as unassuming as it was, provided the perfect distraction from their ongoing mission. As soon as they had scanned the previously uninhabited planet, the Captain had jumped at the chance to lead an away team down to the surface to explore and investigate. Anything to take both his and his crews mind off of the mayhem that seemed to never end.

The planet itself was nothing special. It kind of reminded him of the ancient Mesoamerican civilizations that he had read about in his history textbooks with its overgrown temples and ruins, which were undeniably ancient yet advanced. The tech that this ancient society had left behind was unlike anything they had ever seen before.

Both Burnham and Tilly had busied themselves with their scans as they tried to ascertain just how advanced this society had once been while Pike decided to take a moment to take it all in. Being cooped up on a ship for weeks made him appreciate the view around him as he leaned against one of the sturdy, ancient pillars, his gaze traveling over the inside of the ziggurat-like structure. He could see Tilly leaning over to inspect some sort of piece of alien tech that had been left behind. Although it wasn't really the tech that he was looking at.

He had never seen Tilly wear her hair down as she had it then. Usually, she wore it back in a tight bun, but today it had been left loose after her last hair tie had snapped. Long and unbelievably curly hair tumbled down her back and for some odd reason, he couldn't seem to take his eyes off her.

"Captain? Could you give me a hand?" asked Tilly, her voice enough to snap him out of his reverie as she swiveled around to look at him expectantly. "I want to run some more tests on whatever this is, but I need help lifting it."

"Sure thing, Ensign," he replied as he pushed himself off the pillar and came to stand next to her, his gaze traveling down to the alien tech. It looked like— well he wasn't sure what it looked like in all realness because he'd never seen anything like it before. It looked heavy with two handles on either side, although it was far too large and long for just one person to carry it.

"What is it?" he finds himself asking as Tilly as he tilted his head.

"I'm not sure, but I think it might be some sort of energy transference device. I've never seen anything like it before and I'd like to run further tests on it to see what it is. I know Stamets would probably know more which Is why I'm hoping we'll be able to take it back to Discovery.” She kneeled down on the floor and grabbed a hold of one end.

"Energy transference device? Does it still work?" the Captain asked as he too kneeled down and grabbed the other end, grunting at the heaviness of the device. No wonder she needed his help. Whatever this was, it was heavy.

"Oh no, I mean it shouldn't. It's ancient so I doubt-" she didn't have the chance to finish her statement before the device started glowing.

"Uh, Tilly?" he asked as he noticed her obliviousness to the warm glow that was starting to grow uncomfortably hot in his hands. "I thought you said this device wasn't working."

She never got the chance to reply before a surge of energy coursed through the Captains body, causing him to drop his end of the device in surprise. All he could feel in that moment was intense pain and heat all centered around his abdomen as the ground rushed up to meet him.

When he woke up, he found himself in sickbay laying down on a biobed and wearing a skimpy medical gown. His head felt as though it had been through the blender as he pushed himself up with his elbows, which he instantly regretted as a sharp stabbing sensation radiated out from his abdomen. He hissed as a spell of dizziness washed over him, forcing him back down on the biobed.

His pained hiss was enough to catch the attention Doctor Pollard and the others as she made her way over to his bed and placed a gentle hand to prevent him from trying to sit up.

"I wouldn't do that if I were you," she said pointedly as he tried to get his bearings straight. He remembered the strange device and he remembered Ensign Tilly asking him for help and then—

He looked around the room, half expecting to see the Ensign laying on one of the adjacent biobeds. Instead, he found her standing awkwardly next to both Saru and Burnham. Her red hair had been pulled back once again and worry lined her features as she nervously smoothed the fabric of her pants down. She looked as though she wanted to apologize to him for whatever had happened down on the surface, but Pike was just relieved that she was alright.

He tried to sit up again once the dizziness had dissipated, but both his head and his stomach protested as pain coursed through his body. He grunted as his head fell back onto the pillow.

"Don't even think about getting off this bed, Captain. I'm not done running my scans and you have a pretty nasty concussion," said Doctor Pollard.

"What happened?" he croaked as he closed his eyes, the lights a little too bright for his taste at the moment.

"Captain I'm so sorry!" began Tilly, her voice rushed and nervous as she stepped forward. "I had no idea that the device would do that much less that it was still functional. I mean the scans showed that it wasn't even operational anymore because it’s like five thousand years old and honestly what still works after all that time anyway? I mean whoever made it must've been a genius and-"

"Ensign—"

"—And I feel terrible now, especially since you're here. God, I swear I had no idea, Captain. Please please forgive me—"

"Tilly—"

"I was so reckless. I should've known better than to go messing with unknown alien tech. That's like, one the first things they teach you in the Academy. Oh God! You're in pain, are you okay? Is he okay?" she directs the last question to the Doctor.

"Ensign Tilly," he said once again, his voice loud enough to snap her out of her ruminations. Pain reverberated through his skull and he forgot what he was about to say as he winced, his hand coming to rest just above his brow bone.

"Yes Captain?" asked Tilly, her babbling having ceased, and her attention solely fixed on him. Her voice was small and meek.

"Consider yourself forgiven, Ensign," he said.

"Really?" she replied, her voice somewhat incredulous.

"It's not your fault. No one could have known that would happen," he said as yet another surge of pain caused him to grasp his midsection. "And besides, I've been meaning to come down and see my favorite doctor for some time now."

He tried to use humor to lighten the somber mood of the Ensign, but it did nothing to wipe that frown off her face.

"The Captain is right, Ensign," said Saru as he placed one of his long, gangly hands on her shoulder, "our scans showed the same results that yours did. There was no way to know that the device was still operational."

"Stamets is running a diagnostic test on it right now. He thinks it's some kind of energy transference device, but he's not entirely sure," said Burnham as the Captain nodded. "Whatever it is, it activated when the two of you touched it at the same time."

Tilly nodded, "I got zapped by the energy too, but not nearly as bad as you did."

"But you're okay?" the Captain finds himself asking, worry lacing his tone for the redheaded Ensign even though it's him in the skimpy medical gown on the biobed and not her.

"Me? Oh no, I'm fine. Terrific really. What about you? Is he going to be alright?" she directed her last question to the Doctor, who nodded her head in confirmation.

"The Captain will be fine," supplied Doctor Pollard as she started to prepare some sort of hypospray. "He just has a concussion and some minor bruising on his abdomen. Nothing a few hours rest won't fix."

"So when can I leave?" Pike dared to ask, hopeful that he won't have to spend too much more time cooped up in sickbay. The beds were stiff and uncomfortable, and he hated the gown, no offense to Doctor Pollard of course. She was a great doctor, but he could tell she wasn't pleased to see him in her infirmary so soon after the incident on New Eden.

"Not until I get the results from the other scans, which won't be for a few more hours. In the meantime, I recommend you get some rest," she said as she injected him with the hypospray, the pain fading away gradually until there was only a dull ache left.

"So, do we know what sort of energy transfer took place?" asked Pike before humorously adding: "Nothing too weird, I hope."

"We're not sure at the moment. We're still waiting for some of the tests to come back, but I'm sure whatever it was it's nothing too serious," supplied the Doctor before casually adding: "you appear to be in good health and there doesn't seem to be any adverse effects, at least not any that we can see at the moment. My best guess is, you'll be fine."

"That's good," replied the Captain as Tilly nodded in agreement, relief flooding her features at the prospect.

"We'll let you know if Stamets finds anything else," said Tilly as the doctor began to usher the three of them out so that the Captain could have his rest. "I'm glad you're okay, Captain. Feel better soon."

"Thank you, Ensign," he says as he watched her disappear out of the infirmary, a small part of him sad to see her go.

He knows it's strange and unprofessional, but he likes the young redheaded Ensign. Perhaps, a bit more than a Starfleet Captain should.

 

V

 

A few hours later the test results came back squeaky clean and after begging and pleading with the Doctor, he was finally discharged and allowed to return to his quarters. Nothing that was cause for concern happened to him and the device, whatever it was, was put in storage after Stamets had finished running his tests on it. They still weren't sure what it was, but since the Captain had displayed no worrying side-effects from the incident, it was soon forgotten about.

Pike recovered quickly, and life onboard Discovery went on. Besides, he had more pressing issues on his mind to worry about than himself, like the fact that Spock was still wanted for murder and they were no closer to finding out what the seven signals were or what the Red Angel wanted. So, when the Captain started to get sick a few weeks down the road, he didn't think too much on it. He figured that the stress of the job must've finally caught up with him, as it did with all Starfleet Captains from time to time. He figured it would go away on its own, eventually. But it didn't. In fact, it only seemed to get worse with each passing day, which made him wonder if there was something wrong with the artificial gravity on the ship.

"Captain? Are you alright? You appear to be what humans refer to as green," said Saru one day as he noticed the Captain trying his hardest not to vomit up his breakfast. He swore there must be something wrong with the artificial gravity, even though he seemed to be the only one affected.

"Is there something wrong with the artificial gravity? I swear I can feel the ship moving," replied the Captain as he grasped the armrests of his chair as he waited for the wave of nausea to pass. He had never before in his entire Starfleet career gotten motion sickness like this before. Not once.

Saru pressed a few buttons on his console before shaking his head, "no Captain. The artificial gravity is working just fine according to my scans. Perhaps you should visit the infirmary if you are feeling ill. I hear the Tarqualian flu has been going around lately."

The Captain shook his head, "I was vaccinated against that as a child."

"Still, it might be best if you got yourself checked out. You never know what you can pick up, especially on a ship this small," said Burnham as the Captain shook his head.

"I'll keep that in mind." Although he knew he wouldn't be making any trips down to sickbay any time soon. He assured himself that it was just stress and that it'll pass eventually. He just needed to get some rest and stop worrying about Spock or the signals. At least, that's what he tried to tell himself.

 

V

 

A few days later, Ensign Tilly showed up unexpectedly at his door with a hot steaming bowl of soup, specifically tomato basil, which just so happened to be his favorite. It was a surprise to see her standing there, but a welcomed one. Her hair was down again, and he couldn’t help but stare at the vibrant and mesmerizing reddish-orange color as it fell down around her shoulders in tight cascades. She smiled, albeit nervously as she held out the container of soup accompanied by saltines.

"Saru told me you've been feeling unwell lately and I thought I would bring you something that my mom used to give to me when I was sick," she begins as her hands begin to twitch nervously. "It's not as good as my mom's recipe, but I think it's pretty close. I hope you like tomato basil."

The Captain stared down at the container of food for a few long moments before he smiled at the kind gesture. He couldn't remember anyone besides his mother bringing him soup when he was sick, and this is perhaps one of the kindest things anyone has ever done for him.

"It just so happens to be my favorite, Ensign. How did you know?" he asks as he accepted the container along with the saltines. It was a good thing he was no longer nauseous because he was starving. He had been about to make a trip down to the mess hall for the first time that day before she had dropped in. It was later in the day and he knew he could stomach some food. It was funny, he only seemed to be sick in the mornings and the afternoons rather than in the evening.

"I didn't know you liked tomato basil," replied Tilly. "My mom used to make me this soup whenever I got sick as a child, and I was always sick as a child so she made this for me a lot. I hope this isn't too weird, me showing up at your door with soup, but I figured you wouldn't mind too much. At least, I hope you don't. I can leave if you want," she said, her voice rushed and her hands still twitching nervously as she looked up at him.

"I don't mind. In fact, I'm glad you stopped by," he says honestly as her eyes widen. There's a moment of tense silence between the two of them before she nodded her head awkwardly.

"Well, I guess I should be going now," she said before turning to leave.

"Ensign, wait," he called after her. She paused mid-step as he raised the container in his hands. "Thank you, for this."

"It's no biggie really," she replied, a smile tugging at the corner of her lips. "I hope you feel better soon."

With that, she turned on her heel and made her way down the corridor. Pike watched her leave as he mentally cursed himself for not saying anything else. He had considered inviting her into his quarters and offering her some of the soup, but he knew that that would be inappropriate and unprofessional.

Still, he watched her disappear down the corridor longingly, the container of soup in his hands long forgotten.

 

V

 

A few days later Tilly had a mental breakdown during a training exercise on the bridge, much to the surprise of everybody present, him included. Her outburst had definitely caught him off guard and he wasn’t entirely sure what to think as he watched her practically run out of there, the fear on her face enough to tell him that something is not right with the young Ensign. He hadn’t known her long at that point, but he knew that this was not typical of her and that makes him worried for her.

Against his better judgment, he didn’t go after, although he really wanted too. He continued with the training exercise, although he made sure to check in with sickbay to see if she had gone ahead and checked herself in, but neither Pollard or her staff have seen her.

The moment Saru told him that she had been infected with a parasite, he had to fight off the urge to run down there himself to make sure that she was alright. Against his better judgment, he remained at his post until Stamets informed him that the parasite had been removed. Although, his relief had been short-lived seeing as it was shortly after that she was taken by an alien entity. His attention had been divided between the Ensign and the sphere and it had forced him to prioritize, but the moment he heard about Tilly’s disappearance fear blossomed inside of his chest. Not knowing if she was alive or not, he made the decision to go after her. He owed it to her to find her and bring her back and he’d be damned if anything happened to the young woman under his watch. So, they came up with a half-assed plan and they ventured into the Network.

The moment he got confirmation that she was alive and back on board, he allowed himself to breathe a sigh of relief. It had nearly cost him his ship and his crew to get her back and he was relieved to know that their half-assed plan had worked.

He found himself practically sprinting down to Engineering where he found Burnham and Tilly as well as Stamets and the newly resurrected Doctor Culber, who appeared to be in dire need of some clothes, but it’s not Culber that Pike takes immediate notice of.

Tilly was covered in slime and he could tell that she was spent, both physically and emotionally, but he was happy to see her alive and well.

 “Captain,” she said in surprise as he made his way over to her. “What are you doing here? Is everything alright?”

“I should be asking you that,” he said as he clasped both of his hands behind his back and met her gaze. “You gave me quite the scare there, but I’m glad to see you’re alright.”

 “Oh me? I’m fine. Better than fine in fact. We found Doctor Culber in the Network and I’m no longer seeing things if that’s you’re wondering. You probably don’t need to worry about me yelling at you anymore,” she says as he cast her eyes downward, her cheeks flushed with embarrassment.

“About that-” began Pike.

“I’m so sorry, Captain. I don’t know what I was thinking. I should’ve gone to sickbay as soon as I started seeing things, but I didn’t think it was anything serious. I thought I was just stressed or going through a nervous breakdown, which has happened to me before if you’re wondering- Not that I’m incapable of doing my job. Not at all, in fact, I’m more than capable of performing my duties under stress and I hope this experience won’t prevent me from furthering my career as well as my membership into the command program, which is something I’ve dreamed about since I entered Starfleet. Oh God, I’m babbling again, aren’t I?”

He chuckled, “a little, but I don’t mind, Ensign. What happened wasn’t your fault and I’m not going to hold it against you, although it probably would’ve been wise to notify someone sooner rather than later about what was going on.”

“Oh of course! I won’t hesitate next time to inform you if anything weird is going on.”

“Let's hope there isn’t a next time, shall we?” he says as they begin to make their way out of engineering. “I don’t ever want to do that ever again.”

