Chapter Twenty-Two: Identical... Yet not so Identical
Gresha smiled at her mother and sister. “Mom, how are you feeling?”
“I actually feel really good,” Gwyneth said as she smiled up at her oldest. “I don’t know why your brother insists I stay here.”
“Because we are all worried about you, Mama,” Gresha said with a happy smile.
“Yeah,” Nahla said as she sat up on her mother’s lap. “You died and came back to life.”
Gresha and Gwyneth laughed. Gwyneth pulled her daughter close and kissed her cheek. That wasn’t exactly what had happened, but close enough.
All three looked to the door. Gresha smiled when she saw her husband standing there. He walked into the room and moved to stand next to her and smiled as he wrapped his arm around her waist.
“Have you told her yet?” He asked as he looked down at her.
“No,” Gresha said as she shook her head.
“She said Mama has too much on her plate, but she’s not hungry,” Nahla said as she watched Leih and her sister.
“Actually, I am hungry,” Gwyneth said as she watched her grown-up married daughter, with the man she was destined to be with. She did look very happy.
“See, Sister,” Nahla said with a pout.
Gresha laughed. “She is sad because she didn’t get to learn Earth sayings, as I did.”
“Well, your sister and I will have to fix that, won’t we,” Gwyneth said with a grin as she kissed her daughter’s cheek.
“Yay!” Nahla hollered as she threw her arms up in the air.
Gwyneth laughed softly as she laid back to avoid her daughter’s elbows. She’s still such an active little girl.
“Be careful, Nahla,” Gresha told her sister as she watched her mother dodge elbows.
“Sorry, Mama,” Nahla said with a frown as she lowered her arms.
“It’s all right,” Gwyneth said with a smile, then turned her head and looked at her oldest. “Is it about you and Leih being married, I already know, your father told me.”
“I know he did,” Gresha said with a nod. “It’s more than that.”
“I don’t understand,” Gwyneth said as she tilted her head to the side and watched her daughter.
Gresha looked up at Leih then at her mother and sighed as she wrapped her arms around her husband. “I’m pregnant.”
“What?” Gwyneth asked shocked. Her baby girl is going to have a baby of her own? “I’m too young to be a grandmother.” She complained as she shook her head.
Gresha laughed as Leih held her closer to his side. “In looks, maybe, Mama. But you’re as old as Aunt Gretchen, in years.”
Hearing her sister’s name, brought a tear to Gwyneth’s eye. No one has talked about her sister since they had found her. She wanted to see her sister so bad her heart…hearts pounded loudly in her ears. Boy, two hearts, twice the pounding.
“Mom?” Gresha asked as she watched her mother’s eyes go blank in thought.
Gwyneth shook her head. “Sorry, baby girl. What did you say?”
“Are you okay?” Gresha asked as she watched her mother closely.
“I’m fine,” Gwyneth said with a smile. “I just want to see Gretchen.”
“Oh. They had gone to Earth to settle some affairs, while we were searching for you. Kept Aunt Gretchen’s mind off you. So, she doesn’t know we found you yet. She’s due to be back up here in a few hours.” Gresha informed her mother.
“Oh,” Gwyneth said as she forced a smile for her girls. “So, what were you saying, before I got distracted?”
“I said, we’re having twins,” Gresha said as she watched her mother.
“Twins?” Gwyneth asked in a whisper.
“It’s okay Mom. Queen Neesah is gone, no one to harm us anymore.” Gresha said with a wide smile.
“Right, about that…”
“My father sent her away for a thousand years when she tried to kill our unborn children,” Leih said as he kissed the top of his wife’s head.
“I see,” Gwyneth said as she watched them. Her little girl is all grown up, and about to have little ones of her own. And she missed it all. “Come here.” She said as she moved her arms out from around her youngest and held them out to her oldest.
Gresha moved out of Leih’s arms and into her mother’s, they held onto each other for a few moments. Nahla sighed as she wrapped her arms around her mother and sister, wanting to be a part of the hug. Gresha and Gwyneth laughed softly as they wrapped one of their arms around her, including her in their hug.
“Now, this is a sight a man wants to see when he walks into a room,” Gio said with a broad smile as he walked into the room.
