-Chapter Five-

Bryce sat on the examination table in Dr. Duncan s office. Edison was sitting in a chair in the corner. Some instinct that Bryce could not identify made him request the reporter s presence.

Lift up your t-shirt, Dr. Duncan requested.

Bryce pulled up his shirt while the doctor rubbed a clear gel between his fingers.

This is going to be a little cool, the doctor warned as he rubbed the gel on Bryce s abdomen.

Bryce shivered, involuntarily, despite the warning. A moment later, the doctor placed the ultrasound paddle against his midsection.

At first they could see only a vague outline, the shape of the sac that had been implanted in Bryce s abdomen.

It can t be Edison said, in wonder. Can you see through that shape?

Dr. Duncan enhanced the power of the ultrasound, just a little.

Three pairs of eyes widened at what they were seeing. It was tiny, only beginning to take its rudimentary form, but there was no doubt in their minds that it was a baby.

Bryce, Dr. Duncan told the young genius. This is a very unique and delicate situation. There is a part of me that wants to suggest that you have it removed soon as possible since there is a great risk to your life. Another part of me wants to see what would happen if you carried to term. However, none of that matters. The important question is what do you want? Don t worry about what anyone else wants. What do you want to do with this baby?

If he were to carry it, is there any way we could find out who the actual parents are? Edison asked. He s really not old enough to handle this much responsibility.

We can find out the parents identity right now, if you like.

It won t hurt the baby, will it? Bryce inquired.

The procedure is perfectly safe, Dr. Duncan assured him, taking a needle and extracting a fluid sample from within the sac.

The doctor took out a chart and compared the samples with network employees first. He intended to start at the Network, then work his search outward until he found what he was looking for. It never got that far.

Seems to me that the child is yours, Mr. Carter, he explained.

Then who is the mother? Theora? Vanna Smith?

No. Bryce. Excuse me? Edison blinked.

So, you re saying it s a gene-spice? Bryce said, sounding impressed. But why?

Doesn t matter, Edison decided. Dr. Duncan is right. The choice in this matter is entirely up to you, Bryce.

I m keeping the baby, Bryce decided.

Don t you want to think about it? Edison asked Bryce for the fifth time that evening while they, Murray, Theora, and Cheviot were having dinner together in the cafeteria.

There s nothing to think about. Bryce said, pointedly.

There s a lot to think about, Edison argued. You ve got a life inside of you.

If it means that much to you, why do you want me to destroy it?

I don t, Edison told him. I just think you d be better off if you found someone else to carry and raise it. This is a gro-bag. It s not a natural part of your body. It can be removed without

The baby is a natural part of me, Bryce reminded Edison. And a natural part of you as well. Or doesn t that mean anything to you?

Would you two stop arguing about it? Theora asked. Bryce is right. This is his decision.

He s sixteen, Edison pointed out. His body isn t even completely grown yet. Who knows what will happen to him? He might even be too delicate to carry it to term.

I m right here, Edison, Bryce complained. Please don t talk as if I m not.

Why is this baby so important to you, Bryce? Theora asked.

Because it s because it just is.

Because Edison is the father? Theora asked.

Bryce bit his lower lip in silent embarrasment, but nodded in confirmation. Yeah.

This Network cannot afford a scandal involving it s top reporter, Cheviot said, firmly. I m ordering you to get an abortion immediately.

I will not, Bryce refused. Do whatever is needed to protect this network s reputation. Hire the best spin-doctors you can find to deal with it. But I am not having an abortion.

Nor do you have to, Theora agreed.

Then, I suggest you pack your things, Cheviot told Bryce. I will not have a pregnant teenager working on my staff.

You can t fire me just because I m pregnant, sir, Bryce pointed out.

I m not, Cheviot told him. I m firing you because keeping you on staff at this point would risk this network s reputation, and that s something I m not prepared to do. Not even for Edison Carter.

I ll talk to Shawn and Winnie, Theora told Bryce. I m sure they ll be willing to put you up and help out with the baby when it comes. They have a child of their own, so you ll be able to get a few parenting tips. It ll also help you to come to terms with the reality of your situation.

Thanks, Bryce said, a tone of relief in his voice.

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