The Genius's Secret

by ElegantButler

Bryce was taking a rare break in his studio. The smallest TV set on his desk was broadcasting that night's episode of Network 23's soap opera Hattie and Soul.

It was about a month since Edison Carter had done the report on Ovu-Vat and their artificial wombs called GroBags.

Edison Carter. The man had somehow managed to find his way into Bryce's heart. This was not an easy thing to accomplish. Bryce had always been very cold when it came to personal relationships; preferring to keep everything on a professional level. It was, after all, better for concentration.

Bryce tried to take his mind off Edison by focusing temporarily on the soap opera that was on the screen. Hattie, the shows titular character, and her paramour Richard, were expecting their first child. She was showing, as women in her condition called it, her belly swollen with the child she carried. Sitting around her in a colorfully decorated room, her friends watched as she opened the gifts they'd bought for the baby.

It made Bryce wonder if the comforts of GroBags were worth what the women lost from the experience.

Something else popped into his mind. It was just the seed of an idea, but it took hold and could not be shaken.

Maybe one of the doctors from Ovu-Vat could implant a GroBag inside him. One which held his and Edison's child. He envisioned himself during the later stages of pregnancy, a hand on his still-flat stomach as he imagined it swollen. But would Edison approve? Did he have to? It was Bryce's body, after all, and Bryce's child.

He called Ovu-Vat, making certain to segregate the call from the Network's database. He didn't want Cheviot or anyone else finding out what he was planning to do. It was a private matter. None of their business.

"Ovu-Vat," the doctor on the vu-phone screen said, "aren't you a bit young to be calling us?"

"What does my age have to do with anything?" Bryce asked. "I'm a graduate of the Academy of Computer Sciences and have been gainfully employed since I was twelve. I have the brains and the credits needed to raise a baby."

"It takes more than brains and bucks to care for a baby," the doctor told him. "What is your relationship with the mother-to-be."

"I am the mother-to-be. I want to carry this child. GroBag implant. Can that be done?"

The doctor shook his head. "Sorry. I've got nothing against same-sex relationships mind you. I've catered to many such couples. Gene-splicing is very easy for us to accomplish. My reluctance stems from the health risks that are involved in what you are asking."

"What health risks?" Bryce asked.

"Your internal organs would be slowly crushed by the growing implant for one," the doctor told him. "Your lungs would lose the room they need to properly expand and contract. You would basically die of suffocation. We could discuss the possibility of a standard GroBag when you're a little older. Right now, though you may not realize it, you just don't have the emotional maturity to be a parent. I'm sorry."

Bryce simply disconnected the call. He couldn't think of a reply.

His heart ached at the rejection of his request. There had to be some way he could convince them at Ovu-Vat that he was ready for this. Maybe if Edison backed him up? He had wanted it to be a surprise. But he could see now that it wasn't going to work out that way. No, he decided. Edison would never back him up. If this was going to happen, he had to call a favor in from an old friend.

Jenny put her bathrobe on and sat down to answer her vu-phone. "Bryce, it's almost midnight. As nice as it is to hear from you."

"I want to have a baby," Bryce said.

"Really! No date. No playful seduction. Just 'I want to have a baby'. Jesus, Bryce, what type of girl do you take me for?"

"What?" Bryce blinked. "Not with you. With Edison."

"You skipped the biology classes, didn't you."

"I mean a splice. GroBags. Remember them? Does Network 66 still have any of them? Can they be reused?"

"Ovu-Vat turned you down, didn't they?"

"The doctor said I wasn't mature enough," Bryce complained. "I think differently. I can handle raising a baby."

"Bryce," Jenny told him. "I don'tů"

"Please, Jenny?" Bryce asked. "It means the world to me."

"Alright," Jenny said. "I'll locate a GroBag and get it ready. We'll have to find someplace to hide it. We can't risk either Grossberg or Cheviot finding out. They'd give the baby away."

"Or give it to Edison," Bryce pointed out.

"You really haven't thought this through, have you?" Jenny said. "Do you really think Cheviot will want the world to know that Edison Carter, your top reporter, had a baby with a teenage boy. In case you didn't know, you're jailbait in some countries, Bryce. And even though I know that two people of the same sex cannot reproduce in the old fashioned way, many people would be too emotionally charged to think it through."

"I hadn't thought about that," Bryce admitted. "I still want the baby, though."

"And Edison's reputation?" Jenny asked.

"We just won't tell the viewers that it's his." Bryce said, shrugging.

"Okay, then," Jenny said. "We'll have to grow the baby in the Fringes. I think we can trust Blank Bruno to protect the her or him."

"Too risky," Bryce told her. "Blank Reg is too close to Edison. He could worm the secret out of Bruno. What about Larissa at World 1? Theora never knew about her. Think we can trust her with this?"

"I believe we can," Jenny agreed. "I'll meet you at World 1 in two days with the GroBag. I need some time to figure out how to sneak it out of here."

"Thanks, Jenny," Bryce said, as he disconnected the call.

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