Good day! I want to get the author's notes over with in the beginning that way you don't have to put up with my rambling at the end when the story is fresh. A couple of things:
1) This is a lighthearted Christmas story, taking place after Cadmus. It's purly fun and in the Holiday Spirit!
2) I'm looking for a beta. I don't post all that often, the material that I work on is mostly works that have been years in the making, picking on it here and there. You wouldn't have to work really hard, and it wouldn't be too demanding, just an email here and there, perhaps looking over what I write, putting your two cents in and correcting typos. I've written manuals and nothing bugs me more than when I get the thing to the printers and find a stinking typo that I didn't catch.
3) The Holidays are approaching and I hope you enjoy this piece seeing how I climbed out of my hole to bring it to you. :)
Disclaimer: Disclaimer: I do not own the Justice League or any of its characters. Just a fan. As simple as that. On with the show. Nor do I know a whole lot about child birth. Use your imagination, if its not true, then pretend like it is.
The Trouble of Gifts
by Maria Sophania
It's a Family Thing.
It had been just over a year since the new Watchtower was finished, now a monument on Earth. And a good two years since the day the League took its greatest beating. Cadmus was over. Luthor was finished, for good. The League was better than ever. They had a healthy democracy in effect, where the core seven made the biggest decisions, together, then took them to the remaining members of the League. The process was efficient, and no one in the League held more power than they should. There was a system of checks and balances that kept every member out of critical decisions, and the founding seven from making those critical decisions by themselves. The system was beautiful and flawless, ensuring that the Justice League was forever installed, and in check.
The core seven could not have been closer. J'onn was not as grumpy as he had been in months past and, surprisingly, neither was Batman. The seven of them had proven to themselves that they were not, and would never be, the Justice Lords, and that brought them to a level of personal satisfaction that they had never been on before. Times were great.
It was Christmas and the core members of the League had decided to take it upon themselves to take duty, sending the remaining sixty-some-odd members to enjoy Christmas in their own ways, without having to fight evil. Although one would think that the founding members got the short end of that stick, they did not seem to think so.
As a group, they decided to celebrate the holidays with one another, as a family long-sense fallen apart and repaired again repeatedly. Flash, while slightly more mature, was still Flash and still the heart of the League. He kept them honest and always laughing.
Still the ever present lookout of the group, J'onn kept learning about the mysterious people of Earth and the even more mysterious family he had been adopted into. The Last Martian had finally found a home.
Superman was not near as stressed as he used to be, in the days preceding the final Cadmus attack. The inner seven would attribute this to his alter ego's partner in crime: Lois Lane. The two were spending more and more time with one another, easing the tension that the Man of Steel once had bottled up inside, with the weight of the world on his shoulders.
Batman was only Batman to the world around them. But to the inside seven, he slowly began to drop the façade and found something he had been wanting ever since that fateful night all those years ago when his life changed in a moment: a family.
While Diana could never convince the rich playboy to be any more than friends, she was completely satisfied with the relationship they had developed through the years. Along with Superman, they created a trinity a friendship that could not be rivaled. They were, with one exception, the closest members in the League.
That leaves the Green Lantern and the former Hawkgirl. It took another eleven months for the two to see that they did, indeed, still love each other. But after a battle that did not really go in the favor of the team that landed Shayera in the MadBay for a good three weeks, which was extremely odd for her since she normally recovered quickly, John Stewart finally confessed that he had never gotten over her and that he still was very much in love with her.
Seven months ago, J'onn removed Shayera from the active duty roster without notifying anyone other than John and Shayera. This created a problem when Superman went to recruit a mission leader for a mission that required someone who could defeat magical creatures and the roster stated that Shayera was not available and would not be for another seven months. The two star-crossed lovers were forced to explain to the group, with J'onn's medical expertise, that Shayera was in fact, pregnant. The seven kept it under wraps as Shayera progressed through her pregnancy and J'onn kept an ever-watchful eye on her. There were concerns that the two physiologies were not compatible to create a child; however the Lantern held a confidence that could not be explained by anyone save Batman, and he certainly was not telling.
And now here they were, a family, celebrating the holidays with the people they love. A giant Christmas tree adorned the center of the immense, grounded Watchtower as seven presents set beneath it. Batman turned off the surveillance system within the Watchtower so that they could truly be themselves this Christmas. Superman and Wonder Woman had set out two couches and a couple of chairs around the tree, and now the seven of them sat in the presence of one another, relaxing as the radar-radio did periodic check and announcements as to the status of the world's peace.
