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Chrysalis

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His mind races.

Makkari ran off again, and he knows he saw tears.

She’s been putting distance between them for a while now. Ever since the Domo touched down on Ling-go-lin-ggo 10, this planet Eros had them stop off at, she had welcomed his touches.

Until his arms would drop lower than chest level. Until she started experiencing unusual headaches. Until he reached for her during a slight argument about their newest passenger, in an attempt to comfort her.

She’s hiding something.

And he’s sworn to never pry into her mind unless she gave permission first.

Druig misses her. Misses her touch, misses her warmth, her presence in his arms.

It’s selfish and petty, but he just wants to be able to embrace her. He’s been without for years on years.

And now that he’s tasted of her lithe form in his hands---

---he aches.

Selfish.

Weak.

Pathetic.

She isn’t his, not possessed by him. He’s not her master, he doesn’t control her.

He’s not a genocidal Celestial leashing her on an eternal thread.

He doesn’t run to her, but he does quicken his walk.

On this particular planet, they’ve taken temporary occupancy in what was basically a hotel, while some of the skilled inhabitants made small repairs and cleaned up on the Domo’s outside. Ling-go-lin-ggo 10 is bathed in light every waking moment, and while the natives have adjusted accordingly, rooms in the hotels have special lighting functions that can adjust how much light is in a room.

When he enters the key to get into their shared space, Makkari is on the bed, seated upright and crying. A pillow is wedged over her midsection, hiding her entire torso.

The look she gives him when she looks up twists a nerve deep within him.

It hurts, to look at her red rimmed eyes and tear-streaked face.

He takes note of his surroundings, especially the door behind him. Blocking a door is usually seen as predatory and aggressive, so he quickly moves aside.

He doesn’t want Makkari to run off again, but he also doesn’t want to threaten her.

A slow, deliberate step towards her. Another, and another.

He kneels before her. The light from outside filters through gold-tinted windows and halos around her silhouette.

A goddess, especially by mortal standards.

And Druig goes on bended knee to beg her forgiveness.

“My Makkari. Beautiful, beautiful Makkari. Something’s wrong. Have I said something, done something, to hurt you?”

She merely shakes her head, pale golden light dappling through her wavy hair, strewn along her shoulders.

“Then, please, I’m begging you. Talk to me. I know something’s wrong, but I promised I wouldn’t pry into your mind unless you gave me explicit permission.”

She shakes her head before burying her face in her hands. Her sobs twist his heart to ripping.

“Please---”

He feels his eyes welling with tears in response to her obvious distress, and he feels his mouth being pulled into an ugly shape as he pleads, but he can’t bring himself to care anymore.

“----I’m here for you. Makkari, I love you. You know that.”

He puts his hands on her knees, attempting comfort in the caresses to her legs.

It’s not working. Her sobs don’t get louder or more frequent, but they don’t stop or quiet down either.

He takes a cloth on a side table near their bed.  Slowly reaches for her face so she can stop him if she wants. He is relieved when she doesn’t shrink away, and he gently dabs beneath her eyes.

(I have a lot on my mind; I’m sorry, Druig. I’m thinking a lot, and thinking fast, because of course I am.)

“Tell me everything, beloved”, he says softly, bringing one of her hands to lay a kiss to it. “You know you could never turn me off or away; something is weighing on your mind. Please, let me help you.”

(It’s not something you can mind control away or hit to make it better, my beloved. I got overwhelmed in my mind. You know exactly how that feels----)

And he does. It has never stopped for long back on Earth. On Earth, humans were already screaming in their heads, and the only thing that has changed was the amount of voices all singing back to him, as humans became more and more and began populating.

(----and some things need to be solved alone. I just need time, and maybe a little sleep.)

“You’ve been drawing away from me, Makkari. Are you hiding something? You know I am the last person to ever have the right to judge you.  Were you injured? You know you don’t have to be strong around me, my love.”

