Henry was just coming to check on the baby, nothing more. Or so he told himself. He ignored the fact that he really didn't have a reason to check up on the baby since he'd already been here yesterday and found him to be in perfect health. He would forget the fact that he now knew the baby's name was Abraham. And he would overlook the fact that Abraham was now most likely an orphan.
Henry had had only been coming to check on the child yesterday. Just check on his health and nothing more. It was just so unbelievable that Abraham had made it out of the camps completely healthy and he wanted to make sure everything really was alright. He was a doctor; it was his duty. Though if he was being honest it wasn't ethical duty or medical curiosity that had driven him here yesterday. The truth was he'd been drawn to Abraham the second he'd seen him. Curiosity was there in part but it had much more to do with something more than that.
He had laughed when the nurse, Abigail, had suggested that he could adopt the baby. What a ridiculous idea that was. He wasn't sure what had even prompted her to make such an outrageous suggestion. He had, of course, told her it wasn't so simple and dismissed the idea. Well, he wanted to dismiss the idea anyway. And yet, that idea seemed to plant itself firmly in his mind ever since. Maybe she had suggested it because she too had sensed what he was beginning to feel: that there was something similar about the two of them, drawing them together.
Abraham was a survivor. In a place where there seemed to be only death he was life. It had seemed to Henry that for so long there was nothing but endings all around him, people dying constantly. But this baby was a beginning, he was life starting. Against all the odds this little one had lived despite all he was up against. Everything said that he should have died. They didn't keep the babies in the camps. They were the first ones to go. And yet, here was Abraham alive, his very survival a mystery. That was something Henry could certainly appreciate.
He would have to admit that he had been able to think of nothing else except Abraham ever since he had left the previous day. He wondered what would become of Abraham now. His future was so uncertain. Henry told himself that this was the reason he could not get the baby out of his head; he was only concerned for his well-being. He did not want to think that this baby had already found a way into his heart.
When Henry got to the nursery he went to crib that Abraham had been in yesterday, only to find it empty. He quickly looked around the room but did not spot Abraham in any of the other cribs or in the arms of any of the attending nurses. He sought out Abigail to ask her where Abraham was but did not see her among the nurses currently working.
He turned to the nurse closest to him. "Excuse me. Do you know what happened to Abraham?"
"Who?" the nurse asked.
"Abraham, the baby that was in this crib yesterday."
"I'm sorry," she said. "I don't know. There has been so much going on and there have been a lot of babies in and out since yesterday. Would you like me to check? "
"No. No, that's alright," he said dismissively, not wanting to make a big deal of it. It really wasn't his business but that didn't stop his heart from sinking. As he watched the nurse walk away he instantly wished that he had asked her to check.
Henry held onto the crib with both his hands, staring down into it. His brow wrinkled as he pondered what could have happened to Abraham. Did they release him already and if so, where to? Abigail had told him that they had not been able to locate any of Abraham's family and considering they had found him in one of the camps it was highly unlikely he had any left. Did that mean they'd sent him to an orphanage? That was what Abigail had said would happen to him if no one had decided to adopt him but Henry hadn't expected it to happen so soon.
More troubling to Henry than these questions were his feelings over them. He knew he had no reason to feel this disappointed but he did. He didn't even know why he felt this way. But as he stared down into the empty crib he couldn't deny that he felt incredibly sad. He felt as if he had lost something, something very important.
"There's your dad, maybe he can calm you down," a female voice said close to him. It took him a moment to come out of his sulking and realize that the voice was talking to him.
He looked up and found a nurse standing beside him and in her arms was a very distraught and crying baby. It was Abraham.
Henry felt more relief at the sight of him than he should have. This baby was just a stranger to him and he bore no responsibility for him. It really was none of his concern what happened to the child. Still, a ridiculous smile spread on his face without his consent.
The nurse handed over Abraham and Henry found himself automatically taking him from her. "He's been nearly inconsolable today. Maybe he just needs some love and comfort from his dad," she said with a smile to Abraham.
Dad. That name, that title, Henry had never had it, never been called it. That was something new. It was not often that Henry experienced anything new. When you got to be as old as he was there just wasn't much of anything that you hadn't seen or done or felt. In fact, new experiences were becoming so rare for him these days that each time he encountered one, they stopped him in his tracks. But never more than this time. He found he liked the sound of this name. It caused him to feel things he had never felt before.
