Zen

They’re usually so careful about these things. Not that Zen hadn’t joked about having a baby with her one day, and not that they weren’t old enough to start a family… but she just always thought it would be best not to bring a child into the picture when Zen had so much on his plate already.

So when she misses her period, she’s scared. Almost numb for a little while. Excited too, she’ll admit that. It’s just an odd mixture that makes her stomach turn. And her stomach… she just can’t imagine a baby being in there.

That day she stands in front of the mirror, turns to the side, stuffs a pillow under her shirt. Just to see what she would look like carrying a baby in her stomach. Zen’s baby.

~

Later she gets her hands on a pregnancy test and waits the heart-wracking ten minutes alone in the bathroom to see the results. Unfortunately, Zen comes home early. 

Of course he notices the light on in the bathroom as he announces that he’s home. She panics and locks the door, probably telling him “Just give me a minute, Zen!”

But is that a hint of distress in her voice? He thinks so. He comes near the door and tentatively asks if she’s okay, and she tries to reassure him that she’s fine, while she stares down in numb shock at the stick that finally shows her what she’s been waiting for. 

A simple “+”.

She has no idea what to do. Will Zen be upset? Surprised? Well… of course he’ll be surprised, but she’s not sure if it’ll be a good surprised. She figures since they’ve always been good about condoms or birth control that he didn’t plan to have a kid anytime soon… so what if this comes as a disappointing surprise? 

She’s different that night with Zen. He gets in bed and is all about the cuddles and snuggles. He’s had a long day, it’s only natural he’d want some attention. He has a smile on his face as he tells her about work. She tries to smile and laugh with him, but it’s stifled by nervousness. 

She has a baby in her. She has Zen’s baby in her. This is wild. This is so… how does she even go about telling him? Part of her has the urge to just tell him right then and there while he’s in the middle of rambling about cheesy lines the writers of some show are giving him. But she stops herself. She bites her tongue. This isn’t the time to tell him… She has to figure out an actual plan before she does.

~

Days go by and she still doesn’t know what to do. She’s crawling with anxiety. She finds herself zoning out and imagining a dozen scenarios and a dozen outcomes that only worsen her fears. 

If Zen is happy and filled with joy at the news, then great! That seems like the natural Zen thing to do. He’s never given her any reason to believe that children would necessarily be a nuisance. Then again, she’s never been able to tell if he was completely serious about his jokes when it came to starting a family.

A baby might distract him too much from his work. He worked such long hours during the day. The last thing he needed was to come home to a crying baby every night. Wouldn’t that upset him? Wouldn’t he get annoyed?

Once or twice, she finds herself tearing up at the thought of Zen resenting the life growing inside of her. 

Zen wouldn’t be that horrible. She trusts him. He’s a good man. So that can’t be possible… It can’t.

~

Enduring alone is difficult. Seven is the first one she tells. She trusts all the RFA, but Seven happens to be in a chatroom during one of her biggest bouts of anxiety. 

If he hadn’t called her to talk about something stupid—she can’t even remember now, maybe he had gotten out a joke or two before she broke down—then perhaps she would have never told him. But he did call, and that soothingly whimsical voice urged her to spill the beans. And she did. 

He took it well. Didn’t mind the way her voice quavered and the tears came when she couldn’t hold it in any longer. 

Seven didn’t exactly know how to help her, but he didn’t understand her distress either. Why was she so worried about telling Zen? Zen always seemed like the type who would want a family. It was only a matter of time, in Seven’s eyes. He had fun imagining what an RFA party would look like with little Zen’s running around.

So it hurt to hear her so upset and so anxious. And the responsibility he felt now that he knew her secret (a secret? He didn’t understand why she made it out to be a secret. He was happy for her! She should be happy too!) churned his stomach in an odd way. He didn’t like knowing he would have to hide this from Zen. He’s good at keeping secrets, at keeping his mouth shut. He always has been. 

He’s not worried that this secret will get out. Not really. He’s proud that she would trust him enough to tell him. 

He just wishes she would tell Zen.

~

Zen jokes about the beast most nights he’s looking for some fun, but she didn’t realize it would pose such a problem until now. 

She definitely feels bad about it. Zen is such an enthusiastic and attentive lover. To turn him away almost seems like a shame. But there’s something about being with him while their baby is growing inside her, a baby he doesn’t even know about… that just doesn’t sit right. 

Besides, minimal contact is preferred. Anything to hide the pregnancy. At least until she’s ready. 

But that defeated pout Zen gives her when she shrugs off his neck kisses for the third night in a row makes the guilt hit harder. MC just has to tell him she’s too tired. And Zen believes her. She seemed a little… off these days. If she’s tried, he won’t bother her. The cuddles and kisses will do for now, even if he is feeling a little more antsy as the days go by.