A smile tugged at the corner of her lips as she tucked a slimy strand of hair behind her ear, “I suppose I should thank you for not giving up on me.”

“Don’t thank me,” said Pike. “I was only doing my job as a Starfleet Captain. You’re a member of my crew and I don’t leave anyone behind.”

“Well, either way, I’m glad to be back, Captain,” she replied with a soft smile.

“And I’m glad to have you back,” he grinned before adding; “I’d really hate to lose someone as valuable as you.”

There was a moment of silence between the two of them before she turned to face him, determination gracing her features as she addressed him; “pardon me, but I’ve been meaning to ask you how you’re doing. These past few weeks you’ve seemed a little off and I don’t mean to pry or be rude, but you look like—"

 “Hell?” he implored as she bit her lip and looked away. It was true though. He hasn’t slept in the last forty-eight hours nor has he eaten much of anything in those hours. Not that he would be able to really keep anything down, but the hunger and fatigue were starting to weigh on him.

 “Well, those aren’t my exact choice of words. I was going to say you look tired, but I guess hell works too,” she replied as the Captain chuckled.

“Well, it’s certainly how I feel at the moment,” he replied truthfully.

“Are you okay? Do you need to see Doctor Pollard?” he inquired as Pike shook his head.

“No need too, Ensign. Stress is a part of the job. Just gotta learn to deal with it,” he replied as he did his best to soothe her worry for him. “But I’m sure I’ll be fine when this is all said and done with.”

“You should get some rest, Captain. You could use some,” she says, her voice full of concern.

“I would say the same about you, Ensign,” he replied as they stop in front of what he presumed to be her quarters. He had been so focused on her and their conversation, he hadn’t noticed where they had gone. “You should take the next few days off to rest and recuperate.”

“Oh, I couldn’t possibly take that much time off, Captain. There’s so much to get done and I couldn’t possibly take one day off let alone two.”

“That wasn’t a suggestion, Ensign. I’ll assign someone else to your duty roster for the next few days until you’re well enough to resume your work. The same goes for Stamets and Culber too. You guys could use it,” he said as he rested his hand against the doorframe to quell the sudden dizziness that had washed over him. His stomach was beginning to roll and churn even though there was nothing in there to vomit up.

 “Well thank you, I guess. I could use a shower and a long nap right about now,” she said as his grip on the doorframe tightened. “You should get some rest too, Captain. According to my training booklet, Starfleet Captains need their rest too.”

“You don’t say,” he replied with a smirk as she smiled playfully up at him. She didn’t say anything further on the matter and even if she did, Pike probably wouldn’t have even heard it as he found himself focusing on the color of her eyes as well the plush expanse of her lips. Her eyes were mesmerizing, and he had never seen a color like it before. They reminded him of a forest, lush and green. Or did they remind him of an ocean? He couldn’t really decide as he watched her bite her lip, her gaze never once leaving his.

It wasn’t him who had started to lean in, but rather her as she placed her hand near to his on the wall. It was like their bodies had become magnetized as he found himself also leaning in, against his better judgment of course.

He could feel her breath on his cheek as he closed his eyes. His grip on the doorframe tightened as he found the will to pull away, just in time as two crewmen made their way down the previously empty corridor.

He couldn’t meet her gaze as he let out a shaky breath he didn’t even know he had been holding. He had never felt this way about another person, much less a subordinate officer. She was too far down the chain of command to pursue anything with and he knew that it would destroy their reputation, hers especially, if they did anything. She deserved the chance to become a Starfleet Captain and he knew that it wouldn’t be fair if he allowed her to put her career in jeopardy like that. There was just too much at stake for either of them and she deserved so much more than that.

“Goodnight Ensign,” he forced himself to say before he turned on his heel and stalked down the corridor.

 

V

 

The nausea doesn't get any better in the coming weeks. In fact, it only seems to get worse as the days go by. Not only was he feigning nausea on a daily basis at that point, but he had started to develop other strange symptoms as well. He was sensitive to certain smells, so much to the point where he could no longer drink his usual morning cup of coffee or use his cologne or aftershave. Its ten times worse with foods and he finds himself struggling to even enter the mess hall anymore with all the smells that seem to permeate the room. Still, the nausea only seems to affect him in the mornings, so at least he can eat his dinners in peace. It's a small comfort, but at least he's still eating.

He also notices that his emotions seem to be on a never-ending roller coaster. He's good at hiding his emotions and keeping his anger in check, but over the weeks he notices that he's more easily irritated than before. Still, he reigns it in and doesn't allow his crew to see his temper first hand, but it certainly is a struggle.

He notices too, a few weeks later, that his uniform is starting to feel a little tight.

It's not a bad tight, just a mild annoyance that comes every morning when he buttons up his pants. He can tell he's put on some weight, which doesn't make sense because he's always made sure to take care of his health through exercise and a proper diet, but there's no denying that he's started to get what some people would refer to as a paunch around his middle.

It's barely noticeable. Just a little bit of weight gain, and even though any regular person wouldn't even notice it, he did. His physique had always been trim, and he had always taken pride in his health and wellness, and even now that he was now in his mid-forties, he was still fit and active. That's why it's so damn noticeable when it does happen to him.

He knew he wasn’t as young as he once was. It was bound to happen to him. His age was eventually going to catch with him one day, he just didn't expect for it to happen so soon.

But as the next couple of weeks pass by, that little paunch gets bigger and bigger until he can't button up his pants, much less get his uniform shirt on without feeling discomfort. He knew he needed to get the next size up for his uniform and he does, much to his embarrassment and dismay.

It was only after that uniform began to feel tight that he knew he needed to swallow his pride and take a trip down to sickbay. He knew that the Doctor would tell him that it was just the result of stress and age, but just to be on the safe side, he asks Culber to run a full body scan after he told him about his symptoms.

Unlike Pollard, he doesn't chide him for waiting so damn long to get his ass down there as he runs the tricorder over him, his eyes fixed on the readings before he pauses and visibly frowns, a perplexed look gracing his features as he scans him once again.

"That's strange," he muttered under his breath as he tapped the side of the device as if there's some sort of malfunction or inaccuracy in the readings.

"What is it?" he asked as he tried to hide his anxiety. The surprised and confused look on Culber's face is starting to scare him.

"Hold on," he says as he runs the scan once again before his eyes widen. "That's— that's not possible. There must be something wrong with this tricorder."

"Why? What's wrong with it?"

The Doctor remained silent as he tried to reconfigure the tricorder, his eyes refusing to meet those of the Captain as he pursed his lips. The silence is really starting to weigh on Pike. 

"Dr. Culber?"

He said nothing as he scanned him once again, his eyes widening as the wand traveled over his lower abdomen. That's when he knows that whatever it is, it's not good.

"I don't know how, but according to my scans— Well, there's no easy to way say this, but according to my scans Captain, you're pregnant."

Silence settled in between the two of them as Pike blinked. If this was the Doctors attempt at being humorous, he was doing a really poor job at it.

"Is this some sort of joke?" he asks with a slight chuckle. "Because the last time I checked, that's not possible. I'm not genetically female."

"You have elevated hCG levels consistent with that of a pregnant woman in her thirteenth week and-" he pulled up a holographic visual of his innards, "there's that."

Pike can feel the blood draining out of his face as he looks at the holographic visual because—oh fuck, there's a baby in there. A big alien-like head with little hands and feet and a beating heart—

Jesus Fucking Christ—how did that happen?

"How?" his throat feels drier than the deserts of Vulcan as he stares at the image.

"You're asking me how you got pregnant?" asked Culber as Pike shook his head.

"Yes?" he's not sure how to answer that. He hasn't been with someone in, well almost a year at that point. And then there's the well-known fact that he's genetically male. Even if he had been with a partner it shouldn't have been him in this situation.

"Well, let's find out, shall we? Please remove your uniform and lie down, Captain."

He does as he's told, but all he can think about at that moment is how the hell he's going to explain this to Starfleet Command.

 

Chapter Text

“So when is Doctor Culber supposed to return to work?”

Stamet’s polished off the rest of his burger before wiping ketchup off the corner of his mouth, “he officially went back to work yesterday, why?”

“He did?” asked Tilly in surprise as she dipped her fry. “I thought Starfleet gave him a few months off to get resituated.”

“They did, but you know Hugh. He’s a workaholic. Nothing can stop him from doing his job, dying included. I think he got tired of sitting around doing nothing all day. He was starting to go a little stir crazy there for a while.”

Tilly nodded as she began to pick off the last of her fries, “I can’t imagine it’s been easy for him, coming back from the dead and all. I know I wouldn’t handle it well if I were him.”

Stamets shook his head, “no, but he’s adjusting. He went home last week to spend time with his family. They’re happy to have him back, but I don’t think they know what to do now that he’s back. I mean, we held a funeral for him and everything.”

“I didn’t know Doctor Culber had any family left. I thought his parents were dead,” said Tilly, her curiosity getting to better of her.

“His parents? No,” said Stamets as he shook his head. “They’re alive, although Hugh isn’t all that close with them. They’re retired and living in San Diego.”

“Huh,” said Tilly. “I just assumed that they were dead since he never talked about them.”

“Hugh and his parents had a falling out a few years ago. His dad’s a retired doctor who owned a private practice. Hugh was supposed to take it over after he was done with medical school, but he chose to go into Starfleet instead.”

“They didn’t like that?”

“That and they also didn’t like me,” said Stamets. “They’re pretty traditional, even by today’s standards. But things have gotten better, especially since Hugh came back. I guess losing their only son changed their perspective.”

“That’s kinda shitty,” replied Tilly as she tried to imagine what Culber’s parents were like. They didn’t sound all that great from what Stamets told her, but then again she had never met them before. Still, she felt bad for the Doctor.

“Does he have any siblings?”

“He has a sister and two nephews in the San Francisco Bay area. Why?” asked Stamets as he sipped his water.

“Just curious. Your husband was always a private person. I really don’t know that much about him,” replied Tilly.

“Well that’s Hugh for you,” said Stamets. “He enjoys his privacy. Anyways, his family was pretty shocked to receive a transmission from him. They didn’t take his death well, especially his sister.”

“But he’s alright? I mean, after spending all that time in the network, he’s really alright?”

“Better than alright,” said Stamets with a smile that could only be described as love-sick. “He’s really fine, Tilly. He’s back and we’re great.”

Tilly can tell that Stamets is over the moon that his husband is alive and well. She knew how hard it was for him to cope after losing him to Voq and after watching him suffer for weeks on end, she was glad to see him happy again. The old Stamets that she loved and cherished was back, and she was happy. But most of all, she was happy for them. They deserved their happy ending.

She only wished that one day, she could find a love like that.

“I wish I had what you two have,” she said as she stared down at her half-eaten French fries. “You two seem so happy together and you make it seem so easy, it makes we want to believe that I’ll have that to one day.”

“Of course you will,” said Stamets. “Tilly, someday it’ll happen to you and when it does, it’ll be magical.”

“You really think that?” she asked.

Stamets frowned as he pushed his plate to the side, his attention focused solely on the Ensign, “why? You don’t think one day it’ll happen to you?”

“Well, I mean—” she pauses, uncertainty flooding her voice. “I’ve just always felt invisible, you know? Like, no one can really see me for who I am. It’s stupid, I know. I just wish for once, someone would look at me the way Doctor Culber looks at you.”

“Oh Tilly, you’re not invisible. You are anything but,” said Stamets. “And I happen to know for a fact that there are people here who do see you, Tilly.”

“Me? You must be thinking about someone else,” she added humorlessly.

“Don’t play shy, Ensign. I’ve seen how the Captain looks at you.”

Tilly sputtered on her water, the cold liquid threatening to run out of her nose as she coughs in surprise. “The—the Captain? What are you— what are you talking about? The Captain doesn’t look at me like that. I mean, why would he? He’s a Captain and I’m an Ensign.”

Stamets shrugged, “it’s not that farfetched, Ensign. Starfleet Captains get lonely too.”

“Yes but— even if that were true, wouldn’t there be some sort of regulation or rule against that?”

Stamets thought about it for a few moments before he shook his head, “actually, you’d be surprised. There are no official regulations stating that a Captain couldn’t date one of his subordinates. It might be considered scandalous by some of the older officials, but it’s no longer a court-martial offense, at least it hasn’t been since five years ago.”

“Yeah, but surely it’s frowned upon,” replied Tilly with a slightly nervous chuckle. She could feel her cheeks starting to tingle.

“Mmmm, not really. It's not that uncommon. Just last year, the Captain of the Stargazer informed Starfleet that he was romantically involved with one of his Lieutenants. Neither one of them were removed from their positions, so long as they were able to maintain a professional demeanor. I mean, worst case scenario, someone could be given a new post, but really, it’s not all that bad. The rules have really become lax in the past few years.”

“Well, that’s surprising,” replied Tilly with a frown. “You’d think that there would be some sort of rule against that.”

“I don’t think Starfleet really cares what their personnel does in their free time, so long as they’re able to perform their duties to the best of their abilities. Plus, it isn’t like every person in Starfleet is celibate. Trust me when I say, it can get really lonely out here in space, especially on extended missions.”

“Okay,” said Tilly with an awkward laugh. The tip of her ears felt warm and she could tell that her cheeks were probably as pink as a grapefruit by then.

“Wait. You’re blushing,” remarked Stamets as Tilly began to shake her head. “You like him too, don’t you?”

“What? Me? No,” she said nervously as she began to fidget uncomfortably in her seat. “Of course I don’t like him. Why would you think that? Besides, he’s way too old for me anyway.”

“Forty-five isn’t that old,” remarked Stamets. “He’s not that much older than me, actually. But I can see what you mean. Nineteen years is kind of a large age gap.”

“He’s forty-five?” asked Tilly. For some reason, she thought he was younger than that. Not that his age mattered or anything, he was just so fit for someone nearing their fifties.

“According to his file, which I did read by the way. I wanted to make sure we weren’t getting another Lorca.”

“Huh, I didn’t know that,” replied Tilly as she pushed the leftovers of her lunch away, her appetite already sated at that point. “He just seems, younger than that for some reason.”

“Have you seen his hair?” asked Stamets with a smirk.

“Grey hair doesn’t mean anything. My mom went grey young and I actually think it suits him,” she said with a sly smile that did not go unnoticed by the Engineer.

“Oh my God Ensign, you’re into older men, aren’t you?”

Tilly shrugged. She had never been sure what her type was before, but when she did develop a crush, it typically was on older men. So, maybe Stamets was right about that one…

“Even if I were into the Captain, which I’m not, by the way, there’s no way he’d be into me,” she said as the memory of her complimenting his nail beds resurfaced, causing her to internally cringe. “Besides, it’s not like I need to be in a relationship with anybody to be happy.”

“No, you certainly don’t, Ensign,” said Stamets in agreement, “but don’t judge yourself too harshly. I don’t see why anybody wouldn’t like you. You’re smart and funny and if people can’t see that, then they must be blind, Captain handsome included.”

“Captain handsome?” asked Tilly with a snort. “So, you think he’s good looking too.”

“Of course he is. I may be married, but that doesn’t mean I can’t look.”

