Jack fell in love with his son when he was just a cluster of multiplying cells, head over heels second he found out his boy could even exist. He’s easy that way. Anything and anyone that’s a part of Gabe? That’s something and someone he loves. So their baby? Fuck. He was gone on the very idea the minute he heard it.
Gabe’s another story, because Gabe loves hard but he doesn’t love easy. They’re two very different things. You can do one and not the other. Jack loves hard but he loves easy. For Gabe? Giving pieces of himself to people is a struggle. Jack doesn’t know how he managed to get where he is in the Army working that way. It seems exhausting and lonely. Jack doesn’t function well alone. He comes from a multi-litter family and has three littermates of his own. Connection is everything as far as he’s concerned and in his own way, he knows Gabe feels the same it’s just…Gabe can be a stingy fuck about it.
He was already an officer when they met. Even back then, Jack knew Gabe was set in his position as career military. He was something else, a fucking artist with a needle and thread when he had some downtime and an absolutely beautiful fuck, but definitely not a man who had room in his life for even the concept of children, let alone the actuality of being bred.
The reality is a very different matter, though, and, at least in Jack's opinion, so much better.
Their son had come into the world on the living room floor of his grandparents’ house because Gabe had insisted that “Hospitals are for people who need hospitals, Cariño. This shit’s what I’m built for… which is fucking bullshit 'cuz I’ve been shot and it hurt less than these fucking Braxton Hicks.”
Jack loves it when Gabe calls him Cariño. It makes him feel all shivery and makes him want to do really stupid shit like beg and crawl and push Gabe onto the ground and get up inside him in any possible way he can. Feeling that way when his mate had just finished calling him seventeen kinds of shit in two languages and was covered in amniotic fluid was a new and confusing experience though. Those kind of intrusive thoughts ring all the same warning bells as his pre-rut crazy so Jack has to figure it's an Alpha thing. Even knowing that, he feels guilty that he likes it but he can admit to himself at least that he’s definitely going to be knotting his fist to this strange new flavor of thirst until Gabe heals up from childbirth.
He and Rafi had helped Ale put sheets over the inflatable pool he used in his daycare business and then…they just let nature take its course, leaning in or getting the fuck out of the way as requested. And yes, okay, Jack had kept a line open to their squad medic whole time through because if things went wrong, he wanted to be able to call in a fucking medevac if he need to because 911 hadn't been great in this neighborhood before but it was a sad joke since the Omnic Crisis stripped the country of resources and personnel. It was a shameless abuse of power, yeah, but one SEP warrior was a bigger investment than most tanks and the US Army was invested in keeping seeing their projects through, especially them. They were the poster boys for SEP success and losing them to anything less than Omnic combat was unacceptable to high command. Sure, Doc Marks sent more video of the unit laughing at him over the 30 hours it took Gabe to give birth than Jack had ever been mocked in his entire life prior, but it was worth it to know that if things went south they'd have a Plan B. No battle plan survives first encounter with the enemy and all that but despite all the concerns from SEP mutations that had been detected, everything went pretty flawlessly. Oh, it was disgusting and miserable and horrible-smelling, but the delivery itself medically flawless and when Jack caught his baby, he was perfect and healthy(aside from the things they were already expecting to be a little off), a strapping Omega boy just like his mom.
Now Jack has three sprained fingers and bruises up and down both his arms from Gabe’s grip during the vicious contractions, but he also gets to carry their baby in his arms while Gabe slept like the dead, almost ten pounds with thick brown hair and wide brown eyes like all the Reyes men and he’s already so curious. The sight of him curled up against Gabe’s chest to nurse had made Jack’s heart seize in his chest so hard he couldn’t take in air. The punch only partly comes from the stunning picture of their son, Jack’s fairer complexion and Gabe’s dark coloring somehow blended into this new person who fit perfectly in between them. In large part it's the way Gabe looked down at their baby, like that fire he’d always had finally had something to burn the world for. He looks at Jack that way sometimes, when they’re in the real shit, when they’re alone and their fucking slides into making love by accident, when Jack manages to make him laugh on purpose. Jack’s been waiting for that look to finally arrive for their pup because he knows that Gabe doesn’t give over his heart easy but when he does, shit, but it’s glorious.
