Hernan wasn’t sure how he could flip his entire world upside down in a single day, by one single moment, but he did, and he wouldn’t change it for the world.
It had started on a seemingly normal day when nothing spectacular was happening in the news. No one was shooting anybody. There was no kind of alien invasion, or mutated, genetically modified creature running around Metropolis. It was quiet, almost suspiciously so, but Hernan let it go. He rarely had any time to himself anyway, and Kirk certainly wasn’t complaining. Kirk was stuck in his lab doing god knows what with Oso by his side. Meanwhile Hernan had his little Rosa perched on his lap, Hector sitting beside him while still leaning on his master, Vito was towards Hernan’s feet, and Loco and Poco kept each other company on the opposing couch.
It was a full house, although little did Hernan know that it was about to get fuller.
A sudden ringing of a doorbell interrupted him. Odd… No one ever rang the doorbell. It was only there for courtesy reasons. Hernan didn’t really expect for anyone to notice, and even if they did, who was ballsy enough to actually press it? It could have been some security measure that shot a hellfire of lasers at them.
If it was anyone…. It was most likely Waller.
“Mierda.” Hernan grumbled as he got off the couch. From the security cameras, he couldn’t see anything, but he supposed he might as well check just in case it was something important or perhaps a prank bomb sent by hers truly.
“This better be good.” Hernan groused before opening the front door of the tower only to see nothing. No one. That was, until a small cry made him look down at a basket. It was stuffed with a bundle of blankets that were moving…?
Hernan skeptically reached down and picked up the basket. The movement caused the cry to grow louder.
“Dios mío...” That couldn’t be...
Hernan lifted up one of the corners of the blanket, and two dark brown eyes met his blue. The crying stopped.
Hernan was speechless.
The brown eyes looked up at Hernan in wonder, blinking slowly before the small mouth formed a big ‘O’.
Hernan’s formed more of a lopsided ‘D’.
“Kirk!” Hernan entered the living compartments of the Tower. The dogs went wild at the presence of the new comer as Hernan had to hold the basket higher to avoid their curious noses.
“Yes, Hernan.” Kirk took his time around the corner with Oso trailing behind.
Hernan opened his mouth to outright say what he had in his hands, but he couldn’t find the words. Instead his mouth remained gaping like some fish out of water.
“Hernan?” Kirk approached the other cautiously until he was close enough to see into the basket.
“Is that a…?”
“Baby?” Hernan finished for him.
“Hernan…” Kirk moved closer to get a better look at the baby. Big brown eyes looked from Hernan to now Kirk. They seemed to grow bigger with every new face they saw while the small mouth moved producing gurgling sounds.
Kirk smiled at the gesture.
“Where did you find it?” Kirk asked, but he didn’t dare make a move to touch it. The child seemed so fragile, so delicate, and too innocent for hands like Kirk’s.
“They were at the front door. Someone just left them.” Hernan explained, his eyes never leaving those brown ones.
“We should check the police station then, see if there are any reports of a missing child. Or perhaps the hospital. We don’t know how old the child is or if they’re suffering from any kind of ailment.” Kirk suggested as he willed himself away from the baby in Hernan’s arms and moved around the room to grab his things to go.
Dressed in civilian clothing, they decided it best to for Hernan to go to the hospital and Kirk go to the station. Hernan wasn’t exactly friends with Metropolis’ finest, and Kirk didn’t want to delay any kind of treatment the baby might have needed.
Thus, Hernan found himself in a small wing of the maternity ward with curtains drawn around him. However, the curtains didn’t drown out the sound of screaming expecting mothers. Thank god Kirk and him were both men. Hernan might have been Superman, but there was no kind of power to get through that other than sheer will.
As if sensing his thoughts, the baby gurgled in Hernan’s arms before reaching out to touch his face.
“Gracias, mi querido. I appreciate the sentiment.”
The baby gurgled more, and the corners of her dark eyes seemed to crinkle a bit as if smiling.
Hernan’s heart skipped a beat.
“Hi, I’m Dr. Williams. What can I help you with today?”
Hernan wordlessly held the baby out for the doctor to take. If he held the child for any longer, he might start thinking it was cute.
Nonetheless, the doctor had examined the baby with Hernan standing nearby, almost looming over the doctor’s shoulder. Every time the baby made a noise, Hernan’s fingers twitched, before his hand stiffened to quell the urge to take the baby back. When the baby made a sound of discomfort, Hernan’s hands balled into fists only to slowly release a moment later when he knew the baby was fine.