With Flash sitting on the floor next to a chair near the presents and Bruce looking down at him over the arm as he talked aimlessly and continuously as time ticked by, Clark casually conversed with Diana who sat on the other end of their shared couch.
"The tree really is lovely, Kal," commented Diana as she looked up to admire the twelve-foot tree that towered over them all.
"Thanks. Ma and Pa helped me pick it out, actually. I had Christmas with them last week."
"Are you sure it's ok to not spend this holiday with them? I mean from what I've experienced, this world values family on holidays such as these."
"Ya, we do. That's why I'm here." With a grin from Diana, the two continued chatting quietly about this, that, the other.
J'onn sat in a chair beside the last couch, chatting nonchalantly with its occupants. Shayera sat with her back against the arm and her legs bent at the knees across John's lap. On her swollen stomach, she rested her right hand while John rubbed her legs with his right and her stomach with his left.
"So you think the engine core needs new casings for the fire-wall?"
"Ya, J'onn, I mean I was down there the other day and—"
"You were where?!" John's voiced interrupted their technical conversation as he stopped caressing and looked Shayera dead in the eyes. "You are not supposed to do work! You're on bed rest! Geez, woman! I need a leash for you!"
"Excuse me, Mr. Everything's-gotta-be-my-way! It needed to be done!" Just as John was about to open his mouth and dispute what she was saying she continued, "John, I'm not useless, I'm pregnant. I can still pull my own weight and take care of myself!"
"John's right, Shayera. You should not have been down near the core. There are sub-radiation levels that could affect—"
But J'onn was interrupted as Wally stood up and made an announcement to the room and its occupants. "All right everyone! Enough chit-chat, I vote for present-time! And since we all drew names, I'll go first!" Wally bent down and picked up a medium sized package wrapped rather badly in red-reflective paper and tied with a sloppy yellow bow. At the looks given across the room, Wally put on an innocent face. "What? So I can't wrap a present. Sue me!" He walked over to the couch on the far left and handed John the package. "Ok. I can explain this. Its FOR John, but it'll take Shayera's help." With a grin, Wally watched John hesitantly take the red package and after a look, begin to unwrap it.
After extracting the paper and removing the lid to the box, John just stared at its contents with a stunned expression on his face. This got the attention of the woman sharing the couch with him.
"What it is?" After trying to sit up, Shayera gave up and frustratingly grabbed John's arm, "Tilt it this way, I can't see!" And when he did she, too, stopped dead. Then she got her bearings and glared at Wally. "Wally!—"
"What is it?" The curiosity of the rest of the room was brought to the attention of the three as Diana voiced what everyone was thinking.
Wally just grinned. "Well, I was shopping with Linda—you know, the nice girl I met a couple of months ago—and she kicked me out of the store while she was trying on some swimsuits—bummer, I know—but I wondered into this Lingerie store and I saw this and thought 'Dude! After the baby comes, John's SO gonna need this!'" As everyone just looked at the still shocked John, the steaming Shayera and the highly-amused Wally, Wally grinned even further. "Actually, to be perfectly honest, it was Linda's idea. She thought that those nights you'll be spending up with the baby should be spent in the pleasure of each other's company."
John reached into the box and extracted a white halo and looked at Wally.
"Uh, ya. It actually came with wings, but I didn't think you'd need those." The amusement could be heard in his voice as Wally looked from John to Shayera. Just as he was afraid of, she was ticked, but that still did not make the present a dud. It was still worth it. And just as suddenly as she was mad, her mood changed. And she looked from Wally to John and produced an evil grin. "You know, I kinda like it."
"I hope so, cause I sure ain't wear'n it!" John put the halo back in the box and leaned over to her, one had on her belly, and kissed her lightly. "But you would look quite nice in this little get-up. Girl, I've been waiting for four months, I think this was a great gift. Thanks Wally."
With a satisfied grin from Wally, he sat down at the base of the couch, facing the group. Looking up at the Green Lantern, he grinned, "Ok. You're next GL."
"Alright. Although I must say, mine's not nearly as…creative as Wally's. Hey kid, grab that blue one over on the left side and hand it to Clark."
Wally stood and grabbed the package, handing it the Last Son of Krypton. "Awe, thanks John!" As Clark began to unwrap the carefully wrapped present, he noticed the intricacy of the wrapping and had to ask, "Shayera, did you wrap this?"
She answered him with a snort, "No way. It was all John."
"Its nice wrapping GL."
"Thanks, man. It took me ten minutes. Had to make sure the corners were even, and all."
"You two are the saddest men I've ever met. You do realize you're discussing wrapping paper, don't you?" Bruce Wayne raised an eyebrow at the two and then Shayera had to put in her two cents.
