“Stay here!” Caleb shouts to Jester as he runs up the stairs to the deck of the ship.
Ordinarily, Jester would protest and jump into the fray right after him. But she knows that if she does, she’ll end up inadvertently distracting Caleb as well as all of the others. Jester is pregnant. And since she and Caleb told everyone, Jester’s been coddled by every member of the Mighty Nein, not to mention the rest of the crew.
Her hands grip the railing anxiously, the sounds of battle ringing in her ears. She cradles her stomach gently. She’s showing a little bit now, something Caleb is absolutely delighted by. Jester waits, bouncing on her toes anxiously, listening for any signs that she’s needed.
“Shit!” Beau shouts. “Caleb!”
Jester starts moving before she realizes it, running up the last few stairs and appearing on the deck. There are corpses everywhere, all of them Uko’toa’s servants thankfully. Her friends are on the opposite end of the deck, fighting some disgusting looking sea creatures. Not Caleb though. Caleb is slouched against the railing, his eyes closed, blood pouring from a wound on his side.
“Caleb!” Jester shouts. She runs towards her husband, jumping over dead bodies and pools of ichor. When she gets to his side, she falls to her knees beside him immediately, grabbing his hand as she casts a healing spell. She sees the Traveler’s hands press against Caleb’s wound as it seals up.
Caleb groans and clutches his head as he leans forward. Jester exhales in relief, seeing that he’s okay. “Oh my gosh, Caleb, are you okay?”
Caleb rubs his head and looks up at her, squinting a little in the sun. He blinks once and then twice. And he smiles. “Hello. You’ve very beautiful.”
Jester frowns, loosening her grip on his hand. Caleb is always showering her with compliments, that’s nothing new. But something in the way he says it is just...off. “Caleb?”
“Sorry,” he shakes his head. “That was very forward, I don’t even know you.” He laughs a little and Jester’s heart sinks like a stone.
“You…” Jester slowly lets go of his hand, pulling away. “This isn’t a funny joke, Caleb.”
“I would never joke about this,” Caleb says. Then he frowns in confusion, “Would I? I’m sorry, I don’t know myself either. You said my name is Caleb?” Jester nods wordlessly. “That’s a good name.” He rubs his head again. “Where are we?”
“Jester!” Before Jester can finish, Beau runs up beside her, a smear of blood on her forehead, but otherwise looking okay. “All good?”
Jester turns and looks up at her, hoping Beau sees the panic on her face, “Caleb doesn’t remember anything,” her voice trembles. Ordinarily, Caleb would put his arm around her reassuringly and pull her into his side, but now he just stares at her in something akin to confusion or wonder.
“What do you mean?” Beau immediately crouches down next to her and looks at Caleb. Jester stands and shakes her head, eyes welling with tears. This is all so much. She needs her husband, she always does, but especially after a battle. But he’s not here.
Before either of them can say anything, Jester bolts into the hull of the ship. She hears someone call after her, but she doesn’t look back. She runs to the quarters she shares with Caleb, nausea building in her stomach. She doesn’t know whether that’s from the situation or the baby. Either way, the second Jester is in their room, she runs to the bucket Caleb had lovingly placed on her side of the bed.
She doesn’t know how long she throws up. Marion said that when she was pregnant with Jester, she was sick all the time. It seems Jester inherited that from her mother. As she throws up, she cries. Caleb is always here for her when this happens. He rubs her back, braids her hair back, and gently comforts her until the nausea subsides. There’s an ache in Jester’s chest as she thinks about it. What if Caleb is never better?
That thought alone, makes her throw up again.
As she lifts her head up, Jester hears the door creak open. She looks up to see Veth standing in the doorway, her face morphed in motherly concern, “Oh, Jester,” she says in that tone of voice she’s adopted ever since she found out Jester is pregnant.
Jester sobs again, curling in on herself. Veth is at her side in an instant, pulling the tiefling into her arms. “It will be alright,” Veth says.
Jester shakes her head, “I just want Caleb. He-he’s always here.”
“I know.” Veth strokes her hair gently. “And he’ll be back soon, as soon as Caduceus can figure out what the matter is.” Veth sighs. “He says by all accounts Caleb is perfectly fine, there’s nothing physically or magically wrong with him.” A wave of grief rolls over Jester and she sinks deeper into Veth’s arms. “But it’ll be okay.” Jester isn’t sure who Veth is trying to convince.
“Did you tell him about us?” Jester asks softly. “The baby?”
“We told him he was married, we couldn’t hide it once he noticed the ring. We didn’t know what you would want so we didn’t tell him anymore than that,” Veth assures her.
“It’s not him,” Jester says softly. “I...I don’t want to force him to pretend to love me. I don’t want to tell him anything more.”
“Okay. I’ll make sure no one else says anything,” Veth assures her. “Are you still nauseous?” Jester shakes her head. “Then we should get you something to eat, or at least a glass of water. Caduceus is making a late lunch for everyone.”
