Jim paced back and forth in front of his bedroom door. An anguished cry came from the other side, setting his teeth on edge. He wasn’t allowed inside until it was over. He knew it wasn’t going to be a pleasant experience, but he hadn’t imagined that her cries would sound so pained.
He wished they had the medicine that she’d described existed back in her dimension, on Earth. She was so surprised when he’d explained how these things went in this world. Basically, she had to do it all on her own. There wasn’t a hospital anywhere near their house on Montressor, so she would have to settle for a midwife and no painkillers.
Her water had broken seven long hours ago. They had immediately called their midwife, who rushed over to their house from her office in town. Jim’s mother, Sarah, had also come from across town to be there to support Raphaelle. They were both on the other side of the door with her at the moment. The midwife had instructed that they set up in their shared bedroom.
Another painful cry emanated from within the room. Jim wished more than anything that he could be in there with her. But according to some stupid tradition, men weren’t allowed in the same room during the birth. It was bad luck or something. He didn’t get it. That weird superstition apparently didn’t exist back on Earth; Raphaelle had said as much before they brought her into the room. But the midwife refused to let Jim inside until everything was done.
So that left him pacing out in the hallway, worrying that everything was going wrong and that she wasn’t going to make it. It didn’t happen often, but just enough so it was a possibility that scared the hell out of him. If he lost her, or both of them, he didn’t know how he would survive.
Another anguished cry came from his wife. He stopped pacing and sat on a decorative chest that graced the hallway of their home. He buried his face in his hands, not knowing what else to do with himself.
A hand patted his back, reminding him that he wasn’t alone in the hallway.
“Don’t worry, lad. She’ll be alright,” Silver said.
They had written to him after they’d found out Raphaelle was pregnant. Silver didn’t want to miss the birth of their first child, so he’d secretly been hiding out in Montressor for the past two months, keeping an eye out on Raphaelle. When he saw the midwife rush over to their house a few hours earlier, he’d also shown up. Jim was the only one who knew he was there at the moment.
Jim ran his hands over his face and took a deep breath. He gave a weak smile to the cyborg, but he still couldn’t keep his brows from furrowing with worry. Morph, who had been perched on Silver’s shoulder, nuzzled Jim reassuringly. He cooed, trying to cheer Jim up.
Jim pet the little pink blob absentmindedly, but his thoughts were still preoccupied elsewhere. Silver could tell, so he decided to try and help take his mind off of worst case scenarios.
“Do ya know if it’s a boy or a girl?” he asked.
“We aren’t sure,” Jim answered. “It was always facing the wrong way in the ultrasounds.”
“Well, ‘ave ya decided on any names for either?” Silver countered.
“Yeah, we’ve come up with a few names. If it’s a girl, we want to name her Isabella; Ella for short. But we haven’t really decided on a name if it’s a boy. Raphaelle thinks the perfect name will come to her when she sees him,” he explained.
“Well, I’m sure either way, yer child will be beautiful,” Silver said.
“Thanks,” Jim replied, giving him a genuine smile.
The door to the bedroom opened and the midwife slipped out, a bundle of bloody rags and sheets in her arms. She was a short, stout alien woman with dark brown fuzzy skin and bright orange hair that was piled atop her head in a messy bun. She had two sets of eyes, one pair had light grey irises, and the others were a mousy brown. Despite her strange appearance and the grimace that was currently on her face, she was actually a very sweet woman. It was why they had chosen to have her be Raphaelle’s midwife; she had a wonderful reputation for helping woman get through their first pregnancy and labor very smoothly.
But the sight of those bloody rags made Jim doubt their decision. He shot up from his seat. Silver also stood up, ready to calm the outrage that Jim was no doubt about to unleash.
However, Silver was surprised when Jim responded with worry instead of anger.
“Oh god! Something went wrong, didn’t it? Is she alright?” Jim asked frantically.
“No, no, she’s alright,” the midwife answered. She had a hint of an accent that Jim couldn’t place. She must have been born on a different planet and then moved to Montressor later in life. “This is absolutely normal. I just need some more towels, preferably white ones. They’re easier to bleach afterwards.”
Jim seemed a bit dazed, as he didn’t answer her question right away. Silver put his mechanical hand on his shoulder, snapping him out of his stupor. He blinked a few times and gave Silver a confused look.
“Jimbo, where do ya keep yer extra towels?” Silver asked.
“In the closet at the end of the hall,” he replied, still somewhat shocked.
“Thank you,” the midwife said to Silver, shooting him a grateful smile.
She deposited her bloody rags in a basket next to the door before quickly striding across the hall to the aforementioned closet. She grabbed the thickest towels and quickly returned to the room. Jim caught her just before she could shut the door.
“Can I see her yet?” he asked.
She gave him a sympathetic smile before answering. “No, not yet. I’m sorry.” With that, she closed the door, shutting him out once again.
Jim returned to where he had been sitting and sighed. Silver joined him once again, patting his back lightly.