~

You can only hide a pregnancy for so long. About two months in, she knows Zen is going to find out eventually. But she doesn’t know how to tell him. 

Most nights when he comes home, she’s anxious as hell, almost shaking with it. His hugs and kisses don’t quell her like they used to.

But Zen isn’t completely oblivious. He’s noticed a difference in her demeanor. Something is wrong. He’s asked once or twice, and her excuses change every time.

“I’m just tired”

“I’m not feeling too well. I think I have the chills”

“RFA planning is getting a little tedious. Don’t worry though. I’ll be fine”

And every night he comes home, every night he hugs her and kisses her… he feels like something is fading. Why has she changed? Why is she shying away from his affection now? She even looks different. Looks distant. Looks like she’s fighting some battle that he’s not allowed to know about.

~

At some point, he’s going to have to snap. His fears materialize and he’s honestly come to the conclusion that maybe she just doesn’t love him anymore. And that’s heart-wrenching. He can’t live with that anxiety anymore. It’s starting to effect his work, he really can’t concentrate because all he can think about is how he dreads coming home and seeing her tentative smile that hides something she’s just not telling him.

When he comes home that day and hugs her, he doesn’t let go. 

She’s startled at first, but figures he just had a long day and wants a little intimacy. So she embraces him and smooths a hand over his shoulders.

“What’s wrong, Zen?”

She hopes his work isn’t too much for him now. Not when she was building up to the big surprise. She needed him in his best spirits if she was going to tell him about the baby…

Zen needs to gather a little courage to say it, but he swallows his hesitation and says it anyway. “I should be asking you that…”

Her body stills as she registers his words. Does he know? No, of course not. She made sure to throw away the pregnancy test where he wouldn’t find it. If she ever gets morning sickness, it’s when he’s out working. He didn’t see or hear anything that would give it away. He doesn’t know. He can’t. 

Yet when she pulls back and looks him in the eye, he looks hurt. Sad. Disappointed. Maybe even desperate. 

“What do you mean?” she asks. The sincere curiosity she tries to convey in her voice is lost, and she’s obviously failed in her mission to avoid whatever confrontation this will turn into. 

At the question, Zen’s features crease in further distress. 

“________.” 

It’s all he says. Like he’s begging her or warning her not to keep feigning ignorance. 

So for his sake, she doesn’t. She lets out a long breath that doesn’t relax her like she hoped it would. 

When she backs away from him, Zen’s heart pounds. He’d been thinking of how to handle rejection and heartbreak if worse came to worst. He had anticipated it for days. Was this it? Is this really how she would do it? Was she going to end it?

“I don’t know what I did,” Zen begins almost desperately. “But I’m sorry. I know I’ve been working so much and I—”

“No, Zen. It’s not like that no no no.”

Now she feels awful. She wants to spit the truth out and save them any more confusion and distress. But the words don’t pass her throat. She’s too nervous and uncertain. 

“Then what?” he asks her. 

Again, she searches for the words she practiced every day in front of the mirror for weeks:

“I’m pregnant”

“You’re going to be a father”

“We’re going to have a baby”

What should she say??? What would be best in this situation???

It should be so easy to say. It should be so easy with a cordial and empathetic man like Zen. It’s a crime to even worry that he’ll react negatively. Of course he won’t. It’s Zen. She has to believe that.

The pause is apparently too much for him, he panics. “______, please just tell me why. Why can’t you tell me—”

“I’m—I’m going to have a baby. We’re going to be parents.”

His mouth opens but no sound comes out.

He’s reeling. A baby!!! He’s going to be a dad!!! They’re going to have a baby!!!!

His eyes search hers excitedly, but he can’t speak. It worries her. For a split second, all the fear and doubt that accumulated over the weeks materializes in watery eyes.

“Really!? We’re going to have a baby!?”

But that uncharacteristically giddy voice relieves her. The grin that slowly spreads across his face relieves her. 

She nods, muscles coming back to life, no longer paralyzed with fear. He’s excited. He’s actually excited. That’s what she had hoped for all this time. 

That’s when he hugs her, nice and tight. Excited mumbles in her ear. “I can’t believe it!” “Really? You’re serious?!” “I’m gonna be a dad?!”

And she embraces him back, relieved. 

Then he pulls back to look at her. Her heart leaps when she sees his teary eyes. She feels so stupid. She should have expected such a reaction. She should have known he would be filled with joy.

“Why didn’t you tell me babe?” He’s not mad, just overwhelmed. 

She doesn’t have any easy answer. Any viable reason is lost on her tongue now that her fears have been alleviated. 

So she goes in to hug him again instead, all that she really can do. And she smiles. 

“I don’t know,” she says. “I don’t know.”

But that doesn’t really matter now. She’s happy. He’s happy. They’re going to be a family… and that’s all that matters. 

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