Tilly laughed at that, although she didn’t have the chance to say anything in reply before her comm went off. She opened it up to see that she had a summons from sickbay and from the looks of it, it seemed urgent.

“Who’s that?” asked Stamets as Tilly shoved the comm device back into her pocket, a frown gracing her lips as she shook her head.

“Your husband wants me to report to sickbay.”

“Why?”

“I have no idea, but it seems urgent,” said Tilly as she placed her tray back into the replicator and set it to waste mode. “I’ll catch you later? We still have to go over those schematics that Commander Saru left us.”

“I’ll be in Engineering. Come see me when you’re done and we can get a head start on them,” replied Stamets as Tilly bid him farewell.

She briskly made her way down to the infirmary, her thoughts still focused on what she and Stamets had discussed during lunch. She had never before noticed the Captain looking at her in any way like he was proposing, but there was no denying that Tilly was attracted to the older Captain. If she hadn’t been, she wouldn’t turn into a babbling mess every time he looked at her with those blue eyes or smiled at her, those dimples enough to make her weak at the knees.

She couldn’t help but remember that moment they had shared in the corridor outside of her quarters. The way that he had looked at her, like she was the only woman in the entire galaxy. It had made her weak in the knees and she knew that if he had not walked away when he did, they would’ve done something they might’ve regretted. Or had she just imagined it? Was he really as into her as she was into him?

She walked into the infirmary but stopped short when she noticed the small crowd that had amassed there. Commander Saru and Burnham were standing next to a bio-bed were Captain Pike was laying down shirtless.

They hadn’t seemed to notice her presence as they talked quietly among themselves while Doctor Culber used some sort of scanning device on the Captain. The doors swished closed behind her, bringing all of their attention over to her.

“Ensign Tilly. Come in. There’s a matter we need to discuss,” said Doctor Culber as he motioned for Tilly to step further into the room.

“Uh, is everything alright?” she asked as she wrung her hands nervously, her attention going back to the Captain, who lied motionless on the biobed as he stared at the ceiling above them. “Is something wrong? Are you alright Captain?”

“That depends on your definition of alright, Ensign,” said the Captain as he clenched his jaw. He sounded angry and Tilly didn’t know if that anger was directed at her or not.

“What happened?” she asked as he gulped, her hands sweaty against her thighs.

“That’s what we need to talk about,” said Culber as Saru and Burnham looked between each other.

“Ensign, do you remember the incident a few weeks back during your away mission with Commander Burnham and Captain Pike a few months ago?” asked Saru.

Tilly nodded, “uh yeah, that weird device thingy right? What about it?”

Her gaze traveled back over to the Captain, worry for him beginning to take hold as he realized that whatever was wrong with him must’ve been tied to that somehow.

“Well, there were some— unexpected repercussions,” began Burnham as Pike began to laugh, bitterly.

“Unexpected is one way to put it, Commander,” said Pike scathingly, his gaze still fixed on the ceiling.

“I’m sorry, I don’t understand. What’s going on here?” asked Tilly. She had never seen the Captain look or act this unhinged before and it was starting to put her on edge.

“There’s no easy to put this, but the Captain is pregnant. We think it may have had something to do with that device you were investigating,” said Pollard as she turned away from the scans she had been conducting.

Tilly blinked in surprise.

Did she hear that right? No, she couldn’t possibly have.

“Excuse me?” asked Tilly as she looked between the five of them, half expecting them to burst out in laughter. “Is this some kind of joke?”

“I thought it was too at first, Ensign. But I can assure that it is not,” replied the Captain before humorlessly adding. “Although I really wish it was.”

There was a moment of silence before Tilly shook her head in utter disbelief, “um, okay. That’s definitely— unexpected. I mean, wow. Uh, how did that happen?”

Her words were jumbled as she tried to form a coherent sentence without babbling, but she couldn’t help but falter at the thought of the Captain actually being pregnant.

“We’re still trying to figure that part out,” said Pollard. “I wish I could say this was the first occurrence in Starfleet history that a human male, not counting trans men, has gotten pregnant. However, I think we’ve all heard about Commander Tucker and the incident with the Xyrillians.”

Tilly gulped as she looked back at the Captain, noticing his obvious discomfort. He looked unhappy about the entire situation, to say the least.

“There’s more, Tilly,” began Burnham.

“Oh yes, I almost forgot,” said Culber as he set down his instruments and pulled up a holographic image of a fetus for Tilly to look at. The Captain turned his gaze away, probably having already seen the live feed himself.

“Oh my,” said Tilly as she looked at the surprisingly developed image of the fetus. She wasn’t expecting it to look so human, at least not yet. It looked like a baby with its little arms and legs. She could even see its little eyes and what looked like a nose.

She felt her eyes drift back over to the Captain, particularly to his shirtless physique. He was muscular and obviously fit, but there was a roundness to his belly that she was certain did not belong. She could see the barest hint of pregnancy beginning to push his sturdy abdominal muscles forward and out.

Tilly blushed as she realized she had been gawking at the Captain. She quickly averted her gaze back to the holographic live feed of the fetus. She watched in mild interest as it kicked and flailed its little limbs for all to see. She wondered, briefly, if the Captain could feel those little movements.

Probably not. At least, not yet.

“That’s the fetus. It’s roughly thirteen weeks old and female according to her DNA, but that’s not what I wanted to show you,” said Doctor Culber as he pulled up another scan, this time of a genetic sequence.

“This is the fetus’s genetic makeup,” began Culber. “It's one hundred percent human if you were wondering.”

“It’s human?” asked Tilly, a pit beginning to form in her stomach.

“With two separate human parents,” continued Doctor Pollard as the genetic markers were separated on the visual. “This set of chromosomes belongs to the Captain and this set belongs to you, Ensign. Congratulations, you’re going to be a father.”

Tilly choked on her own spit before she felt her legs give out.

 

V

 

When she finally came too, the Captain was already long gone and she’s on a biobed hoping to whatever divine entity might exist in the cosmos that she had dreamt that all up. However, if there really was a God out there, he hated her because that had not been a dream.

“Oh. My. God.”

“Tilly-?” began Burnham as the Ensign sat straight up on the biobed, her hand coming to rest on the sizable knot that had formed at the back of her head. “Are you alright?”

“Holy mackerel.”

“You hit your head pretty hard—”

“I knocked up the Captain,” is all she can see before she burst into a fit of hysterical laughter. “I. Knocked. Up. Captain. Handsome.”

“Well, yes. Yes, you did,” is all Burnham can say to that as Tilly continued to laugh hysterically. There were tears in the Ensigns eyes and she didn’t know if it was because she found the entire situation funny or if it was because she knew that her career was basically fucked.

Wait, why would her career be fucked. She never fucked the Captain and even if she did, he shouldn’t be the one pregnant!

Oh God, how did he get pregnant? How the fuck—

“You’re awake, Ensign,” said Doctor Pollard as she made her way over to her side.

“Did I faint?” asked Tilly. She wouldn’t be surprised if she did.

Pollard nodded, ‘you fainted and you hit your head. I gave you something for the dizziness as well as to calm your nerves, but it may cause you to feel a little drowsy. How are you feeling?”

 “How do you think I’m doing?” snapped Tilly as Pollard’s eyes widened. Tilly froze as soon as the words were out upon the realization that she had yelled at a superior officer. “I’m sorry, I am so so sorry Lieutenant, I didn’t mean to— I’m not handling this well as you can see. Are— are you sure about the results?”

“Positive, Ensign. And I understand this is hard. If I were in your position, I don’t think I would be handling it very well either,” said Pollard. “Can you tell us anything about what happened that day? Is there anything that you might’ve missed or something that you forgot to mention?”

Tilly shook her head, “no, there was nothing. I told you everything that happened. I needed help lifting the device so that I could run further scans of it and I asked the Captain to help me lift it up. As soon as we both touched it, it powered up and zapped him. That’s honest to God the full story.”

“Saru’s having Stamets pull the device out of storage for further analysis,” said Burnham. “We’re hoping to get to the bottom of this as soon as we can.”

“Once Doctor Culber and I know more about what this device is and what it did to the Captain, then we can figure out what we’re going to do and how we’re going to proceed, but we need to find out more about how this happened. Doctor Culber is reviewing the test results right now as we speak to make sure we didn’t miss anything crucial. We’re hoping to contact Starfleet medical and get a second opinion, but we can’t do that without the Captains permission,” said Pollard as Burnham nodded.

 “Are you going to remove it?” asked Tilly. Thirteen weeks was well within the range for legal termination according to Federation law and she could only guess that it would be the safer option than actually carrying to term.

“Well, therein lies a problem,” began Pollard. “You see, Ensign. The Captain doesn’t have a natural uterus for the fetus to grow in—”

“So, it’s ectopic?” asked Tilly. Even more reason to terminate. Ectopic pregnancies were not viable anyway.

“The fetus is surrounded by a protective membrane that acts as a uterus and an amniotic sac. It’s attached itself to his abdominal wall as well as his major arteries as a means of receiving oxygen and nutrients,” she glanced at the both of them as she shifted her weight nervously. “Any attempt to prematurely remove the fetus and the sac could result in the Captain hemorrhaging and bleeding to death.”

 “You know for certain that’s what will happen?” asked Tilly.

“The likelihood is high, but not guaranteed. For all we know, the sac could successfully be removed without incident, but we can’t know that for certain. At the moment, both Doctor Culber and I are not comfortable with removing the fetus. At least, not until we know more.”

“How long will that take?” asked Tilly.

Doctor Pollard shook her head, “I can’t say for sure. We’re willing to go through with the operation as soon as we know more about how to successfully remove it, but that’s only if the Captain chooses too.”

 “But he can’t carry to term,” replied Tilly indignantly.

“With all due respect, Ensign. That’s not your call to make,” replied the Doctor pointedly as she crossed her arms over her chest. “Whatever happens from here on out is up to the Captain seeing as it’s his body that is the one being affected here.”

“But he’s a man! He can’t possibly be equipped to carry out a full term pregnancy!”

“It seems as though whatever that device did, it made him equipped too. He has the right combination of hormones and his hCG levels are beautiful, not to mention the pseudo-womb is a natural work of art. I have never in my entire medical career seen anything like it before. This is one of the most fascinating cases that I have ever seen.”

Tilly pinched the bridge of her nose as she exhaled. She understood that it was not her call whether or not the Captain had an abortion or not, but she couldn’t help but feel her chest tighten at the thought of him suffering or even dying as a result. This was her fault and she’d be damned if he died because of it.

“But he’s okay, right?” asked Burnham as she laid a gentle hand on Tilly’s shoulder. If anyone understood how Tilly was feeling, it would be Burnham.

 “Well, he was a little dehydrated and malnourished from the morning sickness and the fetus was underweight for its age, but we gave him something that should calm that down and get him eating enough. But yes, I do believe he will alright. Physically, that is. Emotionally? I’d say no,” she said before thoughtfully adding; “Genetic human males have no experience thus far in pregnancy. There’s no telling how this will affect his mental health.”

“Oh God,” said Tilly as she sat up and pushed the covers off of her and swung her legs over the side of the bed, determination taking the lead as she attempted to stand up. “I should talk to him.”

As soon as she stood up the room began to sway, which prompted Michael to grab her arm to help steady her.

 “Easy there Tilly,” said Michael. “You don’t want to end up kissing the floor again.”

“Do you know where he went?” asked Tilly. She wasn’t sure if she should go find him or if— well, she wasn’t sure what the next step was.

“He’s in his quarters resting as per my orders,” said Pollard before adding; “I think it would be best if you gave it some time before you talk to him. He was upset earlier and he needs time to rest and recuperate and come to terms with his condition, as do you.”

 “I’ll take her back to our quarters so she can get some rest,” said Michael as Tilly allowed the older woman to begin guiding her out of sickbay, much to her annoyance of course.

“I think that would be an excellent idea,” said Pollard before adding; “if you start to feel sick from the medication I gave you, then come back down here and I’ll see what I can do. In the meantime, I would recommend you get some rest. I’ll ask Stamets to take you off the roster for both today and tomorrows shift. Doctors orders.”

“Oh no, I couldn’t—” began Tilly before Burnham cut her off.

“Thank you, Doctor,” she said before she dragged Tilly out of the infirmary.

Tilly was in a daze as Michael led the way back to their shared quarters and she said nothing as the older woman helped lower her onto her bed. Michael sat down opposite of her, although neither one of them said anything for a few tense moments.

 “Do you want to talk about it?” asked Michael, breaking the silence.

Tilly shook her head, “I don’t know.”

For once in her life, the Ensign seemed to be at a lost for words.

“This is all very—”

“Weird?” supplied Michael.

“I was going to say surreal, but weird works too,” replied Tilly with a snort. “I don’t know, Michael. I don’t know what to say and I’m exhausted and I just want to go to bed. I don’t want to talk about this right now.”

“That’s alright,” was all Michael said as she placed a comforting hand on the Ensigns knee. “When you’re ready.”

Neither one of them said anything more on the subject that day or the next. Michael went back to her duties while Tilly remained in their quarters, her knees drawn up to her chest as she stared out at the black void of space. She spent half the day just sitting there, her mind a jumble of mixed thoughts and emotions before she finally decided to do something to try and take her mind off the situation at hand. Despite what the Doctor had said, Tilly found herself in uniform and making her way down to Engineering, determined to do something productive instead of wallowing in self-pity.

Everything was going smoothly until she found herself standing in front of the Captain’s quarters. It was on the way to Engineering and she had subconsciously made the slight detour, although she really had no intention of knocking on the door. Instead, she stood outside for a few good moments just staring at the door, mentally debating. In the end, she didn’t have the courage to face him as she continued on her way.

 “You’re not on the roster today,” said Stamets as she walked in. He looked surprised to see her.

“I know I’m not, but I need to do something or else I’m going to go crazy,” she said as she glanced over at the device, which had been brought out of storage for further testing. “Did you find anything?”

“Forget that,” said Stamets as he set down his instruments and made his way over to her, concern flooding his features. “Hugh told me you fainted yesterday. Are you alright?”

“Yeah, I— um stood up too fast and I got dizzy,” she said as she bit her lip. “But I’m fine now, really. Ready to get back to work.”

His narrowed his eyes, “huh, that’s strange.”

“Yeah, I’ve never fainted before,” she said as she pushed a strand of orange hair behind her ear. “So um, what are you working on?”

“Commander Saru asked me to run some more diagnostic tests on this thing, but so far I haven’t found much. I’m not sure what I’m supposed to be looking for, no ones really told me anything. Why? Do you know something?”

“Me? Why would I know anything?” she asked, incredulous. She knew her acting skills left a lot to be desired, but God she did not want anyone knowing that she had inadvertently knocked up the Captain, even Stamets. Although she knew it was only a matter of time before he knew as well.

His eyes narrowed even more, “Saru told me it had to do with the Captain. No one has seen him in a few days, not ever since he stormed out of the infirmary the other day. You wouldn’t happen to know anything about that, would you Ensign?”

He was onto her. Oh Shit. Oh God. She dared not meet his gaze as she looked down at the console, mentally praying that he would just leave well enough alone. But of course, Stamets never let anything go. His curiosity was far too great for that.

