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Baby Names

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They were at an impasse.

"My love," Wei Changze said, because what else did one say, in a situation like this? "Didn't we have a whole list?"

His wife, disheveled and still red-faced from effort, squinted at him in open suspicion. In her arms, their new son made a little gurgling noise. He hoped that was normal. He had very minimal experience with any sort of infant, and the fact that this one was his made the whole thing significantly more concerning. "A list? Ai! Wei-gongzi, what sort of woman do you take me for? A list." She looked at the child in her arms. The corner of her mouth turned up in a soft expression of satisfaction. "He'll be fine." 

"Of course he will be fine," Wei Changze said. He didn't dare come closer yet, because when he'd tried earlier, she'd flung one of the pillows at his face, with enough force that it'd left a little red mark on his forehead. He loved her. His nose still felt bruised. "But a child cannot live with his courtesy name alone."

She stared at him without blinking -- possibly without even breathing -- for so long that he knew she was making a point. He only looked back at her and did his best to not smile too obviously. She had a tendency to throw her arms about when she was scolding him for his kindness (which, really, he didn't think of kindness so much as his affection), and there was a baby in her arms. His beloved was not a woman given to great patience, though at the same time, she had a persistence that could surely wear down mountains. He admired that.

Eventually, she made a rude sound with her mouth. The baby echoed her in his wet gurgling way, which distracted her for a long moment, and they both had to look at that small round red face and then at each other, with mutual awed understanding: we did this. We made this.

Cangse sighed. She shifted the weight of their son more securely into one arm and extended the other to him. Wei Changze smiled and took the invitation, finally moving close enough to sit on the edge of the bed, to be able to reach out and tangle one hand with hers and lay the other upon their son's head. He had never touched anything so soft in his whole life.

"I didn't think this through," Cangse said. Her fingers, normally slightly cool to the touch, were still flushed warm; when he made an inquiring noise, she squeezed his hand and laughed. It was a small, breathless noise. It was the same way she'd laughed when she'd asked him to marry her, the way she'd laughed when she'd told him she was pregnant, a little soft noise that said as much as her usual flood of words -- maybe more. When he looked at her, her eyes were on the baby's face, the curve of her smile as tender and fragile as he'd ever seen. "I spent so much time -- nine months, my love! That's so long, you have to understand, and all of them, I was thinking all sorts of things about what I could teach him, what I could give to him, so that he can live as he wants. Freedom," and here her voice cracks, and Wei Changze puts his arm around her shoulders, shifts their bodies so that they can press together, their small unit with their soft bellies turned inward, against the world, "and happiness. The world will know him by the one name. I wanted it to be perfect."

He turned his head enough to press his lips to her hairline. "It's a fine name," he said, with his lips against her skin. "He's your son. He'll carry it well."

This time, when she laughed, it was a wet and shaky noise. "I can't believe it," she said. "Who authorized this? Who allowed us to, to -- honestly! Can you imagine what people will say? Who thought it was a good idea to give her a baby?"

"I did," he said, mild. "Seeing as I was the one who helped."

She let out a sharp bark of laughter, pulling back just enough to smack his arm. That done, she flowed into his side again, and she took another deep shaky breath.

"Whatever life he lives, I've already put the whole of my wishes into 'Wuxian,'" she said. As if in response to his name, the baby stirred and stretched, opening his small mouth with a tiny gurgle. Everything about him was so small, and Wei Changze could only marvel. His wife's hand leaned into his line of sight, the tip of her finger tracing the line of one round cheek. When he glanced at her sidelong, she was also looking at him askance, the beginnings of a smirk on her lips. "I don't even remember what was on that list."

"What list?" he said. He did it to hear her laugh. The sound warmed him when it came. She turned her head enough to kiss his cheek, loud and obnoxious, and then she pulled away enough so she could lift their son higher, their Wuxian, who still had nothing to anchor him under the lofty hopes for his life. "I'm sure it's in our bags somewhere. I could go look for it."

He did not unhook his arm from around her back, and she did not pull away to give him the room to rise. The baby blinked and scrunched up his face. Spittle bubbled and popped on his lips.

"Look at you," Cangse said to him. "Look at you! You're a baby. Without any doubt, you're entirely a baby."

And then her expression went thoughtful. Her brows drew together, her lips pursed, and a bright light sparked in her gray eyes. It was also a look that Wei Changze recognized. He had never once been able to dissuade her when she looked like that, and so he simply tilted his head to lean against hers, and waited for the inevitable.

"Ying," she said. She bounced the baby a few times, careful, and the baby, too new to do more than flop in her arms, made some more gurgling noises.

Wei Changze closed his eyes. "Ying, as in--"

"He's a baby, my love, my darling, Wei-gongzi," she said. She leaned in and touched her nose to the baby's. "What more does he need?"

"You're going to make me write a letter to my former sect leader," he said, "to tell him that we've had a baby, and we've named him 'Baby.'"

"The cutest baby," she said. "The smartest, and the best. A prime example of infants. Surely no one will ever do better, in the whole history of the world." And then she paused and tilted her head so she could look at him sideways, her lashes lowered and her lips pursed into a wicked little smile. "Unless, of course, the honorable and very handsome Wei-gongzi might consent to give this humble rogue cultivator another, somewhere down the line -- ah, maybe sometime soon --"

He sighed, because it was either that or let her see him smile, and then he kissed her cheek and rose to his feet.

"I'll get started on the letter," he said, and left the room to the sound of her laughter carrying him along.