"You don't have to live with one of 'em."
Clark continued to unwrap the present until he finally got to the inside box.
"Man, I didn't now what to get ya. You're a hard one to buy for."
Clark reached into the box and pulled out a genuine pig-skinned football. "Wow. Geez, John." Looking at the football more closely, he could tell that his wasn't your normal football. "Reinforced walls, genuine pig skin, leather stitches. It's faultless. Thanks!"
"It ain't your normal football. I know this engineering fella. Well, it's reinforced to take a beating, even from you. Shay tested it out for me."
Clark took the ball and tossed it in the air, and Diana had to laugh at the look on his face. "Wow, Kal. You look like a kid."
"Man. I love football. But Ma and Pa never would let me go out for a team."
Bruce only smirked. "I wonder why?"
Clark stood from his place on the other sofa and went to shake John's hand. "Thanks a lot, John. It's perfect."
Then Clark headed toward the tree, football tucked firmly in the crook of his arm. "Alright. My turn." He bent down to retrieve a package decorated with trees, Santas, and Christmas stars. "Here Bruce. Merry Christmas."
Bruce looked at the package that had been placed in his hands. Unwrapping it he removed the lid and peered inside. He reached in and raised a book, leather-bound and ageless. From its cover, he read, "'Stratagems on Great Responsibility.' Hm. You've been in my library."
Clark grinned and shrugged. "Alfred said you were missing it. You once gave me something like it to me. I'm just returning the favor."
Bruce stood and firmly took Clark's hand and the two seemed to share in a moment of friendly understanding. "Thanks Clark. For everything."
"Ya, that's sweet, it really is. But can we get this show on the road?"
Wally continued with a list of things they had to do to make it an enjoyable Christmas: eggnog, carols, cake, ham, etc. While he continued, John noticed a look on Shayera's face. "Hey, you ok?"
"Hm. Ya. I'm fine. False alarm." With a comforting grin they brought they're attention back to Wally.
"Ok, so who's next?"
Bruce reached underneath the tree and retrieved a small box. He walked over to Diana and handed it to her with a grin. "For you, Princess."
She looked surprised as he handed her the small box. After unwrapping and opening it, she gasped in amazement. "Bruce! It's beautiful!" She pulled out, for all to see, a silver chain with a small pendent lined in sapphires in the shape of a Greek style, celebratory leaf.
"The Amazonian symbol for greatness, I believe."
"Bruce. This is Amazonian make. How'd you—"
"I had a friend pull in a favor," he grinned as he turned to Shayera who was smiling at Diana.
"It's wonderful, Bruce. Thank you." She stood to embrace him and as she did, he whispered in her ear, "Look on the back." As they pulled away, she nimbly fiddled with the necklace as she turned it over, to read along the stem: "Patience for the impossible leads to hope. –B." She smiled up at him as she handed the necklace to Bruce to clip the clasp behind her neck, and if anyone had been close enough to see other than Bruce, they would have notice the tears in her eyes.
"All right. I suppose it's my turn." Diana went to the tree and scooped up a small, medium sized box and walked to the other couch. Handing it to Shayera, she smiled, "For my sister. Merry Christmas."
Shayera had been looking at J'onn on the right when Diana had come over. Changing from the slightly pained expression to that of happiness, she looked at Diana as the gift was handed to her. "Diana. Thank you."
As she opened the package, she removed the tissue paper to reveal a book, and Diana explained. "You, like me, have lost all that has ever been known as home. However, you, like me, have found a new one. This is to remind you all that you have gained. This is to remind you that while you cannot change the past, you can make the future, everyday. While you and I have hardly ever seen eye to eye, you are still, and will always be, a sister, Shayera."
Shayera looked in awe as she ran her fingers over the cover that read "Superfriends and Family." The latter word was apparently what had come on the album to begin with while the rest was written in silver above the black-printed word, in a woman's eloquent handwriting. She opened the cover to find an inscription similar to what Diana had just said and a picture of the seven of them, clearly from a news article.
"I've been collecting pictures over the years, from articles. I know that no one was supposed to know or help with the gifts, but I needed someone. Clark helped me gather more photos and Bruce helped me scan and print them. It's so you'll never forget that you have family, and so that the little one will know of the great things his, or hers, mommy, daddy, aunt and uncles have done."
"Diana. I don't know what to say. It's wonderful. Thank you!" Diana reached down to hug the former Hawkgirl, the two's feud officially at an end. As they embraced, Shayera spoke as quietly she could and Diana could hear the emotion in her voice, "Really, Diana. Thank you."
