October 28, 2013 by Lyn
Directly after It’s Always Darkest…
“You seem to be full of ideas today, Jo.” Caitrin sat down and stretched her feet out onto a footstool. Jo did the same; their feet might be immortal but they still ended up hurting after a busy day. “What brought this whole train of thought about?”
“A few things over the years. Xaviera.”
“Mmm, Xaviera.” The wrinkled-forehead frown Caitrin wore echoed Jo’s feeling, and likely her expression, too.
“And a few others through the years. The mess with Abaddon and Genevieve, and then there was Eluned, and Zita, and Akaterina.”
“This has been adding up for a while, hasn’t it?” Caitrin shifted forward a bit, her expression losing any sleepiness. “Why now, Jo?”
“Now is when things seem to be coming to a head, I suppose. Now is when I’m catching my breath for a moment. And with everything going on – well, now is when I thought you might be receptive.”
She could tell her employer didn’t like that; she could also see that Caitrin saw the truth in her words. Mmm. So, your ideas?”
“First, what I was suggesting.” Jo leaned forward as well: time for being serious. “We should change the graduation requirements. Require each child to have different parentage.”
“And what about those couples that are, to one extent or another, pair-bonded?”
“Well. We’ve had two that are magically pair-bonded so far in our school career. Mabina-and-Cassidy, and Lemon and Hylakaros. We’ve had far more students who are gay, lesbian, or simply disinclined to sex in general.”
Caitrin tipped her head. “I can tell that you’re aiming at something.”
“We’re requiring children to have children.” She held up both of her hands. “I understand the motives, and I’m still here. In part for the same reason you are – because our presence here means we’re watching and helping deal with some of the worst problems.” Jo wasn’t really sure about worst, but that was an argument for another day. “We’re requiring people who have no interest in reproductive sex to reproduce, although, yes, we don’t require them to have intercourse to reproduce. And if we require them, in addition, to have their children with two separate people…”
“You think we will inconvenience less people than we’re already inconveniencing, and that we’ll avoid problems like Akaterina?”
“And Xaviera – or at least part of the Xaviera problem.” Jo nodded. She could see she was getting through to Caitrin, at least a little.
“And the Eluned problem?”
“I propose we talk to Professor Drake.”
“Always an interesting way to start any conversation.”
“I’m aware.” She inclined her head. “However, the question remains – who is the Mother of a child conceived with one egg and carried in another womb? The departed gods were not exactly clear on those matters.”
“They weren’t clear on most matters.”
“And I suppose ‘mother’ was clear enough to them. But in this case…”
“You’re suggesting tampering with the Law, Jo.”
“And don’t we already do quite a bit of that?”
“You’d like to do more?”
“No.” Jo shook her head. “Of course not. I’ve heard the same stories you have, probably, about what happens if you stretch the Law too far. Nobody wants the skies to open up.” For a moment, all she could hear was her Mentor’s creaky voice in her ear.
The world will break. The Gods were not stupid, and they know us. First you will break, and then you will crack the world.
Caitin was still watching her, and Caitrin was, after all, her boss, so Jo coughed and kept talking. “But is it a bending of the Law? Take Eluned’s example: she carried that child from conception. And then she had to pass it over to Evie. How is Evie the baby’s mother?”
“Genetically.” One raised eyebrow said make it good.
“And what about, say, Ayla and Ioanna?”
“Genetically, Ioanna is Niobe’s father.”
It wasn’t so much, Jo thought, that Caitrin was being stubborn; it was just that she was looking at the world as it was, and not as it could be.
“Leofric and Sigruko?” Eluned had been forced to carry her Keeper’s child; Aelgifu and Ioanna had chosen artificial fertilization and manipulation of Io’s genetic matter into a sperm. Leo had artificially impregnated his sister – he and Yngvi both had, and Jo had never figured out the logic of that one – but Leo had ended up Mother by Law.
“Aelgifu willingly signed over parentage of that child. As did Juniper to Zita, so you might as well not even bring up that artificial pregnancy.”
“Of course not. However… if we are going to allow that the Keeper has control of the Kept’s womb or seed -”
“We are never going to convince anyone to change that. For one, most of them are simply too old.” Caitrin’s gesture suggested them was the rest of the school; Jo knew what she meant.
“I agree. And since we can’t change that, we have to allow the Kept the possession of their children. And that should mean the children they carry as well as those they provide the seed for.”
“That way leads madness.”
“I can’t say I argue. The problem is, where we are currently is also madness.”
“And I can’t say I argue with that. I’ll talk to Regine about implementing the one-child-per-pairing policy. You’re right; it’ll feed into her plans very nicely.” Caitrin shook her head.
“Remember.” Jo pitched her voice gently. “Please remember why we’re doing this.”
“I know why I’m doing it. Why are you doing it?”
Jo pursed her lips. “Get both policies pushed through, and I promise you I’ll tell you.”
“That private?” Caitrin at least looked sympathetic.
“That complicated.” Jo twitched her shoulders and shifted the subject back. “We have to get more clear about the options of artificial insemination, too. IVF, as well.”
“What about surrogating?”
“Back to the mother’s-rights problems.” Jo shook her head. “Talk to Regine. Please.” It helped to remember that Caitrin was her boss, once in a while. “And I’ll do a little unofficial research on my own.”
“I’ll do that. And you…” Caitrin smirked. Jo’s methods – which sometimes involved drinking with the students – weren’t approved of, but they weren’t forbidden either. “Do what you do.”
Jo nodded. It wouldn’t help Kat or Eluned, but they might be able to help the next one.
This was written to Rix’s donation and request for Jo’s idea.
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