A pudgy finger gently prodded against his cheek. If he didn’t get up, or at least acknowledge that he was now awake, the poking would become harder and more incessant. When Isaac was awake, everyone was awake. Time to get up . Propping himself up on his elbows, Bellamy pulled his face from its nest inside his pillow. From his left he could hear Isaac’s soft giggles as he tried in vain to pull himself up onto the bed; his body too small to make it over the bed frame.
“Pancakes. Time to make pancakes.” Pancakes sounded good right now. Isaac bounced up and down on his toes, chanting pancakes over and over and the volume of his voice getting louder and louder.
“Okay bud I’m up. Just quiet okay, don’t want to wake anyone.” Anyone who wasn’t Bellamy at least.
With a loud cheer, and then a muttered ‘oops’ as Isaac covered his mouth, the toddler shot off out of the room towards the stairs. So much for sleeping in today. Bellamy glanced to his right but the place beside him in bed was empty. The covers on the opposite side partially made. Guess she was already up. Throwing on a pair of loose pants, Bellamy slowly made his way downstairs, tugging his arms into a t-shirt as he went. Isaac latched onto his leg before he could even enter the kitchen. “We’re having pancakes!”
“Let him sit down or no one is getting pancakes.” Clarke stood in front of the oven, armed with a spatula and a small batter-drenched measuring cup. Isaac nodded, letting go of Bellamy’s leg and racing over to one of the seats at the table. Shelley sat in a high chair, legs kicking happily. Her small, pudgy hands reaching out for him; fists opening and closing excitedly.
“Seems like everyone is up and about to die of food poisoning. I’ve lived a good long life. Longer than anyone would have expected.” Bellamy joked, pulling Shelley from her seat and placing her onto his hip. She babbled away, clapping her hands to emphasize whatever point she was making. Probably about pancakes: his kids had a one-track mind when it came to satisfying their stomachs.
A bit of batter smacked him in the face causing Shelley and Isaac to break out into a peel of laughter. “Thirty-five years is not a long life.” Clarke tossed a fork into the sink, disregarding any evidence to prove she assaulted him. “Well thirty-six actually.” She muttered.
Isaac took that moment to stand up on his chair and yell out a happy birthday. He then proceeded to repeat it in several languages: Mandarin, Spanish, Latin and finally Trigedasleng.
“He was working on pronunciations with Octavia all day yesterday to surprise you.” Clarke said, her back turned to them, “He thought it would make the greeting more special.”
“Did it?” Isaac hopped up and down in his seat. Bellamy reached out with his free arm and grabbed the toddler from his seat and placing his small sock-clad feet onto the ground.
“Echo stopped by while you were still asleep.” Clarke started, placing several finished pancakes on top of a ceramic plate. “She and Emori had a long night. She’s not sure if they’ll be coming over later.”
The IVF wasn’t taking. Emori and Echo had tried IVF three times and each attempt ended the same way: Emori’s skin bruised, her body aching, and their home babyless. He can count on one hand the amount of times he’s seen Echo cry and Murphy has seen it happen only once. The second time the IVF failed, he and Murphy took Echo out for a walk around the boundary of their energy shield. To ensure her devotion to Azgeda and the royal family first and foremost, Queen Nia had made sure Echo priorities could never sway.
This was something the two women wanted dearly and it broke Echo that she couldn’t be the one to carry.
Clarke’s free hand rubbed her pregnant belly. Bellamy didn’t blame them for not wanting to be here. Clarke was pregnant for a third time and Raven had gotten pregnant on accident. Not the most idle scenario for two people trying their damnedest.
“I offered after the bean’s out, if they needed a surrogate. Echo said she’d think about it” Clarke’s voice trailed off as she ladled some more dough onto the skillet. That must have been an interesting conversation. His wife carrying his ex and her girlfriend’s child.
The front door opened and shut, Madi racing into the kitchen. Clarke opened her mouth to inform the teen she was let but Madi cut her off, “Jordan said he’ll skip breakfast but will be here for dinner. More importantly, Raven thought she went into labor and it was hysterical.” Dropping into one of the chairs at the table, Madi began to regale the tale of one Raven Reyes, presently six-months along, against the feeling of Braxton Hicks. “She’s been in Med Bay for a solid two hours yelling at Jackson to exorcise the demon out of her.”
Demon huh? That was a new one. Prior to being called a demon, the fetus’ running name was ‘A Lesson in Birth Control’. Which was a step down from Murphy calling it the ‘Figure Breaker’.
That poor child.