As they withdrew from one another, Diana could finally see the broad grin on Shayera's face as John took the wrapping paper and box, set it to the side, and repositioned the album more comfortably on Shayera's lap, bellow her stomach, and returned his hand to her belly.
Diana returned to her seat and Shayera returned to her normal, pregnant, moody self. "Wally! Get that package on the left. No! Your other left! Thank you, hand it to J'onn."
J'onn, who had remained extremely quiet through the whole interaction, watched with a content grin on his face as Shayera barked orders at the poor kid. How he loved these people! This was family now. This was home.
"Here ya go Big Guy." Wally smiled as he handed J'onn the gift wrapped in light green wrapping, filled with stars. "And I guess that means you got my name, huh?"
"Yes, I received your name. And thank you, Shayera."
"Don't thank me, yet. You haven't opened it."
J'onn began to remove the wrapping paper and Wally sat down in the middle of the floor with the last package in front of him, a broad grin on his face, as he waited and watched J'onn open his gift. In the box, he found a single video chip. Inquisitively he looked at Shayera, awaiting her explanation.
"On that is anything and everything about Mars that I could find, both in the Green Lantern's archives and on Mars itself. History, stories, genealogies. There are photographs and documentaries. It's filled with it. On it, also, is the complete history of the J'onzz family line, up until the very last families: yours was one of them."
J'onn looked on in amazement as he gently lifted the small case that housed, well, a piece of home. "I don't know what to say."
"I know what its like to know what you lost. Also on that disk are the big moments of the family you gained." With a smile she looked into J'onn's eyes as he raised them to meet hers. Then he did something he hardly ever did. J'onn smiled the biggest, broadest, most genuine smile that he ever sported.
"Thank you, Shayera. It's the most perfect gift that I could ever have received."
When she returned the genuine smile, all turned to Wally as he interrupted the scene of sentimentality.
"That's great and all. Really cool! But, hey, can I open mine now?"
J'onn continued to smile as he moved to the edge of his seat, box on the floor and disk and case in hand. "Go ahead, Wally."
Wally went to quick work removing the paper and in mere seconds he had the paper removed and looked on in awe at the box that now sat before him.
"Holy moly! It's the brand-new, state-of-the-art, 3-D, virtual-video-game visor! Dude! This is so cool! Hey! It comes with a bunch of games…and Mario!"
"Look also, Wally. It comes with two player Brawlin' Bots and a second visor."
"Do I smell a challenge, J'onn?"
J'onn only smiled as Wally went to work opening the box and assembling the equipment.
"Ok. Hold up a sec."
John's voice boomed over all the others as they spoke to each other about their gifts, and the room fell to silence.
"I've got another one to give."
John stood from his seat, careful not to disrupt the position of the now displeased mother-to-be. Reaching into his pants pocket he kneeled in front of Shayera and removed the lid, revealing a set of white earrings and a ring.
"I'm really no good at stuff like this, so I'll get to the point. Shayera Hol, mother of my child, love of my life, will you marry me?"
At first she was stunned, to say the least, but after a moment, she slowly moved to a sitting position, feet on the floor and looked at the Lantern with a look that could only mean that if she were not incredibly pregnant, they would need a "Do Not Disturb" sign to put on their door.
With tears in her eyes, she reached for his hand, "John Stewart, Green Lantern of Sector 2814, father of this thing that's made my life more than annoying these past months, I was wondering when you were gonna get around to asking." She leaned forward and kissed him lightly, saying simply, "Yes."
But that was all it took. Still holding the case, he embraced and kissed her. He held her tight as he deepened the kiss, tasting her, reminding her how much he loved her. They parted to the sound of the others clapping and Shayera moaning. A hand went to her stomach as she leaned forward, back into John's arms, as the other hand went to her stomach. J'onn stood from his chair and kneeled beside Lantern as he began to panic.
"Calm down, John. And move." As John moved out of the way Shayera grabbed his sleeve, prohibiting him from going far. Everyone else in the room stood suddenly and approached the three at the couch. Shayera began to pant as Wally asked the question on everyone's mind, "Whoa, what's happening?"
"I'm having a baby, you idiot!" With a long moan, she doubled over again, J'onn's hands stopping her from going to the floor. It was then that Clark noticed that the couch and surrounding area was soaking up moisture. "Uh, I think her water broke." It was then that John went nuts. He tried to stand, but could not while Shayera had a death-grip on his sleeve, and Bruce grabbed his other arm.
"Calm down, John." Turning to J'onn he said, "I think we're going to need a sedative."