There had been a time when he'd had hopes of one day becoming a father. But that was all before he realized he could never die. That had changed everything, including his goal to have a family. He had learned quite quickly how dangerous his immortality was. It had not taken him long to realize that he was going to have to continually be on the run and hide his secret from anyone and everyone. He would always be in danger and that meant anyone he associated closely with would be too. It had meant that having a family was out of the question.
And yet it felt so good to be addressed by this title. So, good that Henry allowed himself to be distracted by it, just as he had let Abigail's suggestion to adopt Abraham weave its way into his mind yesterday. It took a few seconds but reality came back to him and he hurried to correct the woman. "What? Dad? I…uh, I'm not his dad."
"Oh, I must have been mistaken. I thought Abigail said-"
"Abigail is mistaken," Henry said his voice firm and determined. He knew he must put a stop to all of this.
The nurse looked confused for a second before her eyes fell down to Abraham again and she asked "Is she?"
Henry followed her gaze to see what had caught her eye. Abraham was no longer crying. The baby was completely quiet in his arms.
He remembered Abigail's words from yesterday. I don't think he's going to let you go.
Henry started to feel something stir inside of him, feelings were building up but he did not want to allow them. It was easy for everyone else to say he should adopt this baby when they didn't know how truly complicated it was. They didn't know that he couldn't let anyone get close to him. They didn't know the reason why. They might think he would be helping this child but he knew that a life with him was danger. That would be what he'd be giving Abraham.
It was starling to Henry how much emotion he was feeling at the moment. He was not given to emotional outbursts of any kind, especially in public. He thought he had long buried any ideas and desires of being a parent but it was quite apparent to him now that he had not. He knew he had only been ignoring them all along. If they had really been gone then they would not be rushing at him so quickly now. He may have given up the goal of having a family but he could never get rid of the desire.
The small bit of resolve he had worked up was completely gone now as he looked down at Abraham, content in his arms. Though he fiercely repressed what was going on inside of him the nurse must have been able to sense that Henry was becoming distressed. "Would you mind holding onto him for just a few minutes? There's something I need to go check up on," she asked.
"Sure," Henry managed to mumble halfheartedly. He wasn't even looking at her anymore but this tiny baby in his arms who already seemed to be changing his heart.
"Dr. Morgan," she said before turning to leave.
"Yes?" he said looking back up at her again.
"There are all kinds of families. They don't always start the same or look normal. But that doesn't mean that they can't be good." She smiled at him before turning to walk out leaving him alone with Abraham.
Henry turned and walked to a nearby rocking chair. He sat down and propped Abraham on his leg. He supported him with one hand and with another hand he reached in his pocket and got out a handkerchief. He wiped off the tears that still lingered on Abraham's face from his crying spell. "There we go Abraham," he said cheerfully when his face was completely dry. "Abraham…Abe. We could call you Abe for short. How do you like that?"
Great, he thought to himself. Now he was talking to him and giving him a nickname. That wasn't going to help him convince himself against taking this baby. Abe smiled up at Henry sending him further down a road he was trying to keep from going down.
This was insanity. What was he going to do with a baby? Even if he weren't immortal, which of course he was and was more than enough reason not to have a child, he still would have been an unmarried man. Single men didn't raise babies. He did not even know the first thing about caring for one. Why did he even want to? Maybe it was because he couldn't get the title of dad out of his head or forget how it made him feel to be called that.
Abe leaned into him appearing to be either tired or needing comfort. Either way, Henry shifted him so that he was cradling Abe in his arms. Abe's big attentive eyes stayed completely focused on Henry. "You didn't really answer but I'm going to take that as a yes. Abe it is." Henry said, truly smiling as he looked down at Abe. Abe reached out a hand and took a handful of Henry's coat tugging on it slightly, seeming to declare his attachment to Henry.
Abe was so young. Henry, with so many years on him, was really quite amazed at it. Abe had his whole life ahead of him. There was an entire lifetime of firsts for him, an innumerable amount of things for him yet to experience. Henry couldn't even remember the last time he'd had a first of anything. That was until today. Henry thought about watching all of those firsts. He could share all of Abe's firsts with him if he were to be his father. He'd never been a father before. Watching Abe experience all of those things for the first time would be a first for Henry. Those things that had become so old and common place would all look different to him when he was watching someone else see them for the first time. They would be new. The idea of that felt really good.