Isaac’s head popped up next to Bellamy’s leg. His little fingers combing through a mess of dark curls. “Is Raven coming?” His son had a crush on their local hormonal mechanic. It was adorable.
Clarke had taken up sewing the first time she was pregnant, and Jackson ordered her to bedrest – not that Clarke listened. Wasn’t there something about doctor’s being the worst patients? Pseudo-doctors were just as bad. Her fingers slowly worked the needle, looping through the torn fabric of Isaac’s shorts. He had ripped them jumping off the porch with Murphy. Bellamy was letting out a pair of pants Raven refused to retire until post-labor. Every now and then, Clarke would grumble and hold out the material to him, asking him to fix the stitching. Her fingers were bloated from the pregnancy causing for a few mis-stitches.
The two of them sat on the small loveseat in their living room as Shelley crawled about the floor and Isaac took out every toy to play with. Shelley propped herself up into standing position and wobbled over to her brother. She took one of the blocks and said “Bock! Daddy bock!” proudly.
“Yup, block.” Bellamy couldn’t help the grin on his face. Especially after the huff from Clarke when Shelley made sure to pronounce the ‘l’ in the word ‘block’. Another word that beat out a variation of mama. Clarke was not happy to have been beaten out by ‘cookie’ and ‘ball’. She was beyond pissed when Shelley said ‘duck’. She’s never even seen a fucking duck Bell. And she said fucking duck.
Clarke turned to glare at him, her blue eyes livid. Hey he was trying! He told Shelley everyday who Clarke was and enunciated the word mama and mommy every time. He was trying. Madi on the other hand just laughed whenever something else came out of the baby’s mouth. Rolling her eyes, Clarke lifted the end of her top up, allowing her to press her palm to the skin. ‘Kicking’, she mouthed.
Shelley raced over as fast as her two feet could carry her. “Up daddy up.” Her pudgy fists raised up towards him, the block gripped firmly in her right hand. “Up, up.”
“You gotta say please.” Isaac said, rolling his brown eyes. “Please and thank you.”
Isaac walked over to them, a small wooden figurine in his hand. His attention shifted from his sister to Clarke’s abdomen immediately. Small, brown eyes widened in fear. A small foot pressed against Clarke’s skin, signaling that they were there.
“It’s okay,” Bellamy coaxed, placing the pants down beside him and lifting Shelley to sit on his thigh. “the baby’s just saying hello.”
“The baby isn’t nice!” Isaac yelled. He pointed a finger at the exposed skin and reprimanded the fetus, “You don’t do that to Mommy, that’s not nice.”
Bellamy chuckled, holding onto Shelley was she leaned across Clarke’s legs to look at her mother’s stomach. Another kick appeared and Shelley screamed before giggling, “’Gen, ‘gen.’”
“Nice to know you like when the baby kicks.” Clarke pressed a kiss to the top of Shelley’s head.
“She’s kicking you and that’s not nice.” Isaac demanded that the fetus stop immediately.
Clarke took their son’s hand and placed it against her belly, “Give it a second baby.” Isaac’s eyes widened and his mouth made a smile ‘o’ before forming into a soft smile, “Baby’s just letting us know they’re there.”
“It doesn’t hurt.” Isaac sounded more to be ensuring himself than inquiring from his mother.
“No, the baby doesn’t hurt. Makes it hard to sleep sometimes but I’m fine.”
Shelley leaned even further to place her hands on top of her brother’s. another kick, she let out another screaming laugh. Bellamy pulled the baby back into his lap, one arm sliding around her waist to hold her in place as he pulled Isaac up onto the loveseat. The toddler stood up in between his parents and the back of the loveseat, placing his hands on the pregnant belly of his mother to balance himself.
“You know,” Bellamy started, bouncing the leg Shelley claimed as a seat, “I used to not like Aunt O before she was born.” Clarke and Isaac’s eyes darted to him in surprise.
“Really?” they both asked, tones different. Clarke sounded surprised while Isaac sounded curious yet cautious. His eyes panning back to Clarke’s abdomen, not understanding what was happening under the feel of his hands.
Factory Station families typically had one child who eventually started working to help support the family as soon as the Ark allowed, or no kids at all because they couldn’t afford a child. If the Factory family had a child, often the child would do household chores or running errands while the parents worked grueling hours. A lot of the families in Factory, his mother included, had children around the same time to be able to get the help they needed as soon as possible. Little birthing booms. Adding another cog into the machine early. “I had passed women in the hallway or in the canteen every now and then who were pregnant, but I never truly experienced a pregnant person. The units in our block either already churned out a child, or never could afford one. Cravings were weird, the expanding midsection was scary but seeing the foot or hand was terrifying. Took me a while to realize O was showing us she was there.”