(Druig? Please. Please….there is so much more to this than you’re aware---)

“---If this is something serious, and of that magnitude, you need help----”

(---I’m not going to force you! I’m not gonna force you to make a decision, and certainly not to be by my side for it! I just need to find a way to fix it, then we can continue with this mission, get Sersi, Phastos, and Kingo back, find the other Eternals, and just forget this, because I love you, but I’m not going to force your hand----)

“---Love, force my hand? Force me to make a decision? On what? For what? Makkari, you need to tell me what’s wrong---”

(---Just read my mind! I’m giving you permission to read my mind, because this is too much and I feel like I’m going crazy, but it’s so much to tell you---)

“---I will not probe your mind! I promised I wouldn’t, all those centuries ago, and it still stands! And that is a promise I have kept and intend to keep! Makkari, if you’re unable to tell me, please, just show me----”

She removes the pillow from her midsection, tossing it aside.

In the golden light, he sees.

And is stunned into silence.


The silence stretches on in agony as Makkari, too upset to sign, cries into her hands.  After what might as well have been eternity, she tells him the truth.

(I...I thought it was impossible. That’s what we were told, even more so when Sersi told us that we were essentially drones. Machines. I was scared of what it meant when the healers on our last stop told me, and I didn’t say anything because I hoped that they were wrong, and that the problem would resolve itself.)

Her belly is rounded out, no longer a smooth and somewhat flat plane of flesh it had been since forever.

Druig isn’t a fool. He’s been amongst humans for thousands of years, and lived close enough to have felt the coming and going of lives in a community.

And all existence narrows down to her, the sight of her, her hair and legs and bared skin and stomach, crying in just her underthings, vulnerable.

So vulnerable. He wants to move, to comfort her.

But he is frozen, petrified before her.

(And then it didn’t, and I got bigger down there, and everything I could possibly think just crashed into my mind. This would slow me down, make me a liability, jeopardize the mission to get Sersi, Phastos, Kingo back.
It’d be unfair and impractical to expect protection from you, or Thena, or even Eros for the duration of my pregnancy. And that’s if something doesn’t happen to this little one, or me.)

The mention of that breaks Druig from his trance, and he looks up at her.  Reaches for her face again, as she had buried her face in her hands to sob when she revealed her condition.

“That won’t happen, my love. It won’t.”

(Don’t make promises you can’t keep!)

Makkari takes the cloth from him to catch a fresh spill of tears.

(Do you know what went through my mind, when I realized that not only am I pregnant, but that I’m pregnant because of you?)

It sounds accusatory, stinging and slicing to his heart. Perhaps that’s the point. Perhaps she’s angry. Certainly upset.

But he can take it, if it means she isn’t bearing that mental load much longer.

(Tenochtitlan. The sight of you leaving. And not even looking back.)

“I wouldn’t just leave you! Makkari, light of my life, I wouldn’t leave you, and certainly not like this. Not while you’re pregnant!”

(But you did! You did leave me behind with the others centuries ago, and all because you felt your actions were justified. You didn’t even look back. I asked you to stay. Not for the sake of Ajak, or Ikaris, or even the mission! For me. Or even, just to ask me to leave with you.

But---but I cannot force you now, just like I couldn’t force you then. I cannot force you to stay with me, just because you love me, and I love you. No matter how much I want you by my side. No matter how much I’d like this little one to know their father.)

Little one. Just when he thinks his heart couldn’t break any more, the truth crushes the pieces to dust.

She takes her hands, lithe yet supple things, and drapes them along his jawline, fingernails lightly scratching the stubble forming there.  They sit in the silence for a moment.

“When I left all those years ago, I was angry, Makkari. Angry, and foolish. I was thinking, but I was thinking wrongly, and narrowly. I can now admit that taking those people to begin with may have saved their lives, but it took their autonomy, and I was wrong to do so.
But this? Makkari, my light and my life, I stay with you out of love, not duty. You have never commanded me to stay with you, not the way we both were commanded to not interfere with humans.”

He takes her hands to kiss them.

“You were that afraid? That distressed? That’s why you shied away from me for some time? You were afraid I would feel something was different with you. You wanted to consider your options, and not feel coerced by anything I said or did. I wish you told me before, but I understand why.”

(I wanted to be strong, Druig. Especially now, knowing that our family needs us. And I considered both the options of telling you and not telling you, and whether or not you…..wanted this child.
I was afraid that if I tried to terminate the pregnancy or if I miscarried, you’d hate me. Or that If I hid the pregnancy until the child was born, you’d resent me for not telling you. Or that you’d treat me differently. 

