Chapter 14

EXILE

There is a knock on the door, interrupting the conversation in the room. A nurse peaks in, informing the patient’s family member is here to visit, they inform the nurse that she will be notified when she can send in the family member to see the patient.
“Alexis, I understand things haven’t been going according to your plan off lately, however I want you to have confidence in the team and me to support you and respect any decision you take regarding your personal and professional life. I insist, you take as much time as you need before you are back on the team, that is, if you want to be back.” 
“Chief, I had confidence in you since the day you have inducted me into your team, and it is the same with all the team members. Thank you for having our back,” Alexis replied to the man sitting next to her. Even in a relaxed posture and civilian clothing, the Chief had a commanding presence. 
“I will not take any more of your time Alex, I am mindful that your sibling is eagerly waiting to see you. Contact me if you need anything or even just to talk. Remember, the team is my family and each one of you are dear to me, even if I don’t say it out loud. I will inform the nurse to send your brother in,” the chief spoke with a smile on his face and took leave.
Alex at all times is sure of what she wanted and how she wanted her life to be from a young age. For the first time in her life, she is lost. The independent, disciplined and courageous life she led didn’t seem to help her decide on what is the right step to take given her predicament. She is grateful for her Chief’s visit she felt less conflicted after the conversation with her Chief. The man’s wisdom and guidance have given her restless mind some reprieve. 
The sliding of the door interrupted her thoughts. Her baby brother Lennox barging in towards her bed. He had anxiety written all over his face. Without a word, he hugged his sister tightly and whimpered in her embrace. 
“I hate you Ale, I hate you for doing this to me. I hate you every time you get hurt,” Lennox sobbed.
“Lenny, darling, you are crushing me, you need to get off me,” Alexis replied with discomfort evident in her voice.
Lennox let her go at once and gave his sister a sweeping look. “Oh my god, Lenny, what happened? Why is your stomach so swollen? Are you in pain should I call for the nurse? Lenny spoke with a frightened expression.
“It’s not swollen you idiot, I am pregnant,” Ale replied with a frown on her face.
“What? How? I mean, when?” the information shocked Lennox.
“Who is the father?” Lennox questioned regaining his composure.
“Jaebeom.”
“What? Are you sure he is the father? Jaebeom hasn’t seen you for 7 months,” Lennox asked with an expression that conveyed disbelief.
“What the hell, Lenny? What do you take me for?”
“No offence, but the timeline doesn’t seem to make any sense and god knows what you do in the name of espionage,” Lenny stated perplexed. 
Ale’s answer came in the shape of a pillow smacked right in Lennox’s face. Lennox’s statement has pissed her.
“I can’t believe what my own brother thinks of me and my line of work,” Ale stated, frustration dripping in her voice.
“Ok, sorry. You caught me off guard with the pregnancy news. Does Jaebeom know about it?” 
“He has no idea,” Ale replied with a sigh.
“Are you planning on sharing the news with him?”
“I am still thinking on that front, I am not sure how Jaebeom will react if I spring this on him out of the blue.”
“Jaebeom is a good man, but I will totally empathize with him if he runs for the hill or demand for a paternity test. By the way you need to fast track on your decision of sharing the news with Jaebeom, he is waiting in the hallway to come and see you.”
“What?”
“I informed him you are doing well, and he wanted to see you. He flew here last night. I wanted it to be a pleasant surprise for you. It looks like Jaebeom will be the one to get his mind blown,”
“Lenny, you are being an ? Why are you so amused by this whole situation? Are you not worried things can go horribly wrong between me and Jaebeom?” 
“Ok, I am being an because I am mad at you. You scared the daylights out of me by being in a coma for four ing months. Also, I may not have known Jaebeom my entire life, but I can assure you he will not let you be alone in this. He is good person Ale, this can be the starting point for you to take responsibility for Jaebeom’s feelings towards you and not let him hang in, not knowing what the future with you looks like.”
“I wish I had more time to think about this,” Alexis stated with helplessness.
“You have been dragging Jaebeom around for 18 months. He was nothing but respectful, understanding and loving towards you. Ale you need to realize that he flew thousand of miles just to make sure you are doing well. This shows how invested he is in you.”
“I am happy to see you in good spirit Ale, please be strong for the baby and for everyone that loves you. I will send Jaebeom in. If the news shocks him, if he has questions regarding the pregnancy, please don’t be offended. You have disappeared on him for 7 months, for most part you left him clueless on your whereabouts due to your line of work. Try to be in his shoes for once and give him time to internalize that he is going to be a father,” with that Lennox left the room to fetch Jaebeom.
Alexis heard a knock, before she could respond she saw Jaebeom entering the room. She panicked for a second and covered her entire body with a thick blanket. 
“Jaebeom, why are you here?” was the first sentence she blurted out, making Jaebeom stop in his tracks near the door, looking confused and hurt.
“Ale, don’t you want me here?” Jaebeom asked with a pained expression.
“That’s not what I meant, I didn’t know you were coming to see me,” she explained herself.
“I missed you, I want to make sure you are safe,” Jaebeom stated, taking his steps towards Ale. 
“How are you feeling? We were worried about you, what happened?” Jaebeom enquired holding Ale’s palm between his hands and rubbing soothing circle into it.
“You know I can’t disclose classified information Jaebeom, I was on a mission and things didn’t go as planned. I am sorry to worry you, I missed you too. I am glad you are here, I needed to talk to you, I am not sure how you will take this news however I won’t blame you if you don’t want to be in my life anymore, I will understand,” Ale replied.
Jaebeom is anxious with what Ale said. What could it be? Does she not want him anymore in her life? He is here to confess his undying love for her and what ever is going to be the situation he will deal with it like a mature adult.
“Ale before you say anything, I want to tell you that I will be there for you no matter what, you can trust me with my word,” Jaebeom stated with utmost honesty.