At last the doctor turned back to Hernan and said in a rather mater-of-fact tone. “She looks perfectly healthy to me.”
Hernan would have been annoyed by the doctor’s indifference, had it not been for the single word, ‘She’.
“It’s a girl?”
The doctor laughed. “Yes, she’s a girl. And estimated only a few days old.”
Hernan’s eyes widened in surprise as he looked down at the small baby on the table in complete wonder of how she could only be a few days old, and yet seem to already smile through those big brown eyes. She was only a baby. Babies were supposed to poop, cry, burp, and repeat. She so far, had only smiled and gurgled unspoken words at him, but Hernan knew she was laughing. Her whole expression said so starting with those chocolate brown eyes and the way her tiny fingers would curl and wave, and her legs would kick.
A few days old and she was already a kicker – a strong one at that too.
Hernan found himself smiling. A sense of pride came with that thought, and she wasn’t even his.
Meanwhile, across town Kirk went to the station. He slipped inside as Metropolis’ finest were hard at work, or at least Kirk hoped so. He wasn’t so sure about the few that seemed to be taking naps at their desks, or the one officer in the corning seeming to play solitaire on his computer. Nonetheless, Kirk pushed through to a man sitting at the front desk.
“Excuse me.” Kirk spoke up.
“What is it?” The man gave Kirk a bored look.
“I was wondering if there were any reports of a missing child lately.”
“Not my department. You need to go to child services.”
“And where would that be?”
“Round the corner to your left.”
“Thank you.” Kirk replied rather stiffly before moving on to where the man had directed him to go. The name of the department was clearly printed on the front of door, and Kirk entered to see only one person in the office. There were other desks, but no one else was around save for one person.
“Hello, I was wondering if there have been reports of any missing children lately.”
“If you want to file a report, the steps on how to do so are online.”
Kirk’s dark brows furrowed, “No, I’m not reporting a missing child, I was given a baby, and I want to make sure if there are parents looking for them.”
The woman sighed before she began to clack away at her computer.
“Thank you.” Kirk said, hoping his irritation wasn’t too apparent.
“Oh… Very young. Perhaps less than a year.” Kirk guessed.
“We have two, but those cases have been filed months ago. What do they look like?”
“Well they have big brown eyes, a little nose… dark curly hair, and dark skin.”
“I’m going to stop there.” The woman interjected, “The two most recently reported are Caucasian.”
“Then what should I do with them?”
“You can bring them to the precinct and we’ll file them into the system.”
“Yes, but where would the baby go?”
“To a foster home most likely.”
Kirk’s felt his stomach clench at the mention of a foster home. A foster home… He knew there were good foster homes out there, and that with the child being a baby, they had a higher chance of getting adopted than if they were older. Still… a foster home?
“You need anything else?” The woman asked impatiently. “I haven’t got all day.”
“No,” Kirk shook his head. “Thank you for your time.”
He wasn’t sure if he had ran out of the station or not, but he certainly didn’t stay. Instead he went back to the Tower, hoping Hernan would be back with some good news. He hoped the doctors said that the baby was perfectly healthy and okay, and that there wasn’t anything wrong with them.
Maybe that’s why the baby was dropped off. Perhaps they were too sickly, that there was something wrong the parents’ couldn’t fix and hoped the Justice League would, because why would someone abandon their child at the Justice Tower? Who would do such a thing? Economic reasons? Emotional reasons?
No matter the reason, it wasn’t the baby’s fault, and Kirk… Kirk never wanted the child feel as if it were. He never wanted the baby to feel as if they had been abandoned or never loved. After all, Kirk’s own father didn’t talk to him, and his mother never spoke unless spoken to. Even then she still chose her husband’s side over her son, and just like that… after all the years they spent raising him, they cut their ties so easily…
No. No baby should have to go through that. No one, no matter what age, should have to experience such pain.
With his mind made up, Kirk turned around. Before he went home, there was one last thing he needed to do.
It was evening when Kirk returned. The lights of the Tower were dimmed by the natural light of the setting sun that streamed through the windows. Several wagging tails, and wet noses came to greet him at the door, but it was the sight he saw before him that nearly had him drop everything.
