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alderwitch

Crossroads [IC]

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It wasn't so much that Taylor was distant after their trip to the doctor's, but she turned introspective. It was a state Jack had seen her in before. In the week leading up to the invasion. In the wake of Zealot's attack. When Taylor was processing things emotionally, she simply went quiet. She spent more hours with her nose buried in a book but conversely, spent more of those reading hours near him if possible. Holing up a chair in his office instead of the couch while he managed phone calls. Considering her lack of reaction, it was just as obvious she wasn't paying attention to what he was saying but she took some comfort in his ambient presence even as she withdrew into herself. It was a productive coping method at least, as she caught up in her backlog of transciption work, but it made the apartment very quiet.

It was a little less than a week afterwards that she appeared in the doorway to his office. Her hands were empty of any books for once, and she stopped and leaned against the doorframe rather than picking her way over to a comfortable chair. Taylor had just climbed out of the shower and her hair was twisted up in a still damp knot. Although tenative, her smile dimpled her cheeks as she said his name in a questioning tone. Her dark eyes focused on him, rather than through him, as she asked, "Do you have a minute to talk or are you busy?"

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....ye dread dhampyr must be destroyed by bell, book, or candle; i.e. by the vibrations of the mightiest bell in the greatest of cathedrals, holy prayer most fell and powerful, and finally by the pure flames of Hell that spawned it...

Jack bolted his gaze up from the book before him, fixing his eyes on Taylor's. I don't know why I even read at all some days. Gently closing the volume of arcane lore that he'd borrowed from a subordinate who collected such things, he pushed the leather-bound volume aside and smiled at her. "I always have time for you," he said mildly. "Come in," he offered, an automatic reflex from vampire society, and rose to his feet to pull a chair out for her. "How do you feel?"

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"Better than I was. Not so tired all the time at least. I don't know if I have more energy or its just that I let myself actually nap when I'm tired now." She responded as she made her way through the room. Taylor was dressed more casually than usual in a pair of frayed jeans that had seen better days and a school sweatshirt that was on the oversized end of the spectrum. The jeans were the best fit she'd found in her closet and the sweatshirt neatly covered that fact up. Taylor leaned up to press a kiss to Jack's cool lips, hugging him gently before she curled up in the seat he'd provided.

Her dark eyes were serious and sober as she met his gaze, "I've been thinking a lot and I think... I think we should talk about this all. You, me. The baby."

The two words dropped like rocks and Taylor steepled her fingers together, flexing them before she finally couldn't take the distance and reached out a hand to him. "And how we're going to move forward."

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In his crisp, elegant white dress shirt and black slacks, his glossy dark hair just reaching his shoulders, Jack looked the very picture of elegant grace as he reached over to take her hand in return. Only the look of worry and sympathy on his face broke the mask; this was one time when he couldn't hide his emotions behind vampiric elegance. The truth of the matter was, this was one time he didn't want to. "What are you thinking?" he asked her softly, hoping she'd found more answers than he had. "What do you want to do?"

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She was dry eyed as she squeezed his hand but the warm fingertips around his trembled. Taylor answered promptly. This wasn't the time for the mystical vagueness that was her usual conversational tactic when it came to matters of strange occurances. This 'strange occurance' was so much more personal than that. Taylor responded steadily, "I want to keep it. Him. I want to keep him."

Her hand flexed but it would take more than Taylor's accidental use of human strength to do any damage to that hard, cold hand. Her expression creased with worry but she continued without her voice faltering, "Its dangerous. I know it's dangerous. Not just phyisically, but I know how people responded to the marriage. I know this is going to be worse and if - when - there's a baby, he could easily become the focus of that. He won't be accepted by vampires and he won't be entirely human. Other than the fact he's got a heartbeat at least, there's no way to guess what he'll get from either of us. And that's just the tip of the iceburg of problems to work out."

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"Taylor..." Jack closed his eyes and sighed softly, taking stock of his own feelings on this momentous night. "If...if that's really what you want, of course I'll go there with you." He opened his eyes and looked at her, his pale brow furrowing. "But do you think this is something that should be?" he asked her seriously. "The dead bringing life is a mighty thing. This is bigger than the two of us."