“Is there something going on that I should be aware of?”

She sighed as she closed her eyes in defeat, “I’m not really supposed to talk about it.”

“Are you okay, Tilly? Is there something going on because you know you can tell me anything, right?”

“Um, no. I’m not okay,” she said truthfully as she wrung her hands nervously. “So, I found out yesterday that I’m going to be a mother and that my career may or may not be over. Bet you didn’t hear that one through the grapevine.”

Stamets' eyes widened, “oh my God, Tilly. Are you pregnant?”

She laughed, “oh no, I wish it was me. But no, I’m not pregnant. Um, it’s the Captain. I— I knocked up the Captain.”

She laughed again, hysterically. Tears pricked the corners of her eyes as she completely broke down in front of the older man, who looked at her as though she had lost her sanity, and honestly, she couldn’t agree more.

Chapter Text

That night Tilly found herself wrapped up in a blanket in Stamets and Culber’s shared quarters, a bowl of ice cream in her lap and her feet dangling off the couch as she regaled the odd tale to the Engineer. She was no longer in the throes of a complete mental breakdown and the ice cream had calmed her down enough that she could finally tell Stamets the full story without sounding like an utter and complete nutcase.

Stamets, on the other hand, was still struggling to wrap his mind around it.

“So, you’re telling me that this—” he motioned awkwardly towards his own midsection, the word pregnancy still wrapped around firmly around his tongue. “This pregnancy can’t be terminated because he could literally bleed out and die?”

Tilly nodded in confirmation as she licked her spoon.

Stamets blinked.

“What happens when he gives birth? Is he gonna bleed to death then?”

Tilly shook her head, uncertain. Neither Doctor Pollard or Doctor Culber had really been clear on how the baby would be born if termination wasn’t an option. It was probably something that they wouldn’t discuss with her anyway seeing as she wasn’t the one carrying the damned thing.

“I don’t know,” she replied truthfully.

“You don’t know?” asked Stamets incredulously as Tilly sighed.

“Can we not talk about this right now?” asked Tilly as she pushed her near-empty bowl away and clutched at her head, a migraine well on the way. “I can’t even think straight.”

“Tilly—” began Stamets just as the whoosh of the door alerted them to Culber’s presence.

The Doctor stopped to survey the scene before him, his eyes traveling over Tilly and the near-empty bowl of Rocky Road ice cream suspiciously.

“What's going on here?” he asked as he looked over at his husband with a questioning look.

“Tilly here was just telling me about how she knocked up the Captain. Can you believe it, Hugh? Our little Tilly is going to be a dad. They grow up so fast," remarked Stamets, the widest grin on his face as Tilly fought the urge to either A) Kill him or B) crawl into a hole and die. She groaned in frustration as she pinched the bridge of her nose, her nails digging into the pale skin hard enough to probably leave angry red marks. The desire to kill Stamets growing by the second.

Doctor Culber raised a cynical eyebrow at his husband as he crossed his arms over his chest, clearly unimpressed by his partner's clearly childish antics.

“You weren't supposed to hear about that,” he said as he walked further into the room. 

“How could you not tell me?” asked Paul as he rose to his feet and made his way over to the other man. “All this time I’ve been running all sorts of scans on that device with no idea what I was even looking for and here I find out its because it has the ability to get a man pregnant? Here I’ve been handling some ancient fertility device and no one bothered to tell me it had the capability of knocking me up?”

Tilly snorted from her spot on the sofa as the Doctor sighed. “You didn’t need to know, Paul. I don’t know about anyone else in this room, but I take Doctor-patient confidentiality very seriously. Especially on a ship this small.”

“And I don’t think you’re at risk for getting knocked up,” remarked Tilly as she shoved the blanket off of her. “As far as I’m aware, it takes two people to accomplish that feat.”

“But how on Earth did this happen? Mistake me if I’m wrong, but isn’t Captain Pike a man? Like, genetically?”

 “You’re not wrong,” replied Tilly. “He is very much a man.”

“So, you and him—?” began Stamets as Tilly began to shake her head.

“What? No! Nothing happened like that!” 

“Well, something happened. Guys just don’t get pregnant on their own. If they did, that would be the single most terrifying event in all of human history. Could you imagine if genetic men could get pregnant?"

"Chaos would ensue and abortion rates would sky-rocket," remarked Culber truthfully. 

"The human species would undoubtedly die out," added Stamets thoughtfully as Tilly shook her head.

“This isn’t a joke you guys,” she said as she shut her eyes tightly and inhaled deeply. 

“Oh Tilly,” began Culber sympathetically as he placed a gentle hand on her shoulder. “Have you talked to him at all since you found out?”

 “And tell him what? Sorry I knocked you up, Captain. Want to get dinner later so we can discuss our feelings more in-depth about the situation and maybe draw up a custody arrangement while we're at it?” said Tilly with a dry laugh. “Yeah, that’ll go over well.”

“No one has seen the Captain in the last few days,” supplied Stamets before adding; “he’s been awol, which should be impossible on a ship this size but somehow he’s managed quite well to make himself scarce. Can't say I blame him though. I wouldn't be too keen to show my face around if I got knocked up by some perverted alien tech."

"Not helping, Paul," remarked Culber before he turned his attention solely on Tilly. "When you're ready, you need to talk to him. There's a lot that you two are going to need to work through together."

“If you’re not handling this well, just imagine what he’s going through,” added Stamets.

Tilly shook her head, “It’s not that simple though. He’s a Captain and I’m— I’m just an Ensign with plans and aspirations. We can’t have a baby much less raise one, which really sucks because I’ve always wanted a child of my own one day but I’m not ready and I certainly am not ready to have one with my superior officer. I don’t know about him, but I doubt he’d be willing to give up his commission so soon and—”

“Hey, this isn’t the end of the world, alright? You have options, just like everybody else who goes through an unplanned pregnancy,” said Stamets as he placed a comforting hand on Tilly’s shoulder. “Just, take a deep breath and relax.”

“I think I’m going to need a therapist when this is all over,” said Tilly as she did what Stamets told her to do. Deep breath in. Deep breath out. Repeat.

“And maybe a few drinks,” said Culber, a sympathetic smile gracing his lips.

“I could go for a few drinks right now,” said Tilly. “Especially vodka. I could use a lot of vodka right now.”

“I didn’t know you drank, Ensign,” said Stamets with a grin.

“Well, there’s a lot you don’t know about me then,” was all Tilly said to that as she leaned against Stamets and rested her head on his shoulder. He welcomed her in by draping his arm around her while Doctor Culber watched them from his spot on the floor.

She closed her eyes and imagined that her life wasn’t as big a mess as it was, but the reality was harsh and she knew that, eventually, she would have to have that talk with the Captain.

But, sitting here with two of her closest and most supportive friends, Tilly decided that that could wait, for the moment.

 

V

 

Christopher Pike sat unmoving at his desk in his quarters as he stared down at the untouched glass of Andorian ale that he had poured himself. He had no intention of drinking it, of course, but that didn’t stop him from staring numbly down at the blue liquid.

From the moment he had left sickbay, his first instinct had been to go to his own personal liquor cabinet and drink his sorrow away like any sane man in his position would want to do after that revelation, but as soon as he had poured himself a glass he remembered, much to his horror, that he could not drink his problems away like he had originally planned too.

That had been two days ago and still, the glass remained untouched. It served as a stark reminder of the choice he would have to make in the near future. The choice of whether to keep the child or not.

His child.

It was a no-brainer, really. Pike had always wanted a family of his own, even when he had first started out at the Academy all those years before. But he had soon discovered that a career and a family were two things that didn’t always go hand-in-hand. He had chosen his career seeing as he was far too busy making his way up the chain of command to entertain the idea of marriage let alone children, but there had always been a part of him that had been holding onto hope that maybe, just maybe he could have both.

It was only when he received his commission a few years prior that Pike had started to make peace with the fact that he probably wouldn’t ever get the chance to raise a child of his own.

And now this.

Of all the ways that Pike thought he might come into parenthood, this was not what he had expected at all. He wasn’t entirely sure what to think of the strange predicament he had found himself in and his emotions were conflicted, to say the least.

He looked pensively out at the void of space, his index finger idly grazing over the rim of the glass as he thought long and hard about what it meant to be a man in his position. He couldn’t deny that he was disgusted at the prospect of what was happening inside of his body. While the notion of pregnancy wasn’t revolting, the thought of it happening to him was.

The thought of losing his body and being forced to share it was not a pleasant one and the notion of abortion was something that he had thought long and hard about, even though he knew it was not recommended for him. It would be easier for everyone, Ensign Tilly included, if he just got rid of the problem and went about his life with no consequences.

That was if he could get rid of the problem. They still had no idea how to safely remove it and even if they did manage to find a way, he knew it wouldn't be an option for him. If he did terminate it, he would always be stuck wondering what could have been instead of what was. It would haunt him, and Pike wasn't ready for that.

He frowned as he allowed himself to look down at his midsection. He couldn’t quite bring himself to touch it seeing as he was still battling feelings of disgust and betrayal over what was happening to his own body, but his eyes still came to rest on the swelling that was just starting to become visible from beneath his uniform.

It was hard for him to wrap his mind around the fact that there was a tiny developing person nestled in there, but there was no denying it anymore.

He sighed as he tore his gaze away from it and onto the door, where the chime had just alerted him to someone's presence. He wasn’t really in the mood to talk to anyone at that point, but he knew that couldn’t hide out in his room forever. Eventually, he was going to have to face the facts.

“Come in.”

The door swished open to reveal Commander Saru, who stood with his arms behind his back as he regarded the Captain. His gaze traveled from Pike’s exhausted features down to the Andorian ale, but he didn’t comment on it as he stepped further into the room.

“Captain,” he greeted with a nod, “I hope I am not intruding, but I came here to make sure that you were alright. You seem out of sorts.”

Pike chuckled, bitterly, “out of sorts you say.”

“Is that not an appropriate human term for what you are currently going through?” asked Saru as Pike shook his head.

“No, it's appropriate. It’s just a bit of an understatement if you ask me,” replied Pike as he pushed the glass away from him.

“I see,” remarked Saru as he tilted his head. “I hope I’m not invading your privacy when I say this, but if you require someone to talk to, I will always be available to do so. I understand that this goes against the natural order of human reproduction and while I cannot say for sure what you are going through, I am a good listener.”

Pike nodded, “I’ll remember to keep that in mind, Commander.”

It was a kind gesture and Pike was glad to know that Saru was willing to do that for him, but the last thing he wanted to do at the moment was dump all of his issues on the unsuspecting Commander. There was a lot he needed to come to terms with first before he was ready to talk to anyone about it.

“Good,” replied Saru. “There is also another matter I would like to discuss with you.”

“Shoot,” said Pike as he leaned back in his chair.

“I went ahead and had Lieutenant Commander Stamets pull the device out of storage to run more diagnostic testing on it,” he began as Pike nodded. He had expected as much.

“And—?”

“I’m afraid that we still don’t know for sure what it is. Stamets told me that he had detected some unusual energy readings from it, but it will take a few more days before we can accurately ascertain more information. I also took the liberty of uploading the images that you and the others on the away team captured of the Temple and I noticed that there were some strange writings on the walls. I forwarded them to the linguistics department on Earth for analysis.”

Pike nodded, “good call.”

“I thought it would be pertinent in gaining more insight into what happened.”

“What did they find?”

“It appears as though the symbols on the temple walls represent fertility, or in this case lack thereof,” began Saru as he lowered himself down onto the seat opposite of the Captain. “Apparently, there was a disease that caused fertility rates among women to decrease dramatically.”

Pike frowned, “and there was no cure?”

Saru shook his head, “from what I can tell of this ancient society, they were not as advanced as we thought they were. They were incapable of warp travel much less engineering a cure for the disease.”

“Then how—?”

“They were visited by another race of aliens who sought to help them with their situation by leaving behind their own technology.”

“What happened next?” inquired Pike.

“That remains a mystery,” replied Saru. “Either they were unable to increase their birthrates to a sustainable rate or they did and something else wiped them out. There is evidence of a natural disaster that may have taken place a few millennia ago, but we can’t be certain what happened to them.”

 “Well that is quite the story,” added Pike as he tried to imagine the desperation these people must’ve felt as their species slowly died out.

“Indeed,” remarked Saru with a nod, “it is a fascinating story.”

“Any idea who these alien visitors were?” asked Pike, doubtful that they would ever know.

Saru shook his head, “I don’t think we’ll ever know.”

Pike pinched the bridge of his nose in an effort to quell the overwhelming feeling of frustration. He seemed to trapped in the middle of a five-thousand-year-old conundrum with no chance of escape at that point.

“Wonderful,” he said sardonically as he pushed back from his desk and rose to his feet. He grabbed the glass and held it tightly in his hands as he made his way over to the large viewport in his quarters so that he could watch the stars streak by them, the soft hum of the warp core accompanying the silence that had settled in.

He could feel the Commander’s eyes on him as he stared pensively out at the stars.

“I haven’t talked to her yet,” he said, answering the question that was undoubtedly on the Commander’s mind before adding; “haven’t gotten up the courage too.”

“From what I’ve seen of the Ensign these past few days, that might be for the best,” remarked Saru as Pike turned around to face the Commander, a frown on his face.

“Why? Is she alright?”

There was no way that she handling this any worse than he was, but he still worried about the young Ensign. She had endured a lot in these past few weeks and he knew that she was prone to mental breakdowns, as she herself had told him. Not that she wasn’t strong or incapable, but his soft spot for her was becoming more and more apparent.

It didn’t help that he still felt guilty for leaving her in sickbay unconscious. All he had wanted to do was high-tail it out of there as fast as his legs could carry him and he did just that. He regretted it and he knew she deserved better than that, but he still couldn’t find it in him to look at her much less talk to her.

It was cowardly and he knew it. He didn’t try to deny it either.

“I can tell that she’s— adjusting,” said Saru, uncertainty lacing his tone. It was apparent that not even Saru knew for sure how the Ensign was doing. “She clocked into her shift earlier before clocking out again after just ten minutes.”

“I thought Doctor Pollard gave her today off,” remarked Pike as he remembered receiving the notice of temporary absence from work for the Ensign earlier that day for approval. She wasn’t on any of the duty rosters as per the Doctors orders.

“She did but she went anyway. As soon as I saw she was clocked in I tried to find her so that we could talk, but she clocked out before I could make my way down there.”

Pike let out a long and deep sigh as he leaned back against the viewport, his arms coming to rest over his chest. “I suppose I should talk to her. It doesn’t sound like she’s handling this all very well.”

“Perhaps that would be more beneficial than just ignoring each other. After all, Captain. This is a small ship.”

“You don’t need to remind me,” said Pike as Saru rose from his seat. He knew it would only be a matter of time before the crew started to become suspicious. If there was one thing that he learned during his time in Starfleet, it was that gossip ran rampant on ships, especially small ones.

“I should return to my station,” said Saru as he started to make his way over towards the door. “We’re supposed to be running a mandatory safety test on the life-support system at 1500 hours.”

“Is that today?” asked Pike. He had forgotten that they had been preparing to run a series of safety tests on the ship's systems, his mind had been elsewhere.