J'onn, while trying to get the Thanagarian to breathe steadily, never turned from the woman. "She's already in labor, a sedative won't—"
"Not for her."
"Wally, go prepare the bed on the far side of the MedBay. Bruce, get the area ready. Clark, Diana…move. And John, help me get Shayera to the MedBay."
"Got it." And the Flash was gone.
Bruce silently began to run as Shayera's moaning became significantly louder.
Clark and Diana looked at each other as John and J'onn got to either side of Shayera and hefted her off the ground. As they started to the MadBay, Clark looked after the three as they walked behind them, "What a way to spend Christmas."
"She's in pain, Kal. It's kind of selfish thinking of—"
"No, I mean for her. She's gonna spend the next how many hours in labor?"
After getting Shayera out of her blue jeans and red top and into the simple blue gown, J'onn commanded the others to clear the area. They could stay in the room, but they would have to stay out of the way. John stood on Shayera's right as J'onn looked at him after making a check-up on the progress of the situation.
"She's fully dilated. Shayera?"
Through her whimpering, whining, and moaning, she managed to mumble out. "M-huh?"
"You've got to push now. Remember to breathe. Did you hear me?"
She nodded hard and quickly in response to J'onn's question. "Let's get on with this! I want this over with! Ahh! John, I hate you!" John reached over and grabbed her left hand, which now held his engagement ring and he looked intently at her face.
"On three, Shayera."
"C'mon girl. We need you to push. One."
With a grunt and a shout, Shayera's face contorted in pain and Diana leaned over to Clark.
"Remind me to never give birth."
"And if you do, remind me to not be there."
Along with Wally, the two looked sick as they watched Shayera moan and yell in pain, and John writhe beside her with his hand in her death-grip. Bruce walked to Shayera's left and looked at J'onn as the Martian looked up at the billionaire.
"We have a problem."
With a start, Shayera tried to sit up. "Problem?! What's the problem?!" John tried to calm the Thanagarian, while J'onn turned to Bruce at Shayera's left.
"The baby is breach."
Turning to Shayera, Bruce smoothly tried to explain what was happening. "Shayera, the baby is breached. We've got to try and turn it around. This'll take a little longer."
"A little longer?!"
"Just hang on and keep breathing. Any sudden pains—"
"I'll let you know!" With a groan of pain, she wiped her sweat soaked head with the back of her free hand. "Just get this show on the road!"
Bruce looked at John mouthed, "Keep her still." Moving to the cover were J'onn was already working at getting the child turned around, Bruce asked, "How bad is it?"
"Not too bad, except for the fact that this child must have his mother's patience. It's coming, quickly. We've got to act fast."
Coming out of his daze, Clark jumped with a start, walking towards the group in front of him.
"I've got a job for you."
"Clark, Bruce. I am afraid to force the child back, in fear of harming both baby and mother."
Bruce looked at Clark, who was already woozy from the site he was beholding.
"There's so much blood."
"She's pushing a baby out of her. Clark! Pay attention. I need you to reach up and try to turn the baby around."
"You want me to what?!"
"Bruce is right, Clark. You are the best qualified to do the job."
"Use your x-ray vision and gently…gently turn the child around. If you hit interference, stop."
With a sickening look on his face, he looked at the Martian and the Batman and spoke as calmly as he could. "You have got to be kidding me!"
"CLARK! Do whatever it is that you have to do to get this thing out!! NOW!!" Shayera's voice boomed over all the others as she yelled again. As she leaned forward, J'onn reached over the blanket and out to her. "John! Stop her! Shayera, listen. It's going to be hard, but I need you to not push."
"Oh for crying out louuuuuud!"
"I'll do my best, but—"
"John!" Bruce looked up from the blanket at the Green Lantern. "She has got to stop pushing!" Returning to the work at hand, he looked to Clark, handing him a set of rubber gloves. "Clark. Do it now, or we kill the baby getting it out to save the mother, or we kill the mother getting it out to save the child."
"Man, she's going to hit me in the morning for this." As Clark, Bruce and J'onn worked to turn the baby around, Diana and Wally watched in horror as Shayera writhed in pain and John whispered quietly in the ear of his wife-to-be. "C'mon, girl. It's almost over. Nine months is almost over. Hold on. Don't push. C'mon Shay, just a little bit longer."
As John was trying to comfort her, the already exhausted, former Hawkgirl began to cry. Tears began falling from her eyes as she held on to John for dear life. "Oh, god. Please John! Is he going to be ok?!"
"He?" he said with a grin. "What makes you think it's a he?"
"Don't start with me! Just tell me!"