“Daddy!” Nahla squealed as she pulled away from her mother and sister and crawled to the edge of the bed.
Gio moved over to the bed and took his youngest into his arms, then kissed her cheek. He looked at his wife and oldest with a large smile across his face.
“Gresha just told me I’m going to be a grandmother,” Gwyneth told her husband as Gresha stepped back from the bed.
“She did, did she?” Gio asked as he looked at his daughter.
“I wanted to wait to tell her, but Leih brought it up,” Gresha said as she lifted her hands up in front of her.
“Thanks for throwing me under the bus,” Leih said as he pulled his wife into his arms.
Gresha grinned up at him. “Any time.”
He growled playfully at her as he kissed her lips. She giggled as she slapped his shoulder.
“They’re us,” Gwyneth said as she watched her daughter with Leih.
“I had noticed that too, I thought I was imagining it,” Gio said as he moved closer to his wife’s side.
Gwyneth grinned. “She loves him.”
“And he loves her,” Gio said with a nod.
“It took them forever to get together,” Nahla complained.
Both her parents laughed as Gio kissed her on the cheek.
Gresha waited in the shuttle bay as her family’s shuttles landed. She watched her aunt and cousins as they pulled bags from the shuttles. Gretchen looked over at her and waved. Gresha smiled as she waved back. This is big news, and she wanted to get her aunt alone to tell her.
“Can I talk to you, Aunt Gretchen?” Gresha called.
“Sure, Hun,” Gretchen called back as she handed her husband the bag she had in her hand, then walked over to Gresha.
Gresha took hold of her aunt’s hands and looked into her face, which still looked so much like her mother’s, only a bit older.
“We found my mother.” She said, wanting to get straight to the point.
“You did?!” Gretchen asked as she watched her niece and took a deep breath. She may be her niece, but she raised her as her own, and she knows that look, all too well. “What happened, Gresha?”
“I don’t want you to freak out,” Gresha said as she watched her aunt who had raised her as her own daughter.
“Spill it, kid,” Gretchen said as she eyed her.
“She’s alive,” Gresha whispered.
“What!?” Gretchen screeched.
The rest of their family who was still at the shuttles unpacking paused to look over at them. Gresha smiled as she waved at them.
Gretchen didn’t take her eyes off her niece. “Where is she?” She demanded.
“In the hospital. But you need to know something…”
Gretchen took off at a run towards the Hospital Wing, before Gresha could finish what she was saying. She took a deep breath, then chased after her aunt. The rest of their family stood by the shuttles, staring after them.
“Aunt Gretchen!” Gresha hollered as she chased her aunt through the halls and corridors.
“Whoa,” Leih said as he caught Gretchen when she burst through the hospital door and into his arms.
“Where is my sister!” Gretchen screamed as she tried to pull away from Leih’s strong grip.
“Please, Aunt Gretchen,” Gresha said as she entered the hospital out of breath. “You need to know something.”
Gretchen turned and looked at her niece. “Is she deformed? I don’t care, you know…”
“No, she isn’t deformed,” Gresha said as she shook her head. “Please. You need to be prepared for this.”
“I don’t care what she looks like!” Gretchen hollered, still trying to pull her arms out of Leih’s grip.
“Let her go, Leih,” Gresha said as she nodded to her husband.
“As you wish,” Leih said, then let her go.
Gresha chased after her aunt as she ran down the hall. She caught up to her and pulled her to the correct door.
“Remember, don’t freak out,” Gresha said as she opened the door.
Gretchen pushed past her niece and moved into the room, then froze when she saw the woman lying in the bed. It was Gwyneth, twenty years ago. How could this be?
“Gwynie?” She whispered; afraid this was all a dream.
Gwyneth turned her head and squealed when she saw her sister. “Gretchen!” She cried out as she held her arms open for her sister.
Gretchen ran into her sister’s arms and burst into tears as they held onto each other.
“Gwynie, you’re really alive.” Gretchen cried as she held onto her sister.
“I am,” Gwyneth said as she held her sister close.
“But how?” Gretchen asked as she pulled back to look at her sister’s young face. She hasn’t looked like that, in fifteen years.