Hernan rarely slept. He didn’t need to. Sleeping was more of a luxury than it was a necessity, so when Hernan fell asleep it was because he was relaxed. His guard for once completely down as he closed his eyes to dream. Only this time, as his eyes were closed, he had a small bundle tucked in his arms.
Kirk carefully set his things down to the side before walking over to look at the two. The baby had a pink hat covering their full head of dark curls, and they were sprawled out on the couch with Hernan and the cushions acting as protective barriers so the baby wouldn’t fall.
As if sensing Kirk’s looming presence, the baby gurgled, opening its small mouth wide before closing as if forming words. Their brown eyes smiled.
“Shh…” Kirk tried to quiet them to not wake Hernan up, but it was too late.
Kirk was nearly startled by the sudden hand that grabbed him by the back of the knee and tugged him closer.
Kirk smiled, “Yes, I’m back. What did the doctors say?”
“She’s a girl, and only a few days old.”
“A few days?” Kirk averted his gaze from Hernan to look over at the small baby much the same way Hernan had at the hospital, in complete awe.
“Hm.” Hernan hummed, “What did you find out at the station?”
“They don’t have any reports on her. They think someone just dropped her off hoping we’d find her a home.”
Hernan nodded, but offered nothing. If he opened his mouth, words Kirk may not like would spew forth, and there would be no stopping them. However, before Hernan could even think of what to say, Kirk had beat him to it.
Kirk looked at Hernan, his red eyes shy, but the set of his mouth determined as he said, “I was hoping that home could be with us.”
Hernan paused… He knew that was what he was going to suggest, but he wasn’t expecting it from Kirk. Kirk was supposed to be the rational one in this relationship. Not him. Hernan didn’t want to play the devil’s advocate. He didn’t want to find the reasons why they shouldn’t take her in.
‘Then say yes.’ His gut told him, but… they just got dogs and neither Hernan nor Kirk knew the first thing that came to having a baby. What about diapers? Food? A crib? What about the fact that neither of them knew how to do any of those things? They didn’t go to one of those baby schools where they teach you how to be parents. They didn’t read all the books about baby psychology, or spend hours picking a name, or days on preparing a nursery. People spent months – years preparing for a child. Hernan had less than a day.
Hernan heaved a great sigh, rubbing his eyes before he moved to hold her as he sat up. She made a small noise at being picked up, but quickly settled down.
“Hernan?” Kirk pried.
“I know… I… Kirk, I’m not a father.”
Kirk stilled at Hernan’s words, but he understood. He moved to sit beside Hernan on the couch, as the two sat for a moment or two in thoughtful silence. Only the sound of her breathing, and the panting of the dogs could be heard.
Then Kirk, after some time, was the first to break the silence. “Neither am I.” Hernan looked up at Kirk stunned, but Kirk only returned the surprised look with a broken smile. “I know you think the world of me, foolishly so, but her… look at how delicate, how fragile she is. I feel as though if I touched her she would break.”
It was then Hernan realized Kirk hadn’t even held her yet. He moved to offer Kirk to take her, but Kirk refused. “Listen to me, Hernan. I can’t hold her, and what kind of father can’t hold a child? That’s why I’m not a father.”
Hernan wanted to say something, that if this was about Kirk thinking of himself as a monster, he was wrong, but Kirk continued, “She deserves so much more than what I could ever hope to give her. I know that, and yet… a part of me thinks just loving her would be enough, because if we gave her up and she ends up going into a foster home, what happens next? Would she ever get adopted? Would those people love her, care for her no matter what she does?
“My father… He decided he didn’t want to be one anymore, and to think that one day she might go through the same thing…”
Hernan rested a hand on Kirk’s shoulder, his eyes steady as he looked at him, “You would never do that, Kirk.”
Kirk nodded, “I don’t wish that pain upon her, and I know it’s irrational. I know she might very well find loving parents who will never leave her, but that small chance that she doesn’t… it will eat away at me.”
“Si, I know.” Hernan replied softly. “I know, but my fears lie in not being ready. I have no idea how to even change a diaper much less make baby formula, Kirk.”
Kirk couldn’t help but laugh at that, “You’ll learn. We will learn together. I’ve already bought three different baby formulas by mothers who swore by them.”
Dark brows rose in surprise. “When did you do that?”
“Just before I came home. There were some very helpful people in the market. I have various diaper sizes made by various brands, and baby formula, a baby bottle, baby shampoo and soap, and I even got her a stuffed toy.”