Clarke covered Isaac’s hands with hers and pressing harder to the swell. A small smile emitting from Isaac, “Baby.”
Isaac was too young to remember Clarke carrying Shelley. Now, he was a little older, probably still wouldn’t remember this later but at the present moment he could understand. He was becoming acquainted with his brother or sister.
“Baby.” both his parents repeated back.
Entering their bedroom, a shirt smacked him in the face. A pair of pants dropped a foot or so in front of him. And then a long skirt. Looking up, he saw Clarke standing beside their closet tugging every article of clothing she owned from a hanger. They had a small rectangular mirror on the wall next to the closet. She would hold it up to herself and then after a moment or two chuck it behind her. The floor of their room looked as if the clothing booths in the Exchange exploded; maybe if all the clothing booths exploded. Did Clarke have that many shirts?
“Nothing fits.” she grumbled, dropping another shirt to the floor. “I’m the size of a whale and I have nothing nice to wear.” she explained, tugging at the shirt she wore. “I have my everyday pregnant, planet-sized lady clothes but nothing for a nice dinner.”
Pregnant, planet-sized lady. That’s a new one.
“Why do you need to wear something nice? It’s not dinner in Alpha Station.” he teased, laying back on the bed. Isaac and Shelley went down for their afternoon naps as easily as they always do, which is never easy. Never. He needed his own nap.
Clarke tossed one of his shirts at him. She lifted a dress up against herself and frowned. “Like I said, it’s not dinner in Alpha, no need for ball gowns or anything fancy.” Even if it was a simple linen dress, “Just a reminder that I lasted another year.”
Back on the Ark, his family didn’t celebrate birthdays. It was another reminder of the illegality of Octavia’s existence. Their mother never taught Octavia about birthdays but every year, Bellamy found himself getting something most would deemed insignificant for Octavia, such as a simple red bow. And every year she loved it - never knew why he did it, but she loved it nonetheless. Something that was hers and hers alone from the world she couldn’t venture out into. Conversely, Clarke was big on celebrating birthdays. Her parents had the points to afford birthday cake - wasn’t really cake but the closest equivalent the Ark could produce. They’d host a party in their home, inviting everyone and their mother from Alpha and Go-Sci. Then during their six years of isolation, Clarke and Madi cherished each passing year.
She made sure birthdays, since founding their compound, were rung in with bells and whistles. Specifically, Octavia’s and Emori’s.
Walking to the closest, he pulled out one of the only dresses still hanging on her side. Possibly the only dress that would fit her comfortably, not pulling snug around her midsection. He had sewn the dress for Clarke when she was eight months pregnant with Isaac.
“Bell,” she whispered from her spot in front of the mirror, “I’m not wearing my wedding dress.”
Originally, they planned on not getting married until they had a child. Kind of a middle finger to the Ark and it’s reproduction regulations. While he hadn’t been an illegal child like O, he was an unauthorized child born to an unmarried orphaned sixteen-year old. According to whispers he heard growing up, his father had been eighteen when he was born.
The council deemed his father’s parents mentally unfit to care for Bellamy following the death of their son. Upon turning eighteen, the chancellor granted his mother a pardon for there were no suitable guardians to pass Bellamy off to and under the stipulation Aurora Blake would become a model citizen.
Four years later she truly upheld that status of model citizen.
But heading into her eighth month of pregnancy, Bellamy found Clarke crying in their bedroom floor holding up a baby blanket. She had changed her mind. She wanted to get married before the baby was born. Bellamy, and eventually when O had been found, lived with this stigma of being an unauthorized child. At least his sister was in lock up and never had to hear the rumors. Aurora Blake had not one, but two unauthorized children and she hid one for sixteen years. Almost a record. It was quite the scandal. Ugh gag him.
Clarke had it in her head that Isaac would live with that same stigma, at least at the time her hormone-addled mind believed that. He simply sat on the floor beside her and asked for her new measurements for her wedding dress.
“Why not? You wore it all the time towards the end with Shelley.”
Her hands reached out to touch the fabric. He hunted all over Sanctum for the softest and most breathable material he could find. The materials were found and sewn together in less than a week. It wasn’t an ornate dress like he saw in old movies. Nothing like what Abby probably imagined when she envisioned her daughter’s wedding. A simple sleeveless A-line gown, the pattern easy to bring to life. The only piece of decoration being a silver lace fabric at the bottom of the V-shaped neckline.