The Commander nodded, “no worries, Captain. It’s nothing we can’t handle on our own.”

Pike scoffed, “I’ll be there. I’ve shirked my responsibilities enough these past few days and I don’t intend on making a habit out of it.”

Saru nodded, “very well, Captain. I’ll see you then.”

With that, the Commander made his way out of the room, leaving the Captain by himself, the glass of Andorian ale still in his hands.

Pike frowned as he stared down at the two-day-old stale ale before he talked over to the bathroom and dumped it down the sink. It was time for him to stop wallowing in self-pity and get his act together.

It was time to talk to Ensign Sylvia Tilly.

 

V

 

Tilly returned to her quarters exhausted later that night, her belly full of copious amounts of Rocky Road ice cream, which now made her feel sluggish as she began the process of undressing out of her uniform. She threw on one of her old Academy shirts as well as a pair of sleep shorts before she pulled her hair free from its confinement. She was in the middle of combing through the orange mane of curls with her fingers when the door to her quarters chimed, signaling someone’s presence outside.

It wasn’t unusual for people to make surprise visits to both her and Burnham’s shared quarters this time of night. Ash, Keyla, and Joann were all known to pop by sporadically so Tilly didn’t think it was strange that someone was at her door.

Without even thinking, she made her way over to the door and pressed the enter button. She found that the person on the other side was not Ash, Keyla, or Joann like she had originally thought. No, in fact, the individual standing on her doorstep was the very last person she had ever expected to see.

 “C-Captain,” she startled, her eyes widening as she looked down at her flimsy outfit in mortification. If she had known it was him, she wouldn’t be standing there in her sleepwear. “I— I uh, what are you doing here?”

 “I figured we should probably talk,” he said, something akin to guilt flooding his eyes. “Sooner rather than later.”

He looked better than when she had last seen him, the tired circles under his eyes gone and his complexion fairing much better than previously, but even then she could tell that he was anything but fine.

“Is that why you’re here?” asked Tilly awkwardly as he nodded in confirmation. “To talk?”

“That’s the reason I came,” he scratched the back of his neck as he looked past Tilly and into her room. “Can— can I come in? I know it’s late and I can see that you’re getting ready for bed, but we really need to talk.”

“Yes! Of course,” she said as she stepped aside, granting him permission to enter her (thankfully) clean room. “Please, come in Captain.”

“Considering the circumstances, I think it would be best if we dropped the formalities. Please, call me Chris,” he said as stepped into the room, his eyes darting around the space as the doors swished closed behind him, leaving the two of them to their much-needed privacy. There was a moment of silence as Tilly watched the Captain look around at the few personal items she had laying around. She couldn’t help but notice the usually spacious room seem to grow smaller and smaller by the second.

“Um okay, Chris,” the name sounded foreign on her tongue and she felt weird calling him by his first name, “I guess you can call me Sylvia then, or Tilly is fine. I actually prefer Tilly. The only person who calls me Sylvia is my mom.”

He nodded, “Tilly it is.”

There was a moment of silence between the two of them, neither one of them sure how to continue from that point on. Tilly swore the thermostat must’ve been set too high because the temperature seemed to be growing hotter by the second.

“So, uh—” she wiped her sweaty palms down the front of her shorts, “about what Doctor Culber and Doctor Pollard said—”

“That’s what I came to talk to you about,” he said as he took the liberty off lowering himself onto Michael’s bed. She couldn’t help but notice how tired he seemed in that moment, both physically and emotionally as he leaned forward, his gaze meeting her own as he clenched his jaw tightly.

“I’ve decided not to risk termination,” he began. “I don’t know where we go from there, but I wanted to personally inform you of my decision. ”

“Even if they found a way to safely remove it?” inquired Tilly as he nodded in confirmation.

A weight settled in her belly as she nodded, “so, where does that leave us?”

He shook his head, “honestly, I don’t know. Starfleet never mandated a protocol for this type of situation before.”

“Right,” said Tilly, “so, you’re going to have—” she motioned towards his middle, uncertain what the correct term in that situation would be. She waved her hands, the words dancing around her tongue.

“The baby?” he asked.

She nodded in affirmation, her cheeks growing flushed.

“I don’t think I have any other choice,” he shook his head as he let out a sardonic chuckle. “It’s funny, I remember hearing about stories like this in the Academy. They warned us not to go putting our hands in strange boxes of pebbles or to be careful when having physical contact with any unknown species lest we get knocked up.”

“You just thought it wouldn’t happen to you?” added Tilly as he nodded.

“I guess the moral of the story is don’t go sticking your fingers where they don’t belong.”

“So, what next?” she dared to ask.

“According to Doctor Culber, I should be able to carry to term with little to no complications, which I guess is a relief. I should be able to perform my duties as Captain up until the end, wherein one of the Doctors will perform a c-section. What happens from there on out is completely up to us,” he said as he drew his gaze back to her. “Genetically she is our child and we should both be on the same page about what we’re going to do once she’s born.”

“She?” asked Tilly, her mouth growing steadily dry.

“Doctor Culber said it would be a girl.”

“Oh, I don’t remember that,” she said as she twiddled her fingers nervously, “I guess my mind wasn’t all there.”

“I understand the feeling,” said the Captain sardonically. “I’m still trying to come to terms with it myself.”

 “Have you told Starfleet Command yet?” she doubted he would be allowed to finish his mission onboard the Discovery if Starfleet Command found out. They would probably force him to step down and replace him, which she knew was not an option for him.

“No, not yet,” he said as he turned back to face her, his arms crossed over his chest as he regarded her. “If I told them, they’d ask me to step down as Captain of the Discovery. They’d find a replacement and I’d be stuck watching events unfold from the sidelines. Again.”

His gaze was hard as stone and Tilly could see the resignation in his eyes. She knew that watching the Federation Klingon War play out from the sidelines and being unable to help had taken its toll on him. She doubted if he would ever be able to forgive himself for not helping while others died and she knew he wouldn’t allow himself to be put in that position ever again. Not if he could help it.

“So, you’re not going to tell them.”

“I don’t know what I’m going to do. I’m still trying to figure that out,” he replied before quietly adding; “I can’t hide my condition forever. Eventually, they’ll find out.”

“I’m sorry I put you in this position,” she whispered as his eyes visibly softened. “I should have been more careful with the device. I should have known not to touch it without knowing what it was beforehand and I should’ve known better than to ask you to touch it either.”

Her eyes stung as she tried to blink away the unshed tears. She hated crying in front of others, much less Captain handsome, but she couldn’t help it as she furiously wiped a stray tear away.

This was all her fault. God, he must hate her for doing this to him.

She could feel the mattress dip down beside her as he lowered himself down next to her. She didn’t say anything as he snaked his arm around her and drew her close to him. Close enough that she could smell his warm breath on her cheek as she allowed herself to bury her face into his neck.

His hands were firm and strong as they held onto her and she found herself melting into his embrace. She didn’t know how to describe it exactly, but his arms felt like home to her.

“You’re not the one to blame here, Tilly,” he said after a few moments of silence. “None of this is your fault. We were both just in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

She didn’t reply to that as she too wrapped her arms around him, allowing herself to melt into his embrace.

“We’ll get through this,” he said simply. “We’ll figure it out. You and I both.”

He sounded so sure of himself, but Tilly knew that it was not that simple. There was still so much that remained unsaid between them, but at the moment, Tilly knew it could wait as she felt his grip on her tighten.

After all, they had roughly six months to figure it out.

 

 

Chapter Text

Not thirty minutes had passed since the alpha shift started and already Pike was counting down the hours until he could crawl into bed and die. He had woken up exhausted and sore and it had taken sheer will-power for him to even find the strength to roll out of bed that morning, but he did. He always did, as was his job as a Starfleet Captain.

The day itself would probably prove to uneventful, but Pike knew to better than to let his guard down. They move through the void of space, the little stars merely bright steaks on the viewscreen as the crew go about their day. They ended up stopping to survey a planetary nebula, which had not been on their schedule, but Pike thought it might be good for his crew to step back from the mission and take a day to get back into the groove of science and exploration.

He also figured that it would give everyone something to do while he took the time to slip quietly away to sickbay for his appointment. Saru had understood and had gladly taken control of the bridge while the crew were busy running their scans, happy to be doing what they did best.

“You’re early,” remarked Nurse Bishop as Pike entered the sterile-looking room. There were only a few people in there, probably being treated for runny noses and whatnot, their eyes traveling over to him as he pursed his lips. He had been hoping for privacy.

“I was able to slip away from the bridge a little early.”

She nodded as he set his pad down, “well, if you’re ready Doctor Culber has prepared a room for you in the back. We all figured you’d want some privacy.”

Pike nodded, thankful. His eyes traveling over the various crewmembers seated on the biobeds before he followed the Nurse out of the main area and into one of the private examine rooms in the back. She handed him a medical outfit, this time one with pants and shirt rather than the skimpy dress he hated so much.

“I’ll need to take your vitals and then you can change. You can put your uniform over there when you’re done,” she said she pointed to the table before picking up a tricorder.

He nodded as she waved the wand over him, her eyebrows scrunched up and her lips pursed as she read the monitor. If she saw anything disconcerting, she said nothing as she entered the information onto the medical pad.

“All done, Captain. The Doctor will be in shortly,” she said with a polite smile before she put the tricorder away.

“Culber or Pollard?” he asked, but she had already disappeared out of the room.

He changed into the stretchy outfit and sat down on the edge of the exam bed. He inhaled deeply, wincing at the sterility of the air. It was reasons like that he always hated the infirmary, no matter what ship he was on, Discovery included.

The door swished open as Culber made his way in, dressed in his usual white medical uniform. He looked over at Pike before he picked up the medical pad off the counter.

“You look better than when I last saw you last week,” he remarked as he looked down at the readings. “Your blood pressure is no longer low, and the fetus has gained some weight. You still feeling any nausea?”

He shook his head, “no, not since I was in here last.”

“That’s good,” murmured the Doctor, more to himself than anything. “I’m afraid that neither Doctor Pollard nor I have had any leeway on finding a safe way to successfully removing the fetus. If you would like, I can reach out to Starfleet Medical on Earth to see if I can get a consultation. They might have a better suggestion on how we can remove it.”

Pike swallowed before he shook his head, “that won’t be necessary, Doctor. Even if you found a way to safely remove it, I’ve decided not to terminate.”

The Doctor raised his eyebrows as he set the pad back down on the counter. “Have you talked to Ensign Tilly about this?”

He nodded, “she knows.”

“Okay then,” said the Doctor before adding; “I guess I can tell Doctor Pollard that she can stop with her research seeing as it will not be necessary. I also guess this means I should probably get you started on a pre-natal vitamin regiment.”

Pike couldn’t help the wince that followed.

“There’s some other stuff that we’ll need to do,” began Culber. “We’ve already performed an amniocentesis, and everything looks relatively normal— well, as normal as can be.”

Pike had to agree with the Doctor on that sentiment.

“There are no discernible genetic abnormalities in the fetus’ genetic makeup, which is good. As far as the pregnancy goes, I’m sure you’re already aware of your limitations?”

“Let’s see,” he said as he began to count on his fingers. “No alcohol, no raw meats, no heavy-lifting, no excessive exercise, no caffeine— or at least, very little. Am I missing anything?”

“Those are the basics, but there are a few things you forgot. You can continue to exercise, in fact, I encourage it, but nothing excessive. Light cardio and yoga would be good.”

“I’m not doing yoga,” replied Pike curtly. Most of his exercises up until that point included a balance of cardio and weightlifting. He was also an avid swimmer, but unfortunately, there were no pools on Starfleet ships.

“Stretching exercises, then,” said Culber before adding; “you’re going to get sore, especially when the fetus gets bigger. I don’t think I need to explain the importance of stretching seeing as you do exercise quite a bit.”

“I’m already starting to get sore,” commented Pike, the heaviness in his legs very much apparent.

“That’s probably from the weight gain,” said Culber matter-of-factly before adding, sympathetically; “It’s only going to get worse from here on out.”

Pike sighed, the thought of losing his physique a little more than disconcerting, to say the least. He had always been fit and active from a young age and he was sure to keep it that way, especially as he hit middle age. So, suffice it to say, he was a little bummed that he would be losing his figure. He could only hope that he would be able to bounce back from this fast.

At least, he really really hoped he could.

“Please don’t remind me,” he said, defeatedly.

Culber paused, his gaze traveling fully over the Captain before he made his way closer to the exam table and sat down on the stool, his attention focused solely on the other man.

“I know this may not be my area of expertise, but how are you doing? And I don’t mean physically,” he said.

“I didn’t know you were a therapist, Doc.”

“It was a part of my training to become a physician. As a Doctor, I am bound to ensure the wellness of all my patients. Both mentally and physically,” he said pointedly. “It’s alright if you’re struggling with this. You are the first—”

“Second,” corrected Pike. The story of Commander Tucker and the Xyrillians was practically legend at the Academy. Everyone knew the story of the box of pebbles and they had all snickered when they had first been told the story, him included.

Ironic.

Culber nodded, “second then. But that still doesn’t change anything. Have you considered attending therapy, Captain?”

“Yes,” he said truthfully. “I was required to attend therapy sessions after an incident that happened during my time stationed on the Chatelet. I was only a Lieutenant-Commander at the time, but there was an incident on an away mission that I was put in charge of. Starfleet made everyone involved, including myself, partake in therapy.”

His mood turned somber at the memory. They had been attacked by an unknown hostile lifeform while canvassing the planet's surface and only a few of them had made it out alive. Pike had watched as a young Ensign and crewmen were gruesomely killed, unable to do anything but watch in horror from the sidelines, unable to help.

“I haven’t attended recently,” he added. “I’ve been too focused on my work.”

Culber looked surprised at that fact seeing as it was hard to get some people to go to therapy even when they really needed it cough* cough* Lorca. From what Pike had heard and read, that guy could’ve probably used some therapy sessions. Pike, however, was not about that. He had issues and he knew he had issues, that’s why he had gone to therapy in the first place. It had helped him face the challenges and stress that came with the job and it helped him recognize his strengths and weaknesses.

And this, what was happening to him definitely counted as a weakness.

“And it helped you?” inquired Culber as Pike nodded.

“I don’t think I would be here on Discovery if it hadn’t,” he replied truthfully.

“Then I think it might be best if you started attending again,” began Culber as he started to type away on his pad. “I have a few open sessions available, but we can talk more on it later.”

Pike considered it for a few moments before he nodded. He liked Doctor Culber and they were similar in a lot of ways. Like, the fact that they had both faced the impossible. Culber coming back from the dead and him being a pregnant man and all. It might be good, and God knows Pike needs someone on the outside to talk too, not including Tilly or his Commander.

“Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, do you have any questions? Any concerns that you would like addressed before I start the exam?”

“Yeah,” said Pike as he scratched his forehead, “I guess I’ve been beating around the bush on this one, but I do have a question regarding the c-section that you’ll have to perform when the time comes too—"

He motioned non-descriptively at the air as he tried to convey his point without actually having to say the words aloud.

Culber nodded in understanding, “what would you like to know, Captain?”

