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The Flour Child

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Jared touched it all the time.

Hell, most days, Jared was carrying it with him, holding it in his arms. Jensen didn't know how the hell Jared had avoided breaking it -- his mate was elegant and graceful in the sky, but human apartments, even theirs, weren't exactly set up with a sixteen foot wingspan in mind.

Jared broke things.

A lot.

And Jensen had spent the last couple of days wincing every time Jared merrily strolled through into the kitchen, egg under one arm, wooden ladle in the other, stirring whatever was on the stove with little care or concern. Jensen kept imagining the egg dropping, smashing on the floor, and that moment of complete silence as the two of them stood there.

The worst part was, though, when he mused over his morbid fantasies, that Jensen honestly didn't know how he'd feel. He knew how Jared would feel -- his seraph would be shattered. But Jensen... Okay, he accepted that there was an egg. Obviously, there was an egg. And it was freakishly large, and probably not laid by a bird, and Chad seemed pretty convinced so...maybe Jared had really laid it. Maybe.

Jensen could put those two things together in his mind.

But the idea that there was a child in there, Jensen's child... That...somehow escaped his imagining.

It didn't matter what angle he peered at it from. The egg was opaque and gave nothing away. It didn't look like a baby, not the kind of baby that Jensen was used to seeing, anyways, and honestly, he just-- He just saw an egg. Just a greenish, speckled, too-big egg.

It was too bizarre, too divorced from the world the way he framed it, for him to see it as a child.

Which didn't really boast much for his parenting skills. Not that he really thought a kid was going to come bursting out of it. After all, that was insane, right? Right.

Totally insane.

"Can you hold him?" Jared asked, one day, holding the egg out.

"I'm--I," Jensen replied, words coming out and going nowhere. Jared's arms were extended, still holding the thing and as the seconds ticked by, Jensen could see the expression on his mate's face fade, falling slowly away to disappointment -- and Jared never emoted by halves, either. When he was sad, he just looked like kicked puppy.

Worse, his big wings would sag, drooping down pathetically, tips pressing against the floor the floor.

"Okay," the seraph mumbled, dejectedly. He pulled the egg back to his chest, cradling it there and tenderly wrapping it up in the expensive fluffy blanket he'd had Jensen go and buy. Jensen felt like a complete louse standing there, watching Jared amble away with his pinions dragging along behind him. Jensen had never been the most expressive of men, but he did his best to be a good partner -- a good mate. He didn't like hurting Jared. Didn't like upsetting him.

He did love the giant bird brain, after all.

That night, in their bed, Jensen lay awake thinking about it, trying to figure it all out. It finally occurred to him, around 2AM, what the whole thing reminded him of: that stupid exercise they made kids do in seventh grade to scare them out of having sex. When the teachers would make them carry around a big sack of flour all week and take care of it, dress it up and make sure that it didn't break or get a hole in it.

Jensen even remembered some of the girls decorating their flour sacks, back when he had to go through it.

That was what this made him think of. Jared was carrying around a sack of flour like it was a baby, and Jensen was...humoring him. Vaguely. Sort of. Not really.

Jensen was sitting on the sidelines and waiting for it to become apparent that there was no baby inside of the egg, because of course there couldn't be a baby inside of the egg. It was an egg. Jensen wasn't seeing a child, or a son. He was seeing a sack of flour with a bow and a baby blanket on, and just indulging his mate's eccentricities.

And lying there in bed, staring up the ceiling and finding utterly no sleep, Jensen realized that that was incredibly not fair. Either this thing was just an egg and nothing more, in which case, Jared's delusions needed to be dealt with, or--...Or.

Or that really was Jensen's baby resting over there in the incubator, kept warm and safe through the night while its parents slept.

His parents slept.

Jensen swallowed.

He wasn't sure what he thought about that second possibility.

He pushed the sheets down carefully, Jared a deep sleeper but Jensen really not wanting to have all this observed, and slipped carefully out of bed. The carpets were thick enough to absorb the sound of his footfalls as he walked up to the glass, radiating warmth, and peered in at the orange glow of the heat lamps.

The egg was still, unmoving, and in no way different from how it had looked three days previously when Jensen had gotten home. It sat there, unassuming, like it wasn't the great big elephant in their nest, and Jensen spared a quick look back at his mate, still passed out, before very slowly flipping the latch and opening the front panel of the incubator.

He had never touched the egg -- had avoided doing so, in fact -- so when he lifted his hand, his fingers wriggled back and forth in the air, hesitating. He rolled his lip in his teeth, biting at it as he considered his options.

What if Jared was right? What if this was all real? Was Jensen really going to sit around and ignore the egg, if it was really their child together?

A child made from him and his mate. Impossible and ridiculous. Absurd.

And so very possibly precious.

This was important to Jared and Jensen wanted it to be important to him too. There was no way there was baby in there, but if there was... Well. If there was...

Jensen lowered his hand, feeling the glow of the lamps against his skin, and he felt a jolt of nerves running up and down him as he reached in, until the pads of his fingers contacted the even surface, smoothing out slowly, carefully, until his palm pressed to it and his hand lay flat against its gentle curve.

It was warm.

That was to be expected. It was in an incubator, after all. It could just be heated from that.

Then, as if he'd been sensed, something moved in there.

It was only from a sheer act of great manliness that Jensen managed not to cry out as he sprang back, warm hand clapping to his mouth to hold in the girly shriek just waiting to come out. He stood there, heart hammering in his chest, and he jerked his head around to look at Jared again, passed out and drooling on the pillow. Jensen looked back at the incubator and tried to slow his breathing, excess adrenaline running through his veins and making him shake a little. It took him nearly four minutes before he could step back close again, fingers trembling this time as they once again touched that hard surface.

The egg rocked a little and Jensen's heart jolted, but he didn't move.

He took a deep, steadying breath.

There was something in there. Something undeniably real and undeniably alive and nothing at all like a sack of flour. Maybe it was a giant bird or some kind of turtle or sea monster, or maybe it was the egg of a velociraptor, but...

But Jared had given birth to it. Pushed it out of his own body all by himself and Jared might have been exuberant and gullible and far too quick to believe what people told him, but Jared wasn't a liar. And he wasn't delusional, no matter what Jensen thought.

And Jensen's hand was resting against the thin, too thin, too fragile shell that was the only thing protecting his child from all the harsh realities of the world.

He swallowed hard, and the swell of pure emotion that had evaded him for three days, the understanding and comprehension that had fled from him at every turn, hit him like an eighteen-wheeler, and he got it. He just got it.

He wanted to pick it -- him -- up, and swaddle him close, keep him safe. Keep him resting in his tiny(god it was tiny; it had looked so big before but now Jensen imagined a baby curled up in it, a baby with wings and god it was so small; how did he even fit?) cocoon until he was good and ready to come out.

Under his hand, the egg shifted again, minutely.

"Hey..." was all Jensen could say, voice low and a little cracked, thick and heavy with way too much to put into words, and he didn't want to take his hand away.

All he knew for certain was that Jared wouldn't be carrying their egg around the kitchen with him anymore.