"I never really planned on being a father," he said quietly to Abe when he noticed no one else was around. "It's not that I didn't want to be, mind you. I just, kind of had to give the thought up. See, I'll let you in on a secret: I'm really old. Older than you could believe. And I can't die. Would you believe that?"
It felt strangely comforting to tell someone the truth, even someone who didn't know what he was saying. He could pretend that it was understanding and acceptance he saw in Abe's eyes as they remained focused on him through his confession. Henry wondered what it would it would be like to actually tell someone, to actually have someone who knew the truth about him.
He of course remembered why no one did. "I know; it's hard to believe. But it's true. It is dangerous though so you've got to keep it a secret. See, there are lots of people who would hurt me if they knew. There were lots of people who did hurt me when they found out. So, I always have to move around. I can't let anyone know because if I did then they would be in danger too," Henry said and he couldn't believe that there was a catch in his throat and tears in his eyes as he remembered the painful memories. It had been a long time but they had not lost their sting.
"So you see…it isn't really that I don't want to take you…it's really just that I don't think I would be a good father at all," he reached out a hand and took Abe's small, soft, and chubby right hand inside of it.
It was then that his eyes caught the series of numbers that were newly inscribed on Abe's arm. Abe's skin was so soft and new but the flesh around these numbers was red and torn and spoke of hardship and pain, already in his young little life. Henry's mind couldn't help but immediately think of their reason for being there. Suddenly, he was filled with an incredible sense of duty to this little one. He suddenly felt compelled to protect him.
He liked to think that he was a compassionate man. He did care about people, even if he had to keep them at a distance. He wasn't the best at showing his intentions to others but he knew they were always for the good of others. But Henry had never felt this kind of need to protect before. This sense of duty was nearly all consuming in its intensity. He felt he had just had to protect this baby, to take care of him and do everything in his power to make sure that no other harm would come to him.
The way Abe was looking up at him only seemed to increase theses feelings. Abe's eyes remained locked firmly on his, they seemed so filled with trust for the man who held him, despite the fact that in his life he'd already had enough proof to never trust again. He was so innocent and still so good. It made Henry incredibly angry to know that someone could harm such an innocent person, a defenseless baby. There was so much good in the world, why did people have to fill their (quite limited) lives with such evil? But why, he wondered all the more, did there have to be a time when he'd not had it in his power to protect Abraham?
Is this what it felt like to be a father? He wondered for a moment how anyone could ever bare it. He was filled with fear at all these new feelings. Not towards the baby himself; it would be ridiculous to be afraid of a baby. No, this fear was with the weight of the responsibility that such a young vulnerable life carried with it. He supposed that most men facing this fear didn't really have a choice in the matter and he figured that was most likely for the best. But he did have a choice in the matter. This was not a child that he had fathered and now had to take the responsibility of parenting. This child was not his and he did not have to take on this role of fatherhood.
Wouldn't Abraham be fine without him? He would be safe, he would be taken care of, wouldn't he? But he wouldn't have a family. Sure, the orphanage would take care of his physical needs but wasn't there much more to life than that? Despite the fact that Henry often acted as if there wasn't he knew life was about so much more.
Would Abraham be loved? Of that, Henry was not sure. Abe had no family now; they'd been stolen from him. He had yet to realize the magnitude of his loss; he was much too young for that. But when he did get old enough and that realization came to him in waves who would be there to help him through it? In a packed orphanage would anyone be able to give him what he would truly need? Henry doubted it.
Abraham would be lonely. Henry realized that it was more than just physical protection he longed to give Abe. Because Henry knew loneliness well. He tried his best not to think about it very much. It did no good to think about or acknowledge that loneliness inside of him because there was nothing he could do about it. He knew that it was for everyone's benefit if they did not get to know him. It could never end well for them. He knew well the deep terrible ache of loneliness that came without having a family. He wouldn't wish that on his greatest enemy. How could he wish it on this innocent child?