“Wearing it here, where it’s just us is different than wearing it in front of everyone.” If she walked out into the middle of the compound right now, most of the inhabitants wouldn’t think anything of it. Just a pregnant Clarke in her pregnant clothes.
“You just don’t want to repeat outfits.” he joked, sitting back down onto the edge of their bed. Delicately, he laid the dress out a few feet away from him.
Clarke’s nose scrunched up as she shook her head. “After everything that’s happened, I have no problem repeating outfits.” she situated herself on his lap, her knees entrapping him. Her fingers snaked into his hair, twisting his curls. “But that’s- that’s ours.”
His hands reached out to rest on her thighs, kneading the exposed flesh. One of her hands trailed down his jaw, settling below his chin. Tilting his head back, her lips languidly molded with his. They moved together finding the perfect angle. Gently, she pulled his bottom lip between her teeth. Pulling away, she kissed his forehead, his nose, the scar above his lips. The beds of her fingertips lingered on his cheeks. Dropping a gentle press to his lips, Bellamy pulled her back in. He knew he shouldn’t dawdle, that Isaac or Shelley could wake up at any moment and these moments with his wife had a time limit but he moved leisurely. They had all the time in the world.
He kissed up her jaw towards her ear. Gently, he nipped at the lobe inciting a sigh from her. Clarke tilted her neck to the side allowing him to trail slow, open-mouthed kisses across her skin. His wife let out soft moans, arching into him as much as the pregnancy would allow. When he reached the hem of her shirt, he tugged at the material. Clarke chuckled at his actions, bringing his mouth up to meet hers again.
“This shirt is in my way.” he mumbled against her lips, tugging once more at the material.
The shirt found its way to the floor. She raised an eyebrow at him. Her fingers now tugging at the shirt he wore, “I feel you’re overdressed.”
His shirt joined the pile. He returned to kissing her neck. Slowly, he continued further down. One hand continued to knead the flesh of her thigh while the other toyed with the elastic waistband of the shorts.
Clarke immediately broke away, pushing his chest back. “Wait Bell no.” She slid off his lap. Using his shoulders for leverage, she steadied herself on the floor. “There is going to be none of that today. This baby is staying in until at least midnight. I’ll squeeze it back in if I have to.”
She must have noticed the look on his face for she smiled and leaned forward to peck his lips softly. “Today is your birthday, not the bean’s. I’ll never be able to top giving you a kid as a birthday present so nothing labor-inducing until tomorrow.”
So no sex.
Tugging off the pair of shorts, which wasn’t fair to be doing right then, Clarke lifted the dress up against her frame. “You know my husband did go through the effort to make this, I may as well wear it again.”
Murphy’s laid out his knives and spices on their probably too small counterspace. Murphy was in charge of the appetizers and the entrees, Madi was in charge of the dessert, and Clarke was in charge of salad. Not because he wife couldn’t cook, but because nothing labor-inducing or strenuous. She stated that not even an hour ago and maybe because last time she made dinner she had burnt a sizeable portion when she fell asleep at the kitchen table.
Again, nothing labor-inducing or strenuous.
Bellamy had entered the kitchen under the guise of getting Isaac apple juice, but his son had been enraptured by Raven, following her around like a duckling - and Shelley hobbled around behind her brother. And Bellamy was mainly trying to coax his wife into letting him prep the salads and to sit the fuck down.
“Mind if I crash on your couch?” Murphy asked, dicing the onions.
“What did you do?” he and Clarke said together.
Murphy gasped, “Rude of you to assume I did something.” Turning away from her salad prep, Clarke leveled a knowing look to Bellamy. “No need to Mom and Dad Look at each other. I'm not one of your children.”
“You probably have some time to make amends for whatever you did. Raven’s second husband is still potty training.”
Murphy dropped the knife his was using onto the cutting board. He swung around to face them, his jaw comically slacked. He forgot about potty training didn’t he. “Your kid is going to be wearing diapers their whole life.” Clarke chuckled to herself, moving onto thinly slice the tomatoes.
“Raven thought she went into labor this morning. Three months early. She freaked out, as much as she complains about the pregnancy, she is looking forward to being a mom – being better than the ones we had. She was terrified, veiled it with sarcasm and threats, but I know her.” Murphy’s eyes lifted to meet his, “You know how she deflects. Anyway, I made a joke that went poorly. She was struggling to get off that weird plastic chaise thing doctors have you sit on and I thought it would be funny to beep. Try to lightening her spirits.” Murphy began beeping, as if he were a machine on the Ark backing up.
He beeped his pregnant wife. As she tried to get off the table.
