Disclaimer: The universe that this is set in (and, incidentally, Marianne's father, who is mentioned) belongs to Tribune and Roddenberry-Kirschner, among others.

Spoilers: for the previous story, "Through the Valley".

Author's notes: Well, since I haven't gotten "Through the Valley" done yet, I shouldn't really be putting this up. But, still, consider it a teaser/spoiler for that story. I will say, to prevent confusion, that there's a good reason that this is taking place aboard the Kimera homeship.

Family Negotiations
by Estirose
c 1999

Alex had been carefully making his plans ever since Mish had told him about the locking mechanism in his quarters, designed to make sure one could really, really lock the door if needed. It was a long-forgotten mechanism, and he was sure neither Ra'das nor Marianne knew about it. He tested it a few times before he was satisfied.

The second part was actually child's play. Marianne's schedule he knew well; Ra'das' not as well, but his work was not time-critical and it would be easy to draw him in at the right time. So, one afternoon, he called Ra'das just before Marianne was due to come back to their shared quarters. And once they were there, he didn't give Marianne a chance to escape, hitting the little-known locking mechanism.

Once he was satisfied that the door was locked into place, in a way that neither Ra'das nor Marianne would easily open (at least if they planned to keep him intact), Alex slid a chair against the doorway, sat down, and waited for Marianne to start yelling at him. Not that it would do much good, of course. He planned to keep himself and the two others in for as long as he could manage.

"Alex, what are you doing?" Came from Ra'das.

"I can tell you what he's doing. He's going to make us sit here until we make up," Marianne said, scowling.

"More or less," Alex replied. "Look, Marianne, I know you have some problems with Ra'das and what he's done. And I'm sure Ra'das has some issues too. Me, I'd like to know our child is going to grow up in a stable family."

"Alex is right," Ra'das chimed in. "I have obviously caused a problem that I don't know how to fix, and due to Mish'ele's nature, is harming her. I wish only to correct things."

Marianne turned furiously towards him. "You violated Alex and myself. You tried to take away our choice to mate or not. Why do you think I'm upset at you, Ra'das? You look, but you don't understand!"

Alex sighed. "She's got a point. I chose to stay, but I would have preferred to chose my own time for that, like once I had become part of the family."

The Kimera looked at Marianne. "I can only offer that I thought it was right. It was obvious that Alex was going to become mated, if only with you. It was also obvious that we would lose him if he wasn't a mate at the time the Taelons removed the remainder of us off Earth. I could not bear the thought of you losing him, and forever regretting the choice."

Marianne was shaking her head as he spoke. "You really should have done some more research on humanity, Ra'das. You would have known that in the culture both Alex and I come from, that sort of behaviour isn't acceptable. It may be here, but we don't perceive things as people do here."

"You are right. I have been neglectful of that, especially as I should have been prepared the first time I saw Alex in your memories. I'm sorry to you and to Alex. I wasn't expecting you to be so rooted in human cultural values."

Marianne rolled her eyes. Alex turned towards her. "Don't think you're innocent either in this problem. Ra'das may have made some mistakes... but he isn't the one who ran at the first opportunity."

"I freaked, all right?" Marianne responded, crossing her arms. "Who could I talk to, really? My half-sisters think their life is great. Ra'das is male and the wrong culture. Dad is the wrong sex and mom's the wrong species. Not to mention she's too absorbed in breeding Dad...."

"Your mother said you had postpartum depression and that I should be understanding when you came back," Ra'das inserted.

"And postpartum is a recognized human problem," Alex said. "I know. My mom had it after I was born. I remember her talking about it."

"Postpartum depression may be common, but the circumstances weren't exactly something I'd expect a human or Kimera psychologist to understand."

"Okay. You were upset. But Ra'das, I would have thought, had a right to know. If only to take care of Mish and to give you room."

"I didn't understand why you left. I thought it was something I had done," Ra'das said. "I realized later that I had made you upset at a very bad time, but I was at a loss on how to deal with it as I should, as your mate."

"I was virtually unable to talk to you at the time," Marianne replied, looking down at her lap. "I was afraid if I did, that I'd tell you where to stuff anything you said. And I just couldn't deal with an argument, not then. And I couldn't talk to anyone else, because they'd just tell me to go back to you."

"I understand," Ra'das said simply. "And I may not have been as understanding as I should have if you had. Maybe it was best that you went away, even if some of your actions were less than kind."

Alex sighed. "I think we've had a few communications problems here. Maybe a lot of it stems from Ra'das failing to do research, maybe more. I think there were also a few mistakes made. I don't think either side can be blamed. The thing is, we've got a child on the way, and I expect Ra'das to be a full partner in its raising, as I hope to be with Mish."

"It's going to take time, Alex," Marianne answered.

"Hey, we got most of nine months to sort things out. If we're to work together, we must understand each other and where we're coming from. That'll be hard, but not impossible."

Marianne looked at him warily. "In nine months? You've got to be kidding. He's been less than understanding so far."

"Less than understanding about what?" Ra'das asked. "I truly want to know what I've done to make you feel uncomfortable."

"I don't know if you realize it, Ra'das, but you keep treating me like I was Kimera when my cultural base is Human. It's not who I am, and it's not something I'm comfortable with. I have spent my entire life being human, and I feel you're not respecting that."

"I am sorry for that. I wish I had realized that your mindset is far different than what I'm used to. I was working under a cultural assumption when I should have put it aside."

"On my end," Alex put in, "this is a point where we all need to work together. I'm not familiar with Kimera culture, and while Marianne has had some exposure, she's mostly avoided it. We all need to come to some middle point, for the sake of our children."

"And may there be many," Ra'das added solemly. Marianne gave an exaggerated sigh, prompting a laugh from Alex.

"Very well," Marianne said. "If you two will try, I will. But we've all got to pull our weight. Especially if Ra'das wishes to have his multiple children."

"It isn't for myself that I wish them. It's for the continuance of our species."

Marianne threw her arms up. "Whatever. You're not the one who gets pregnant."

"I will obtain your consent before even considering a subsequent child," Ra'das said solemnly.

"Good. Now, I think we're in agreement. Can we work out the specifics *later*?"

"We should... but I have a feeling we're not going to," Alex said.

"I will attempt to obtain familiarity with your culture so that I may be better prepared to support both of you," Ra'das said. "I presume, of course, that you will both have your own plans. I think we should, however, agree to come together like this to resolve any other problems that affect our relationship as mates and get to know one another as well."

"That sounds good," Marianne said. "Once a week, maybe?"

"Or sooner. Yeah, that's a good idea. Nobody can make our relationship work except for us," Alex said, getting up. "I'll open the door, then."

And he did.


Earth: Final Conflict fics