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'Kerr,' Dayna said softly. Here, in the privacy of his room, she could use his given name.
'Yes?' Avon sleepily put an arm around her. It was pleasant to have a companion in his bed.
'We have to tell the others soon. It will be difficult to ignore for much longer.'
Avon put a hand contemplatively on her waist, exploring the new curves. Dayna responded, touching him where she knew there would be an effect.
Without realising it Avon murmured 'Anna,' then stopped in obvious and acute embarrassment.
'They told me Anna was someone you cared for deeply who died,' Dayna said and kissed him. She had been almost expecting an incident like this. Vila had explained once, so she would not accidentally speak out of turn, and had said he would tell Tarrant.
'I ... loved her,' Avon admitted. 'And it was because of me she died.'
He stopped, upset, almost losing control, and Dayna held him close, trying to offer comfort. She was conscious of Avon's silent tears.
'Tell me what you need me to know,' she said when he was calm again.
'And you won't ask me again?' Avon asked, glad that Dayna was ... being tolerant.
'I can't promise you that. If it weren't for the child...'
'If it weren't for the child we wouldn't be having this conversation,' Avon pointed out.
He would have to tell Dayna something about Anna, so he did. Knowing that Dayna had had losses of her own helped.
As he talked he let go of Anna. She was in the past: nothing he could do or think or say would bring her back. Sentimentality was foolish: he had to consider the present reality. And there was some happiness now.
'You cared for her - and she was part of your life... I think I can understand the hurt.' They both knew she was talking about her father.
'Yes.' There was nothing more to be said. 'So what shall we say about this?' he asked, stroking her belly. 'Shall we go through with linking with the Free Traders, with the possibility of adoption?' He had made inquiries about the matter.
He was willing to trust Dayna with that decision. Not an abdication, but a sharing, of responsibility.
'What I would like is for us to have safety, the Liberator and the child,' Dayna said with a faint smile. Avon reacted enough for her to see this was what he wanted too. 'But as we can't, I think the best thing is to leave the child in a safe place - and if that means without us, so be it.' It hurt to make that decision, but it was the only one that made sense. Her father would have understood. 'Avon - when you came to Sarran, my father trusted you enough on meeting you to consider letting me go with you.' Her father had said as much to her, wishing to know her opinion before making the request to Avon. Avon nodded in reply. 'Well - I think ... my father would have not been too upset by this.' If her father had been still alive he would have found a solution. Now it was up to the two of them.
'I know whatever we do will hurt - and I hope that the child would understand why we made this decision.' She embraced Avon, conscious of her changing shape. 'Kerr - what will we leave in the message for the child?'
Avon wanted her, desire threatening to overcome other considerations.
'It might be better that, safer if, the child does not know of its inheritance,' he managed, though he knew he would bitterly resent it if done to him. 'But - we will think of something. The Federation might yet change, or have forgotten about Kerr Avon, and be concerned about others.'
'Or you could overthrow the Federation and not have to worry about the problem,' Dayna said half mischievously.
'You would have this,' the child, 'do what Blake could not, make me overthrow the Federation?' he said, allowing himself with a smile. The suggestion, however, carried more resonance than he would care to admit.
But other things were competing for his attention, and he wished to satisfy them.
Dayna responded willingly.
Vila approached Dayna a few days later.
'Dayna - if you'd want an Uncle Vila to be with you...'
It took her a few moments to work out what he meant. She understood that the offer was made in friendship, rather than the usual teasing banter.
'Thank you... I haven't decided yet what I will do...' she said, slightly flustered.
'You don't know what life was like where I grew up.' Vila explained. 'Half or more of the kids had "uncles" and "aunts" rather than parents. If I'd stayed there... I like kids.' That Dayna could accept. 'Imagine a child taught your skills and mine.' He was making an offer she could almost accept, if necessary. 'Think about it - the offer's there if you need it.'
'I appreciate it,' Dayna said, and meant it, though Avon's communications with the Free Traders were going well.
'And I know - keep my mouth shut about the whole thing.' He was good at keeping secrets when it was truly important. 'Satisfy my curiosity on one thing before we finish this conversation - when are you going to tell Tarrant, and what do you think he will he think about it?' It was obvious that the pilot did not yet know, and Vila wanted to know when he would have an excuse to get Tarrant blind drunk, or whether to keep out of his way. Seeing Dayna's expression he realised the mistake in his assumption. 'You mean Avon?' Well, wonders would never cease. And it explained some things about Avon's behaviour recently. 'I hope he appreciates it.'
'Good. And if you ever need my help...'
Cally was curious. Avon was willing to indulge her request to return to Auron and make certain arrangements there which she chose not to explain. He was able to persuade the local leadership that their policy of isolationism might be helped with the information on diseases provided long before by Bellfriar - accidental travellers might unintentionally bring some infection. He also arranged for them to be given information about other planetary systems, so they could withdraw from the Federation's awareness, should they wish to do so.
By the time the Liberator left Cally had reached a compromise with her people, for which Avon was grateful.
Tarrant was the last to realise.
'Dayna,' he said one day, when the two of them were on the flight deck, with Orac monitoring the viscasts.
'Are you, are you?' He was looking at her waist, and blushing.
'What?' She was amused that he had only just realised.
'Are you pregnant?' Dayna smiled at him. 'How?'
'Do you need an explanation?' Orac asked suddenly. 'If so, it can be provided at whatever level of detail you require.' Dayna managed not to laugh.
'I...' Tarrant realised he was being teased. 'Of course I know the mechanics.' Dayna almost regretted the answer. 'Go back to studying the galaxy Orac.' Tarrant said to cover his embarrassment.
'If you insist.'
Tarrant turned back to Dayna. 'When, where, who?'
'Some time ago and does it matter?' She was curious to see his reaction.
'You can't have a child on the Liberator. Too dangerous.'
'In my experience,' Orac said, 'children ask far more sensible questions and show a far greater interest in important things than the present inhabitants of the Liberator.'
'Repeat that when you are asked to analyse the orange juice poured into you,' Tarrant retorted. 'Or have chocolate smeared all over your exterior.'
Orac flickered, considering the matter. The children it had encountered so far had been sensible. This one would have to be trained.
Avon came onto the flight deck. He guessed the subject of discussion immediately, had been expecting it conversation - far more difficult than the one with Vila, with his offer that he would be prepared to look after Dayna's child *somewhere.* There was more to it than an excuse to leave - an acknowledgement of their unstated friendship.
'Avon,' Tarrant began, 'Dayna...' He was flummoxed again.
'What about Dayna?'
'She's, she's ...'
'Going to have a baby?' Avon completed, and went to stand by Dayna's chair.
'You know?' Tarrant was amazed, not least at Avon's calm acceptance of the situation.
'Of course.' Avon decided to spin things out for a little longer.
'Who is the father?' Tarrant asked.
Avon put a hand on Dayna's shoulder.
'You?' Tarrant asked. 'But you... you...'
'Why are you so surprised? You thought I was ... too old for such things? Or are you jealous?' Avon was amused, glad he had riled the younger man.
Tarrant spluttered for a few minutes.
'What will you do with it?'
'What do you suggest?' Avon asked, conveying quiet menace. 'We are making arrangements, but are open to suggestions.' Suddenly he wished to leave all this behind, and go somewhere safe with Dayna.
'I'll go and think of something,' Tarrant said and stalked off.
'You enjoyed that didn't you?'
'I enjoy...' Avon began.
'Teasing people?' Dayna knew well enough what Avon took pleasure in.
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