A Frantic Occasion
By: Koorino Megumi

This is my response to a 1000-word or less drabble challenge from my friend Squeak. Spoilers for episode 6. Enjoy!

There were few things that could ruffle Maes Hughes--a fact that he may have taken pride in, had it been his style. However, any threat to his wife or his unborn--about to be born--child were definite exceptions. And it just had to be the night of a blizzard, didn't it?

Convincing the doctor to come out in this weather had taken all his persuasive power and every bit of intimidation he could manage in his current frantic state. "She needs a doctor. I'm driving, and I'll drive you back after. Come on!"

"I'm sorry, but-"

"This is my first child. My wife is going to have a doctor's care!"

But as Hughes rushed home as fast as he could through the weather, he couldn't help thinking--gratefully--that at least he wasn't as frantic as he might have been. He had left Gracia in good hands. Young hands, maybe, but there were few people he would trust with this more. And he would be there soon--with a good (albeit reluctant) doctor!

But what was he going to find when he got there?

He had moments of anticipation all the time in his job, and he always kept a cool head about the situation--and even threw in jokes whenever possible. Yet despite all the things he'd walked into, he'd never felt half as frantic as he did now. But they were almost there...

Screech! And suddenly they were skidding, the tires squealing over the ice and across the road. The doctor let out a cry, and Hughes bit down on his lip, clutching the wheel tightly and struggling to regain control.

A horn blared. They were in the other lane! Gracia! And where a moment ago he was frantic, he was now consumed by fear.

The snow was slowing down as they skidded into the driveway, both shaken but unharmed. Hughes turned the car off, taking a moment to breathe before sitting back up, looking with a mixture of wariness and anticipation at the quaint little house with a warm glow emanating from inside. It looked so peaceful... Hughes sat up abruptly, overcome with a sudden need to be inside that house this instant. "We're here," he stated rather unnecessarily, taking off his seatbelt and opening the car door. Without even glancing at the doctor, he was already getting out of the car and heading toward the house, gaze focused on the front door.

He opened it to the sound of a cry of pain. "Gracia!" Hughes pounded down the hall, finally finding his wife lying on the couch, surrounded by towels, hot water, and three children who were wringing their hands. "Gracia!" It was the only word he could seem to get out. In an instant he was kneeling beside her, one hand on her arm and the other holding her hand.

His wife turned tired eyes toward him, struggling to smile through her pain. "Maes..." she whispered, "You made it back in time." And he knew from the emotion in her gaze that she didn't mean that he'd gotten the doctor here in time--she wanted him to be here. So he squeezed her hand and smiled back through his worry.

And then he realized the doctor was still missing. Had he closed the front door behind him when he'd burst in? Was it still locked? He honestly had no idea. "Doctor!" he called, starting to get up and then hesitating, looking back down at Gracia, torn.

"I'll get him!" came Ed's voice, surprising Hughes; he had forgotten that he wasn't alone in the room with his wife. Hughes smiled, squeezing Gracia's hand again. Everything was going to be fine now.

And then Gracia's face twisted in pain as another contraction hit, and Hughes's new sense of calm dissolved in an instant. "It's okay, Gracia," he stated gently, fighting back panic, although whether the words were to calm her or himself wasn't really clear. She smiled up at him through her pain, though, squeezing his hand back, and he didn't think he'd ever loved her more.

The doctor came up behind him, and everything became a blur after that as he held her hand and watched and worried and waited. But finally, after what seemed like ages, it happened. The first cry the baby gave made him tremble with joy, and suddenly the most beautiful bundle he'd ever seen was in his arms. "Well done, Gracia!" he cried, tears streaming down his face as he held the child--his child, their child!--to him, "Well done."

And Gracia smiled tiredly--she was beautiful, oh so beautiful, her face lit up with relief and accomplishment and joy--and he was so happy that he wasn't even reluctant when he set that little bundle in her arms so that she could feel just what he did.

"What should we name her?" Gracia asked, her voice quiet with exhaustion but her eyes shining so much that one could almost ignore it.

And Hughes gazed down at his little girl, putting an arm around his wife's shoulders as he put a hand to the child's face. She was crying, her expression twisted and little hands thrashing out. Hughes had never seen such a miracle.

"Elycia," he stated, "Her name is Elycia."