ORIGINAL CONTENT OF D.C. BLU. DO NOT COPY AND/OR REDISTRIBUTE WITHOUT THE AUTHOR’S PERMISSION. PLAGIARISM IS CRUEL. PLEASE BE RESPECTFUL.
Val sat through the whole dinner and negotiation feeling a weakness and fatigue wash over her little by little. At first the feeling didn’t bother her because she thought it was jet lag. But as the dinner continued, the feeling grew stronger. And when she stood with Matt to bid the others goodbye, Val nearly passed out. Sweat broke out over her skin as it became hard to breath.
She’d never been so careless to be affected by her own chemicals so she was distressed that she might have used the wrong neurotoxin or worse, taken the wrong anti-toxin. She was trained to be extremely cautious, so how the hell…
“Take me back to the hotel. Then call my uncle to get a… doctor,” she said careful not to reveal too much in public.
Matt didn’t ask anymore questions as he lifted her off her feet. Val held onto his neck and closed her eyes so that the room wouldn’t spin continuously and make her even more light-headed. She leaned against him, letting his nearness take away the panic she felt. She had an antidote in her room, and she hoped it wasn’t too late to take it.
Back at the hotel, Matt laid her on the bed before he brought her the bag where she kept her chem supplies. Val opened the case and quickly took the sublingual antidote. Then she took an acupuncture needle in hand, closed the case, and laid back on the bed.
She closed her eyes, breathing slowing as she listened to Matt talk to her uncle. It sounded like the nearest Code poison specialist and doctor was hours away.
“Val, your uncle wants to know how much time you can buy.”
If she pressed a few acupuncture points, she could slow her pulse enough to delay for hours so it might be enough. First, she had to get her own heart rate under control.
“Ten hours at most,” she answered. “If someone else was performing the acupuncture, they could make it days, possibly weeks.”
Matt relayed her message as Val continued to breath, meditating into a calm state.
“There is a Code acupuncturist not far who can prolong it.” Matt mentioned. “Your uncle warns not to reveal too much.”
“Very well.” She closed her eyes then stuck the needle in one side of her neck, leaving it there so the expert could see what she did.
Val lay listening to Matt talk as her heart rate slowed to one beat per minute. Prolonged, a slowed heart rate could cause brain damage, but a few hours would only cause her a headache.
Eventually, she slowly lost consciousness as her body slowly adapted to the lack of blood flow. When she came to, it was to an older woman’s face. She looked calm, steady, and concerned.
“How long…she been like this?” The Japanese woman asked, as she massaged Val’s fingers trying to get the blood circulation back into it.
“Not even an hour.” Matt answered.
“Good. It is…unwise to be in such a…” The woman paused as if looking for the right English word. “State…your…condition.” The woman looked Val over, taking her pulse while observing her eyes.
“You know about my condition,” Val spoke, but her speech was slurred from still trying to fully awaken.
The woman frowned, nodding. She looked Val over, feeling her neck, then used her fingers to feel Val’s ankles. “I been doing longer than you born.” Her serious face lightened a bit with a faint smile. “And pregnancy even older…than me.”
Val’s whole body turned cold. “What?”
“What?” Matt asked at the same time.
The woman looked at Val and then back at Matt. Then she turned back with an amused expression. “Pregnant. Little over month… Almost two.” The woman nodded as if proud of herself. “Congratulation.”
Val and Matt stared at each other. She didn’t know what her face looked like, but it probably matched Matt’s look of shock and horror. Pregnant. Something they agreed was bad news.
First, Matt was her half-brother.
Second, Matt was her half-brother.
Third, Matt was her half-brother!
She’d been on birth control, but she just now remembered it wasn’t completely one hundred percent effective. Plus, Val missed a day or two on occasion when she traveled long distances. Matt said he would get a vasectomy in the future, but since he was so young, very few doctors were willing to perform the procedure.
Then Val’s whole body stiffened as something else came to mind. This woman could not leave knowing this information. Not with her memory intact. Val couldn’t kill her because she was Code and her uncle would know Val did it since he was the one who sent her. He would begin asking questions Val didn’t need the man asking.
Val had other ways. “Would you like some tea? I’m sorry, we were rude not to offer. And I would like you to stay…and tell me more about my…symptoms.”
The woman smiled and nodded. “Sure.” She patted Val’s hand reassuringly.
Val had only been pregnant one other time and it was a hellish experience. Then too, she didn’t have the normal signs of vomiting, swelling, mood swings, or increased appetite. She had been mostly herself. And then Domenic happened. She had been in so much pain and so much agony, she couldn’t determine what was pregnancy and what was her just trying to heal from his brutality. Because of her battered body, she was on bed rest for most of her pregnancy.
When room service brought the tea up for them, Matt went to the door.
Val asked, “Can you tell me how you can tell I’m pregnant and not sick?”
The woman began to explain as Val got up and discreetly grabbed her purse. She made noises of acknowledgment, half listening to the woman. Val joined Matt at the table by the door to help him prepare tea. She said nothing, didn’t even look at him as she opened up a sugar packet that she got from her purse and put it in the woman’s tea. Matt paused, but remained quiet and just watched. Val took her cup in one hand and the woman’s in her other easily served them as if nothing were wrong.