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Taylor bit down on her lip until it was almost white. She didn't blow off his question as it was one of the pressing ones on her mind as well. She brought her other hand up to cradle his between her warm palms.

"Jack, in the end, I don't care. I know you're not an evil creature. Our son won't be any more evil by virture of his heritage than you are." Taylor leaned down to feather a kiss over the hand she held, "And you can show him your 'better way' for your kind. Unnatural it might be, but I don't think its wrong."

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"God..." He closed his eyes, lowering his head till it touched their hands. "God, I love you so much," he said distinctly. He looked up at her then, raising his head with a smooth economy of motion. The image came into his mind again, vampire claws digging their way out of Taylor's belly, then, worse, fangs in her lovely mouth. But this time, he managed to push them aside, focusing on reality instead of a legion of potential horrors. "So...we made a baby." He laughed, quietly. "How many people know, on your end?"

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Her expression eased at his laughter and the answering smile she gave him revealed the dimples in both cheeks, "Just Stesha although she's probably told Derrick. She called Ace but didn't tell him that it was for me. It won't take him overly long to figure it out. I haven't talked to anyone else. Have you?"

Without leaving Freedom City, hiding it wasn't going to be possible for that much longer, Taylor mused. Especially considering her costume. At that thought, her expressive face scrunched up.

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"No. God, no." said Jack, shaking his head. "As if my little faction wasn't small enough." Freedom City, never a terribly inviting destination for vampires, had thinned out considerably in the last few months. "I don't really have anyone I could tell. God, the last thing we need is any vampire, anywhere, finding out about this. There's a difference between having enemies and having every hand raised against you."

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"I figured as much. I meant some of our other friends, though. Like Elena." Taylor replied, referring of course to their gold and scarlet clad friend. "How do you think its best we handle this? Its going to become obvious enough in short order unless I start hiding, at least to anyone we see on any regular basis. Then there's the costumed crime-fighting part of our life. I run around in a bodysuit under that cloak."

Here she scrunched up her nose again but continued onward gamely, "Personally, I'm reluctant to hide out. Its not sure fire enough and I won't have any allies to call in if something does go wrong."

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Fire. There was a mental image he didn't need. "Well, I don't know," Jack admitted. "Very few of the heroes who know my secret have reacted the way I expected. So maybe they'll be more...accepting of this than we think." He tried to keep his feelings about the trust his friends had shown him out of his voice; it seemed pretty petty to complain about it under the circumstances. "Nonetheless, the fewer people who know about it, the better." He thought for a few moments. "You've mentioned dimensions where time runs differently. What if we hid out in one of those for a while? That way you'd have time to...develop, we could both easily go back if there was a problem, and we'd skip the...well, the dangerous parts." Some of them, anyway.

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"We could... But then we'd have a baby with a birthdate a few months after the wedding." Taylor made a face. She was already not looking forward to the explanation to her family. The coming out of the super-hero closet had been bad enough. Not to mention all the hassling her mother had given her about the wedding before hand. Of course, Elena might be willing to manipulate a few minds... No! She was NOT going that route. No matter how tempting it might be. "And then there's my college courses, and my job, and all of the duties that come with being Phantom. I can ask James to help out a bit longer but he's still a rookie when it comes to dealing with interdimensional hijinks outside of the infernal."

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"Taylor, we're bringing the living undead into the world," said Jack, giving her a slant-eyed look. "I think we're beyond worrying about what your parents are going to think. We can be pretty sure they'll figure something out once he's born." He couldn't imagine their offspring wouldn't be marked by what he was. "We can talk to the other Midnighters," he suggested. "Get them shifted to a dimensional focus for a while."

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"I think I'm allowed to have multiple worries," Taylor huffed but she let the anxiety over her parents drop for the moment. Jack was right at least in that it wasn't the largest concern at the moment. Her brow creased in thought for a moment as she worked the logistics of the Midnighters stepping in silently for a few minutes. As she still had Jack's hand captured, she ran light fingertips over the back of his hand, fiddling with the still-shiny wedding band.

