_Fertility _by Pania Ngata, C'ss'l of Calhoun, & Tapu Io ***takes place after "The Twelfth of Never"Pania rubbed the tears from her cheeks. They were stupid and pointless. They wouldn't make it any less true. She'd asked Izra'il to let Airini play with Jack and the two kids were arguing over whether toys really should have names, so far Airini was winning simply because she talked over the top of everything Jack said. Now Pania was ducking into Sick Bay with the intention of asking the CMO why she was having a period, why she wasn't pregnant and what was wrong.
Reports, reports, and more reports. They were going to be the death of him one day. Cassiel was sure of it. "Stupid Starfleet rules," he muttered as he ran a hand through his already spiky hair.
"Doc?" Pania called, peering through Sick Bay and being very careful to be as loud as she could so as not to startle the guy. She knew how bad that could get. "Need something checked please."
"You're saving me from drudgery so by all means," Cassiel called as he poked his head out. "Ah, it's you, Ms. Ngata. What can I do for you?"
"Tell me why I'm not pregnant," she said softly as she scrubbed another tear from her cheeks.
Cassiel knew he had a reputation for being a bit of a nut case but he was also rather a good hearted sort. "Come here and we'll talk," he said in his best most caring tone as he led her to a diagnostic bed. "What's going on?"
She climbed up and laid back. "When I got pregnant with Airini it happened right away. I had unprotected sex just once and that was it. The pediatrician I had at the time told me I was really fertile, said I'd never have a problem conceiving, so why haven't I with Tapu? It's not as if it was just the once we did it. It should have happened, right?"
"Now I know you're smart enough to realize that cyclic timing might not have been in alignment but let's have a look," Cassiel began as he lowered the diagnostic arm. "Though how old is your daughter?"
"I know about timing and all but I've checked all that, it just doesn't whack up to what the other doctor said." God, stop crying, woman, she told herself firmly. "Airini's five."
"And I take it Mr. Io is not infertile?" he asked. He'd met the man during his visit. He somehow thought the ferocity of the tattoos along with the man's attitude would have made him a fine Xenexian if he were more excitable.
"I don't know. He never said." She let out a long slow breath and clamped a hand down in her hair. "God I bloody hope not. I really do."
Cassiel was glad his back was to her as he examined the image on the screen. As expressive as he was, he had a poor poker face. "I would ask but I have another question for you. Have you had any surgery or trauma?"
"I... I almost lost Airini when I was pregnant with her. Why? Dr Calhoun, tell me what's wrong?" Her voice shook badly and she knew she was pale under her naturally tanned skin tone.
Cassiel hit the commands that would transfer the information and images to his desktop then moved the arm from over Pania. Holding his hand out to her, he said, "Let's go talk in my office. It's quieter and more comfortable."
"Oh god," she whispered as she took his hand. "Am I... I'm infertile, aren't I?"
"No, it doesn't look as though the ovaries aren't functioning," he said as he led her to the office. Gently, he sat her on the couch her had in there then sat next to her. "That looks fine. The problem is that there seems to be a lot of scarring inside. That's why I asked if you had had any surgery or trauma."
"Trauma, yeah." She said it in a cold flat voice. "My ex was really handy with his hands. The day I almost lost Airini, he used them to shove me down the stairs. I was in surgery but they saved her and I carried to term after that. I never thought it would stop me having kids though."
That hit very close to home for Cassiel, remembering what Albert had done to Aisling. "I hope somebody teaches the fucker a lesson," he snarled but then he shook his head. "It won't be impossible but the scarring makes it harder for fertilized eggs to attach if they even make it that far."
"Will I ever be able to have kids?" she asked sadly. "I know it sounds stupid, I have a gorgeous daughter, but I want more, I want Tapu's kids."
"If you want to try surgery to smooth the tissue, we can do that but that's not a guarantee that it'll be easier," he said honestly, his hand resting on hers. "Ever is a hard thing to say yes or no to but I would say yes, just not as easily as you'd like."