Jester finds herself agreeing and allows Veth to take her hand as they head up to the galley. Everyone else is already there when they arrive, causing everyone to turn to look at them when they enter, including Caleb. Jester ducks her head, hoping no one sees how red her eyes are as she takes the furthest seat from Caleb, next to Fjord.
As she sits down next to him, Fjord slings his arm around her and squeezes her into his side. “You okay?”
“Not really,” Jester answers. She leans into the embrace and accepts the kiss Caduceus plants on her head as he sets a plate in front of her. It’s some fried potatoes and a peanut butter sandwich. Perfect for her still slightly off stomach. Jester smiles at him, it doesn’t quite reach her eyes.
The conversation is mostly led by Caleb who fills the silence by asking questions to all of them. He asks Caduceus and Fjord about their holy symbols, Beau about her vestiges, Yasha about her hair, and Jester...
“Are you married as well?” Caleb nods his head to her hand where a wedding ring with an amber in the middle sits on her finger.
Jester nods, silently cursing herself for not taking it off. “He’s...He’s waiting for me in Nicodranas.”
“Lucky man,” Caleb says with a slight smile. “And I’m sorry for the comment I made when I woke up.”
“You didn’t know,” Jester says softly.
“I don’t know a lot of things these days,” Caleb tells her with a slight laugh.
After lunch, Caduceus stops Jester before she can follow the others out of the galley. He looks at her sadly and says, “Jester, I don’t know if I can get him back.”
“What do you mean? Veth said you were working on it. You are right?” She demands, cursing the tears that well in her eyes.
“I am,” he assures her quickly. “But even with the Wildmother’s help, I can’t figure out what’s wrong.” Caduceus sighs and takes her hand. “You just need to think about what if he never remembers.”
And Jester does the only thing she can think of. She disappears from the Nein Heroz and reappears in her bedroom at the Lavish Chateau.
Before she even fully appears there, she runs out of her bedroom and into the hallway. Bluud jumps to his feet, sword drawn at her heart. She doesn’t flinch. When he sees it’s her, he stows his sword and gruffly asks, “Alright?”
Jester’s lip trembles and she shakes her head. She darts quickly into Bluud’s arms, hugging him tightly. He immediately hugs her back, his huge arms embracing her just like he’s always done.
“Do you want your mother?” Bluud asks. Jester nods into his chest, not letting him go as Bluud calls for her mother. She doesn’t let go of him until she hears her mother’s bedroom door open.
“Jester?” Marion asks. Jester sobs at the sound of her mother’s voice, turning around to face her. “What’s going on?” Jester shakes her head wordlessly as she sinks to her knees. Marion rushes to her side and pulls her into her arms. “Is it the baby?”
“No, mama,” Jester whispers. “Baby’s okay. It’s...It’s Caleb.” She feels Bluud kneel down behind her and his large hand lands on her shoulder.
With her mother and Bluud surrounding her, Jester tells them everything. She sobs the whole way through, letting her family hold her until she’s finished. Once she’s done, Marion gently takes her into her bedroom and lays Jester gently on the soft, velvet blankets. “Sleep, my love. You’ve had a long day.”
Jester barely nods before her eyes slip closed.
She’s asleep for a long time, longer than she probably should be. But to Marion it just speaks to the stress and exhaustion her daughter is under, especially in her condition.
When Jester wakes up, the first thing she sees is a soft, golden, familiar light. “Mmm?” Jester groans as she blinks her eyes open. There’s something orange in her face, orange and purring.
“Get out of her face, Frumpkin,” Caleb says, grabbing Frumpkin from around the middle and picking him up and out of her face.
Caleb is sitting in a chair at the side of the bed, globules of light floating above him and a book open in his lap. Jester gasps softly. “What are you doing here?” She demands.
Caleb’s eyes soften, despite her barb. “I remember, blueberry. I remember you and the baby and-”
Before he can say anything else, Jester lurches forward and strangles him into a hug. Caleb hugs her back just as tightly, head buried in her neck.
“I’m so sorry,” Caleb says. “I’m so sorry I forgot you.”
“It wasn’t your fault,” Jester says. “How did they get you back? Caduceus said…”
“The Wildmother Herself,” Caleb says with disbelief. “They took me to Her temple and guided me through a commune and She healed me. She brought me back to you.”
“I’m sorry I gave up so quickly,” Jester says softly, pulling back slightly to wipe her eyes. Caleb leaves his hands on her waist. “I should have stayed, been there when they got you back.”
“Hey,” Caleb puts a hand on her cheek, not saying anything until she meets his eyes. “You had to do what’s best for you and the little one. It’s okay,” he tells her gently. “I’m not upset with you.”
Jester hugs him again, “I love you so much.”
Caleb presses a kiss to her head, “I love you too.” His hand drops her to stomach, “And I love you too.” Jester giggles a little at that.