“If there’s a possibility I could hemorrhage and bleed out during an abortion, does that mean the same could happen when the time comes—?”

“I’ll be honest with you,” began Culber. “Neither Doctor Pollard or I are certain what will happen when the time comes, but from what we’ve been able to gather it looks as though the sac will eventually detach itself from both your abdominal wall and your major arteries when it’s time to deliver. The chances of you bleeding out are minuscule, but it’s still there, which is why we’re going to be taking every precaution to ensure that will not happen.”

“Like what?” inquired Pike, curious.

“I will be performing the procedure as Chief Medical Officer. Doctor Pollard will assist me and be on guard for any emergency that may occur. Near the end, you may have to be put on light duty, maybe even bed rest.”

“Hold on—” began Pike as he shook his head. He didn’t remember the Doctor telling him this last time he was in here. “Wait a minute, Doc. You didn’t mention anything about bed rest the last time I was in here.”

“I said maybe,” said Culber pointedly. “We’ll have to wait and see, but it is a real possibility. When the sac begins to detach itself from your major arteries, you may experience low blood pressure, which can cause dizziness and even fainting. Now, the good news is we should be able to control that, but if not then it may cause some problems.”

“Some problems?” questioned Pike, suspiciously.

“I can’t say for sure now,” began Culber. “I hate to say this as a Doctor, but we'll just have to wait and see."

“Okay then,” was all Pike could really say to that.

Doctor Culber went ahead with the physical exam, which took only a few short minutes to complete before he was satisfied with the results. He gave Pike another dose of anti-nausea medication before leaving the room so that he could change back into his uniform.

Once Pike was back in uniform, he left as quickly as he could, eager to return to his shift back on the bridge. They were still studying the nebula when he returned, and nobody had even noticed that he had been gone as he slipped quietly back into his chair before nodding at Saru.

The day from there on out was just as he had predicted earlier. Quiet and uneventful. Although, it did give Pike some much needed time to think and reflect in his ready room, his thoughts lingering on when and how he would break the news to Starfleet Command, which was something that he admittingly holding off on.

He had sat at his desk, his finger just hovering over the holo-communicator that was tied directly into Admiral Cornwell’s private channel. However, it was not Cornwell that he ended up contacting.

“Captain,” said his first officer as her image materialized before him. She wasn’t in uniform, which Pike had planned for. This wasn’t a conversation he wanted to have with his Number One while she was on duty. “Now isn’t really a good time—”

“We need to talk, Una,” he said informally, using her first name as they often did when not in the presence of others. “Something happened on an away mission. I just really need to talk to you.”

“What happened?”

“I don’t know how to explain it,” he replied. “You wouldn’t believe me if I told you.”

“Try me,” she said, her voice cold daring as she raised a perfectly sculpted eyebrow at him. He knew what she was thinking. They had always been so open with each other during their time working together and he had never willing withheld information from her in any circumstance, but this was different.

“Una—”

“I can’t help you if you don’t tell me,” she said pointedly before adding; “you called me, remember? Now, spill. What happened?”

“Do you remember hearing about Commander Tucker and the Xyrillians when you were in the Academy?” he asked, uncertain where he was going with this.

She chuckled, “I don’t think anyone could forget that story even if they wanted too.”

Pike ran a hand through his short hair, uncaring whether he messed it up. He let his fingers linger for a few moments as he exhaled deeply, his eyes refusing to meet her own.

She narrowed her eyes, suspiciously. “Chris?”

She sounded concerned. She always had a way of reading him like an open book and this was no exception.

“It wasn’t a box of pebbles,” he admitted, sheepishly. “But it had the same effect.”

Her eyes widened as she leaned forward, her gaze intense. “You’re shitting me.”

He shook his head, “I really wish I was.”

No.”

“Yes.”

“No.”

“…yes.”

“I can’t believe you,” she said exasperatedly. “Every damn time you leave your ship something happens to you. I told you something bad would eventually happen to you if you kept going on away missions, but you never listen!”

He cringed.

“And… And now this!” she said as she rubbed her temple.

“I know this is unexpected, but I didn’t ask for this to happen,” he pointed out as she nodded and sighed.

“I know I know. I just can’t believe you got yourself into this!”

“Trust me, you’re not the only one in disbelief,” he said with a frown as she sighed.

“How did this happen? And don’t leave any details out,” she warned him.

So he told her everything there was to tell and more. She listened intently, trying her hardest not to interrupt him as he regaled the odd tale to her. However, when he got the part where Tilly was the other parent, she lost it.

“Wait… Ensign Tilly was the one who told you that you had beautiful nailbeds, right?”

Pike nodded, “yeah, that one.”

“Oh, I like her!” she exclaimed. “She has amazing hair.”

“You met her?” he asked in surprise. He didn’t think that they had met before, but apparently, they had when Una had come aboard the Discovery.

“Of course, I did! I had to meet the infamous Ensign Tilly, especially after that comment about your nailbeds, which is entirely excusable because you do have really nice nails by the way.”

“Thank you,” a strange sense of pride filling him at the thought of his nicely kept nails.

“No, but really. She was nice. A little bit of a chatty Kathy, but smart. I was surprised to find out she’s in your command program though,” she admitted truthfully. “She’s not like any of the candidates I met.”

“There’s no one like Ensign Tilly,” he added, almost fondly. Number One was right in that respect, Tilly was not the average trainee in the program, and Pike had known enough trainee’s in his career to know that for a fact. She had the makings of an excellent Starfleet Captain. She was smart and compassionate, two traits that were extremely important, but she lacked experience. She was mature, but there were times that she could be spastic. Her quirks, however, were what drew him initially.

Being around Tilly was like breathing fresh air after being in a stuffy hot room for too long. The farther you went up the chain of command in Starfleet, the stauncher it became. The officers that were his own age and who had been in Starfleet for a long time were marked by both time and experience. Gone were the days that he was a young wide-eyed Ensign and God did he miss it.

Being around Tilly made him feel like a giddy, wide-eyed Ensign again. Around her, he felt younger than ever. He could almost forget his responsibilities and his duties and just be himself.

Number One raised a suspicious eyebrow, “you’re not—?”

“No,” he was quick to say. “God no. Our relationship is strictly professional.”

She shook her head, “I don’t think you can say that, especially now that you’re going to have a kid with her. Have you two discussed what you’re going to do?”

He rubbed his temple, “I’m not terminating.”

“Did you tell her?” she pressed as Pike nodded

“Of course I did,” he said defensively. “I wouldn’t come to that decision without telling her.”

“Well, that narrows your options. Have you considered adoption?”

He had considered that option in great depth, but he didn’t know if he could bring himself to do something like that. As much as he struggled with the entire situation, there was still a part of him that couldn’t help but imagine teaching a little girl how to ride a horse in the Californian deserts on his parent's ranch. Or taking her for hikes around the San Jacinto mountains and kayaking on Lake Tahoe. Teaching her to swim in the watering hole just over the hill from where had grown up.

He could almost imagine it, but he knew it wasn’t that simple. None of this was simple and there were still so many factors to consider.

“We haven’t talked about it,” was all he said to that.

“Do you want to keep it?” she asked.

Her,” corrected Pike, deciding to refer to the baby by its rightful pronoun. “It’s a girl, at least according to Doctor Culber.”

“Oh Chris,” said Una as she shook her head. She could tell that while he was not all that attached to the pregnancy, he was attached to the baby already. He was attached to what the pregnancy would result in. A child. His child. “I know that look.”

“What look?” he asked defensively.

“That longing look,” she pointed out. “You want this baby.”

Pike didn’t confirm it, but he didn’t deny it either.

“Does Tilly know?” she inquired after a few moments of silence. “Because you’re going to have to talk to her about it eventually. You can’t pretend that your relationship with her is “strictly professional” anymore, not when you’re literally carrying her child.”

Pike rolled his eyes, trying his hardest not to be too offended at what she had said. “Point taken.”

“And who knows? Maybe you guys will work something out together.”

He nodded before the conversation continued, his mind lingering on what Number One had just told him.

He hoped it would be the case. That they could work something out that worked for the two of them. That was if she wanted to be a part of their child’s life. He would understand if she didn’t and he wouldn’t hold it against her, but if she did wish to be involved then that would mean redefining their relationship. Into what, he was uncertain.

What he could be certain of, however, was that Una was never gonna let him live this one down.

Chapter Text

“I’ve decided that I’m not resigning from Starfleet,” said Tilly as she marched into the Captain's ready room a few days later. A determined look in her eyes as she caught the Captain off guard.

“Uh, Ensign, now is really not a good time,” said Pike as Tyler looked between the two of them.

“Oh! I’m so sorry, Sir! I didn’t know you were in a meeting,” she said in embarrassment as her cheeks flushed pink. “I’ll just go, I’m so sorry.”

She turned to leave before the Captain stopped her, a gentle hand on her shoulder that prevented her from leaving. He looked back at Ash, who seemed to be watching them with silent curiosity.

He quickly removed his hand before addressing Tyler, “would you give us a minute?”

“Yes Sir,” said Tyler as he made his way over to the door. His curious gaze traveling intently over Tilly, those dark eyes analyzing her as he passed her by.

They both waited patiently until the Lieutenant had completely vacated the room before Tilly turned her gaze over to the Captain, who had taken a seat behind his desk. She noted, very briefly, the slight grimace that crossed his features as he lowered himself down onto the seat.

“Why don’t you start from the beginning,” he said as he motioned for her to take a seat, which she did gladly.

“I said that I’ve decided not to resign from Starfleet,” she said as she folded her hands delicately over her lap. “I thought you should know.”

“I never asked you too,” he said with a frown, obviously confused as to what she was trying to get at.

 “I know, but I just wanted to make sure that we were on the same page,” she said.

“Tilly, you know I would never ask that of you,” he said truthfully. “Just because I’ve decided not to terminate does not mean that you have to resign from your job.”

 “I know that— I just need you to know that whatever happens, I’m not quitting Starfleet,” she said as she exhaled before adding, softly; “I refuse to end up like my mother did when she had me.”

His eyebrows furrowed, “I’m not following you.”

“What I mean is,” she said as he inhaled a deep breath, “my mother was in Starfleet when she got pregnant with me. My dad didn’t want anything to do with her or me when he found out, so she was on her own.”

“I’m sorry to hear that.”

“Don’t be. We were better off without him anyway, but that’s not the point. You see, my mom was at the top of her class when she graduated from the Academy and she was going to be a Captain one day. She was even in the Command program like me, one of the youngest applicants to ever be accepted.”

“But then she got pregnant,” said the Captain. He already knew where this story was heading.

Tilly nodded, “only a few months into her first assignment and then I came along. She couldn’t pass the physical evaluation or training program while she was pregnant so she was given a choice. She could either terminate or put her career on hold to have me. Technically, they couldn’t kick her out of the program for having a baby, but she was a single mother and you know how vigorous the training is. She couldn’t catch up after her maternity leave and she lost her place in the program.”

“And once you lose your place you can’t get it back or reapply,” finished Pike as Tilly nodded.

“Starfleet gave her a choice and she chose me.”

Pike nodded, “I’m sure that was not an easy choice.”

“She was given land duty and she never got reassigned to a ship. She gave it all up to raise me.”

“Tilly—”

“Let me finish,” she swallowed, her hands rubbing nervously over the blue fabric of her uniforms pants, “I want this baby. I want to be a mother, I just never expected for it to happen like this. Heck, I didn’t even know if I would ever have kids until now, but at the same time, I don’t want to sacrifice my career or my future. Does that make me selfish?”

 “Not at all,” he shook his head. “It’s perfectly normal to have wants and desires. Having a child doesn’t take just take that away.”

“Then how do they do it? How do some parents give up their careers and futures?”

It was a good question. One that had nagged Christopher for a long time at that point. He had struggled with it as well and now that he was starting to get up there in age, he had wondered if it all been worth it. He had pursued his dreams and had become a Starfleet Captain, but he had never gotten married or had any children. A fact that had started to haunt him the older he got.

“Look, Tilly. I don’t have all the answers. If I did, I wouldn’t be in Starfleet,” he held her gaze. “You’re not the only one who has wondered if it’s possible to have both a career and a family and quite honestly, I don’t see any reason why you can’t or shouldn’t have both.”

“Do you plan on resigning your commission to raise this baby?” she asked and Chris had to admit that in that respect, he was selfish. He loved the Enterprise and he didn’t want to give up his commission after years of hard work and sacrifice.

“In all honesty, I have no idea what I’m going to do at this point,” he admitted truthfully. He eyed the case of Andorian Whiskey sitting on the shelf. He wished he could pound down a glass of that right about now. “I love my job and I don’t want to give it up either. I guess that makes me just as selfish as you.”

“But you want this baby too, don’t you?”

Pike mulled over the question for a few moments.

“Yes,” his voice was so soft, he wasn’t even sure he had heard himself, “I want her. More than anything.”

“But?”

“But, being a Captain in Starfleet doesn’t exactly make it easy to raise a family,” he said as his gaze grew distant. “I’ve always wanted children of my own. Just wasn’t sure at this point if I was ever going to have them. This job takes up all of my attention and energy. I don’t know if I can be both a Captain and a father at the same time.”

 “I guess we’re both selfish then,” she said as Pike chuckled.

“I guess so,” he smiled but it soon fell away. “I still have no idea what I’m going to do about Starfleet Command. They’re not going to like this, at all.”

“Because you’ll have to step down as Captain?” she asked. She didn’t really like the prospect of Pike leaving the Discovery while some stranger took over as Captain, but if that was what needed to happen, then she would understand.

He nodded, “I wasn’t going to tell them, at least not until the mission was complete, but they’ll find out eventually. There’s no escaping it.”

He looked devastated at the prospect, but Tilly could tell that he was resigned to whatever Command decided.

 “Maybe when that time comes, this whole situation will be over and done with,” she offered, although she knew it was a desperate plea to lift his spirits.

“You know, when Starfleet told the Enterprise to not engage in the war, I did what I was told. Just about tore me apart to sit on the sidelines unable to do anything while others sacrificed their lives. Two of my closest friends from the Academy died and what was I doing? Nothing,” he leaned back in his seat. “I promised myself I would never sit on the sidelines ever again and watch people die when I knew I could help.”

“This isn’t the same though,” she replied. “We’re not fighting in a war.”

“Aren’t we?” he asked. “I mean, we’re fighting something.”

“Chris,” she dared to use his first name as she reached across the table that separated them, her hand coming to rest on his larger one, “just because you weren’t there doesn’t mean you aren’t a good Captain. Sometimes the mark of a good Captain is understanding that you can’t do it all. You can’t win every battle and you can’t fight in every war.”

He stared down at their joined hands solemnly, although he made no effort to pull away from her touch like she thought he might.

“So what do you propose?” he asked, genuinely seeking her guidance.

“Tell Command the truth,” she said as she drew his hand away from him. “They won’t be pleased, obviously, but if they have any shred of common sense, then they’ll know that you’re one of the best damned Captain’s in the entire fleet and that replacing you on the Discovery would be a grave mistake.”

She said it with such authority in her voice that Pike knew for a fact that she would make an excellent Captain one day.

