As a frightened Mally hung his head, Jack looked over his shoulder to examine the positive pregnancy test on the laboratory desk.
"Well," he said, "that explains why you've been throwing up in the mornings."
"I don't believe this," Mally choked out meekly, still unable to accept what the evidence before him clearly stated. "Polly and I have only known each other a couple of months. This... this is too soon. It's far too soon."
"But you knew this could happen when you... well, you know," Jack interjected. "It happened to your ancestors, for goodness' sake."
"Well, I wasn't thinking straight, was I?!" Mally snapped back. "At least, I wasn't thinking about this. Right then and there, in the heat of the moment... all I wanted was her."
He jumped up from his seat, pacing around the lab frantically.
"Oh, God help me, Jack - what am I going to do?"
Jack contemplated this for a few moments. Then, an idea. Not a very nice one, but - perhaps the best option, given the circumstances. Slowly, he approached Mally, and placed his hands on his shoulders: both to comfort him, and to brace him for what he was about to say.
"Listen," he began. "You met Polly by travelling back in time, right?"
"Well... what if - you go back to before this happened, and tell yourself not to... have relations? Or better yet, get rid of the chance completely, and just warn yourself not to meet Polly in the first place? Then none of this will have ever happened, and you won't be - "
"How dare you!"
In an unexpected outburst of anger, Mally violently slapped Jack across the face, sending him reeling.
"Look!" Mally hissed. "I may not be ready for this, but I'm not giving Polly up! Not for you, not for anyone! I love her. I love her too much to live without her! And if this baby is the result of that, then... then I'm proud to be carrying it!"
As he watched Jack rubbing his stinging cheek, he suddenly became aware of what he'd done, and he gasped - shocked by his own anger.
"I'm sorry, Jack," he said in a calmer tone. "I'm... I'm just very emotional right now. I... I don't know how I'm going to tell Polly about this. I'm so scared that... that she'll leave me."
"I know you're frightened," Jack replied. "That's understandable. Still, this has happened, and you've decided that you're going to deal with it. Let's not worry about Polly right now, but, at the very least... I think you should tell your folks. I'll come with you. What do you say?"
As Mally nodded, blinking back tears, Jack walked with him towards the stairwell.
In the sunroom, Max watched Laura reel in shock as Mally shared his important news - the scientist shuffling his feet and blushing awkwardly as he did so.
(Jack, not wanting to interfere too much, simply hung back and observed the proceedings - his eyes often falling to the plate of cookies Thomas had baked and laid out on the coffee table.)
"Yes," Mally replied, matter-of-factly. "I'm about a month along."
"So... it's an alien baby, I assume?" Max asked.
"Yes. And I... I want to keep it. That's OK with you, isn't it?"
"Of course it is!" Max replied, gesturing for Mally to sit on the sofa. "We love you, and if you want this baby, we'll love it too. We'll support you gladly. Hell, this is far from the first time we Miskins have had to deal with an alien pregnancy."
"All the same," Laura added. "it's a bit hard to take in when it's happening to your son..."
"So, when did this happen?" Max went on. "When were you abducted?"
"This is the thing," Mally answered timidly. "I... I wasn't."
Max's eyes widened in confusion.
"Then... then how... ?"
"I... I have a girlfriend," Mally told him. "An... an alien girlfriend. The baby's hers."
"So," Laura said, "there is a mother on the scene?"
"Sort of," Mally replied. "She... she doesn't know yet."
"Well, what's her number?" Max asked, whipping out his mobile phone. "Since you're telling us, she might as well be here too. Two birds, one stone, and all that."
"Dad - "
"Look, I'm not going to give her an interrogation!" Max said, raising his hands in a peaceful, 'calm down' gesture. "What you two do, or have done, is your own business. What matters to me is, you have a baby on the way, and she has both the right and responsibility to be in this child's life."
"Her knowing isn't the problem," Mally answered. "What I'm trying to say is... you can't call her. She doesn't live around here."
"Well, she did - but decades ago."