Letting out a slow breath, she held his hand tightly and fought to control her emotions. "No surgery, not yet. I'll talk to Tapu about it, see what he says, but no IVF either. I know for sure it'd disgust my father and I'm not sure if it wouldn't do the same to Tapu."
"Pania," he said, using her name for the first time, "don't lose hope. You are otherwise quite healthy so maybe I'll be wrong. I'd be ecstatic if I was. Even if I'm not, it's definitely not impossible, just really hard."
"Right. Hard." She gave him a self-depreciating smirk as she said, "I was just stupid to think a good man deserves all the same breaks that an arsehole gets."
"Not stupid, just normal. Let me tell you something that maybe one other person knows. Something very similar happened to my wife before I met her but she lost the child. If she hadn't, I would still love it, even if it wasn't mine, because it was hers. Your Io seemed like a decent sort, almost Xenexian, so give the man a chance. Your daughter's a sweet little thing."
"He is, he's a very decent man," she nodded. "But he wants kids. I know it sounds militant but there are a lot of people who'll walk away from a partner just because they can't produce offspring. It's not right but... I understand it."
"If he's that way then he's an idiot," Cassiel stated."Not an idiot, just a very traditional man. Traditional men can be irrational sometimes," she sighed. Then she shook herself. "Okay. Can you send me the details of all the scans? I'll forward them to Tapu once I've spoken to him. Better to tell him sooner so we can make a decision."
"Soon as you leave, I'll send it to your personal comm. Tell him to call me if he's got questions and I am not going to get offended if you ask for another opinion," Cassiel told her.
"It's fine, Dr Calhoun, I trust you." She patted his hand and got to her feet. "I'm sure I'll be back to bug you with more questions but I'm gonna go talk to him."
"Bug away. It's what I'm here for," he said simply."Thanks." She gave him a tight smile then disappeared. She hugged her arms around herself, barely even thinking as she stepped back into her cabin, hardly noticing how she got there. It was only when she was sat unseeing at her comm that she remembered what she was meant to do so she typed in the code she now knew off by heart.
Coffee in the morning, before getting dressed, was one of the small things that made the day go easier for Tapu. He wasn't looking forward the day's agenda, full of client meetings after meetings, but at least he could head to the beach later. He was staring out his window, day dreaming of things to be done once Pania and Airini came home, when the comm sounded, startling him so suddenly that he almost spilled the coffee. He bit back the automatic snap when he saw who it was on screen. "Hey, my pretty lady, kia ora."
Just seeing his face made her smile, she couldn't help it, even if the sadness played in her eyes. "Hey, ipo. Missed you."
"Mornin', my Pania," he said, saluting her with his mug even as he pushed hair from hsi face.
"Wow... I never thought this would be so hard. Wish you were here so much... I just got back from seeing the CMO." Those stupid tears came back and she had to scrub at them just to stem them a bit. "I might be infertile."
"Ah but you have Airini," Tapu said carefully."Yeah." She pinched between her eyes, using the pain to keep her rooted, to force her to say it. "When I was carrying Airini, Frank pushed me down the stairs, put my in hospital. According the Dr Calhoun, the surgery I went through to keep her has scarred my uterus. I might not be able to carry another child."
Very carefully, Tapu put his coffee mug down on his desk, his face going stock still. It was senseless to mourn something that hadn't or might not happen but that's what it felt like, a small death. "I...ah, Pania, I am so sorry," he said quietly.
"Me too," she whispered. "What do you want to do?""Do?" Tapu asked, his hand mussing up his already untamed hair. "Cancel my appointments and go hunt that bastard down then maybe turn him into shark bait."
"As much as I'd enjoy that, that's not what I meant." She watched him, her eyes turning dead as she said, "You asked me to marry you but that was before we knew I might not be able to give you kids. You're a good traditional man, Tapu. I know what that means."