He sighed, “alright then, I’ll tell them. Not for my sake, but for her sake,” he said as he referenced the baby. This would mean having to swallow his pride and face the possibility of being relegated to the sidelines once again, a price he was willing to pay for the sake of his child if he had too. He still hoped that it wouldn’t come to that, but if it did then he would do it. He would do it and remember what Tilly had just told him.

Tilly smiled encouragingly at him from where she sat and once again, he couldn’t bring himself to look away.

 

V

 

A few hours later is when Pike finds himself standing before Starfleet Command relaying the unusual story to them. There was no point in trying to hide it anymore and he could tell that they were starting to get suspicious that something wasn’t right with him these past few weeks. He can tell that this is the last thing they ever expected to hear from him and he knows this has created a wrench in their plans. The news is unwelcome, to say the least.

“Pregnant,” said Admiral Cornwell as she tests out the words for herself, “you’re pregnant.”

“Unfortunately yes,” replied Pike as his gaze travels to the rest of the Admirals, their faces a combination of surprise and pure disbelief. He’s not sure what else to say to them.

“Well this is— unexpected,” said the Vulcan Admiral, her usually poised and calm features twisted in confusion.

“How did this happen?” demanded the Andorian, his tone somewhat accusing as he leveled his gaze at the Captain. He looked the least shocked out of them all.

“Well, it didn’t happen the conventional way, that’s for sure,” replied Pike, sardonically as he tried to preserve what little dignity he had left at this point. Never before had he ever had his honor or integrity questioned in such a manner, despite the fact that it was biologically impossible for it to happen the conventional way.

“Well how did it happen?” asked Cornwell as Pike allowed himself to lean back against the table, not because he was lacking mannerisms but because the feeling of the metal pressing into his lower back brought him temporary relief from the knots that were beginning to form there.

“A few months ago Discovery stumbled across a previously inhabited M class planet. We found signs of an abandoned civilization on the surface and we chose to investigate for archaeological and research purposes. I led an away team down to the surface and while we were there one of my crewmembers found an alien device. We had no idea what it was when she began to catalog it.”

“You led an away mission?” asked the Nausican. It was typically against Starfleet regulation for Captains to go on away missions for a variety of reasons, but Chris had always thought that was a stupid rule. He was an explorer and he’d be damned if him being Captain stopped him from leaving the ship occasionally. So, he had elected to ignore that rule.

Pike sighed, “it was a routine mission. I saw no risk in leaving my station and accompanying my crew down to the surface.”

Cornwell sighed and shook her head, “we’ll discuss your questionable actions at a later date, for now, please continue with the story. What happened next?”

“Ensign Tilly wanted to run more scans on the device and she asked for my help in lifting it up. As soon as we both touched the device, I got hit with an energy discharge. When I came too, I was in sickbay. Doctor Pollard ran a routine medical scan on me and couldn’t find any adverse health effects, so I was discharged and allowed to continue my duties. It wasn’t until a few weeks later that I started to notice something was off.”

“And this Ensign Tilly is the other biological parent?” asked the dark-skinned male Vulcan. He had been silent up until that point.

Pike nodded, “the Ensign and I have nothing but a professional relationship.”

“Your relationship with the Ensign aside, I think the most important question we can ask at this moment is in regards to your health. Are you well?” asked Cornwell, concern flooding her features. “This pregnancy isn’t affecting you negatively?”

That was an excellent question. One Pike wasn’t sure he had the answer too.

“Doctor Culber assures me that both I and the fetus are in good health,” he replied as he pursed his lips.

“That’s not what I meant,” said Cornwell as Pike shook his head.

“I’m trying to make the best of the situation,” was his curt reply. He left it at that because there wasn’t much else to be said. “I’ve been assured that I should be able to continue performing my duties as Captain of this vessel, at least for the foreseeable future. However, Starfleet regulation says I must inform you of any potentially compromising health issues that may or may not interfere with my mission for review.”

“So what is your next course of action?” asked the female Vulcan. She made it sound as if they were talking battle strategy rather than an unexpected pregnancy. “Are you going to terminate it?”

“I’m afraid termination is not really an option,” began Pike. “Both Doctor Pollard and Doctor Culber agree that terminating the pregnancy would be extremely risky and could prove fatal to me. Abortion is not medically recommended or advised in this case.”

“So, you’re going to carry to term then,” said Cornwell. Her gaze looks uneasy as do the others.

“I know it’s not ideal,” began Pike as the Andorian Admiral snorted. Pike paused for a few tense moments as he set his jaw before continuing: “I know it’s not ideal, but I’m not going to risk my life for the sake of my pride. Not when this ship needs its Captain.”

“What do you expect us to do now that we know you’re pregnant?” asked the female Vulcan. “Starfleet regulation dictates that any individual found to be pregnant during any potentially dangerous assignment must be transferred to a new post if they choose to not terminate.”

It was true. It was against Federation Law to fire or demote an individual who was pregnant, but it wasn’t against the law or Starfleet regulation to give them a new, less dangerous assignment for the duration of the pregnancy, especially if the individual was apart of a long-term or potentially hazardous mission. Just like the one they were on now.

But Pike would be damned if he lost command of the Discovery. He was determined to see this mission out to its entirety.

“What I am asking of you is this. Allow me to continue my duties as Captain of the Discovery until I am unable to adequately perform my duties. Once that time comes, I will voluntarily step down if need be. You have my word.”

The Andorian scoffed, “do you really think you’ll be able to carry out your mission while carrying a child?”

“Pardon my bluntness, Admiral, but would you be asking me that if I was a woman?” pressed Pike, somewhat aggravated at the question. There were plenty of female Captains who had commanded vessels while carrying a child and Pike knew for certain that the only reason he was being scrutinized like this was solely because of his gender.

The Andorian looked insulted, but said nothing further on the matter, much to Pike’s amusement. Admiral Cornwell’s lip turned upward for the briefest of seconds before her gaze turned somber again.

“Gender aside, I’m sure you can understand our reservations with this unexpected revelation. The Discovery has been given a very important mission and we want to ensure that its Captain will be able to perform his duties to the best of his ability,” said Admiral Cornwell as Pike nodded in understanding.

“I would not be asking you to allow me to finish this mission out if I knew for a fact that I would be unable to perform my duties to both Starfleet and my crew,” he said in his own defense as Admiral Cornwell nodded. If anyone knew how dedicated he was to his job and his ship, it would be her.

 “I see you’ve made your decision,” said Cornwell, “and I guess we will have to make ours. We will discuss the matter together and when we have reached a consensus, we will inform you. Both Doctor Pollard and Doctor Culber will need to submit their testimonies concerning your health to us for review.”

“I’ve already asked them to write up a report. You should receive it at the end of today.”

Cornwell nodded, “very well, then. We will convene again soon once we have reviewed their reports. In the meantime, I guess congratulations are in order, Captain.”

“Thank you, Admiral,” said Pike before all of them faded away, leaving him by himself in his ready room.

He sighed as he pressed his fingers into the tight knots on the small of his back, a soft groan escaping his lips as he massaged the sore muscles. He was only just barely entering into his fifteenth week, not even half-way through and already his ill-equipped body was struggling to keep up. At least the little paunch centered on his abdomen hadn’t grown much, so there was that. But he knew the fetus would be entering into a growth spurt here soon, especially now that he finally had his appetite back full force.

By the time that happened, there would be no hiding it. The news would spread like wildfire around the ship until everyone knew what had happened. Pike, however, chose not to think of it as he stretched his aching muscles and lowered himself back down onto his chair.

Whatever decision Command reached, he just hoped they had the decency to grant him a long paternity leave because if any father had ever needed it during the course of human history, it was him.

Chapter Text

The first time Christopher Pike had ever gone to therapy was when he was stationed on the Chatelet. He had only been a Lieutenant-Commander at the time, freshly promoted and still a bit green in the ears. The events that had landed him in with a Counselor started on some M-Class planet that the ship had stopped to survey. It had been the first away mission that he had been placed in charge of and he was eager to prove himself, but something had gone terribly wrong.

Out of the party of four, himself included, only two made it back to the ship alive. It hadn’t been the first person he had ever seen die, but it had been the first time that someone under his command had died. Two people, actually. And Pike wished he could say it was quick and painless death for them, but he would be lying.

He had been remanded to mandatory therapy sessions with the ship's Counselor as was protocol in the aftermath of such events. It had helped him come to terms with what had happened and to accept that what had happened had not been his fault.

But now, all these years later, Pike was in therapy again, but for a much different reason this time. No one under his command had died this time nor had he or any of his crew been attacked by hostile aliens. He didn’t have PTSD nor was he having flashbacks again. He was just pregnant.

Just pregnant. He wished that there was a more eloquent way of putting that, but there wasn’t.

Doctor Culber’s personal office was just as he had expected. Neat and clean, not one item was out of place. He was glad to find that there wasn’t one of those long couches that were stereotypical of most Counselors. No, there was just a plain old chair. Pike decided that he could at least deal with that as he lowered himself down onto it, glad to have a reprieve from standing on his aching feet.

“You can talk freely here,” assured Culber, “nothing discussed here will leave this room. Whatever you need to talk about, it will remain between us.”

“I guess there is a lot that I probably need to get off my chest,” admitted Pike as he folded his hands in his lap. “I just don’t know where to start.”

“There’s really no perfect way to start a Counseling session than to just start talking. But if you would like for me to help you find a starting point, then I suggest we discuss your talk with Starfleet Command,” said Culber as he looked expectedly at the Captain.

Well, that was probably a good place to start.

“Where do I start?” he asked with a snort as he thought back to that lively conversation.

“With the basics. How did they take it?” asked Culber as Pike frowned.

“They were— surprised. And shocked too. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more confused group of people before in my entire life,” he added, humorously as he remembered the priceless look on all of their faces when he had dropped the news. As dire as the situation had been, there had been a part of him that had enjoyed witnessing their befuddlement.

“I can imagine,” supplied Culber as he nodded for Pike to continue.

He sighed, “they handled it about as well as you would expect. There were lots of questions, some fair and some a little absurd. My abilities as a Captain were brought to question. Apparently, I can’t be a Captain and be pregnant at the same time.”

“Who told you that?” asked Culber

“Admiral Ghan.”

“Did you point out to Admiral Ghan that there are many female Captains in Starfleet who have successfully commanded a vessel while pregnant?” asked Culber in disbelief.

Pike nodded, “I did. Lots of good it probably did though. Admiral Ghan has never been very fond of me for some reason.”

Culber shook his head but said nothing further on the topic of Admiral Ghan as he nodded for Pike to continue the story.

“The other Admirals had a lot of questions and criticism. I wouldn’t be surprised if I were to get written up for leaving my ship to lead the away team,” he said as he scratched the back of his head.

“Well, according to Starfleet Regulation,” began Culber, “Captains are not supposed to leave their ships unless absolutely necessary.”

“I know, I just didn’t see the harm in going down myself,” he said truthfully before he adding; “although, according to my First Officer, bad things always happen to me when I leave my ship. I guess she was right about that.”

“You do seem to have a knack for landing yourself in tight situations, Captain,” mused Culber. “You also seem to enjoy the thrill of leaving your post. Or is that just because you feel the need to prove yourself to this crew?”

Much to Pike’s annoyance, it was a good observation on the Doctor’s part.

Pike mulled over the question for a few silent moments, mentally debating how much of his inner musings he would share with the Physician.

“I guess in a way that’s true. Taking command of the Discovery was not easy. This vessel and its crew were at the heart of the War and I understood from the moment that I took command that I would need to be a force for healing old wounds left by Lorca. But I also enjoy the thrill and adventure of exploring. Becoming a Captain didn’t just take that away.”

Culber nodded as he jotted down a few quick notes on his pad.

“I mean, that’s what Starfleet is about, right?” he asked rhetorically as the Doctor continued his notetaking. “We’re explorers. That’s what we do. That’s why I joined Starfleet.”

He, however, did not join Starfleet to get knocked up. That part was not in the brochure he was given by a recruiter in High School nor was it in the fine print of the service contract he had signed upon his acceptance to the Academy. Although, he was starting to think that it maybe wasn’t a bad idea to add it in now.

“Why don’t we talk a little bit about the War,” said Culber as he attempted to backtrack the conversation. “You and the Enterprise were ordered not to engage. Surely that could not have been easy for you.”

“It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.”

“And now you’re here and you’ve just found out that there is a chance you could be asked to step down once again. I can only imagine you’re displeasure with the situation for that very reason,” commented Culber, his observations spot on.

“Well, that and other reasons,” nodded Pike before adding; “the possibility of losing the Discovery and you know, being a man and being pregnant isn’t easy either.”

“Well obviously,” replied Culber. “I mean, pregnancy in human terms is a very gender-oriented experience. You being a man and going through this goes against the very nature of human reproduction. Surely this experience must be influencing your male identity. Perhaps to you, it feels as though your body is betraying your masculinity?”

Betrayal was a good way of putting it, although Pike hadn’t thought of it like that before nor was he sure how to answer that.

Pike chuckled, sardonically. “Sometimes when I think too much on it all I want to do is crawl out of my skin and leave my body. What's happening to me— it doesn’t feel real.”

He looked down at the small swell between his hips and tried to imagine what it would look like in a few short months. Distended and bloated, unnatural. He shuddered at the mental image that formed in his mind.

“It’s not right,” he said, his tone considerably lower than before. “This shouldn’t be happening to me.”

Culber tilted his head, thoughtfully. “And yet you’ve decided not to terminate.”

Pike pursed his lips and shook his head, “as conflicted about this as I am, I just can’t bring myself to do that. Even if you or Doctor Pollard found a way to successfully terminate, I just can’t.”

Culber leaned back in his chair as he regarded the Captain, his hands interlacing together in the typical Counselor fashion. Clearly, he was finding this conversation to be more interesting than Pike did.

“You’re not attached to the pregnancy, but you are attached to what the pregnancy will result in.”

Pike nodded before adding; sarcastically, “if you mean the little parasite growing inside of me, then yes. I suppose I am.”

“Using sarcasm to mask your true feelings. Classic defense mechanism” noted Culber.

Pike said nothing as he accepted defeat. He leaned back in his chair, resigned as he nodded, sullenly. He couldn’t deny it or refute it.

Culber leaned forward in his seat, “you know I said you could talk freely here. Whatever you have to say, you won’t be judged. If you want this child, you don’t have to hide that from me. It’s a perfectly normal and human desire to want to mate and procreate—"

“Okay, let's not go there,” said Pike with an awkward chuckle. He didn’t need the birds and the bees talk.

Culber sighed, “you know what I mean.”

He looked down at the tiny swell that sat low on his lips and sighed, “Yeah, unfortunately, I do.”

“Let’s discuss that,” said Culber as he set his pad aside. “We don’t need to beat around the bush on this one, Captain.”

“O-kay,” he said as he brushed his hands on his uniform pants, “I guess I’ve always wanted children of my own. And then I went into Starfleet and that pretty much went to shit. And now—”

He motioned non-descriptively at the air before he met Culber’s inquiring gaze.