He wouldn’t trade Gabe for something simple. Although right now, walking the floor with a squirming two-day-old, he would appreciate some more enthusiasm.
Or a name. “We need to give the little squirt a name.”
Gabe waves a hand at him. It’s a dismissive, by all means gesture that has very little impact from where he lies, sprawled half-asleep on his childhood bed. He hasn’t gotten up to do more than hit the latrine since the birth. Jack really doesn’t blame him, but he doesn’t need Gabe to get up to talk to him.
“What about naming him after your mom?”
“Ugh, no.” Gabe’s face disappears under a pillow. So not "all means" then.
"But Alejandro kept you out of trouble, got you into the military, and is the coolest person I’ve ever met.” Well, except for maybe Gabe himself (which he can’t say because Gabe already thinks he’s a loser and it’s a miracle he lets Jack touch him, let alone mated him), and Master Chief Affondi. Yeah, Master Chief and Ale Reyes could have a coolness face-off and it’d be anybody’s game. “Why not...Alejandro?"
"I just can’t do it to the poor kid.” Gabe groans. “Your side of the family’s too white. Alejandro Morrison? That name is like making a liger. Or a tigon. Or putting human skin on an omnic. It’d be an abomination. Nah, it’ll work itself out.”
No. Jack can’t do that. Everything about this pregnancy has been sideways or backwards or upside down but he can’t let that happen with his name. There’s a right way to do this and Gabe’s way isn’t it. “It doesn’t have to be like that.”
Gabe lifts the pillow so he can scowl at him. “Jesus, Jack what's wrong with you?” It’s a very impressive scowl. Jack wants to kiss it off his face. He kisses the pup's head instead.
The pup whimpers and Jack shushes him. He doesn’t know how they’d do this if there were more than one. He knows there’s supposed to be more, at least one. Genetic markers came back positive early in the pregnancy that they were going to have an Alpha or an Omega and so he should have littermates. Alpha and Omega dynamic pregnancies are multiple pregnancies, always, barring extenuating circumstances and an SEP pregnancy was pretty extenuating, but Jack doesn’t know how they could possibly keep up with any pups but this one. He supposes that's where the whole littermate thing is supposed to help in the first place. As much as he clung to them, his own littermates aren’t the most accessible anymore and his older litter aren’t really all that healthy either.
And okay, so he’s the sentimental bastard Gabe’s accused him of being since they met but this is the time for it if there’s ever going to be one. “A name should be right for a person.”
“You were calling him squirt a minute ago. Squirt sounds fine to me,” Gabe declares from his prone position. The bed’s a single and every line of his body screams that he’s in no mood to share it with anyone (except the pup, of course). Childbirth had not been fun for him. The screaming. Jesus Christ, the fucking screaming. Jack’s going to be haunted by that for the rest of his life.
But it’s Jack’s turn to scowl now. “We cannot put Squirt Reyes on his birth certificate. That’d be a real abomination.”
“Squirt Morrison sounds cornfed. I bet you went to school with fifteen guys named something like that.”
Okay. Okay, Jack has rehearsed this a hundred times since coming to LA. He's going to get this right. It's important. “He’s not going to be a Morrison though, not Squirt Morrison or Alejandro Morrison or any Morrison. You hauled him around inside your body for almost a year, you squeezed him out, he’s getting your name.” Jack has four nieces and nephews of various dynamics already who have the Morrison name. He’s in no hurry to carry on that name when the Reyes’ are here, enfolding him into their den and making him feel more a part of a family than his own has since he shipped out. “He’s a Reyes.”
“Okay.” And it is a sign of how tired Gabe still is that he doesn’t argue. “Squirt Reyes is pretty bad.”
“But Mama’s already Alejandro Reyes. It’d be…I mean, we could. I know seven Juan Lopezes but it just seems like tempting fate.”
