Ian was almost afraid to do it. It was sleeping so peacefully. But he just had to.
Cautiously, he reached down, and gently as he could, picked up his newborn son.
He held his breath as he did it, fearing it would wake and break into a cry that would wake Barbara as well. He didn’t dare move for a minute, but the baby didn’t stir in his arms. He exhaled with great relief, and shifted the little bundle ever so slightly to look at its face.
‘It’. Why was he still thinking of it as ‘it’? It- he — was their son.
They had a son.
It was still a stunning notion. To hear about it was one thing, but feeling it was quite another. It struck him rather forcefully as he stroked the small brow. Though its face was rather puffy, in the usual way of newborns, he could still see himself in its features. And Barbara —the woman he loved more than anything- had given this to him. This tiny new person was the both of them. All those times, in forgotten pasts and faraway galaxies, when they might have died, almost died, but didn’t… it must have been a miracle, but they’d always come through- somehow. Perhaps, just perhaps, it was fate, leading them to this moment; their child- their new family. A new life beginning that they would look after and teach, and share their secret stories with, and show the world to, together. He’d never believed in fate, but now, he wondered…
He ran his finger gently over the little face, tracing the lines of the nose and chin that were just like his, trying to reassure himself that it was real. This was possibly a step too far, for the baby stirred then.
Its little hand darted out, and it made a tiny sound in the back of its throat, but it didn’t cry. It merely opened its eyes, and looked up. The tiny pink face that looked like his stared back at him… with Barbara’s eyes.
A wave of emotion engulfed him then, stronger than anything he’d ever felt in his life, save for the day he’d first told Barbara that he loved her.
Ian had never been much of one for crying, not even as a child. Not even on a voyage through the vastness of the universe. All the terrors and beauties to be found in the farthest reaches of time and space had never produced anything that brought him to tears…
Here, in their ordinary life, back on Earth, this little bundle in his arms was the most miraculous thing he’d ever seen.
He held the baby closer, and cradled its head in his hand for several minutes, weeping with pure joy.
Barbara’s voice startled him out of his reverie.
He turned around, and saw her sitting up in bed, looking tired, but radiant, as she stared at him with a mixture of concern and surprise.
“Are you alright, love?” she asked, noting his red eyes and tear-streaked face, and holding out a hand to him.
He strode over to her, nodding sheepishly and smiling, even as he sniffled.
“Oh yes,” he replied, sitting in the chair next to the bed, and taking her hand once he’d got their son comfortably rested in his other arm.
He looked from one to the other. The baby closed its eyes, snuggling itself contentedly against him. Barbara’s face beamed with pride and love.
With a fuller heart than he’d thought it possible to have, he sighed, and squeezed Barbara’s hand.
“Oh yes,” he repeated softly. “I’ve never been better.”
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