These days I was in ‘retirement mode’ while Rutan took over as the human Lord of the Sea. All I did was bully the pirates in the tavern, visit with Lioa and the children, and laze about the home. Sometimes I did housework if I felt like it.
However, Satel still had his job to do, so he didn’t get any breaks. He mostly dealt with landlubbers trying to invade the coast, and then tormented the clans who objected. There were occasions when he would let me help him with some missions, but they were scarce since he didn’t want me placed in dangerous situations.
Today I was relaxing in the den when Satel came home appearing quite irritated. Usually his job left him happy – or depressed if he happened to fail some seafarers – so it was rare to see that look on his face.
“Wot’s wrong?” I inquired, worried to see that expression on him. It had been a long time since he had a hormonal outburst, but I was always ready to deal with one in case something incredibly stupid happened.
“Ah ran across Maetira today. She had her daughter wit’ her,” he grumbled as he lifted me with his magicks and stole my seat. Once he was settled, I was gently lowered so that I was reclining on him.
I suppressed my sigh at the mention of his sister. Their sibling rivalry took a new level once the blind falucite became pregnant, and it had only gotten worse when it was revealed that she had a daughter. Those who birthed girls were considered lucky, since females were not as prevalent as males. Of course Maetira rubbed it in his face every time he had to visit the Clystmore clan.
“Wot did she say this time?” I muttered, exasperated. Honestly this was getting out of hand. It wasn’t enough that we were finally pregnant, now it was a war to see how many children we could have over Maetira. Since we were a mixed couple that wasn’t a problem, as we could have as many as we wanted. But falucite couples had a limit of three, unless they had nothing but daughters. Surely Maetira wouldn’t be that special…
However, regardless of how many Maetira spat out, I wasn’t going past four if I could help it. It was a nice, even number, and enough to surpass that damn limit.
Satel remained silent, rubbing at my still flat belly. I was only three months along, and I wasn’t expecting a bump for another three. That was more than enough time for me to torment pirates before I had to hide. I wasn’t ashamed to appear before them pregnant, but Satel was scared that they would try to take advantage of my vulnerability when I reached the advanced stages.
Well, even if the idiots thought to come looking for me at home, they were going to see my impressive rifle arsenal.
“Well?” I prodded.
He mumbled at first, apparently too embarrassed. When I pinched his arm, he finally confessed, “Maetira insinuated that we’ll come up with silly names fer our babe ’cause we’re seafarers.”
I raised an eyebrow at that. Those two could be so childish towards one another. I knew Maetira didn’t have any misgivings towards seafarers; it was clear she only said it to bother my mate. But why was he so upset over something so insignificant? I swear it must be the men who had emotional mood swings during pregnancy…
“Who cares wot she thinks? Our brats will be five times more awesome than hers. Rutan alone already outshines that little lass o’ hers,” I replied, trying to cheer him up.
“Ah ain’t that mad at her, but she has a point. We ne’er talked ’bout names before. Ah don’t want ta think o’ it when yer in labor. Ah want a lot o’ thought in it,” he said.
…It wasn’t as if I was going into labor within the next few weeks. Thanks to the falucite gestation period, I wouldn’t be expecting for a little over two years. But I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to start early so that we would be sure when the falcie arrived.
“Did ye have any names in mind?” I asked.
“Some. Ah’m kind o’ fond o’ that first name o’ yers- Ariat. An’ if Cegil don’t mind ah would like ta name one o’ our lasses Dantia.”
I was admittedly surprised to hear either of those names come up. I had no memory of being called Ariat. Satel was the one to tell me this, and it was later confirmed by Pappy. In this life Pappy named me Elati, and later Cegil called me by the name of his deceased daughter. I didn’t mind either choice, but it was definitely up to Cegil if we could have a Dantia. There was a chance that he and Lioa could still have a girl. That was if he could bear to name another daughter after his first.
I decided to contribute and quickly thought of names I liked.
“Well, ‘Rutan’ is clearly out o’ the question. We have too many o’ those,” I said jokingly. “Mebbe Seikram an’ Tojan- Spearhead’s real name. An if we have more lads than two, then Pao an’ Rohje.”
“Yer past crewmembers?” he muttered in amusement. There was a pause before he added incredulously, “Seikram?”
“Ah forgave him, an’ he was one o’ me best quartermasters. They were all good men.” Though as of right now Pao and Rohje were still among the living. I figured by the time we have our third and fourth child they would be gone. Not that they wouldn’t be honored to have my children bear their names.
As for Seikram, yes he had done me wrong, but he truly regretted it and spent almost all of his life as a loyal servant of the ship. It was no surprise that I eventually respected his drive to make up for the mistakes he had made.
“That’s a good start, an’ a good point. If we happen ta have four daughters then the last two could be Koah (Koh-ah) and Byrra (Beer-rah),” he said as he wrapped his arms firmly around me. Hmph. Now he was picking original ones. I’ve never heard of them before.
I did notice the irony in that he was thinking of girl names and I was only suggesting boy names. I knew he wanted a daughter, though I wasn’t sure if that was from his upbringing. He was taught at an early age to value women and pray for daughters. But if he genuinely wanted a girl, well…that made my desire all the more worse. I didn’t want a daughter.
“We should probably think o’ more, in case we have more. Or mebbe ah might come up wit’ a better name fer a lad,” he suggested slyly.
I scoffed at him. “Yer welcome ta try, but there ain’t no beatin’ the names o’ good pirates.”
“Wot ’bout Caeh (Kay)?”
I chose not to answer for a full three seconds. “…Ain’t bad, but wot’s it mean?”
“It was the name o’ a water walker in an old fantasy story ah once read.”