The truth was Henry didn't want to be alone either. He wanted a family. Who in life didn't? He knew it was selfish for him to want it but he did. And it just didn't seem fair to him that he should be robbed of that simply because his life would never end. How would he ever continue to survive this never ending life without ever being able to have a family?
He and Abraham could be a family together. They wouldn't have to be lonely if they had each other. Sure, there were more ideal situations for the both of them but this was the option that was available to them. It just seemed that this arrangement would fix both of their problems. They certainly wouldn't be a normal family. He was pretty sure you couldn't find a more unusual pair. But the nurse's words were right; that didn't mean they couldn't be a good family.
It seemed some force had brought them together and there was some force inside of him that just didn't want to let them be pulled apart. Abe was a survivor and though Henry's life was difficult he somehow knew that Abe could handle it.
"It seems like you and I are meant to be together," he whispered to Abe as he pulled him a little closer. Abe snuggled his face against Henry's chest and closed his eyes, content and happy. Henry knew he was done for. He could not explain the love he felt already for this child. It was completely unexplainable, without measure or reason. He felt it build with every minuet that he gazed down at Abe as he dozed in his arms.
Everything Henry could think of told him not to do this. And yet, at the same time it felt completely right. He felt terrified about this but he also felt, for the first time in a long time, exhilarated. He could think of a million reasons not to do this, that would completely justify him not doing this, but this feeling was the only reason he had for going along with this. He now found that it was the only reason he needed, the only reason he'd ever really needed despite his ponderings. He'd spent much of his life not basing his actions on mere emotions alone. He'd had to. But right now he was about to make one of the biggest decisions of his life based on them alone. Abraham was his son and he was his father and that just felt right.
The nurse that had handed Abe over to him when he'd first come to the nursery came back to where the two of them were sitting. He wasn't even sure how long he'd been there but she gave him a knowing smile as she took the sight of them in. She had been gone for quite some time and it occurred to Henry that she probably had only made an excuse to leave so that they could be alone for a while.
"How are you two getting along over here? I see his spirits seemed to have picked up," she said still smiling at the two.
"Oh, yeah, we're…fine. He's…uh…he's good," Henry said fumbling with all his words. He was always quite articulate. It made no sense why he should have such difficulty with such a simple sentence.
"You know there isn't really anything wrong with him so we really don't need to keep him here. He could leave at any time," she said hopefully with an obvious suggestion in her voice.
"To an orphanage?" Henry asked and he realized all the more how he didn't want that to happen. He felt a small bit of panic that they might take Abe away, that the next time he came Abe really would be gone for good like he had assumed when he'd first come in here today. The idea was so wrong he didn't even like to say it.
"Well, yes. If nothing better were to come along for him," she said her smile falling, her eyes expectant as they watched him.
This was the moment of truth. This was when he had to decide. He would either move forward with Abe by his side or he would turn his back on him forever.
Henry knew he could not offer Abe the best life. He knew that his situation was less than ideal. He was always on the run, always having to move and live on the fringes of society. Moving frequently and living a life of lies was not the best situation for a child to grow up in. But he knew that he could offer Abe a better life than the one he would find at an orphanage. And most importantly he wanted to.
"No," Henry said shaking his head his eyes still focused on Abe who had stirred and was once again looking up at him.
"What?" the nurse asked in confusion.
Henry turned to look at the nurse now. "I'll…I'll take him," he said nervously. "If that's alright?" he added with worry. What if she said it wasn't?
Her face light up. "Of course, it's alright. It's fantastic!"
Henry let out a breath he did not know he had been holding and a nervous laugh of relief. "Good," he said unable to come up with anything more expressive.
"Abigail will be so happy to hear. I'll let them know that you're going to take him and we'll get everything set for you two to go home," she said rushing out of the room.
Home. Home? That was something new too. Well, not completely new; he'd had a home in the past. But didn't you need to have a family to have a home? He had places to live, places he where he had belonged for a while. But it had been a very long time since he had felt home.
He smiled at Abe. "What do you say? Ready to go home? I hope you're ready for an adventure."
And though Abe should be too young to understand what Henry was saying somehow he must have because he gave Henry the biggest smile.
Henry smiled back at him. "Home it is then."
This is my first in this fandom and I might write more so reviews are very appreciated! Thanks for reading :)