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It wasn't often words failed Hades, but the moment Lexi opened her eyes, none were needed. While onlookers murmured their relief, he stood stock still, staring at her until she reached out her hand, prompting him to react. He pressed his lips to her palm, absorbing her warmth, her taste, her fragrance. She restored him with one simple smile. The smile that spoke volumes. Pages upon pages of 'I will love you for eternity.' Their gaze was only broken when Hera lifted her head from Lexi's belly and made an announcement to the room.

"I hear two heartbeats. Strong as ever."

A cheer rose up, and Lexi squeezed Hades' hand before closing her eyes again. He watched her lips move, and he expected she was offering thanks to Gaia. He joined her, although there were not enough prayers in his repertoire to cover the gratefulness he felt. It even surpassed the moment he walked through the gates of Olympus after being permanently excommunicated, welcomed and reassured by his fellow gods as they escorted him to the palace. Hades could not recall the face of Zeus among the crowd. His brother had vanished once he ordered the gates open to allow Hades admittance. This was not a such bad thing.

Poseidon now stood beside him, and for once, Hades wasn't compelled to use his fists to rearrange Poseidon's face. It appeared Poseidon had already been punched, based on the blossoming bruise on his cheek. Hades didn't have to speculate who had given it to him. Zeus was sporting something similar when he arrived at the gates.

"You're going to earn yourself a reputation as a drama queen, Lady Lexi," Poseidon said as he smiled down at her. "You had us scared out of our wits. Present company included."

Lexi acknowledged Poseidon with a weak nod then pointed to a pitcher of water. Hades quickly prepared a glass while Hera propped a pillow behind Lexi's head.

"Drink slowly, Lexi," Hera admonished. "You don't want to shock your system."

Lexi did as she was told, taking a few sips before handing the glass back to Hades, who took a large gulp. He hadn't realized how parched his mouth had become, and there was still the taste of sawdust on his tongue. He wanted to tell Lexi the cribs were nearly complete, at least one of them was, and he couldn't wait to get her home and resting in their chamber. At the moment, however, Lexi looked tired and confused. Was she wondering why he was there when he should not be?

Hera performed her examination, flashing light into Lexi's eyes and listening to her heart. All the while, Lexi never lost her grip on his hand. "Her heartbeat is strong, her pulse is normal, and her pupils are responding well to light," Hera murmured as she unraveled a bloody bandage from around Lexi's shoulder. When she pulled it loose, she alerted everyone in the room with an uncharacteristic gasp.

"What is it, Hera?" Hades asked.

Hera said nothing, which was characteristic of her, and Hades was forced to follow her lead, stretching across the bed to get a look for himself. "It appears to be a bruise," he said.

"It is more than a bruise."

"Well? What is it, dear?" Rhea clicked her tongue as she peered over Hera's head to inspect the site. "Oh, sweet woodruff, you're right. That is no bruise. It is the Ouroboros. The mark of Gaia."

There was a collective round of exclamations, and Hades watched a smile lift Lexi's lips as she brought her hand to her belly. It was clear she had made a connection with Gaia, and Hades felt immensely proud of her, this young goddess with compassion enough for all of Olympus. Could that be why he felt a twinge of apprehension when he thought of the implications of such a mark? It was sure to carry great consequences for both of them.

Hera changed the dressing on Lexi's shoulder, and instructed her to lay on her side to take the pressure off her spine. Although Hera's next recommendation was to rest, Lexi gestured Hades close as soon as Hera left the bedside.

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