It was admittedly perfect, but I made myself silent again. I had a feeling he wanted me to think of a name for a girl. I didn’t want to, and I didn’t want him to know why. Instead, I pretended that his name was too good and acted like it stung my pride.
“Aye, that’s a good one, but it’s up fer debate later. Yer goin’ ‘gainst names o’ great quartermasters,” I said, keeping up the act. I didn’t want to rob Satel of the right to name a son, but I wanted nothing to do with a girl. Sure I would love any child of mine, but I would rather have sons. I was used to boys; boys were easier to raise.
Apparently I couldn’t fool my mate because he caught on instantly. “Wot’s wrong? Yer not as unenthusiastic as yer tryin’ ta sound.”
Damn it, he caught on already. “Nothin’. Ah jus’ ain’t in the mood ta think. Me mind’s drawin’ a blank,” I replied, shaking my head.
“Liar,” he muttered. “There’s somethin’ botherin’ ye. Ah can tell.”
I bit my lip. Since when could he read me like a book?
“Ah don’t want ta think o’ names fer lasses,” I admitted. “Wote’er ye come up wit’ is good ‘nough.”
It would only make it worse if I continued to hide it from him. So if he asked more questions, I would have to come clean.
“‘Cause ah… ain’t so keen on havin’ a girl,” I mumbled, praying that his sensitive hearing would somehow miss my words.
I could practically feel his hurt feelings under me. I quickly turned in his arms to look up into his mismatched eyes. I needed to explain myself. Maybe it wouldn’t make him feel better, but if he could just understand why…
“If we have a girl, ah’ll love her all the same, but… ah don’t know how ta raise one. Ah don’t feel comfortable makin’ her live the way ah did an’ end up confused. …An’ don’t we have ta give her up ta yer clan anyway? Ah don’t want ta do that ta one o’ our own.”
I didn’t know how to be a mother to a girl. My experience had only been Rutan, and my tutors in childrearing had been Pappy and his crew. I didn’t mind having a strong little girl who was like me, but I didn’t want her to suffer like I did. Girls were different from boys emotionally, and I had no clue how to compensate for that.
And, ignoring my inadequacies, there was still the clan tradition. Mixed couples had to send female falcie to be raised by the clan once they were old enough to be separated from their parents. Even with them being half falucite, they were still worthy enough to be mates to at least the second born sons.
My words eased his pain and he sighed in relief. “Ye don’t have ta worry ’bout a thing. Ah haven’t told them yet, but ah ain’t goin’ ta send seafarers back ta the clan. Ah’m sure they’ll understand. An’ as fer yer fears as a mother, then don’t worry. Yer a great mother an’ if our little lass can grow up ta be jus’ like ye, then that’s all ah can hope fer. If nothin’ else, ye can ask Lioa fer pointers. She’s the one who sorted ye out.”
True. Having Lioa live close by was an advantage, even if she never raised a daughter in her life. …Well, that wasn’t completely true. I suppose I counted as a daughter, but she didn’t raise me from childhood. As a last resort, I could always ask Savage. Rosie seemed to turn out well as a girl.
“The idea o’ a lass still bothers me. Wot if ah mess up an’ she ends up like a twin o’ Rutan?” I asked, concern lacing my voice.
“Wouldn’t that make her like ye? Ye are the female version o’ Rutan,” he pointed out jokingly. In response I punched him in the arm, my blow softer than norm because of my position.
I glared at him. “Ye know wot ah’m talkin’ ’bout.”
The bastard chuckled. “Yer not goin’ ta be the only one raisin’ her. She’ll be me first daughter, too. Let’s do the best we can an’ make sure we’re always there fer her. Ah would think as long as we’re here ta make her happy, then it won’t matter how she ends up.”
I rested my head against his chest as I contemplated his point. Like with Rutan, it would be trial and error. Though he turned out fine the first time around, I felt I didn’t do as well as I did with the second version. But then it didn’t matter how I raised him, since he always regained his memories and became Pappy by twenty. Any damages would fade away under the wiser experience of his past lives. I wouldn’t have a failsafe like that with the child I was carrying.
When I thought of it that way, having a boy wouldn’t be any better than having a girl. There was the same risk of messing up and having it ruin them permanently through adulthood. But… Satel wasn’t a bad father when he took care of Rutan. And I did at least keep the lad from dying and making serious mistakes. Perhaps between the two of us – and a little help from Cegil and Lioa – it wouldn’t be a disaster.
“…Ah still can’t think o’ a name. Don’t know many women, save fer Lioa, Cyirlie, Gisette, an’ Rosie. Ah still would rather have a lad o’er a lass, but…” I trailed off, grinning when I felt him hold his breath. “Ah ain’t so against it as ah was before.”
He squeezed me gently as he smiled widely. “That’s good. Ah’ll jus’ pray harder fer daughters then.”
“Why? Ta spite me?” I grumbled flatly.
His grin turned sinister and he shook his head once. “No, so that in the event we have nothin’ but daughters, we’ll keep tryin’ ’til we have a son.”
Yeah, I could see how that worked in his favor. Not only he would get more children out of it, but also bragging rights for having more girls than all of his siblings.
I glared at him and muttered, “Yer a jackass.”
“Thank ye, me dear,” he replied jovially, turning my head towards his for a kiss. Despite the mood our conversation ended on, I eagerly kissed back. I knew he wasn’t completely serious. Yes, he would definitely pray for more daughters, but he wouldn’t force or trick me into having more children than I was comfortable with.
No matter if the falcie inside me was a boy or girl, I knew we would both love and care for it like any doting parent. Everything would be fine.