Hernan shook his head lightly, “Well I guess we have to keep her then.”
Kirk laughed, “It’s just for now. Her parents may decide they want her back, but instead of waiting at a foster home, she can wait here.”
“I think we can do that.” Hernan agreed.
The first week was a hassle. Hernan was learning new things every day as he learned how to make baby formula, what temperature it should be, how long it was supposed to go in the microwave, and that he was supposed to test the temperature by squirting some on the back of the hand. He learned that from a parenting book he swore he’d never get.
Then Kirk looked up how to change diapers, he still didn’t touch her as if he were the plague, but he instructed Hernan on how to do it. The first try, Hernan had Kirk choking on a cloud of baby powder. He had squeezed the bottle too hard. The second-time Oso stole the diaper and the others helped him shred it. Kirk was not happy. On the third try, Hernan had to use safety pins for when the diaper kept falling off. Kirk rebuked him severely for it. Finally, by the fifth try, Hernan had it.
Her lips formed a big ‘O’ as if surprised by the way they felt while Hernan made the same face before kissing her potbelly.
“Ah, that feels good, right mi Chiquita?”
Brown eyes crinkled at the corners as to say yes, and Hernan felt a little part of him melt.
Still, they were in their second week, and they had yet to choose a name for her. Kirk was worried that her parents may come back to claim her. It was best not to be too hasty on naming her just yet.
Even so, Hernan threw out potential names to Kirk anyway.
Kirk shook his head.
Kirk didn’t respond.
Even she seemed to make a face at that name.
“Zoe?” She gurgled. “I think she likes it.”
“It’s too soon.” Kirk simply said before rising from the table. “I’ll be in the lab.”
Hernan nodded as he tried not to outwardly frown. Although Kirk was the one who had gone and bought everything for the baby, and even suggested that she stay with them, he was not taking to her like Hernan thought he would.
He just needed time, Hernan figured. He’d come around.
Then finally it happened in the middle of the night. The peaceful stillness in Metropolis had been broken. A terrorist attack in downtown Metropolis. He needed to go, but the baby was crying, and she wouldn’t stop.
“Kirk, you need to take her.” Hernan moved to pass her onto Kirk.
“It will only be a moment.” Hernan had promised before taking off. He tried to be as fast as he could. He didn’t even stop to talk with the press afterwards, but zoomed back home to make sure Kirk was okay with the baby.
When he returned, he found all the lights were out except one. One light remained on, dim in setting, but still it casted a warm halo around the two people Hernan came to care most about in the world.
Hernan soundlessly made his way over, stepping over puppy dogs as he went for they all surrounded the light in the room. They all surrounded the people that were the center of their world.
Then red eyes caught his, and Hernan froze guiltily. Kirk wasn’t sleeping, but Hernan felt bad for making Kirk look away from the baby for even a moment. Nonetheless, Kirk smiled. The corners of his lips upturned into a welcoming smile.
‘She’s okay.’ The smile said.
Hernan returned the smile. ‘I knew she would be.’
Finally, Kirk was holding her. He was holding her and she was still alive and breathing. Nothing bad had happened. She didn’t disappear or suddenly break into a million pieces. She was sleeping soundly with her fingers wrapped around Kirk’s. Kirk didn’t have the heart to remove it from her grasp.
Hernan carefully sat down beside Kirk and wrapped an arm around his shoulder to draw him in. And just like that, with the baby in Kirk’s arms and Kirk leaning back against Hernan, they sat in absolute awe of her sleeping face.
“I’ve thought of a name.” Hernan said as last. “Flora.”
“Flora.” Kirk repeated.
“Hm, she arrived the first day of Spring. She brought the flowers with her.”
Kirk smiled, “I like the name. Flora Maria Guerra.”
“It was part of your mother’s name.”
“And Guerra, no Langstrom?”
Kirk shook his head lightly, “No Langstrom. Her name should only be that of happiness.”
“You make me happy, Langstrom.”
“That’s Mr. Langstrom-Guerra to you, husband.”
“Ah, as you say, mi amado.” Hernan conceded with a warm smile.
This… This was his family. It started with just him and Kirk, then the puppies, and now a little girl. It was now a full house.
Hernan’s smile widened at the small noise she made before those big brown eyes captured him once more.
“Welcome home, Flora.”