~One raindrop raises the sea.~
Rachel Matheson lay in the hospital bed, panting heavily as she pushed forth her firstborn child into the world. She had kicked the three men out of the room hours ago unable to deal with the tension that was so thick it was nearly smothering her.
She cried as the doctor laid her beautiful baby girl on her chest, giving her time to bond with the child as the rest of the delivery was taken care of. It wasn't until the child had been taken away to be bathed, examined and brought back to her that she realized there was a problem.
“OH, NO! NO, NO, NO!!” Rachel cried out as she unwrapped and inspected the golden haired child on her lap. Within seconds the three men in the lobby had burst into her room.
“What?” Miles demanded the nightmare of his first child’s birth lingering heavily this day, relieved to see a healthy baby laying on her lap. “It’s a…?” He asked approaching the bed.
“A girl, you have a daughter.”
“She’s beautiful, Rachel. Congratulations,” Bass commented from where he stood watching the tiny, pink-skinned, baby suck on its fist.
Rachel turned to look at him, her mouth opening and closing unable to form any words. Bass tilted his head, his eyebrows drawing together at the look of pure fear on her face when she looked at him, his attention drawn away from her as Miles picked up his now, whimpering child for the first time.
“Hello, little one,” Miles cooed to the baby as he swayed on his feet, rocking her in his arms.
“So, Charlotte?” Ben inquired of his wife and brother. It was the only girl name that had even been considered as Rachel had been determined that a daughter would be named after her deceased mother.
“Charlotte Amelia,” Rachel responded in a near whisper, “After both her grandmothers.”
“Rachel, what’s wrong?” Ben asked moving to her side as he placed his hand on her shoulder.
Terrified, Rachel looked up into her husband’s eyes. “Her mark.”
“Will of course be recorded on her birth certificate and recorded like all other children’s. If her soul-mate is in the Republic, we’ll know.” Bass assured the room as he strode to the door. Turning, he took in Miles chalky-white face. “What? What is it, brother?” Bass asked approaching Miles and the child.
Miles swallowed heavily before adjusting the babe in his arms, “Her mark.”
Bass looked down at the infant’s mark which Miles had exposed. Sucking in a breath, he looked back at Miles and then at Rachel who was worrying the blanket in her lap with both hands, her visions of motherhood quickly dying. Looking back down at his best friend’s daughter, every line on his face softened as he fully took in the appearance of his soul-mate.
“May I hold her?” Bass rasped out looking back up at Miles who nodded his head once, sharply, as he handed the child over. A grin broke out over Bass' face as he held the girl in his arms, firmly committing to memory this moment in time. He wasn't aware of there being any other documented accounts of one soul-mate being present at the others birth. It was also somewhat rare for one to be so much older than the other, but those were all problems for another time. Right now he simply wanted to soak up the beauty of the tiny babe in his arms. He whispered nonsensical things to her as he moved to the window, his back to the room.
Feeling the eyes of the other occupants of the room boring holes into his back, he brought the child up close, taking in her scent as he placed a kiss on her brow. Turning, he returned the child to Miles. "Congratulations, Miles. You have a beautiful daughter. Rachel, Ben." Bass nodded before leaving the room, a cheerful whistle trailing behind him.
~ one week later~
“Miles, you have to have some idea of what he's going to want to do.” Rachel insisted from where she sat on the couch, holding Charlie.
"No Rachel, I really don't," Miles replied tiredly, taking another drink from his glass where he sat next to Ben. "He's only asked once how she was doing since you returned home. He hasn't mentioned a word about her otherwise."
"What are we going to do?" She asked the brothers.
"He's her soul mate and the President of the Republic, Rachel."
She bit back a sob, "Well, we just can't let him take her.”
Ben stood up walking over to the couch to look at his niece. "Miles is her father and Bass is her soul-mate. If he wants her to live in their home, that's exactly what we're going to do Rachel. It'll be better on everyone in the long run."
"Better for you, you mean." Rachel choked out upsetting the child in her arms. "You can't let that happen Miles. You can't let him take my baby away from me."
Miles watched his sister-in-law and brother from where he sat on the couch, a hand rubbing at his forehead. As much as Rachel wanted the baby and rightfully so, it was going to kill Ben to have to live with the child belonging to his wife and his brother, day in and day out for the next eighteen years. Ben was loyal to a fault and wouldn't leave Rachel if his life depended on it. Instead he'd play the martyr card and they'd all end up suffering for it, perhaps Charlie most of all. He was just getting ready to share his thoughts when there was a knock at the door.
Moving from his spot near Rachel, Ben answered the door to find the very topic of their conversation standing on his doorstep.
"Hello Ben, I'm glad you're here. I was hoping we could talk."
"Come in, Bass. Everyone is in the living room."
Nodding his thanks, Bass made his way to the living room. "Ah, Miles. I was hoping you'd be here. I think it's time to discuss Charlotte's future." he announced to the room at large.
Miles sunk back into his seat as Ben moved behind Rachel to stare out the window onto the street.
Rachel hesitantly turned her daughter over to the man in front of her, per his silent request, not knowing if this moment was the last she'd ever hold her daughter again.
Bass took the child with a beaming face, cooing at her as she waved her tiny arms. "Miles, why aren't you holding your daughter?" he inquired, turning to his best friend.
"She's with her mother, Bass. Right now that's the best thing for her."
Bass nodded, turning his attention back to Charlotte as Rachel and Miles eyed each other silently.
"Perhaps, but she won't always need her mother and maternal figures can be easily replaced."
Miles frowned, "What the hell are you talking about, Bass?"
"Doctor Foster has convinced me that it's in Charlotte's best interest to let her remain with Rachel for her first year in order for Rachel to properly nurse her. By the time she's a year old though, she should have already transitioned to a cup and solid foods."
"What are you saying, Bass?" Rachel asked trying hard to keep her voice from trembling.
Bass turned to Rachel, smiling benevolently at her. "What I'm saying, Rachel, is that Charlotte will stay with you until she turns a year old. At that time, she'll be brought to live with Miles and myself at Independence Hall. We'll see to her every need."
"No!" Rachel blurted out jumping to her feet only to find herself being pushed back down on the couch by Ben's hand. "Please, Bass, please don't do this."
Bass watched Rachel's outburst with a raised eyebrow. "Please calm down, Rachel. Getting upset isn't good for you, or Charlotte. In time you'll see that this is the best arraignment for everyone. You'll of course be allowed to visit." He calmly explained as he passed Charlie off to Miles. "I really must get going. Miles, we have that meeting at one o'clock. Please, try not to be late."