“What do you mean no?” Hargreeves demanded, shooting to his feet.
“He is not for sale!” Shouted the deputy as he mirrored the action, “he is our son. I don’t care if Claudia wasn’t pregnant before she gave birth to him, he is ours and we are keeping him.”
“You do understand the quantity of money you are turning down don’t you?” questioned Hargreeves. He couldn’t believe that a couple like this, living close to the edge of the poverty line, would willingly turn down his generous offer for the boy. He would not only be providing them with the money they needed to survive but would also be removing a huge cost from their lives.
“Noah’s told you already,” the young lady said, looking up from the bundle in her arms, “Stiles is not for sale. Not to you, and not to anyone else”
Sir Reginald Hargreeves ground his teeth together as he looked at the couple. How could they love the boy? Biologically he wasn’t the father’s and it was sketchy as to whether the mother had any relation to him other than the actual act of giving birth. Why were they so stubborn about keeping the baby? They had had him for under 24 hours. Hargreeves had set out the moment he learnt of the woman who was in labour who had been undeniably not pregnant when she had got up for work that morning.
“Fine then.” He placed the top hat back onto his head and the monocle into his eye, “If you decide to change your mind, you know how to contact me.” With that, he spun around, slammed a business card onto the little hospital table by Claudia’s bedside, and stormed out of the room.
Claudia and Noah looked at each other, let out a breath of relief at the same time and together slumped down, Noah into his chair and Claudia back into the hospital bed. Under normal circumstances, they would’ve been sent home at this stage after the birth after all, there was no bleeding during the birth, the baby was slightly larger than average and had passed all of its health screenings and Claudia was recovering at the expected rate for someone who had spent many hours pushing another living being out of her body however all of the nurses knew there was something not quite right about the situation. Noah had heard Stiles referred to as “the Miracle Baby” and somehow word had gotten out to the ultra-religious movement in beacon hills who had started hailing the so-called “virgin birth”. Noah and Claudia knew that there had to be something supernatural about the birth but would both happily verify that it was certainly not virginal.
Noah kept watch over his wife as she went back to sleep. It had been a particularly tough week for them – and that was discounting the past two days. They had decided about midway through September to go to a clinic. They had been trying for a child for several months with no success. Claudia’s periods had come as normal in fact, they had come exactly on time for the entire duration that they had been actively trying for a baby. Eventually, and with some reluctance, Noah had suggested that they get go and get tested to see if it was possible for them to conceive and that had been a hard enough conversation to have. The dual discoveries that his sperm count was incredibly low and that her uterus was remarkably unreceptive to implantation was a knock to both of them. They had decided to discuss adoption at a later stage but that conversation had been shelved for now.
Receiving the call that his wife was going into labour was not a good experience. As one might expect, Noah was angry. Who at the hospital would joke about that kind of thing when it was known that they couldn’t conceive? Thus, his shock when the nurse had handed the phone to Claudia’s friend who worked at the hospital, Melissa, was palpable. The sheriff at the time demanded that Noah go and even gave him 48 hours leave, paid and not counted towards his annual total so Noah got into his cruiser, and drove to the hospital in a stupor.
Melissa had met him at the door and explained the situation. As one of Claudia’s best friends, she was well aware of what was going on, and as a heavily pregnant lady, was unfortunately not allowed near her friend in the hospital in case anything went wrong. She walked Noah to the labour room explaining what they knew: Claudia was certainly pregnant, she was in labour, and no one knew how this happened with the results that had been presented the other day. If he was in any sane state of mind, Noah would have berated Melissa for going into work when she was expecting to give birth at any moment but to be honest, at that time, there were more pressing matters. That and the fact that if you are going to go in to labour at work, working in a hospital alleviates the majority of the risks.
“You can go in,” said Melissa holding the door open to him, “She’s in between contractions at the moment. You probably have another five minutes before the next wave hits so she should be lucid enough to talk to.”
He gave her a hug and walked in, taking a seat beside his wife’s bed and clasping her hand in his.
Claudia turned her neck and smiled at him.
“How is this happening Claude?” he asked her. There was no doubt in his mind that something odd was happening. He had complete faith that his wife wouldn’t cheat so there must be another explanation for what was happening.
“I don’t know,” she huffed out, “one moment I was in the supermarket and the next, I felt my water break and the contractions started. This giant bulge had appeared in my chest.” She smiled weakly. “We are going to have a child Noah”
Noah looked up at his wife. Tears of joy rolling down both of their faces. He stood up and leant over her bead to gently hug her.
“Now, be a good husband and go and get Melissa before my next contractions start. I don’t care what the other nurses say, I want her to be here and I want to ask her to be godmother. I can feel it in my bones that nothing is going to go wrong. Our Mieczyslaw is going to be perfect.”
“Don’t I get a say in the name?” Noah protested weakly, blanching at the though of learning to pronounce the horror that had just come out of his wife’s mouth.
“Of course you do honey,” Claudia replied patting his hand, “when you spend hours lying on your back, screaming in pain as you deliver a new light into the world, you can name the baby.”
Noah watched through the window as Reginald Hargreeves got into his car and drove away. He had seen such cold detachment before on people he had arrested. There was no way he would entrust his son to that man. He turned back to where Claudia had fallen asleep with Stiles held to her chest – thank god he had a nickname. There was a lot to be investigated about where Stiles had come from but for now, he had to look after his wife.
It started when Stiles was four. Claudia had called him from downstairs and the worry in her voice had gone straight through this soul. He had thundered downstairs to where he knew Claudia and Stiles were to be met with what was probably the only sight that was more surprising than seeing his wife suddenly giving birth: a floating bear. To be more specific, Stiles’ favourite stuffed bear, floating in the centre of the room, above his son’s head. To be fully descriptive, Stiles’ favourite stuffed toy, surrounded by a golden mist – floating above his son’s head. The yellow mist around the bear was complimented by the gold mist around Stiles’ hands and the golden glow sparking in his eyes. As he shot into the room, Stiles turned to look at him, the mist dissipated and the bear fell – straight onto Stiles’ head causing the child to burst into tears. That was the last time Noah saw the golden mist for another five years and eventually, he chalked it down to a dream.
The next time Noah remembered the mist appearing was after Claudia’s death. He had come home from work and reached for a bottle of whisky only to watch the bottle float towards the sink and pour itself out. He turned to see a fuming Stiles, standing in the doorway of the kitchen, arm outstretched, eyes fully glowing in the evening light. That was the night when Stiles sat him down and told him everything. Claudia had known about the mist – his spark she called it. She told him never to reveal it to anyone, that he would know when they should tell Noah about it. She had helped him learn how to control it – to move things, to spread a thing cloud throughout a room and how to use that to tell people’s emotions, if they were lying, even – and she was incredibly strict that he never do this unless there was no other choice – even influence their thoughts.
That was the night that Noah stopped drinking. That was the night when he started rebuilding the relationship with his son. It was also the night when he returned his son’s honesty and told him everything about how he was born.