"Heh, yeah and it also means I respect my female ancestors as much as the male ones. Papatu-a-nuku was the first mother and she had the one child. You have one just like her. I would be lying if I said I don't want more but...you are as good as the goddess as a mother, eh?" he said soberly, his eyes not leaving her. "And there's that word might. I pick at words sometimes, like that. Might means maybe."
"Yeah it does," she said, wiping at her eyes. "Still want to marry me?""Of course I do, Pania," he said with a sad smile. "This isn't hundreds of years ago, right? Though you do realize that poor Airini would get a hell of a an education on boats and fishing if she's all we have. No spears but..."
She touched the image of that sad smile and it broke her heart. "We've barely begun and already part of it's broken. This is utter shit. One day I'm gonna kill that fucker, you know."
"Yeah well I'll help if you want," he said darkly. "Pania, it isn't broken beyond fixing. It's like building a boat or a house. So the frame or foundation is missing some of what it needs? Then make it smaller but just as strong."
"Your metaphor sucks, Tapu," she snorted weakly. "There's options we can take though."
"No suit and tie so no fancy words," he retorted, wanting to make a face at her. "What options do you mean?"
"Dr Calhoun told me of a procedure to try and smooth out the scarring. Then there's IVF." She shrugged. "I'd rather not have IVF, ipo. I want my father to love my kids. Not sure he could love the result of IVF."
"IVF is not natural," Tapu said, shaking his head. "Now what that doctor say about surgery? What kind of risk are we looking at? Because if it's going to harm you then no, absolutely not."
"I've mailed the details to you. It's invasive, I don't know all the details, just that it's not a sure thing." She shrugged, feeling cold inside. "My fucking poor choice of a man has totally screwed up any chance for me and you to have kids."
"I'll look at it later but don't be so unsure, Pania. I believe in prayers after all," he told her. "I also believe in being thankful for what I have already."
"Stupid as it sounds this all just makes me wanna pack up and go home." Letting out a steadying breath, she finally smiled at him. "I believe in prayers too and I know papa will pray for us. He really loves you, you know."
"He's a good man, Pania. My folks like him and so do I. He's good to just spend time with," Tapu said with a smile.
"Yeah. Miss him. Airini hasn't stopped talking about him and you." Her smile faltered as she brushed the image of his cheek. "Her new Daddy."
A slow smile spread across Tapu's face. "She said that?" he asked carefully.
"Yeah," Pania said, the corner of her mouth twitching in a smile. "Her new Daddy that's gonna teach her fishing and boating and spears, even though I keep telling her no to the spears."
"Well I'll be damned," he said with a satisfied grin. "That's...I like that, Pania. It's kinda fuzzy feeling."
She actually felt a laugh bubble up at that and it felt wonderful, as if it would be okay. "That's fatherhood, ipo. That fuzzy feeling only gets better when she starts asking you to read to her at night or she comes to you when she's scraped her knee. I love being a parent, love it so much. I want you to know what it's like from the beginning,"
"Pania, if that happens then I will be very happy but, right now, that fuzzy feeling will always be the first one I felt. I like it."
"Then welcome to the family, Daddy," she smirked. "My daughter likes you, my father loves you and I adore you. I can't wait to come home to you."
"Pania, tell her I asked about her, will you? And as to the doctor, I'm leaving it to you. Don't do something just because you think its' what I would want. Do something or nothing because it's what would make you happy," he said , wishing he could touch her with the hand he'd lifted.
"I'll tell her." She pressed her fingers to his hand, almost as if she could reach through. "I won't do anything until we talk about it more, Tapu. I love you, you know that, right?"
"Yeah I do," he told her, a warm smile still on his face. "And you know I'll love you as much as I do now if all we ever have is Airini?"
"I..." Oh but she wanted to hold him. "I hope so. I really really hope so."
"You don't have to hope when it's a fact," he told her."You're a really good man, Tapu." She kissed her fingers and pressed them to the image of his cheek. "I got very lucky when I got you."
-- "...and I had done nothing...but shoot an unarmed Cardassian in his underwear."-Li Nalas