“In my defense she would have laughed if I did that to anyone else. Or if she wasn’t incubating a person.”
Bellamy shook his head, a small smile on his lips. Poor joke but good intentions. Raven would probably hit him with some sarcastic quip or zinger within the hour and Murphy could sleep at home.
“By the way, if Emori seems off-” Murphy’s voice trailed, as if trying to find the proper words to say.
“Echo already told us.” Clarke stated quickly, “I understand why they’re staying home.”
“She thinks it’s her fault. Believes if she wasn’t affected by radiation. If she wasn’t born with this,” he muttered, gesturing to his left hand, “they wouldn’t be needing multiple attempts.”
And Echo was dying watching her girlfriend go through this.
The back door opened as a wet Emori stumbled into the kitchen. Followed by an equally wet Echo. Had it started raining?
“Hey, glad you could make it. Everyone is in the living room. Shelley is telling everyone about her blocks.” Clarke’s tone started off jovial before shifting into something almost snide. Echo raised an eyebrow in question but Bellamy just waved it off. When the bean came out, Clarke wouldn’t be as upset about where she ended up on the list of her daughter’s words. But right now, the blocks were her enemy.
Emori glanced down, watching Clarke’s pregnant belly as she fluttered about. Maybe they shouldn't have come. He had no problem with them choosing to stay home if it were too much for them. He sure as hell would have. Emori’s hand ghosted over thigh, over the large bruise that formed from the IVF. Echo, sensing the shift in her girlfriend, grabbed the other’s hand. Stating they were off to steal a few towels.
Fourteen people crammed into their dining room; though two of those, Isaac and Shelley, were placed and Bellamy and Madi’s laps. Emori and Echo pointedly sat on the opposite ends of the table, as far away from the babies, from Clarke, and from Raven. Jordan spoke in length about what they were doing in Sanctum. Their second ever election was approaching and there was only one candidate that people nominated to sit a second term. And she just so happened to be the only null elected to their inaugural senate.
She had been doing wonders for the null population. Opening the door to more career opportunities, putting an end to oblation, and giving them a voice.
“It’s not perfect yet,” Jordan said, swatting the lone baked asparagus stalk across his plate, “Josephine did a lot of damage during her time. There’s still a stigma against nulls and we arranged for a scouting party to search the woods to ensure no parents abandoned their children to the trees. But it’s getting better. There’s an orphanage for nulls, run by Delilah’s mother.”
For the first time since they sat down, Bellamy saw Emori’s eyes raise from her plate. She looked to Jordan and then to Clarke and finally to Madi. Watching as the younger woman entertained a giddy Shelley. Clarke grabbed his hand under the table, giving him a content smile.
In between the entree of roasted lamb, god damn Murphy is good, and the cake Madi painstakingly baked (her words, not his) everyone milled about between the living room and the dining room.
Emori walked over to where Clarke and Jordan sat engaged in conversation.
“I think it’s time for Isaac and Shelley to go to bed.” Clarke declared a few minutes into their conversation, slowly climbing from her seat. She left Jordan and Emori to continue without her.
Madi grabbed Isaac’s hand, leading the toddler from the living room. “Shell, you go with Bell!” she sung as the pair left the room.
“That wasn’t funny the first time she made that joke.” Regardless, there was still a small smile on his face.
“Sucks letting a sibling pick out a name doesn’t it?” Octavia said, from her position on the loveseat, “Almost as if the name is bound to suck.” His sister smirked, easing back into her seat. Her name was great. Named after the sister of the greatest emperor in all of Rome. She had no respect for such an honor.
After the house was cleared of guest and the plates were dumped unceremoniously into the sink, Bellamy slid into bed beside his wife. She nearly fell asleep at the table and it took four attempts before she agreed maybe she could head in for the night. Everyone retired to their homes shortly after. Isaac woke from a nightmare and it took a long walk through the compound before the toddler had fallen back asleep.
“Happy birthday Bell.” Clarke mumbled, face buried in her pillow.
“Thank you love.” He kissed her temple. It had been a good relaxing day. Tomorrow he had work to do but today had been a nice reprieve.
She curled herself into him, making herself the little spoon. Her cold, swollen feet laid against his shins. Clarke propped herself up onto her elbows. Her eyes tried to adjust to the dim lighting in their room. The clock beside their bed read it was approaching midnight. “Your birthday is basically over.”
He made a noise in response, draping his arm across her waist. His eyelids felt heavy as they slowly shut. His wife backed herself further into him. Her rear shimming to find a better position against his hips. “Meaning you and bean won’t have the same birthday.”