Karla wanted nothing more than to lay back down. Her feet hurt. Her back hurt. Every single part of her hurt. But no, the Healer said that she had to walk around for a little while, that it would help the labor. Considering she had been in labor for hours already and had spent roughly three-quarters of that walking around the birthing room, she wasn't really seeing how it was 'helping.' But since no one would let her shiv the Healer, it looked like she was just going to keep walking. Probably until her feet fell off, because that was seemed likelier to happen than this child actually being born.
Apparently stubbornness was inherited through the distaff line.
"Raven," she gasped, clinging to her friend's hand until the knuckles were white. "Tell her that I'm the Queen and if I want you to take the pain away, you will."
"Ignore her, my Lady Healer," the older woman said, bustling about. "No more than one minute in every ten. The pain is necessary to the process."
"She's a bloody sadist," Karla complained, easing up on Raven's hand as the contraction eased. "Check her for ties to Hobart. She just wants me to suffer."
Raven had done her research and knew that on Earth, at least, many women chose to use medication to relieve the pain and delivered their children just fine. But she didn't want to start a fight with the Healer, and the people of Karla's world weren't entirely the same as Earth humans, so she merely nodded at the Healer and used her free hand to brush the hair from Karla's face...and took away her pain once every five minutes.
"I love you the best, shh don't tell Warren."
"Don't fucking touch me!" Karla snapped, glaring at Warren. "I think you have done quite enough already, don't you?"
"Oh, uh… My bad?"
Their shared bad. But right now, Warren was pretty willing to take the blame, re-claiming his hand and looking equal parts sheepish and terrified. Still.
For as long as Karla was the one actually delivering this baby, it was entirely his bad. "Why are you even in here?! What makes you think I want to see your stupid face? Ever! Again!"
"... Presumably you'll want me around if she ever ends up having a spring molt?"
Warren was just lucky that a contraction caught her mid-lunge, so she was doubling over, rather than murdering him the way she wanted. Her cursing, however, lasted straight through one contraction into the other.
The Healer looked at the two of them and then shook her head at Warren. "Why don't you go sit in the other room for awhile? Let her have some peace."
"Awhile? He'll be lucky I ever want to see him again!"
"That's what they all say, my lady."
"Where's Warren?" Karla looked up at Raven, her eyes filled with tears. "Raven, he needs to hold my hand! Someone get me Warren!"
"I AM BREATHING! I HAVE BREATHED MY ENTIRE FUCKING LIFE, I DO NOT NEED TO BE TOLD--Do you hear bells?" Karla looked around the birthing room, utterly confused. "No, seriously, have I been pushed into the Twisted Kingdom, or are there bells playing somewhere?"
"It's a special request from The General, My Lady," one of the Healers said, barely looking up from the task at hand. "He said it was a tradition that was very culturally important to his people. Something about Bow Bells, whatever that means."
"Raven," Karla demanded through clenched teeth. "I want you to share this next contraction with the so-called fucking General as thanks for his decision to share his culture with us this way."
"...you do not truly wish me to do that, do you, Karla?" Raven said.
Karla just looked at Raven. "Do it."
Raven's head was buzzing with the pain she was taking from Karla as well as the emotions she was picking up, so she wasn't inclined to disobey.
She waited for Karla's next contraction and pulled the pain from her body, pressing her hand to her own belly with a groan as she felt it. Instead of banishing it, she closed her eyes and sought out Jono's emotional signature in the Estate, and released the pain at him.
A moment later, there was a psionic pulse of shock and pain bursting through the minds of everyone in the building, followed by a loud thump from the room adjacent to theirs.
And then, spitefully, somebody turned the volume on the recording of the bells up even louder.
"I swear by the Darkness that the next person who tells me to push will be shaved," Karla hissed. "Believe me, I am fucking pushing."
"Again, my lady! Your daughter needs you to push again!"
"My daughter should have thought of that before she took so long to be born," Karla said, unable to work up the energy to yell. "First thing I'm gonna do when I see her is punch her in her bitty mouth."
"... Karla, you can't punch an infant in the mouth." It was a surprisingly mild protest from Warren, considering most of the bones in his hand had been halfway ground to powder by now. Having hollow bones was apparently not conducive to hand-holding right then.
"Watch me," Karla sniffled. "You just watch." She lolled her head to look up at Raven. "As your Queen, I'm ordering you to teleport this baby out of me and into a volcano."
Glacia didn't have volcanos. Karla didn't care.
"Of course, my Queen," Raven said soothingly. "As soon as you push one more time."
Sweat-soaked and exhausted, Karla smiled down at the little girl in her arms. Clean and wrapped up in one of the receiving blankets she'd gotten from her Uncle Priestly, her daughter lay peacefully, no sign of her earlier tears. "Look at her," Karla breathed, her heart so full she thought it might crack in two. "She's perfect. Utterly perfect."
"So…" Warren gave Karla a little, tentative smile. "We're calling her…?"
"Kayla," Karla said, looking up at him. "Don't you think?"
Warren looked so full of pride and happiness that it was entirely possible he might burst.
"Well," he said softly, "she's certainly not a Vasilia."
"Definitely not," Karla said, leaning against him while she continued to adore their daughter. "I think Kayla's the only name that will suit."
Beat. "...Now someone go find Jono and break those goddamn speakers."
[Co-written with the wonderful not_a_parakeet and amazing trigons_child! Snipped for length and cussing, no actual biology included! Shout out to all the real moms in game for going through this for realsies.]
- The Estate, Sidra, Glacia, AHAHAHA LIKE ANYONE IS PAYING ATTENTION TO THE TIME