Looking at the three working to rectify the situation, J'onn looked up and nodded firmly at John. "Yes, we're ok. The baby's going to be ok, you are going to be ok. Ok?"
She smiled the best she could until another spasm overtook her body and she groaned in a fit of pain.
Clark suddenly shot up from under the blanket with a look of relief and a slight shade of green. He shouted, "Got it!" and moved back over next to Diana and Wally, sitting in a chair offered by the extremely quiet Wally after tossing his gloves.
Bruce overtook the situation and looked up at Shayera, his voice booming over all the others, including Shayera's shouts. "Now, Shayera…push!"
John helped her sit up and she pushed with all her might, the grunt turning into a groan, the groan turning into a scream. Sitting back again, panting, her sweat-stained face looked to J'onn. "Alright. Just a few more—"
In sync, John and Shayera both looked at the Martian, "Few?!"
"Yes. The head is crowning." Smiling, he looked at John, then at Shayera. "Black hair."
John smiled in wonderment as he moved to see the head of the baby that has almost made it into the world. "Shay, he's got hair."
She smiled in joy until the baby demanded she help him in getting out of mommy's womb and she groaned while sitting forward again. "Great. He's got hair. Let's get the rest of him out!"
This time Bruce moved out from the blanket and stood on Shayera's left again. "Time to push again. Ready?"
"No! But ok."
As she sat up, grunted, groaned and pushed, John watch in wonder as the child was almost through. A child he helped create. Shayera yelled in pain as she tried to sit back on the elevated bed, stopped by Bruce. "Shayera, you're almost there, one more time."
John returned to the woman who was in the process of giving birth to his child, his son. "One more. C'mon Shay." He leaned against her forehead and whispered again as tears ran down her face and sweat accumulated in droplets across her brow. "One more time, baby."
Bruce forced her to sit up as she pushed, hard. She held her breathe and let her body push as she tightly held her eyes closed until the temporary pain subsided and then proceeded to release the breath in a groaning scream. But she was not the only one that screamed. Mixed with the cries of the Thanagarian, were those that belonged to someone with very little lungs.
Bruce allowed Shayera to sit back, panting again, as he moved to the end of the bed following J'onn as he went to wash the newborn, curious as to the identity of the newest member of the family. Clark, Diana, and Wally, too, moved forward, peering in awe at what was just born.
"That came out of her?! Geez! Go Shay!"
Diana looked on, stunned. "I'm with him, for once. How can a being that large come out of a hole that small?"
Clark leaned in, with his two cents. "Quite painfully, apparently. Shayera, he's beautiful."
She opened her eyes and with tears, looked at the group huddled around a small form now wrapped in a blanket, crying in J'onn's arms. "He? He's really a he?"
John moved to the end of the bed to look at the writhing form, his high-pitched cries filling the room. "Oh, my god. My son. Shay, he's the most beautiful boy I have ever seen."
"I just worked extremely hard, over here. Does anyone mind if I see what I worked so hard for?!"
J'onn turned to Lantern with a smile and gently set the crying baby in his arms. John looked at the baby with a look of awe and wonder. "Hi."
Walking over to Shayera he gently set the baby boy in her outstretched arms. As the child settled into his mother's arms and felt the warmth of her body around him again, his cries abated as Shayera held him against her chest.
Wally moved the chair that Clark had previously been occupying behind John's standing form, and John sat without his eyes ever leaving the small form now resting in Shayera's embrace.
"John, he's the most amazing thing I've ever seen." With tears in her eyes, she looked up at the man that has shared so much pain with her and he leaned down to her, resting his forehead on hers. "I think I love you. It was shaky there for a few minutes, but I think I love you again."
With a grin he leaned down, further, and kissed her gently on the lips. "And I, mother of my son, will always love you." At her smile, he leaned down and kissed her again, this time with more passion as before as his hand slid around told hold her head at the base of her neck.
The child in Shayera's arms stirred slightly when she shifted to accommodate John's hold on her, and she broke the kiss to look down at the baby resting against her chest.
John looked, again, at the woman who now sat, holding his son. The tendrils of hair that often fell beside her face were now plastered to her forehead and cheeks by a mixture of sweat and tears, her emerald eyes were glazed over, and her cheeks were red from crying and yelling. "You're beautiful." No. Beautiful wasn't the word for it. There was no word or words that could describe how amazingly beautiful she was.
She scoffed at him and rolled her gorgeous green eyes. "Ya, I'm sure I'm a site to behold."
"You really are."