“So we let Ale be Ale and the kid can be himself.” He lifts his arms to brush his nose against the soft hair at the crown of his baby’s head. “What other names do you like?”
“I don’t care, Jack. I’m tired.”
“Your grandparents’ names were Luis and Anna right?”
“They got shot to death by police.”
Jack actually stops. He’s heard a bunch of different things about Ale’s parents, from different people. He’s heard in the two weeks he’s been in LA living with the Reyes, so many things, but the jist as far as he can follow is that Anna Carlita was a prostitute, that Luis was in a street gang, that they deserved what they got, and that Saint Jessica had been willing to take in her daughter’s children when she got herself killed because her sons would have ended up in the system and then what would have happened to them, and isn't it bad enough that Ale got mixed up in the gang life himself for a while there before he met Rafi and the two of them had to deal with that terrible unpleasantness so soon after their wedding (although no one will talk about what the unpleasantness involved when Jack asks except to refer to it vague terms like that, "an awful situation", "bullshit", or "oh, you know" but no, Jack doesn’t fucking know).
Apparently there’s a lot Jack is fucking clueless on. He thought they went to prison, maybe were on the run in another country. “Really? What the hell?”
Gabe grins, seeming almost proud. “They did. Took law enforcement a week to catch them. They were small-time dealers with vague connections to the gangs and Abuela Luis sold his heats on the side until he got sick. HIV. It was before the vaccine really started gaining traction.”
“Shit, Gabe.” Apparently the gossip was flipped. He really needed to let go of the things he’d thought were “true” on the farm. He thought the Army had managed that but no, every minute he spent with the Reyes showed how much he still had to go in realigning his world view.
Gabe gives one of his it-is-what-it-is shrugs. “The way Mama tells it, things were actually pretty okay after Abuela Luis got sick until this ex-regular decided that if he couldn’t have Luis at cost, he’d take him by force. Abuelo Anna Carlita and her girlfriends in the the Hello Kitty Mafia brought him back but before they got there, the guy did some messed up stuff to Luis and she took some gunfire to get him back. Putting their bodies back together afterwards only made things worse 'cause they had to spend all their time working off the debt and didn't have anything left for their kids or each other or themselves when it was pretty fucking clear they were going to need psychiatric help for the rest of their lives. I don't know the details but when they couldn’t pull themselves out of the hole and get better? They started robbing chain stores." Gabe's smile is drowsy and oddly proud. "They made it all the way across the US before they went down, actually managed to fucking wire money back too, like twenty grand.” He yawns so loud his jaw cracks a little. “Aspirational crime.”
That is a great story but it’s not exactly the legacy he wants to impart on their pup. “I’m vetoing that.”
“Okay. Your parents, then.”
The face of revulsion Jack makes is completely involuntary. His poor parents got caught in the Gen X Classic Name revival of the 2000s. “They’re Harold and Darlene.”
“Holy shit. And do you want some mayonnaise with your WonderBread?” Gabe asks, laughing so hard he almost snorts. Jack tilts his son in his arms so he can see his mama being an adorable asshole.
“Not with a stolen cunt and even then not for six to eight weeks.”
Jack chokes on another laugh and the pup wriggles in his arms. He hasn’t cried all that much in the scant hours he’s been alive. When he’s hungry or wet, sure, but otherwise he’s seemed pretty happy to just quietly absorb everything and try to grab on to whoever is closest. It’s nothing like Gabe, or him for that matter. They’re not that kind of quiet.
“Look, pick something or give him back and let me sleep.” That “or” isn’t really an option. Jack’s going to need to do that regardless. He can’t walk out of this room with the pup. Gabe may seem unaffected but he’s all hormones and possessive impulses right now and he’s only relaxed this much because the pup hasn’t left his line of vision.
Jack wonders if all the Reyes are like that. He should ask Ale and Rafi. They’d know about their own experiences and maybe Anna and Luis’s too. If that Saint Jessica person were still around, the one who has a pride of place on the mantle next to the Virgin of Guadalupe she’d probably know everything he could possibly think to ask. He still hasn’t gotten the story on that.
“What about your other grandma?”