“Jae, I am pregnant!”
Jaebeom’s world stood still, he understood what he heard but he is not sure how to react. Of the relative multitude of situations, he had envisioned this is by no means one of them. He just gazed at Ale without squinting his eyes nor saying a word.
“Jae, you are the father,” Ale stated while removing the blanket from her body to show Jaebeom her pregnancy bump. She wanted Jaebeom to know that it’s his child she is carrying.
Ale looked anxiously at Jaebeom expecting some kind of reaction from him. Jaebeom is surprised to learn that Ale is pregnant, he is relieved to know that he is the father. Even if he didn’t meet Ale for almost 7 months, he did trust her word when she said she is pregnant with his child. He is not sure how to take this news, on one hand this is his dream to have Ale in his life marry her, start a family with her. However, he is not sure what Ale has in her mind. How will he tell his family that he got a lady pregnant out of wedlock. He had imagined on how he is going to convince his family how much he loved Ale and wanted her to be part of their Im family, he is the eldest grandson of the IPC family, he is supposed to be the responsible one, a role model to all his cousins and the future face of Im’s family enterprise. How will his parents react, will they assume Jaebeom is being irresponsible? How about his cousins, will they understand? Jaebeom can’t even imagine how the seniors in IPC will react, all hell will break loose. Besides everything is he ready for such responsibility at his age? He has just begun working for IPC group, he has plans for his future, will he be able to balance everything.
“Jae, say something, if you have doubts whether you are the father or not, I can understand and I won’t blame you for it,” Ale whispered her voice quivering.
This brought Jaebeom out of his stupor and he realized tears were running down Ale’s cheeks. She took his silence as mistrust in her words. 
“Ale, I trust you with my life, please don’t ever have any doubt about it. I will be honest with you, I am surprised and anxious. I am anxious because I don’t know what you want from me, please tell me you are not going to cut me out of your life Ale.” 
“Jae, I wanted you to know that I am carrying your child because you deserve to know this. I am not planning to leave you out of my life; however, I can’t force you to take responsibility for this child.”
“Ok, let’s keep the pregnancy aside, the reason I came here to see you is because I wanted to tell you how much you mean to me and I can’t imagine my life without you. Ale these past four months has been hell for me knowing that there is a possibility of losing you. All this time I hoped you would return to me alive and I will do everything in my capacity to make you happy and share our lives together. Ale I am in love with you, I had been in love with you for a long time, I can understand if you don’t feel the same for me but I truly hope you feel the same way.”
Ale had tears running down her cheeks. She is beyond relieved to hear that Jaebeom loved her and wants to be in her life. She loved Jaebeom too, however knowing Jaebeom’s family background she had her apprehensions of their future together. She is still not sure how things will turn out, she didn’t expect to get pregnant, she realized it when she was on her mission in Samarkand. Jaebeom is aware that she works for the US military however, he is unaware that she is part of special mission’s unit named Delta Force. 
Their unit’s work is highly classified and massively secretive, the team members are known as quiet professionals. They report directly to the president of the USA. Their unit take up some of the hardest missions and they work with the US army, FBI and CIA. Alexis has participated in numerous missions as a part of Delta Force. Their team was involved in hostage rescue, counter espionage, covert operations, counter terrorism, close target recon operations, eliminating high-level targets, anti hijacking and anti piracy. 
Alexis was in a covert operation in eliminating a high-level target in Samarkand, Uzbekistan when things went hay wire. Unfortunately, the mission failed and she ended up fatally wounded. This is not the first-time things didn’t go as planned, Alexis and their team had faced many challenges during their missions and in few occasions, they had causalities on their side however it didn’t deter any of the members to leave Delta Force. 
Alexis is proud to serve her country and she intends to keep doing it however to be part of her team she needs to be in USA and available round the clock as the team members have to report for missions on a moment notice. So, leaving her country is out of question. she is not going to give her child away to Jaebeom so that he can take the child with him to South Korea. Will Jaebeom agree to settle down in USA? Alexis is aware of the huge responsibility Jaebeom has to IPC group and his parents, she couldn’t dare ask him to move to USA for her and their child. She is not sure what Jaebeom’s reaction would be when she discloses about her line of work to him. There are too many unspoken questions that needed answers between Alexis and Jaebeom.
“Jae, I love you,” 
“Ale, I love you, I know this may not be the ideal time or place but I have to say this. I want to marry you Ale, I want to spend the rest of my life with you. I want us to raise the child together have a happy family.” 
“Jae, I want the same things however I am afraid it won’t work. There are few things you need to know which may change your stance on us getting married.”
“Ale, I told you earlier I am in this with my heart, whatever it is we can work on it, we can make our relationship work.”
“Jae I work for a classified special operations team, even when we get married I will continue to work with my team. You understand what that means right?”
“Ale, I am aware that you work in army and you put your life on the line for your country and I am also aware that I can’t stop you from doing what you have worked hard for, my only wish is that you will always manage to come home alive.”
“Jae, it also means that I can’t move with you to Seoul,”
“Ale, I have never expected you to leave everything and move across the world for me. You have a job that you are dedicated to, you have Lenny here, I can understand. We can figure it out, we can make this work as long as we are on the same page,” Jaebeom assured her giving her a hug.
He felt surreal when he placed his hand on Ale stomach feeling the bump. He is excited and terrified at the same time thinking about their future.

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