"That could work, especially if I teach James how to contact us if there's an emergency. If we dimension hop, we'll have to do it in smaller steps, I think. As creepy as he is, I don't know of a doctor better than Archevielle. Certainly no one I trust." Taylor looked about as unhappy as she felt with that pronouncement, if resigned to the matter. She'd just have to put up with the unpleasant sensations.

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"No one we find on our edge of the community is liable to be particularly trustworthy," said Jack with a little shrug. "He's the best we'll find. And as for my people, what there is of them, if I'm not gone that long on this end of things...well, it'll make life so much easier." He rubbed his eyes. "As long as we can be replaced," he said with a very human hope in his voice, "it'll be all right. There's so much work left to do already."

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"Well, we could do in in long weekends. Somewhere where days equal weeks. That way we can hop back over and deal with things in between jaunts to keep the fires to a minimum." Taylor suggested, reaching up to touch the strained lines in his face. His cheek was cool as always under her palm but Taylor barely registered that difference these days. She smiled and feathered a thumb over his skin. "I love you, Jack. Are you going to be okay with all of this? It wasn't exactly part of the plan."

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"I'm supposed to be asking you that," said Jack softly, taking her hand and squeezing it lightly, his skin cool against hers. "We've come this far together," he said with a serious look. "My life ended a long time ago. But you, and the job, and my people, keep it going, because it means I'm part of something larger than myself. I want to find out where our story goes from here."

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Taylor returned the squeeze, smile still playing about her lips. She leaned forward to kiss him softly, her warm lips lingering against his before she pulled back. "Well, I'd say we've definately found something larger. All of the complications aside, you're going to be a father, Jack."

It was both exhilarating and terrifying, really. In some ways, Taylor felt more comfortable with the supernatural end of the concerns. The idea of setting up a nursery and taking care of an infant - not as a doting aunt, but rather a responsible parent was more than a little daunting. Especially since this was a path she'd long assumed to be closed by her choices in life. "Its a little overwhelming, but I'm really alright. I have faith in us."

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"I have faith in you, too," said Jack with a little smile. I cannot claim to have faith in what I don't really believe in. Even now, when I'm living a life I expect to collapse around me at any moment."I love you, Taylor. Wherever we're going to go, at least we'll go there together." He squeezed her hand and said, "Let's call our friends," he said suddenly. "Stesha, I guess, or somebody. We don't have to be alone in this."

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Taylor gave him a curious look at his sudden request but shrugged and agreed, "I should call Stesha. I haven't wanted to really talk to anyone until we'd set on a course of action. Anyone else you'd like to invite over?"

Taylor added the last as she stood to dig in her pocket for the cell phone. Jack had a phone on his desk, of course, but thet was generally for work and not a number Stesha knew, or even really should know. She flipped the phone open and punched the number in before lifting it to her ear.

As it rang, she rested her free hand gently on Jack's hair, her fingertips idly playing through the dark strands in casual carress.

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Stesha answered on the fourth ring, just as Taylor was expecting to be dumped to voicemail. She sounded a little breathless, but that wasn't unusual. For someone who worked in a service profession, she was really not good about keeping her cell phone handy. "Hey Taylor," she said, the phone rustling as she juggled it. "How's it going?" She sounded a little worried as well, but was obviously trying to hide it for the sake of normalcy.

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"More than a little crazy," Taylor said, a reluctant smile in her voice. She continued to play with Jack's hair as she added, "Jack thinks its time to circle the wagons. We are having a baby, so says the good doctor, but of course because it's us, it's complicated."

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"Oh wow," Stesha murmured. "Did you learn anything else, how far along you are, or how it might have happened?" She was quiet for just a moment, mulling over what to say. It was hard to know what was appropriate, given the circumstances. Finally she asked, a little cautiously, "Have you decided what you're going to do?"

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"That's why I haven't called earlier. We've been trying to decide that." Taylor forced a breath that she really didn't need. Drawing on the comforting solidarity of Jack's silent presence she soldiered on, "We're keeping him, but that means we can't let a lot of people know. Not only would the vampires be after the baby, and me, but there are hunters who would be just as focused on our demise. It could make the attack at the wedding pale in comparison if it got out of hand."

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