“I only have the one. Papi’s mama died before he left Honduras.”
“Then I think… Jessica could be good.”
“We’re not naming him Jessica, Jack. He’s a boy,” Gabe grits out, puts his palm on his face. “If he wants to change when he can talk, that’s his choice. Whatever. But for now I’m not pulling any of that ‘Omegas Are The Same As Women’ bullshit. Dynamics manifest differently from sex, you and I both know it, so don’t fucking-”
“No, shit, I know that. You think I don’t know? Jesus, Gabe, you’re more man than I’ll ever fucking be.” Goddamn does he know. Gabe puts him on his knees and shoves his cock down his throat and makes him see God. Gabe puts him on his back and fucks him so good he could cry. Gabe stands beside him and makes him wants to be the best person he can be on the job and off. Gabe is the best fucking man Jack has ever known and there is no one Jack would rather call sir. “I meant what about naming him after Jessica?”
Gabe drops his hand and pushes himself into a sitting position. “I still have baby brain. You mean, Saint Jessica right?”
“Yeah.” He still doesn’t know why they call her that. He’s beginning to suspect it has something to do with the damn bank robberies and Ale’s parents dying a bad death.
“That would… Hm. Yeah. Mama would like that.”
“Yeah,” His grin turns wolfish. Jack hasn’t seen it like that since his last heat on base. It always means trouble for him because he doesn’t know how to say no to it. He really is so easy. “And Jael would kill me getting the first namesake. She and Rico have been trying for like his last three heats and they definitely want to name a boy and a girl after her, greedy fucks.”
“You’re a dick,” Jack observes, feeling just so damn fond that it makes him feel a little giddy with it.
“Yeah. Yeah, whatever. This is good. What are you thinking?” He leans forward, reaching out towards their son. Jack crosses the room as quickly as he can without disturbing him and settles down beside Gabe. “Who are you, kid, huh? Jason? Jasper?” Their pup blinks up at them, ever curious and confused. “Nah. More of a Javier. You’d be better off as a Jessica before you’d ever fit one of those weak-jaw white boy names.”
“I have one of those weak-jaw white boy names.”
“Well you’re a weak-jawed white boy. Not your fault.”
“I figure we stick as close to the original as possible. Jesse sounds good doesn’t it?” It sounds right on his tongue, like his son, his life, his family, and he has to say the whole thing, to make it real. “Jesse Reyes.”
Gabe beams at him, then down at their pup. Jack lives for that smile. “Jael is going to hate that. I love it. Sounds like the kind of guy who tears shit up so it checks the boxes for your 'must fit' requirement.”
“Jesse,” Gabe repeats, nodding in agreement though Jack doesn’t think he’s agreed so much as found what Gabe would have figured out on his own if he weren't so tired.Gabe doesn’t ask, just pulls Jesse out of Jack’s arms and cradles him close. “Hey, Jesse. You’ve been making my life really fucking difficult, you know that? You planning on cutting that shit out any time soon, m’hijo?”
Jesse makes a gurgling noise and is sick all over Gabe’s shirt. Gabe starts laughing, laughing hysterically until he’s crying with their child tucked tight to his skin. Jack wants to cry too. He doesn’t because that kind of bitch move would not be something Gabe would respect in the least, instead placing his hand on Gabe’s neck, hand spanning hot skin so his thumb can knead their bond mark.
“Fucking postpartum hormone cascade,” Gabe grits out through sobs. “This is such fucking bullshit. I’m ready to be fucking done.” He pushes his nose into the downy hair on the soft spot on top of Jesse’s head and whispers. “You’re grounded for the whole first year of your life, Jesse Reyes. Eschucharme?”
Goddamnit. Jack is so goddamn in love with them both he doesn’t know what to do with himself. "Nothing" seems like the only option so he just sits there and listens. It’s way too much. He doesn’t know how he’s supposed to survive this. He’s just a man. So Jack does the only thing he can think of, which is to sit on the bed next to Gabe and Jesse, wrap his arm around them both, and hold on. And Gabe, thank god, lets him.