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Never Doing That Again??

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The hot summer days, as the planet came closer to its one large sun, not a good time for those with child, female or Tiresiean or otherwise defined. The fishing crew stayed close to the shores to make sure they could back onto solid ground quickly, in case Gren went into labor: the problem with Tiresieans, they had pelvic openings too narrow to pass the child in the usual fashion. Franklin kept a close eye on Gren: he had gone through the same thing with young Jax and he knew what to expect. And the kid needed to learn first hand what it would entail; he had seen his little brother Grey come into the world, but things went differently for Tiresieans, and he had inherited his father's genetics.

On an especially hot day, they had gone back to shore to get into the shade of the dryland baobabs; they had barely crossed the shingle into the shade, when Gren let out a yawp of pain and doubled over, clutching at his gravid belly.

"You all right there?" Jairin, Gren's lover and secondary father of his unborn child asked, coming to Gren's side, putting a comforting hand on his shoulder.

"Contractions, don't think it's one of those little twinge ones," Gren grunted through clenched teeth.

"Get him into the shade," Franklin ordered. Then looking toward the cluster of youngsters that trailed the crowd, he called out. "Jax! Get my medkit from the boat and get over into the shade of the biggest tree. Now!"

Jax, playfully wrassling another boy his age, looked up, then ran for the boat. He disappeared behind one of the gunwales before popping back up and scurrying up the shore to join the others. Jairin helped Gren into the shade, taking off his own tunic and spreading it out on the scrub grass before helping his lover to lay down on it.

"What's going on?" Jax asked, coming to his father's side as Franklin knelt beside Gren.

"Gren's having the kid now," Franklin said, raising the folds of Gren's tunic.

"Can't we carry him back to the communal?" Jax asked, handing over the medkit.

"No, Jax, he's having the kid *now*," Franklin said, darting a Look at his son as, by touch, he opened the pack and took out a sealed steriwipe, unsealing it and swabbing a horizontal strip on Gren's lower belly. "No time to carry him that far: the baby will get stuck and it could kill the both of them."

"Okay, give you some space," Jax said, starting to step away.

"Nope, you're staying here, son," Franklin said. "Time you learned how it goes, being Tiresiean and having a kid, just in case you ever get this way yourself, or you get another Tiresiean this way."

"Best fertility inhibitor ever: seeing where the kid comes from," one of the other men among the fishers teased. The rest of the crowd chuckled nervously, but Jairin ignored them, kneeling down behind Gren's head, holding it on his knees. Two of the crowd came to hold Gren's arms as Franklin applied an anesthiwipe to the same spot he had just sterilized. He reached into the kit again, then took out a steriblade, unsealed it, then set to work, cutting through the skin. Gren gasped, skin rippling under Franklin's hand; Franklin paused, waiting till the contraction passed, then set to work cutting into the layer of muscles underneath, then the membrane under that. He uncovered the uterus beneath it, carefully cutting into it. Gren moaned, nervous, but Jairin murmured softly, reassuring, leaning down to kiss the patient's forehead. Jax leaned in as well, getting a better look.

Then Franklin reached into the incision, drawing out something still sealed within a clear membrane, breaking it open, then drawing something out. Something that twitched in his hands, unfolding small limbs -- tiny arms and legs and a head, a face, eyes squinched up and mouth opening in a reedy yowl. "Jax, the softwipes and steriblanket in my kit," Franklin said. "Hold out the blanket."

"I'm on it," Jax said, unsealing the pack and unfolding the blanket to hold it out as his father had asked.

"What is it? A boy? A girl?" Jairin asked. "A Tiresiean?"

"A girl: a loud, healthy girl," Franklin said with a smile, placing the infant in the blanket. Jax felt the soft, gentle weight of the child, gazed down at the little creature as his father set to work gently wiping the infant down, rubbing the gummy stuff that covered her skin into that skin before tying off the umbilicus that still connected her to her primary parent.

"Thank the elements," Jairin sighed, relieved.

"A girl you can fuss over and I can teach how to fish," Gren said, smiling up at Jairin, tears in eyes, but tears of delight.

"A girl Jax can flirt with when she's grown," Mindge, one of the women, joked. Several men tisked and some of the other women groaned.

"Nah, I've seen too much of her, but not *that* kind of *that*," Jax said, as Franklin cut the cord, gave Gren a patch to help pass the afterbirth, then took a sterisealer out of the pack and set to work closing the incisions.

"You saw what it takes to get the bun out of the oven," Mindge said, serious, understanding.

"That'd be it," Jax agreed, wryly, hoping he never got that way himself.