A calm Tuesday mid-morning. Milo had risen early and headed off to the hospital. Rosie was at school, Mordecai tended to his garden, and Lily was adding a few final details to the nursery paintwork.
Upstairs, Zara, who had only recently woken up, stood alone in the bedroom, posing and admiring her heavily-pregnant reflection in the mirror - her eyes immediately drawn to her extremely large baby bump. Seeing herself like this, she couldn't help but smile.
She was nine months pregnant. And she had never felt more beautiful.
Ever since she was little, Zara had dreamed of not only becoming a famous pop star... but a mother. She was a woman who wanted it all - fame, fortune, and a big happy family. However, she wasn't naive about the biological side of things. Although she had long known in her heart she was female, the body she had been born into had dictated otherwise. Under the normal circumstances, she would never have been able to carry a child.
But then she'd met Milo.
She hadn't used him. Neither of them had planned this, or had realised this could happen, despite Milo's alien genes. Zara's current condition was a welcome, if unexpected, consequence of a genuine love. And she wanted these babies more than anything.
There were other benefits, too. The oestrogen and other hormones that her pregnancy had produced were a great aid to her transition. In all of her life, Zara had never felt more feminine - and every day, she thanked heaven that this had happened.
Still smiling, Zara slipped on some comfy clothes, and slowly staggered down the stairs towards the nursery. As she went in, wishing Lily a good morning, she took note of the extra details - butterflies and flowers, rather like Mordecai's beautiful blooms - now adorning the walls.
As she approached a cradle, gently smoothing and brushing her fingertips excitedly over the waiting blanket inside... Zara suddenly became aware of a wet sensation rapidly overtaking the lower half of her body.
Her water had broken.
Zara's sense of calm bliss all but fled from her, with nerves and anxiety swiftly taking over. She stood there, frozen to the spot, with her hands resting on her stomach - whilst Lily dashed out to call the hospital.
By noon, Milo was busy with his rounds on the cardiac ward - talking to patients, taking readings and performing all sorts of tests - when a loud call suddenly rang out from the intercom.
"Paging Dr. Miskin. Dr. Miskin to the maternity ward, please."
Confused, Milo looked up.
"Huh? Why are they paging me?" he asked himself. "I'm not an obster - "
Before he'd even finished the sentence, the light bulb went on. Dropping his paperwork to the ground, he ran from the ward as fast as his legs could carry him.
In the delivery suite, Zara - once again stripped to her underwear - paced up and down the room as another contraction rippled through her. They were coming more often now, and closer together. As she let out a groan of pain, a kindly midwife entered the room.
"Not long now, Zara," she said. "Your little ones will soon be here. How about we get you settled on the bed, hmm?"
As Zara slowly and awkwardly clambered up into position, Milo burst through the door like a hurricane, gasping for breath and sweat dripping from his brow. As Zara called to him, stretching out her hand, he rushed to her side and clasped it tightly.
"Are you all right, honey?" he asked. "How's the pain?"
As if to respond, Zara winced.
"Very bad," she said. "I think I'm almost there."
The midwife took up her position at the foot of the bed and inspected Zara carefully - doing her best to preserve whatever dignity the mother-to-be still had in the situation.
"You're right," she told Zara. "You're fully dialated. Next time you feel a contraction, you go right ahead and push for me, OK?"
Zara nodded, squeezing Milo's hand tightly. As pain surged through her once more, she drew a deep breath, gritted her teeth, and pushed.
As she experienced the agony of labour, Zara - with Milo beside her, supporting her all the way - stayed strong by keeping one thought at the forefront of her mind.
All her life, she had wanted to be a mother.
A few long and exhausting hours later... her dream finally came true.
By nightfall, three little Miskins had taken up residence in the nursery.
The first to come into the world had been a beautiful little girl - Louisa Arabella.
Some time later, she was joined by a sister - Laura Fiona.
Lastly, but by no means leastly, the adorable trio was completed with a son - Mackenzie Isaac, the future heir to the Miskin legacy.
Much to the midwife's alarm, all three siblings had been born with bright, lavender-coloured skin. Milo and Zara, of course, both realised that this was a telltale sign of their quarter-alien blood. Just as the couple were discussing how this might affect their children's prospects in the outside world, the bizarre colouring appeared to fade, with a more natural, human skintone taking its place.
Whilst these three little cherubs weren't entirely human, it was clear that their alien genes were slightly less dominant in them than in their sire. They would have no need to hide from the world - a fact that brought great relief and happiness to both mother and father, knowing how wonderful it was to be at peace with oneself after years of sadness.
As time went by, the three Miskin siblings grew up healthy and happy, and soon enough, they were toddling about and exploring the world.
Louisa was a charmer, and a sociable little darling. She spent many a happy hour babbling away to anyone who would listen - even interrupting bedtime stories with baby-talk opinions and comments.
Even at this young age, it seemed apparrent that she would go on to make many friends, and possibly play a very influential role in society.
Laura, whilst generally well-behaved, was slightly more mischevious: developing a strong love of games and play. She looked quite similar to her sister, and so, Zara would style her hair in pigtails so the two could be told apart. As Laura scurried about hither and thither, her grandfather Mordecai would watch and laugh... with memories of an active little Miranda rushing back to him.
As for Mackenzie, the best term anyone could have used to describe him was "a good boy." He had been blessed with a kind and loving heart, and despite the limitations caused by toddlerhood, desired to do whatever he could to assist those around him - his little voice often calling out the words "I help! I help!"
Like his father before him, he was also rather inquisitive, and was greatly intrigued by the world around him. However, whilst Milo's interest had been more logical, Mackenzie's fascination seemed to relate more to the everyday order of things - why things were the way they were. He appeared to possess a strong, inate sense of right and wrong... and if something troubled him, you'd find out about it soon enough.
One day, as Milo was tidying up the nursery, he felt a little tug on his trouser leg. Looking down, he spotted Mackenzie smiling up at him, about to say his now-renowned mantra.
"I help! I help!"
Milo giggled, and knelt down to speak to his son.
"All right, little man," he said. "You can help. Why don't you put some of those toys in the box for me?"
Mackenzie nodded eagerly, and made a beeline for one of his old favourites - a superhero figurine. As he was about to place it in the box, he turned to his father - waving it about proudly.
"Hero!" he said brightly.
"That's right, Mackenzie," Milo replied. "Well done."
Smiling, Mackenzie put his hand on his chest.
"Me hero too," he added.
Milo strolled over to him, and ruffled his hair lovingly.
"Yes, my son," he said. "One day, I'm sure you will be."