Max and Laura looked at each other quizzically before turning back to their son.
"Excuse me?" Laura asked, stunned.
"I... I built a time machine," Mally explained. "I travelled back some years, just to test it out, and... that's when I met her. The most intelligent, amazing woman I've ever known. I kept on seeing her, taking her for little trips around history, and well... here we are."
"How much do you know about this woman?" Laura pressed.
"Enough to know I want to be with her always," Mally replied dreamily. "And from what I've seen of her family, they seem like good people. Her dad - one of her dads - works at a little café."
As he heard this, Max gasped in shock. He began to mull the situation over and over in his mind, shaking his head slowly.
"No," he whispered. "No, it... it couldn't be..."
"What's wrong?" Laura asked.
"Her name!" Max cried suddenly, turning back to Mally. "This woman - what's her name?!"
"Polly Thacker-Creswell!" Max shouted excitedly, leaping to his feet.
Somewhere from within the mists of his memory, a long-distant conversation in a coffee shop had floated swiftly to the forefront of his mind.
"Whatever happened to Polly?" Marlon had asked. "I don't see her around much these days."
"She became a scientist, just like Daddy Theo," Daisy had replied. "She always was the smartest sister."
"Did she ever marry?"
"Oh, yes. That's why you won't see her that often - we don't, either. But don't worry, she's absolutely fine. We know. She met someone very special indeed."
Daisy just raised her finger to her lips, and winked.
"I can't say any more," she'd said mischievously. "Spoilers."
As the sound of Laura calling his name jolted him back to the present, Max burst out into joyous laughter, and threw his arms around his son.
"Oh, my boy!" he called, utterly delighted. "My boy, I am so happy for you! I just know you and Polly are meant to be together, and this baby is going to be a wonderful addition to our family."
"You - you really think so?" Mally asked.
"I know so," Max replied. "And no matter what... I'm still happy. After all, I'm going to be a grandfather!"
"I'm so glad you're supporting me," Mally replied. "Look... I need to head back to the lab. I'm waiting on the results of an experiment."
"What about Polly?"
"I'll... I'll tell her soon. When I feel ready."
"OK. Well - don't work too hard. You've got a new life growing inside you now. You have to take care of yourself."
As Mally headed out, Max settled back down on the sofa beside a shocked Laura... who was still trying to process the news she had just received. When she saw the grin on Max's face, her confusion only grew.
"You're taking this really well," she remarked.
"I've no reason not to," Max replied confidently. "Everything's going to be OK, Laura. I promise."
"How do you know?"
"Trust me. I have it on good authority."
The Present Day...
As she fell back against the black plush sofa, Polly, stunned into silence, raised her hand to her eyes - quickly wiping away droplets of tears.
"You've been dealing with this, all on your own..." she breathed. "Oh, Mally, why didn't you tell me sooner?"
"I meant to," Mally replied with sincerity. "Really, I did. But I... I guess I was still in denial about it all. I just... buried myself in work, tried to forget all about it. I kept telling myself that I still had plenty of -"
He paused, a small chuckle breaking forth as he mentally finished his sentence. Polly quickly caught on, and sighed.
"Plenty of time," she said.
"But as the months went on," Mally added, "and my belly got bigger, I had to come with terms with what was happening."
"I wanted to tell you. Honestly. But I... I was so scared that you'd leave me if you knew."
Polly shook her head kindly - touched by Mally's clear love for her.
"Oh, Mally, you fool... you adorable, wonderful fool."
"Eventually, I figured I should wait until after it was born," Mally went on. "Then, it would already be here for you to see - living proof, harder to walk away from. But I guess Jack had other ideas."
"Oh, thank God he did," Polly rasped. "I'll admit it, this is all so sudden, and it comes as a bit of a shock, but... this is my child too, Mally. I want to help you through all this."
Mally smiled at her - only to grimace in pain a second later, a hand flying to his stomach... much to Polly's alarm.
"Mally! Are you all right?"