“From what the kids have told me, Neesah put me into suspended animation,” Gwyneth said as she looked at her sister’s older face. So, this is what she would have looked like if she had aged. Not too bad, they still look good.
“What does that mean?” Gretchen asked as she watched her sister’s face.
“I guess like a medically induced coma,” Gwyneth said as she looked over at her daughter.
“Yeah, Mama. Something like that.” Gresha said with a smile.
“How come you didn’t age?” Gretchen asked as she looked over her sister’s face, neck, hair, arms, hands, any part of her body she could see.
“I guess you don’t age in their pods.”
“I can’t believe you’re alive!” Gretchen squealed as she threw herself back into her sister’s arms.
Gwyneth smiled as she held onto her sister again. “I love you, Gretch,” Gwyneth whispered.
Gretchen laughed softly as she held onto her sister tighter. “I love you too, Gwynie.”
Both women turned to the door. Garrett stood just inside staring at them.
“Garrett,” Gwyneth said as she held her arms out to him with a smile.
Garrett moved into the room and took his sister-in-law into his arms and closed his eyes as he held her close. Gretchen laid her head on her husband’s side as he hugged her sister.
“But how?” He asked as he slowly backed away.
Gwyneth told them everything she was told when she was found and brought to the hospital. They stared at her, still shocked to see her alive, and still so young.
“There’s one more thing,” Gwyneth said as she watched them.
“More?” Gretchen asked as she watched her sister.
“I’m not completely human anymore,” Gwyneth said as she squinted her eyes and waited for their response.
“What?” They both asked, confused.
“The blood they gave me to save my life, over twenty years ago, it didn’t kill me. It transformed me.”
“It did what now?” Gretchen asked, her eyes open wide.
“It almost killed me, if I hadn’t been put in the suspended animation, I would have died. So, without meaning to, Neesah had saved my life.” Gwyneth finished with a laugh.
“Oh, wow,” Gretchen said, still confused.
“What does this mean?” Garrett asked as he watched his sister-in-law.
“I have two hearts,” Gwyneth said, matter-of-factly.
“You have what now?” Gretchen squealed.
Gwyneth explained to them as much as she understood from Pilar and Gio. She heard her daughter clear her throat, and looked behind her sister at the young woman, who she had missed watching grow up. But her husband was right, her sister and brother-in-law had done a great job raising her.
“Two things, Mama,” Gwyneth said with a smile as she patted her stomach.
“Right,” Gwyneth said as she smiled back.
Gretchen looked at her niece then at her sister. “We already know Gresha is pregnant.”
“I am too,” Gwyneth said with a smile.
“What?!” Gretchen asked as she stared at her sister’s face, then looked down at her flat stomach.
Gwyneth laughed as she told them about the baby, and how it had survived and hadn’t aged, like her.
Gretchen smiled as she hugged her sister again.
“That is wonderful, Gwynie. I am so glad you and your baby are alive.”
“Me too,” Gwyneth said with a sigh.
“So many pregnancies in our family at the same time,” Gretchen said with a laugh.
“Oh? Who else is pregnant?” Gwyneth asked as she smiled at her sister and backed out of the hug.
“Gabby,” Gretchen said with a wide smile.
“Oh, my Gods.” Gwyneth gasped. “So hard to believe our babies are having babies!”
“I know, right!” Gretchen said excitedly.
“I can’t wait to see the kids,” Gwyneth said with a smile.
“They will be happy to see you,” Garrett said as he placed his hand on his sister-in-law’s shoulder.
“Another day,” Pilar said as he entered the room. “Sorry Gretchen, but our mother needs her sleep. Her body is still recovering and adjusting to the DNA transfer.”
“Of course,” Gretchen said as she turned to smile at her nephew, then turned back and kissed her sister on the cheek. “I will be back to see you again.” She promised.
“You better be,” Gwyneth said with a grin.
Garrett leaned down and kissed his sister-in-law on the head. “Sleep well, we will see you later.”
Gretchen paused at the door and looked at her nephew. “I think it’s time you started calling me, Aunt Gretchen.” She said with a smile.
Pilar grinned at her. “It will be my honor,” he said as he bowed to her then looked up at her and winked. “Aunt Gretchen.”
“Good, boy,” Gretchen said patting his cheek.