I loved babysitting. I always had. Everyone used to tell me I would make a great mother, but I wasn’t sure how I’d fare with full-time child-rearing. Babysitting was awesome because if I let the kid stay up late watching a movie while eating caramel popcorn, it wasn’t me that had to deal with the crankiness the next day.
Corinth—or Cor as they called him—was my nephew. At least, that was what I called him. Since he was Daz’s son and Rex was his brother, and I was… well for all intents and purposes Rex’s wife… well then precious Cor was my nephew. And I loved him.
He had blue skin, and Frankie told me while he’d been born with flesh like hers, scales had begun to develop on his arms and legs. He had cute little horns, and a shock of black hair. He was only a few months old, but he already crawled and was close to walking. Apparently Drixonians matured in about ten years.
He was a serious little baby who studied everything very intently. He reminded me a bit of Rex, actually. He also loved to show off his strength, which I considered a very Bakut thing to do.
Today, I was watching him while Daz and Frankie had some grown-up time. Daz was reluctant to leave Cor with us, but Frankly practically dragged hm away. I think she was tired of getting her hair pulled and hauling this muscled baby everywhere on her back.
I sat on the floor with Cor in the center of our hut. Hap, under Val’s direction, had made all the babies shape matching toys. So currently Cor was picking up various shaped wooden blocks and fitting them into the matching holes in a container. He took it very seriously and when he got one wrong, he huffed a little growl that made me want to squish his cheeks. He wore only a cloth diaper that barely fit around his chunky thighs.
The door to our hut opened and Rexor walked in holding a basket. The smell of cooked meat and a sweet bread filled the space. I inhaled deeply and smiled at him. Distracted by the smell of food, Cor dropped his toys and took off on a mad crawl after Rex as he retreated farther into our hut to place the basket on our table.
I stood up and wiped my skirt, while Cor pulled on his uncle’s legs until he stood on a wobble. “Hungry, little one?” Rexor said in voice he only used for Cor as he picked up the child in his massive hands. Sax always tried to get Cor to smile or giggle—usually to no avail—but I think Rex got Cor. He only touched their foreheads together in a sweet greeting and then perched him on his hip as he pulled out the contents of the basket.
“I got your favorite.” Rex handed Cor a strip of medium rare meat. I’d learned that was a common baby food for Drixonians—the chits learned how to chew and they ingested a lot of the protein and nutrients from the meat juices. Cor sucked on it loudly while I stepped up next to them. I ruffled his hair.
Rex kissed the top of my head. “I got your favorite too.”
“Oh, you did?” I went up on my tip toes to peer into the basket. He handed me a pastry with a familiar glaze on top, and I let out a squeal. “Oooh, a guara tart! Anna made them today?”
“She did, and I had to fight for the last one to give to you. It was a bloodbath.” He moaned and clutched his chest dramatically. “I…almost…didn’t make it back…to you.”
I rolled my eyes at him, but honestly nothing made me happier than when he let his humor slipped through. “My hero! I will reward you later for your gallantry.” I gave him a wink, and he laughed softly before digging out a sandwich for himself.
I happily ate my tart while Cor chewed on his meat strip. He kept nodding off as he ate, and eventually he passed out in Rex’s arms. I cleaned him up carefully without waking him and then got him settled in a small bed of furs.
I was full from the tart, and sipped some herb-infused hot qua that was as close to tea as we could get while Rex started a fire. The weather had gotten cooler recently, and the Drix told us we were entering the colder season. That made us women nervous. The Drix were very warm-blooded and if they thought something was cold… well then we just hoped we didn’t freeze to death. We’d been busy making warm clothes and so far all of us had at least one jacket and thick pants.
Althought Rex sat near the fire with me, he didn’t take his eyes off Cor. I placed my empty mug on the table. “Are you worried about him?”
Rex glanced up in surprise as if he’d been deep in thought. “Worried about him? No.”
“You’re watching him very intently.”
“I—” he swallowed and looked down at his hands. “I was just thinking.”
“About what? I can feel you are unsettled.” I tapped my temple to signify his aura.
“Thinking about Cor,the o ther chits, and the future of our civilization.”
I lifted my eyebrows. “Those are some deep thoughts.”
“Yeah,” he murmured, his gaze returning to Cor.
There was more, and I couldn’t figure it out. It wasn’t that Rex hid things from me, but I wondered sometimes if he even realized what was actually bothering him. He still carried so many burdens from his life. I searched his aura, and it wasn’t until he let out a small, wistful sigh that a lightbulb went off inside my head. “Rex, do you want to have a chit?”
He visibly flinched, and he blinked rapidly a few times before meeting my eyes. “I-I don’t know.”
I remained patient. “Why don’t you know?”
He flexed his arms and rolled his shoulders. “When the Uldani… I don’t know what I’m like now. Inside. What will I pass on to our chit?”
“Rex,” I whispered as I stood up. I crossed space between us and settled on his lap. His arms immediately circled me and hugged me tightly. “Rex, first of all, I don’t think anything is different at your core. I think you are still a Drixonian and that is what you’d pass onto our child. But if he or she was different, it wouldn’t matter. We would love them anyway. Because they are ours.”
His said eyes lifted to mine. “You wouldn’t blame me?”
My heart cracked as I pressed his face between my hands. “Rex, no. I don’t know about Drixonians, but humans are born all the time with differences. They are still loved and wanted and cared for. Or at least, they should be. And our child will be.”
His head dropped to rest on my shoulder. “I cannot tell you how relieved that makes me to hear.”
“Did you doubt me?”
“No, I shouldn’t have. It was in my head though…”
I sifted my fingers through his hair. “I get it. And anytime you have thoughts like that, you can talk to me about them. Don’t keep it inside.”
“Okay, my babe.” He kissed my neck. “What if… I cannot have chits?”
“Then there are plenty for us to care for. How about we go with what happens. I’ll either get pregnant or I won’t. And either will be okay.”
His purple eyes glowed. “You are perfect, Daisy.”
“I’m not. I’m just in love.” I gave him a squeeze before standing. “Now I’m tired and want to hit the furs.”
“Ah yes.” Teasing Rex was back with his smirk. “I believe I’m owed for my earlier display of gallantry.”
“Rain check on that, because we have a sleeping baby in our hut tonight.”
He pouted and snuck a quick glare at the sleeping Cor. “Maybe I don’t want chits after all.”
I smacked him with a laugh. “Get in the furs, you big baby. And maybe I’ll do a little something fun under the covers.”
I wasn’t sure I’d ever seen him move that fast. In seconds he was naked, under the covers, and waiting for me. I joined him a few moments later. And yes, there was some under-the-cover action. I couldn’t break my promise, after all.