Raphaelle was breathing, panting really, very loudly, as well as grunting and moaning constantly. Jim could hear his mother’s encouraging words on the other side of the door, as well as the muffled voice of the midwife giving Raphaelle instructions. He heard the midwife tell Raphaelle to push. She screamed, sounding like she was in more agonizing pain than she had been in the past few hours combined. Jim cringed at the sound.
Then a new sound graced his ears; the wails of a newborn baby. He slowly stood up and took a single step towards the door. He wrung his hands together as he waited for someone to open the door and let him see his wife and child. The crying died down after a while, and still Jim waited. The more time that passed, the more he began to worry that something was wrong.
Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, the door opened. His mother’s face smiled back at him. Jim unsuccessfully tried to hide the anxiety in his face, but his mother knew him all too well.
“They’re both perfectly fine,” she assured him. “Come on in.” She opened the door wide so he could enter.
Jim tentatively stepped into the room. His gaze immediately went to the large bed that he and his wife shared every night. She was laying in it at the moment, propped up by several pillows piled behind her back and head. The midwife was gathering the rest of the bloody towels from around her. She pulled a clean bedsheet up to cover the lower half of Raphaelle’s body.
Jim slowly approached the bed, his eyes never leaving his wife.
Her hair was plastered to her forehead with sweat. She was gazing down lovingly at a small cloth-wrapped bundle in her arms. As Jim came up next to her, she looked up at him and smiled. She reached up her hand that wasn’t cradling the bundle and held it out to him. Jim grasped her hand and sat on the bed next to her.
“Hey, how you doing?” he asked, a relieved smile on his face.
“I’m wonderful,” she smiled, glancing down at the bundle. She looked back up at him, beaming like he had never seen before.
A small noise emanated from the bundle. Jim glanced down at it, but its face was obscured. He was excited, but also nervous, to meet his child.
“Jim, meet your son, Caleb,” Raphaelle said.
She turned the bundle so Jim could see his face. He was so small, and his eyes were closed. His little face looked so content. Jim smiled and let out a happy breath.
“Would you like to hold him?” Raphaelle asked.
Jim nodded. She held the bundle out to him. He carefully lifted his son from his wife’s arms and gently cradled him in his own. He gazed down at his newborn son’s face.
“Hi Caleb,” Jim half whispered.
His son turned towards his voice. His eyes opened slightly, and Jim caught a flash of dark blue. He smiled proudly at his handsome son. He looked over at his wife to show her how ecstatic he was. She looked just as happy, if not more.
Someone knocked on the door, which was wide open. Both Jim and Raphaelle looked up to see Silver standing in the doorway, Morph floating over his shoulder. Raphaelle gasped in delight, her face lighting up even more, if that was possible.
“Silver!” she exclaimed.
“Aye, lass,” Silver smiled.
“Well,” the midwife said, looking at Silver. “Don’t just stand there looking daft. Come in and meet your grandchild!”
Jim and Raphaelle chuckled at the midwife’s mistake, but they weren’t about to correct her. Silver just shrugged and walked towards the couple. He kneeled next to the bed and grasped Raphaelle’s small hand in his own giant one. Hers looked so delicate and dainty within his large meaty one.
“Congratulations, lass,” Silver said.
“Thank you,” she smiled back.
Silver then stood up and peered over Jim’s shoulder at their newborn son. Jim turned so that he could get a better look at the tiny infant. Morph peeked over Jim’s shoulder and chirped curiously.
“By teh stars,” Silver gasped. “He’s beautiful!” Silver blinked his eye a few times, trying to hold back tears of joy. He had more trouble doing this than he anticipated. He had to reach up and wipe at his mechanical eye.
“Would you like to hold him?” Jim asked.
“Would dat be alright?” Silver asked nervously, glancing at Raphaelle.
“Of course it is! Go ahead. Just be sure to support his head,” she replied.
Jim carefully handed the wrapped up child to Silver, who delicately positioned him within his arms. He gazed down at his tiny face in wonder. He rocked the little child, feeling strangely paternal. The little baby gurgled and shifted within the cyborg’s arms. Morph floated a few inches above his face, staring down at him with rapt curiosity.
“Ahoy there, lad,” Silver whispered. “What’s his name?” he asked without looking away from him.
“Caleb,” Raphaelle replied.
“Caleb,” Silver repeated. “A good strong name, for a strong lad.”
He responded to the cyborg’s voice, opening his eyes just enough to show off those beautiful dark blue irises.
Silver handed the boy back to Raphaelle, who gratefully accepted him back into her arms. Caleb instinctually turned towards his mother, sensing her presence.
“Thank you so much for being here, Silver,” she said once she had settled back on the bed. “You have no idea how much this means to me.” Her eyes teared up just a bit.
“I wouldn’t ‘ave missed this for all teh treasure in da world,” Silver replied lovingly.
Raphaelle gazed down at her son again. Jim sat down on the bed next to her and admired their child. He pressed a kiss to her forehead.
“I love you,” he mumbled against her hair.
“I love you too,” she whispered back.
Caleb responded to his parents’ voices by cooing and turning his face towards them. He opened his eyes again, looking up towards their faces. His parents smiled back down at him with every ounce of love they were capable of.