On the elevator ride up, I nearly fall asleep when I lean my head against the mirrored wall for just a second. I truly hope Emma doesn't have too much planned for my return, because there's nothing I want to do but sleep. While I search for my keys I can already hear Frank clawing at the other side of the door. "Lâche-toi, putain de chat. Vous endommagerez la peinture." I mutter as I push it open. He immediately latches on to my ankles. Sharp nails sink into my skin, but I barely notice it. It takes a stupid amount of effort to get the suitcases inside. I decide to abandon them in the hallway to take care of them after having slept.
"Em, I'm home!" I call out. The lights are on, but Emma is nowhere to be seen yet. Unusual for her, especially considering how she greeted me the last time. While rubbing my eyes I head towards the living room. "Em? You there?" But she's not there either. Is she playing hide and seek with me? No matter how adorable the idea, I'm not sure if I'm any mood to play games. I check the bedroom; the lights are on, but it's otherwise empty. I do hear the shower running though. The sound lifts some of the tension in my chest. No games. One of us must have gotten the time of my arrival wrong, she must not realise I'd be home already. I find the door unlocked; when I open it, steam comes billowing out. I give an obnoxiously loud knock on the door to announce my arrival. "Em, I'm home! Take your time, I'll wait for you in the living room. Please don't kill me if I fall asleep."
The water instantly turns off. Seconds later Emma appears around the carefully crafted corner that seperates the shower from the rest of the bathroom. Her hair hangs in dripping strands over her shoulders, her skin red from the hot water. Her eyes are wide. "You're here already?" The way she says it makes it sound like she wasn't expecting me for another week.
"Yes?" I reply with a chuckle. "March one, the ten thirty pm landing. I texted you my flight information, didn't I? I must say, I was rather disappointed not to have the same welcome as last time."
"Right. Yes." Her eyes close briefly, as if she's trying to gather herself. The laugh that follows is unnerving to say the least. "Did I text you?"
"You did." The tension to my chest is back. I watch her wrap herself in a bathrobe with a frown. "Em, is everything okay?"
"I thought it would help. The shower."
"Help what?"
"To think!" She snaps it at me, though not with malice. "I haven't been able to think straight since... Shit, Lucien, I'm going insane!" Another one of those nervous laughs. "It makes no sense, does it? I mean, it explains everything - doesn't it? The sickness, the fatigue..." She's found a towel to wrap around her hair. Does she even still realise I'm here? She does, because she looks at me with a slightly crazed look in her eyes. I am fully convinced that my severely sleep deprived brain is enhancing just about everything that's happening around me, because I could swear that the water droplets on her skin are actual diamonds. Emma's crazy talk must be part of that, too.
"Em, I love you so much, but you're not making any sense. And that's on me, because my brain ain't working right." I rub my eyes again. "I'll wait for you in the kitchen, yeah? I need a bite. You finish up here, take your time."
Only she doesn't take her time; three minutes later she joins me in the kitchen, still in the bathrobe, and walks straight into my arms. Not that I'm objecting. She nuzzles her face into my shirt, eyes tightly squeezed shut. "I'm so glad you're home." She whispers. There's still an edge to her voice that I don't quite understand. "I can't believe this is happening."
"It is, though." I grin, kissing the top of her head. "No plans to leave for at least three weeks, except -"
"No that's -" She interrupts, then catches herself to continue in a calmer matter. "That's not what I meant. Something... came up. And I'm not sure how it happened, but it explains so much about what's been going on, but I don't know -"
"Neither do I." I cut in as calmly as I can manage. "Emma, I have been home for ten minutes and all you have done so far is ramble. I haven't had a day off in three weeks, just spent seventeen hours on a plane with a man who reeked of garlic so strongly it gave me war flashbacks to Halloween and havent slept in two days. My brain is mush. Please tell me what's going on in the simplest way you possibly can."
"I want to! But if I do we're both going to be freaking out and then what?!" Emma exclaims. "I'm still trying to wrap my head around this and what this means for us, and I don't think you -"
"Try me." I cut in once more. "Seriously, Em. If you're going to break up with me or tell me you've grown and fifth and a sixth limb, now's the time to tell me with how much my brain doesn’t work."
She laughs, which relieves some of the strain that somehow got put on whatever is happening here. "None of that." She promises me. "I mean, sort of. Growing limbs, I mean."
"I am this close by calling you by your full name."
"I'm pregnant!" She blurts out the words that ring through the kitchen. They echo through the living room and the hallway, straight back to me, where they still don't entirely make sense. I stare down at Emma, who stares back with anxiety radiating off of her.
"Well, that's certainly easy to understand."
"Are... you sure?"
"Me and my five tests are quite sure."
"Huh." Emma keeps staring at me, clearly expecting more of a response. I lift a finger. "Give me a second."
"I'm trying, but I've been freaking out for what feels like weeks and you are much to calm to warrant me completely freaking out!" She half-yells. It makes me laugh.
"Not calm." I assure her. "Just a severely delayed reaction." It's true. I can already feel the panic building in my body. This is different from Bamburgh. This isn't just a scare, this is actually happening. Emma is pregnant. With my child. In this very moment, it's a very real possibility that I'm going to be a father.
"I need to sit down. We both do." I breathe eventually. Emma grabs my wrist and a bottle of whiskey. "Wine?" I suggest for her, then realise that I just said. "Right. Never mind."
Her hands shake when she pours me a glass, the golden liquid sloshing over the rim of the glass. "Welcome home indeed." I mutter when she hands me it.

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