Then she sat down across from the woman who thanked her before sipping.
“Your body still young…take care of yourself so the baby grows healthy… The baby’s weak, probably you didn’t know you were…” The woman spoke as Val nodded listening, feeling ill as the woman warned Val she might not be able to hold the baby since something Val did might have harmed the fetus. Was it the anti-toxin or the antidote? Neither should be taken while pregnant.
She couldn’t believe she was pregnant. If she was a normal woman, she’d be ecstatic. But she was nowhere near normal. Even when she learned she was pregnant with Christophe, she hadn’t been happy about it. She always knew any child born to her would always be watched by the Code, just like she’d been. Even if she was the new leader, there were members who would watch her every move.
She loved Christophe, but she worried about his future and his interaction with the Code. Pam was already teaching him the rules like Val’s mother had taught Val. If there was another child… Val didn’t want to think of the Code. That’s why she slipped a memory drug into the woman’s tea. She didn’t need the Code knowing she was pregnant. This woman, like many of the Code, didn’t know Val’s position. They didn’t know she was the next in line. Only the inner circle knew who she was.
It had always been like that in the Code. While the leader knew almost every member and would meet them at least once in their life to assess them, they would never know the leader’s identity. Anonymity kept the leader safe. It also allowed the leader to monitor the Code to see if there were members who needed to be removed.
She sighed, as she watched the woman’s face slowly frown. Her sentences became sluggish. Fatigue was showing in her face. Then she just sat, her elderly face staring at Val blankly.
Matt watched at the side, not saying a word as Val continued to observe the older woman. After a moment, Val reached out and took the half empty tea cup that leaned forward in the other woman’s hand, ready to spill the last of its contents onto the floor.
“You will remember who you are and your past.” Val checked her watch. “The last hour didn’t happen. You helped the woman on the bed release the pressure on her body and found nothing out of the ordinary but a completely healthy, yet stressed body. You had tea and a lovely conversation about acupuncture…” Val went into detail about the profession and because Val knew plenty about acupuncture, she had plenty to say. After five minutes of talking, Val grew quiet. She carefully sat both tea cups on the table, positioning the woman’s cup right in front of her, turning the handle slightly towards the woman’s dominant hand.
Val hated using this method to replace a nice person’s memory, because the drug had side effects. There would be other things the women would forget. Val hoped it wasn’t too important. It was a good thing the woman didn’t drink all the tea.
“Are you okay?” Val asked the woman who began blinking her eyes coming back to her senses.
“I… Oh…” She took in a deep breath. “Must be getting late.” She looked down at the tea cup.
“We did talk a lot.” Val smiled. “Its just so nice meeting a fellow acupuncturist.”
The woman nodded. “Yes.” She nodded again. “I should…go.” She stood slowly and stepped carefully toward the door. She looked around with uncertainty.
“It was nice to meet you.” Val smiled kindly.
“Yes, you, too.” The woman bowed before Matt opened the door and let her leave.
Once he closed the door he said, “Did you ever use that drug on me?”
“No. I rarely use it. One, it’s a mess to make. Two, you might forget more than just a few hours of events. It’s not without other complications as well.” Like forgetting everything.
Val took a deep breath and dropped down onto the seat. Matt came to her with a worried face.
“How are you feeling?” he asked.
Val bowed her head into her hands and tried not to think about the life inside her womb. “Physically, I feel fine. I’m guessing that little episode in the restaurant wasn’t the toxin…” Or maybe it was the fetus reaction to the anti-toxin.
Feeling him loom over her, she looked up just as he squatted in front of her. They stared at each other.
She knew Matt didn’t want this child anymore than she did. He had just gotten used to sharing her with Christophe, no way did he want to share with another child. Plus, neither of them had the time for another child. Poor Christophe barely got quality time with both of them.
“What do you want to do?” He whispered.
“I’m Catholic, technically, there is only one answer to that question.” Val whispered back.
“Okay?” Val sat up straight. “No, lecture of the dangers of siblings having children? No, lecture on how we should not be having children?” She snapped.
Matt just stared at her without reaction, like her words didn’t hit him at all. Val was about to open her mouth again, when she noticed that he wasn’t breathing…holding his breath. As if bracing himself for whatever she had to say.
He was ready to take any abuse she gave. That sobered the fear inside of her. He was as scared and uncertain as she was. And now she felt like a bitch for her harsh words.
She reached out and wrapped her arms around his neck, pulling herself to him. “I apologize, I don’t know what to do, puppy…” She said into his neck.
He wrapped his arms around her and held her tight. His large hands rubbed her back bringer her some comfort. “Me too. I wish I knew what to say…do… If you want to me to make the decision and you hate me forever, I will. Okay? Just… Just stay with me…”
His voice was low and Val knew he was worried she would disappear on him again. She sighed in her heart. For such a strong wise young man, he sure was sensitive. But she was the blame for that after refusing to marry him repeatedly. Though she finally accepted the marriage, she didn’t take planning seriously. They were to marry in a couple of weeks, but she didn’t care much because marriage didn’t hold the weight it used to for her. She didn’t need it to prove to Matt she loved him, but now she felt maybe marrying him would help him relax a little. Especially now…