John never let go of the back of her neck as he settled back again into the seat that had, apparently to him, materialized behind him. The group, save J'onn who was checking stats, had stood quietly away from the foot of the bed and was now moving around the new mother, father, and son. With congratulations rolling all around, they all gazed in wonder at the small life that lay before them.
Bruce had seen him, when they had gone to the future. He now peered in speechless wonder as he saw the beginning of what would become a great hero. Looking up at John, he saw John suddenly look up at him and smirk. With the two sharing a secret smile that no one either saw or interpreted, Wally kneeled beside the bed and looked on in curiosity.
"Wow, Shayera. Man."
"The Flash gone speechless, that's a first." Clark grinned at the kid of the group as Diana leaned in over the bed, also curious.
"If I recall, Kal, you weren't too chatty either."
"Let's never bring that up again, please."
Bruce leaned over the bed and touched Shayera's arm. When she looked up at him, he was smirking, a genuine good-hearted smirk. "Good Work. And Congratulations."
J'onn returned from checking the vitals and cleared a way to the mother and child. "I hate to break up this moving moment, but I must get these on both mother and son."
The group, save John, stepped a couple feet back and watched as J'onn pulled the blanket from the baby down to attach a sticky circle to the left side of his chest. Just as the circle was secured, a machine above Shayera came to life with fast, steady beeps. With a first look at Shayera, silently requesting for permission, J'onn quickly slipped his hands down the front of her gown, securing the device that would remind them all that the mother, too, was doing just fine. Stepping back the seven listened to the sounds of the two heart monitors as the beeps filled the room.
John gently stroked the boy's forehead and Shayera held him with one hand as the other gently played with his tiny little fingers. The half-human, half-Thanagarian child began to gurgle and move about as his eyes opened slightly to look on the soft, tired face of his mother to reveal green eyes. "Hi, little one. The outside looks a little different than the inside, huh? I'm your mommy, and this is daddy. And they—" leaning slightly so that the baby boy could see the others in the room, "—are your aunt and uncles." Leaning closer to the baby's face she whispered, "Our family."
Everyone leaned in the see the infant look around at them, his little hands waving the air. Bruce was the first to speak as Clark, Diana, and Wally began to make baby noises, trying to get a bigger rouse out of the newborn.
"What's his name gonna be?"
Shayera's attention was adverted from the gurgling infant in her arms to the blue-eyed man standing beside her. "Hm, a name." Turning to John she looked at him expectantly. "We didn't really ever agree on one. It was always an argument."
"Isn't everything with you always—" but Bruce cut Diana off as he retreated to the foot of the bed. "Surely you two have thought of something." But the Batman smirked as he watched the infant blink, turn, and looked right at him, his green eyes watching expectantly. "A child of the Justice League cannot be nameless."
John's eyes left the tiny form as he looked on his wife-to-be. "You did the hard part. You can pick anything you like, and if I really hate it, I'll tell ya." He brought his right hand to rest on hers, as she held their child.
Her joyous face slowly began to frown. "Tradition has it that the child must hold a name of someone who has been known for great deeds and acts, like an honorary." She frowned further as she looked at the child lying in her own arms. My son. Our son. "No. I want him to have a human name. I don't want Thanagar in him. I want the mistakes of a people who were once so great to die with the reason they perished in the first place. No. No Thanagar."
Every eye in the room fell on the squirming infant, who was now trying to pull at his mother's gown, his emerald green eyes blinking anxiously.
J'onn leaned forward and placed a hand on the child's forehead. "Thanagar will not die with you, Shayera. Like it or not, Thanagar will live on in this boy, this son of the noblest of Thanagarians. He will be proud to have you as a mother."
As J'onn stepped back, the room fell silent again as the baby continued to tug at the closest fabric with one hand and wrapped his tiny hands around a slender finger that had been resting on his tiny chest.
John reached out and stroked the small arm that gripped his mother's finger. "Tradition." He looked up into her eyes as he spoke and her eyes met his. She was recovering quickly from the labor, but she had, nevertheless, given birth and was still very tired. "Alright. Who can we honor, with the name of our son?"
The room fell silent once again as the seven began to rack their brains for a name suitable for a hero. Wally spoke first with some outrageous name of some long-dead hero, but he was interrupted by Clark who began to list names. In just a moment, Clark, Diana, Wally, and John all spoke simultaneously in discussion of a perfect name. Shayera leaned back and began to gently rub the small chest of the boy in her arms, while she was still firmly in his grasp. Bruce still stood at the foot of the bed, watching the mother and son.
"What about Rex?"
The room fell silent as they all turned to the most unattached member of the group. "Rex died, what John, a year and half ago?"
"Technically, ya, but closer to two."