“And now, I can have just that. Of course, now it’s complicated because the mother of said child is one of my Ensigns and we’re supposed to be on a very dangerous mission for Starfleet and then there’s a little fact that I’m the one carrying it even though I’m a man. But hey, now I can finally be a father and you know what? I’m alright with that because I want this child. I want her more than anything,” he said as he finally felt a heavy weight lift off his chest. He sighed as he ran a hand through over his face as he waited for Culber to respond.

“Interesting,” was all Culber had to say to that, much to Pike’s surprise. He didn’t even look up as he jotted down a few notes.

Pike waited patiently for the Doctor to finish his notes, however, after a few tense moments, Culber was still jotting down his notes while Pike watched in silence.

“Is that all you have to say?” asked Pike.

Culber looked up in surprise, “well, yeah. I mean, it already sounds like you know what you’re going to do. There’s not much I can say or do to help you when you've already decided.”

Pike frowned in confusion, “what do you mean?”

Culber sighed as he shook his head, “you know exactly what I mean, Captain.”

Pike opened his mouth, but nothing came out as he came to the realization of what Culber was trying to tell him in not so many words. Here he was, going on and on when deep down he already knew what was going to happen. What was always going to happen.

He was finally going to be a father, but it would come at the cost of his career.

And my ship, he thought, numbly.

 

 

V

 

 

The next few days pass by agonizingly slow. Over the years, Pike had grown used to boring days and had even come to enjoy the fleeting moments of peace that those days brought, but right now he loathes the quietness.

Six days. Six whole days had passed and still, Starfleet Command had yet to contact him to tell him whether he could keep his command of the Discovery for the rest of the mission or pack his bags. He doesn’t know if it’s a good thing that they’re taking their time, but he can only hope as the days march on.

The wait comes to an end just one day into his sixteenth week. He’s right in the middle of filing reports when his holo-communicator buzzed.

Admiral Cornwell looks tired and she doesn’t smile at him. But then again, she had never really been a smiler before. Still, a pit begins to form in his belly as he rises out of his chair.

“Admiral,” he said with a curt nod. She’s alone this time. None of the other Admirals were present like they were the last time and for that, he’s relieved.

“Hello, Chris,” she said, her wording and her tone informal. “I’m sorry about the wait. It took Command a while before we were able to reach a consensus regarding your unusual dilemma.”

“I figured it would take a few days,” he admitted truthfully as he crossed his arms over his chest. “So, what was the agreement, if you don’t mind me asking. Do I still have the Discovery or not?”

She nodded, “for now, yes.”

“What does that mean?” he asked with raised eyebrows, skeptical.

“It means you’re still in command just like you asked, but we’ve agreed to keep a close eye on you for the meantime. According to both Doctor Culber and Doctor Pollard’s testimony, you are in relatively good health considering, however—”

“There is a chance I may have to be placed on bedrest near the end,” he finished for her, nodding in understanding. He had already discussed the issue with the CMO himself and while he knew it was certainly a possibility, he prayed it would not come to that.

She nodded, “unfortunately, that is what both Doctors confirmed. All of us here at Command had a very lively talk about whether or not you should be able to keep command of the Discovery because of that little fact, but I figured this would be something you and I would have to work out ourselves.”

“If the mission continues that long and if it does come to that, then I personally would not recommend bringing in an outsider to command the Discovery. I have the utmost faith in both Commander Saru and Commander Burnham and if it does come to that, I would prefer either one of them to take command to see the mission out,” he said truthfully as she nodded.

If at any point he did have to go on medical leave, he knew the ship would be well taken care of, so he wasn’t too worried.

“I agree,” she replied. “however, I’m still holding onto hope that it won’t come to that.”

“Same here,” he said truthfully, “but if it does come to that, then I know my ship will be in good hands.”

“You sound so certain,” she commented, idly. “If I didn’t know either Saru or Burnham personally I would never agree to this, but I know them, and I know that they would never let anything happen to the Discovery.”

There was a moment of silence between the two of them where neither one of them was certain what to say to the other.

“Now that we’ve cleared that up, I think we need to talk about Ensign Tilly,” she said pointedly before adding; “more specifically, what this means for the two of you.”

“As I said before, the Ensign and I have nothing but a professional working relationship,” he began before she cut him off.

“No offense, Captain, but I call bullshit on that one,” she replied as she regarded the Captain, who was a bit taken back by her words. “You two may not be romantically involved, but you can’t tell me that you two have a strictly professional relationship when you’re going to have a child together. It doesn’t work like that, Chris.”

He pursed his lips, “you’re right, Admiral. This does change everything. The relationship that I do have with the Ensign is professional, but I understand that having a child can certainly change the boundaries of any relationship, professional and unprofessional alike.”

“Have you two considered your options?” she asked as Pike frowned. The interactions he had thus far with Tilly had been vague, at best. He had told her that he would not be terminating and that he intended to keep the baby and she had expressed a desire to be involved as well, but the topic of their careers seemed to be at the forefront of her mind, and his as well. There was still so much they needed to discuss and work out.

“We’ve discussed it a bit,” he said. “But this isn’t exactly something that can be worked out over the course of a single day, Admiral. There’s a lot for us to consider and work out for ourselves.”

“Of course,” she nodded, “having a child no easy business, especially when said child is unplanned. Not to mention the fact that you’re both in Starfleet and you’re her Superior Officer. Talk about a nightmare.”

“Just wait till Internal Affairs hears about this,” he half-heartedly joked.

“Oh, trust me. They already know,” she replied as he felt the smile leave his lips.

“I suppose that was a given,” he replied earnestly as she nodded, a sympathetic look on her face.

“Be honest with me, Chris. Are you even considering the option of adoption?” she asked out the blue. “And I don’t mean you and Ensign Tilly. I mean you, personally.”

He thought about it for a few moments as his gaze fell to the floor. His clenched his jaw tightly before he allowed himself to relax.

“No, Admiral. I don’t believe it is,” he replied truthfully as he met her gaze once again, “at least for me, it isn’t.”

He didn’t know what decision Tilly would come too or whether she would be involved or not, but no matter what, he knew where he stood on the matter. He, however, had already come to the decision that he would support whatever decision Tilly made for herself regarding the situation. If she didn’t want to be involved and if she chose to pursue her career instead, then that would be her prerogative and he wouldn’t harbor any ill feelings toward her for making that choice. But If she did want to be involved—

Well, that was something they would have to work out together.

Admiral Cornwell folded her hands together, her lips pursing together into a tight line as she considered his words. He knew what she was thinking, what they were both thinking about that declaration. It meant a lot of things, but what it meant most of all was that his career in Starfleet would be coming to an end soon. He might as well kiss the rank of Admiral goodbye because he knew he would never wear the badge anymore.

It was bittersweet. He would get to finally have a family of his own, but he would have to give up the rest of his career for it. He knew that he couldn’t have both. He would have to trade one or the other.

“You understand what that would mean, right?” she asked as he nodded.

They both knew that there was no way that he could juggle commanding either the Discovery or the Enterprise and being a parent at the same time. Once he had made the decision to keep the child, he knew for a fact that he didn’t want to be one of those parents in Starfleet who was too focused on their career to be involved in their children's life. He refused to be an absent father and seeing as families weren't allowed on board ships, he knew what it would mean for both him and his career.

“It was not a decision that I made lightly, Admiral.”

She sighed, “no, I don’t suppose it was. In all my years of knowing you, you’ve never made any decision concerning your career lightly. That’s why I know for a fact that once you’ve made up your mind, there’s no talking you out of anything.”

He smiled melancholically, “nice to know you care as much as you do about my career, Admiral.”

“I would be a fool if I didn’t,” she replied earnestly. “I don’t mean to inflate your ego when I say this, Captain, but you do embody some of the best characteristics of Starfleet.”

Pike couldn’t help but grin, “you really do you know how to flatter me, Admiral.”

“Don’t let it get to your head,” she replied with a coy smile before adding; “that's why losing you would be a great loss on our part. You’re one of the best Captain’s I’ve had the pleasure of knowing, but even I know that there comes a point when everyone moves onto better and greater things and you’re no exception.”

“Thank you, Admiral,” he said, his throat feeling dryer than normal at her words, “it’s been an absolute pleasure being in Starfleet and I am forever grateful for everything. When the mission is complete and after my daughter is born, I will be handing in my formal resignation to Command.”

She nodded, “I’m sorry you never had the chance to make Admiral. I know it was your goal since the Academy and I know it can't be easy for you to give that up."

He gave her a sad smile as his eyes drifted down to the Admiral's badge that adorned her uniform. He had been working for one of those badges since he was just an Ensign and now that he was just a few years shy of getting one himself, he would be giving it all up. It was a price he was willing to make in the grand scheme of it all.

"We all have to make sacrifices at one point or another. This one is mine," he said as he allowed his hand to rest on the tiny swell for the first time.

He had no idea what the future held for them at that point, but he was certain of one thing. 

He wouldn't be facing it alone.

 

 

V

 

"Is Ensign Tilly here?" asked Pike as he eyed the room, his eyes searching for the familiar form of the redheaded Ensign.

Stamet’s looked up from the report that he was reading, his eyes growing wide at the sight of the Captain. It was rare to see Pike off the bridge these days with how he had been throwing himself into his work and everything, but he had decided to come down to see if the Ensign was there. It had been a few days since they had last been able to talk outside of stolen glances on the bridge and it annoyed Pike because they never seemed to be able to find time outside of work to talk privately, and there was a lot they still needed to work out.

“You just missed her,” replied Stamet’s as Pike felt his shoulders sag a little.

“Well, any idea where she went?” he asked, hopeful. If anyone knew where the Ensign was, it would be Stamet’s. From what he knew of them, they were practically joined at the hip. “I really need to talk to her, and I can’t seem to find her anywhere.”

“Sorry,” replied Stamet’s as he looked down at his work pad, “she left as soon as she finished her shift and I don’t know where she went.”

Pike sighed, “that’s alright, Lieutenant-Commander. Thank you.”

He turned to leave before Stamets called out. “If I do see her, I’ll tell her you’re looking for her.”

Pike nodded before he exited Engineering and started back towards the bridge. He wondered, briefly, while standing alone in the turbolift if it would be an abuse of his power to look up the location of her comm signal, but he decided against it. She had just worked a long Beta shift and she was probably in her quarters sleeping in preparation for the Alpha shift and it wouldn’t be right of him to bother her.

“Captain on the bridge,” said Saru as soon as Pike stepped off the turbolift and onto the bridge.

“At ease, Commander,” he said as the Commander began to rise out of the chair. He had no intention of taking his usual seat. “The bridge is still yours. I’ll be in my ready room if you need me.”

Saru nodded as Pike crossed the bridge, his eyes lingering over the form of Burnham before he sauntered into his ready room, the stack of reports a mile-high glaring at him from his desk.

“My God, Chris. You’re starting to get fat,” said a voice from the opposite end of the room as Pike struggled not to jump out of his skin. He turned around to see Leland seated on his couch, his form half-hidden in the shadows as he appraised the Captain with his typical smug look.

“Jesus Christ,” said Pike as he looked around the room to ensure that no one else was about to surprise him. “What the hell are you doing here?”

Leland shrugged, “I thought I would come check up on you, make sure you were alright. Glad I did because you’ve clearly let yourself go. How many pounds have you put on since I last saw you?”

Pike tried not to be too offended at the backhanded comment as he rolled his eyes. “Not as many as you.”

“Man,” said Leland as he rose to his feet, “middle age has not been kind to you.”

“It’s been kinder to me than you,” said Pike defensively, “besides, at least I still have hair.”

“Yes, well thank God for small mercies,” replied Leland. “I’d hate to think what you would look like without your silver hair. At least you won’t be bald and fat at the same time.”

The smirk fell off Pike’s face at the insult, “how’d you get on board the Discovery?”

Leland grinned, “I may or may not have bypassed your security systems.”

Pike raised an eyebrow at that but said nothing as he lowered himself down onto his chair. “The benefits of being in Section 31, no doubt.”

“You’re not wrong about that,” said Leland as he crossed his arms over his chest. “But I’m not here on official business.”

Pike raised an eyebrow. “Then why are you here?”

“What? I can’t check in on my pal from the Academy occasionally without being interrogated?”

“No.”

Leland looked hurt at the statement and Pike found himself rolling his eyes once again. He sighed as he shoved the stack of data-files away and turned his attention back to the other man.

“What are you doing here, then?”

“Like I said,” replied the other man as he leaned forward in his seat, “I came here to check on you. These past few weeks you’ve seemed, occupied. Now I’m not a mind reader, but I can tell when somethings bothering you and clearly there’s something going on that you haven’t told me, or Section 31 for that matter.”

“Cause it’s none of your business,” replied Pike simply. “Now, if you’ll excuse me. I have a mountain of data-files to sort through—”

“I hacked into your medical records,” said Leland as he leaned back in his chair and crossed one leg over the other.

Pike froze as he let Leland’s words sink in, the stack of data-files long forgotten about as he looked up at the other man. He didn’t know if he should be angry or shocked.

“That is a gross invasion of my privacy and I would be well within my rights to report you,” he said sternly as his nostrils flared in anger.

If Leland knew, then that meant the whole of Section 31 undoubtedly knew as well.

“But you won’t,” replied Leland casually as he leaned back in his chair, his gaze never leaving Pike’s. “And besides, the information would’ve eventually been revealed to us. It was only a matter of time, Chris.”

Pike sighed as he pinched the bridge of his nose. “Have I ever told you how much I hate you?”

“Oh, come on now, Captain. It’s not like you would’ve been able to hide it much longer anyway. You’re already showing,” he said as he wagged his finger at the Captain’s midsection. “You’re what? Fourteen weeks along? Fifteen?”

“Sixteen.”

“Three, almost four months along,” noted Leland as he counted down the weeks on his fingers. “So, is it a boy or a girl? I need to know what color to knit the booties.”

“I’m not answering that,” said Pike simply as he thumbed through the reports, not even bothering to look up.

“Oh, come on, Chris. You can’t even tell me what's between its legs?”

“I could, but I don’t want too,” said Pike as Leland smirked.

“So, would it be too gratuitous if I asked how it happened?” he asked. “Or is that too much of a private question, if you know what I mean?”

He waggled his eyebrows at Pike, who shook his head, clearly unamused by the other Captain.

There was a moment of silence where neither one of them said anything before Leland sighed and rose to his feet.

"I can see you're not going to answer me," he said as Pike nodded in confirmation. "But that's alright. I don't need your explanation because I already know what happened."

“Oh, do you?” countered Pike as Leland made his way over to the door and pressed the open button on the panel, his form lingering in the doorway that led out to the bridge.

Leland turned around and smiled devilishly at the Captain as a few crew members who were on the bridge stopped what they were doing to watch the scene unfold. Saru rose from the Captain’s chair as he tilted his head, obviously confused as to how Captain Leland’s presence on board the Discovery had gone unnoticed until now.

“Of course, I do,” he said with a smirk before adding; “I know everything, Christopher.”

Pike swore he could feel the hairs on his neck rise at that statement as Leland turned to leave, but he stopped and addressed the Captain once more, this time loud enough for everyone on the bridge to hear.

“Oh, and congratulations on your little pink bundle of joy. I’m sure you and Ensign Tilly will make great parents.”