(On the other hand, I was afraid of how being pregnant could affect me in an active situation. Would I still be able to fight? If I told you, would you ask me to ‘get rid of it’ so we’d have one less life to worry about?
And if we both wanted the little one, there would be so much more danger to both the baby and to all of us. I fear the worst: a Celestial, maybe even Arishem, finding out, doing something to our child, forcing them to become a killing machine like us---)

Her increasing frenzy in her signing builds as the tears continue to gather in his eyes, and he digs his nails into his palms, both to keep himself from interrupting her and to control himself.

All his control goes up in smoke when she mentions their child becoming another tool, just like them, and she begins crying once more, seemingly too tired to loudly sob.

The tears rush down his cheeks as he stretches up to press a kiss to her mouth, as he sobs in her place.

“Makkari. Makkari, look at me. Please. Look at me.”

Damn Arishem, and every Celestial that ever was, is, or is to come. Damn them all. To lie to the Eternals about everything, from their purposes to their memories, down to trying to deny them all love and family, lying to them about the procreation they freely indulged in.
His anger flares into a rage, more furious than anything he had been angry about in his entire tormented existence.

But Makkari looks at him, reddened eyes not enough to conceal the warmth and safety of her dark and loving gaze.

“I could never hate you. Ever. You allow me to lean on you when I am weak. You don’t have to be strong every moment, especially now, especially with this. I am here for you, first and foremost, and I am now asking you to lean on me. Let me support you, let me take care of you, let me love you. You asked me not to make promises I can’t keep.”

He strokes her cheek, the gentle slope of her jaw. He loves her so much it hurts.

“I cannot promise that everything will be okay, that we’ll find the others and defeat the Celestials and live happily ever after. I cannot promise that if the worst happens and we fail, that our child might escape the knowledge of whoever might want to hurt them or us. I cannot promise that I might be alive to see our child come into this cruel, chaotic existence.

But I can promise you that I will not leave you again. And I will ensure that whatever happens to us, that our child lives free of our horrible Creator. That I can swear by. That I will wager my life for. 

Whatever your decisions, I am by your side, my beautiful, beautiful Makkari.”

There is light in her eyes as she beckons him to stretch up again, asking for a kiss, and she embraces him with lightning speed when their lips meet.

Makkari pulls him into the bed with her, and he feels her rounded belly pressing into his own abdomen. They hold each other as tightly as they can for a few blessed moments that feels like a lifetime.

When there is some space between them again, she signs to him.

(Thank you; I love you.)

(I love you also), he replies in gestures, then looks down.

Down at the sanctum where a new Eternal was forming.  A being that would not need to consume a planet of innocent lives just to be born.

He motions to her, then to their child.

(I love you both.)

And finally, thank the stars and all the good things in existence, she smiles. Truly smiles at him with a smile that reaches her brown, brown eyes.

And his anger at the apathy and cruelty of Celestials is purged away.

He reaches down, intending for his knuckles to lightly brush over her stomach.

Just to feel. Just to know what it feels like.

But she sees and, taking both his hands and moving the palms to face downwards, she plants his hands on the bared skin of her belly.

Her warm hands above, their little one below.

Something floods into him. Soothing, calming, yet invigorating and vibrant. Her flesh is warm and taut and feels right in his touch. He moves his hands over the curve and marvels at what he feels.

Energy, so much like Makkari’s and yet nothing like hers, thrums beneath his fingertips. There is something else in the energy, something more subdued, like water around the base of a candle.
That must come from him.

Makkari is fire and light and life and warmth. He is earth and shadow and rage and cold. They are opposites, they should be distanced, they should not meld and morph and work together.
But within her, there is something they made together. Something very real and alive, and in time, to become someone.

Someone beautiful and clever and kind and powerful, he hopes.

(Yours, my beautiful, beautiful Druig), she signs to him upon seeing what must be unabashed wonder in his face.

(Ours), he corrects. (The little one is ours, my beautiful, beautiful Makkari.)

(You will be a wonderful father.)

He feels his throat swell with the emotion.

Yes.

He will love this child, provide for this child, and lay down his life for the both of them. It both scares and thrills him, how assured of his convictions he is, how he doesn’t even think twice.

(And you will be an even better mother.)

Druig embraces Makkari and brings her flush against his body, caressing her and laying kisses to her shoulder and arm.  He feels her arms around her upper body, accommodating for the bump between them.

They both adjust naturally, with her falling asleep, and him gazing at the goddess glowing in his arms like a miracle.