"Yes, yes, I'm fine," Mally answered, rubbing his bump softly. "It's just the baby. It's... it's kicking."
"Can... Can I feel?" she asked, timidly.
"Sure," Mally replied - taking her hands, and guiding them to his rounded stomach.
As she felt the small but strong movements beneath her palms, Polly felt her fears and worries fading away as her heart flooded with love.
"That's... that's so amazing..." she gasped.
Smiling, Mally reached for her hands once again. As Polly looked up, her lover gazed deeply into her eyes.
"Will... will you stay with me?" he asked. "At least - until the baby's born?"
Polly nodded, and embraced him tightly.
Over the next few days, the couple settled into something of a routine. Polly helped Mally and Jack in the lab - her expertise proving invaluable for developments, and taking some of the pressure off the Miskin genius, who she quickly gathered had a terrible habit of working himself to breaking point. With a baby on the way, that simply wouldn't do at all.
She also provided him with regular, healthy meals - cooking delightful dishes for the two of them...
... and made sure he got plenty of rest, along with herself. This soon became the favourite part of the day for the pair: laying together on Mally's bed and cuddling closely, with Polly counting the kicks from the baby her boyfriend was carrying.
One pleasant afternoon, after the pair had been dozing idly for an hour or so, Mally sat up carefully with a groan - a hand massaging his lower back.
"Oh dear," Polly remarked. "Is it really aching?"
"Yeah," Mally replied, wincing. "Still... not long to go now, I guess."
As he swung his legs over the side of the bed, Polly shifted to sit up beside him.
"Speaking of which," Mally went on, "we really need to choose a name for our little one. Have you had any thoughts?"
"A couple. You?"
"Mmm. There's a tradition in my family to give babies "M" names - especially sons. But, boy or girl, it's a tradition I'd like to honour - if you don't mind."
"Not at all. What were you thinking?"
Leaning towards her, Mally whispered the suggestions in her ear. He was worried that his parents could be eavesdropping on their conversation, and he wanted the baby's name to be a surprise.
Luckily for him, Polly liked them both. The choice for a little boy touched her heart greatly, whilst the feminine selection was more unique, but had a pleasant ring to it. Almost melodic.
"Beautiful choices," she told her beloved. "I completely approve."
Mally grinned from ear to ear as Polly got up, heading towards the door.
"I'm going to get some coffee," she said. "Do you want a cup?"
"No caffeine for me, thanks," Mally replied, "but a glass of milk would really hit the spot."
Polly nodded, and walked out.
As Mally slowly clambered to his feet and staggered towards the computer desk, he could feel the twinge in his back growing... a dull pain starting to spread in his stomach.
Just before he reached the chair, this ripple of discomfort suddenly burst forth into a violent, agonizing flood - crippling Mally completely, and sending him sinking to his knees.
"Polly!" he screamed, terrified. "Polly, help me!"
As the torturous feeling washed over him again, he could feel himself growing faint. Gasping for breath, he keeled over onto the carpeted floor.
The bedroom door flew open as Polly burst back in. Seeing Mally writhing on the floor, she shrieked in horror and immediately knelt beside him - cradling him in her arms as he looked up at her with a glazed and distant gaze.
"Please," Mally wheezed breathlessly. "Save the baby."
With one last gasp, his eyes slid shut, and he slipped into unconsciousness.
Polly shook him repeatedly, begging him to wake up. He didn't stir.
As she screamed for help, Max and Laura appeared in the doorway. Trembling with terror, Laura tried to comfort the now-weeping Polly as she rocked Mally back and forth... whilst Max simply stared at them, frozen to the core.
Polly wasn't married yet. Daisy had said she got married. Surely that meant his son was going to pull through this... right?
Then again, whoever said that she'd married Mally?
This was no time to dwell on long-ago events. Mally needed help here and now. Snapping into action, and desperately suppressing his own cries of panic, Max phoned for an ambulance.
Yes... that conversation really happened. I haven't just edited it in - I promise!
Yes... that conversation really happened. I haven't just edited it in - I promise!