A sharp snapping noise wakens Jensen from his sound sleep. At first, he assumes that Jared has destroyed yet another bedside lamp with his nighttime flailing. One thing that they don’t teach at the academies is that wings have a mind of their own at night. This causes all manner of domestic issues, most of which center around the fact that a man cannot ever buy a breakable lamp or alarm clock.
Jensen has also had to start putting his glasses in their case every night. It’s very inconvenient.
But after a few blurry moments, Jensen ascertains that the objects that were sitting on top of the bedside table are still where they were when he went to sleep. He fumbles around for his glasses and turns the lamp on, trying to figure out where the noise originated from when an even louder crack sounds.
Beside him, Jared’s eyes snap wide open. That he is wide awake is clear, but if he turns out to be his normal, chipper, morning person self, Jensen might have to kill him. Three in the morning is not an hour of the day that is meant to be seen by normal people. It is too late for night owls and too early for the early birds; he doesn’t care what kind of ‘worm’ Jared likes to claim he is chasing.
“Baby!” Jared practically shrieks as he rolls over Jensen, elbowing him in the stomach as he goes.
Jensen spits out a wayward feather that manages to find its way into his mouth and grumpily readjusts his glasses when Jared’s words sink into his sleep addled brain. By that time, Jared has the door to the incubator open. He is staring at the giant egg inside the chamber. He keeps shifting his weight from one foot to the other as if he is about to take off running.
“Jay?” Jensen asks as he rolls out of bed and pads over.
Jared doesn’t answer him, but as Jensen draws closer, he can see that there are cracks forming all over the shell. The egg is rocking back and forth, mimicking Jared’s nervous motions.
“Do you think, think we should help? Or maybe that would be bad, and we shouldn’t?” Jared asks as he bites down on his thumbnail.
What Jensen wants to know is how he is supposed to answer that. He hasn’t the foggiest clue what the best thing to do is. Obviously if the cherub quit moving and was in danger of suffocation, they would crack the shell, but he has no idea if assisting its hatching is something they should do or not. It isn’t like there is a bird inside of there. There is no manual on Earth on how to assist your firstborn’s hatching.
Instead of verbally responding to Jared’s question, Jensen turns around and snatches his cellphone from its resting place. It doesn’t take as good quality video as their ‘real’ camera does, but Jensen doesn’t want to miss a moment of what is about to happen. Besides, it gives him something to do instead of contemplate how he could ruin his child’s life by either assisting or not assisting him in breaking out of his ovoid home.
More fissures start to develop on the shell, and the wobbling motion quits moving the egg in its entirety, instead forcing tiny flakes of shell to fall onto the blanket that Jared had placed in the incubator. All the while, Jared’s hands keep fluttering in and out of the Plexiglas walls. They hover uncertainly over the egg, but never touch. Neither of them speak, but Jensen figures that there are some occasions where not even Jared has enough words to form a sentence.
Then, with one final crackle, a large chunk breaks free, and a tiny arm pops out of the hole. It waves around in its chubby cuteness for a few seconds before a pathetic cry can be heard. The noise is muffled, but not for long. Jared’s fingers waste no time in pulling away the rest of the shell. Even though Jensen had been expecting it, the sight of an actual cherub sitting there is astonishing to him.
Its tiny wings are mostly naked. What feathers the cherub does have are matted down against its skin with some sort of fluid, and the thin covering of hair on its head is the same way. Jensen can just make out his firstborn’s abdomen and how his cherub seems to be in possession of an improbably placed umbilical cord that is somehow attached to the lining of its shell.
Jensen is also marginally aware that Jared would kill him if he knew that he was referring to their child as ‘it’ in his head. That, at least, is fixable even if figuring out the science of their progeny’s existence is beyond him.
“So?” Jensen croaks out.
“Hmm?” Jared replies distractedly as he moves shell fragments out of the way so that he can lay their baby down on the blanket and ease the cherub the rest of the way into the normal world.
“Boy or a girl?” Jensen asks.
“Boy,” Jared says softly, his eyes focusing only on their son.
Their son. Jensen tries not to gasp at the thought, but he can’t help the feeling of pride that wells up inside of him even though he really hasn’t done anything spectacular. He has a son. That is his boy over there, and…
“Jensen?” Jared interrupts with a worried voice.
Cold fear grips Jensen’s heart as he drops the phone and moves over. “What’s wrong?”
“I just… the baby names we picked out. I… does he look like a Howard to you?” Jared asks.
That question Jensen can answer. He never was a fan of calling their baby Howie to begin with. If Jared has decided to change the name he’d had his heart set on, Jensen isn’t going to stop him.
“No, no he doesn’t. Guess we’ll have to figure something else out, huh?” Jensen says as he reaches around Jared to run a gentle fingertip over the soft skin of his son’s leg, ignoring the weird sort of birthing goo that is still covering him. It’s a miraculous moment, and Jensen can’t help but be mesmerized by it.
Their cherub decides that is an excellent moment to start wailing.
“Yeah, but… after we call the doctor and get him cleaned up and stuff,” Jared says as he plucks their son up and cradles him to his chest.
“Right,” Jensen says as he turns around and fumbles for the phone that he’d just been recording with. “I’ll get right on that.”
The display is still flashing when he picks up the phone. Jensen hits the end button on the recording and spares a half second to wonder when he became that crazy guy that films a delivery before he decides it doesn’t matter. He and Jared will never be able to share the true story of their son’s birth with the world. Jensen figures that he can forgive himself a little indulgence.