"Rex Mason died saving the world. And he was John's best friend." Bruce turned to John and looked at him expectantly. "I think it's a good, strong name for a future hero."
At Bruce's last statement, Shayera looked up again with a start. "Who said he's going to be a hero?" The room turned from Bruce to her, expectantly desiring a logically answer. Gripping the child tighter than entirely necessary, she smirked and explained, "I'm gonna lock him in a metal house, never to leave."
Everyone grinned as the infant began making noises, sputtering and such. John stood from his seat and looked at Shayera. "You know, Rex was a good buddy of mine. He kept me sane when the world fell apart. He told me to plant my feet when I didn't know where to stand. He was a good soldier, and an even better man."
Shayera smiled up at him. "I think Rex is a perfect name." Looking down at the bundle in her arms, she bent down to him and lightly kissed his nose. "Rex Stewart."
John interrupted. "Rex Hol Stewart." John bent down again and kissed his fiancée. "If you don't want him to have any part of Thanagar, let him have a part of you."
She smiled up at him again, and made a face at his poetic tone. Rolling her eyes, she agreed to the name and scrunched her nose and eyebrows, "That, Marine, is the cheesiest thing I've ever heard." He bent his head closer with a grin on his lips. "It must be the hormones, but I acquiesce. Rex Hol Stewart." John closed the gap between them again as he kissed her and held onto her. This kiss wasn't like the ones they had shared previously on that day. This one was filled with the passion of two lovers, separated by the stars, united by a tiny infant.
At Wally's not-so-discrete cough, the two parted with a smile and J'onn stepped forward. "We are all very happy that mother and son are well. But we must leave the room; it seems the little one is quite ready for something to eat." J'onn pointed at the free hand of the babe as he pulled at the top of the gown covering Shayera's chest.
Clark appeared slightly embarrassed while Diana seemed slightly curious, but it was Wally that broke the awkwardness.
"What? We don't get to watch?" Wally's grin grew as Shayera and John both looked up and glared at the fastest man alive. "What? Kidding!" Wally continued to mumble as he walked towards the door. Almost there, he stopped mid-stride. "Oh! Do you think we can get a picture?"
Everyone looked to Shayera who seemed more than tired. But instead of her trademark glare and growl, she smiled at the kid. "Alright. But just one."
"Great!" And the Flash was gone. In a moment later, he returned with a camera in hand. Moving the food tray stand belonging to one of the other vacant beds, he set the camera up, adjusted the picture, and focused the lens. "Alright everyone, gather 'round Shayera. No, Supes, move to the right. There! Ok! Ready?" He leaned over and set the timer and raced to take his place beside John, who was now sitting on the side of the bed.
"Say cheese pizza!"
In but a few moments, that momentous day was documented forever in the form of a single photograph.
"Dude, do you realize we never sang carols?! What's Christmas without carols?"
Diana moved from her place beside Bruce to the middle of the room. "Wally, we were a little preoccupied."
As if on queue, little Rex started crying, or wailing, they really couldn't tell.
"Geez! He's got his mother's lungs!"
"I told you already," stated J'onn as he tried to herd the group out of the MedBay, "the child is ready to feed." Just as he got Wally out of the door, J'onn turned to the couple who were once again admiring their fine work. J'onn J'onzz could not help but smile. "I shall leave you three alone."
Still staring at the black haired, green eyed infant, John responded in a tone that seemed distant, even for him. "Uh, ya. Thanks J'onn. We'll call you guys when we're done."
"You? What work do you have to do?"
Listening to the voices of his friends, J'onn closed the door and walked casually back to the main room where the others were once again gathering to prepare the room for more Christmas festivities.
Shayera looked from the baby who lay squirming in her arms to the man who was rising to reposition himself in the seat beside her bed.
"How do you feel?"
"To be perfectly honest? Exhausted. Proud. A little scared." He smiled softly at her as she stared into his radiated green eyes. "John, could you undo the top buttons of the gown?"
She ever so slightly leaned forward, the infant secure in her arms. John moved her hair to the side and undid the top five buttons. Leaning back, she let the gown fall off one shoulder to reveal her left breast. Bringing the now several hours old babe to her exposed bosom, the infant found its desired target easily. The child suckled diligently on the exposed nipple as Shayera leaned back and closed her eyes. The feeling was amazing. She was tired, yes. She was exhausted, yes. She was sore, yes. But in the first moment she saw the small boy, she felt a love and pride that could not be rivaled by any other. This child, the product of her and John's love, was truly the most amazing miracle that had ever came into being.
John watched in wonder as the child went to town on the exposed breast. Looking from the feeding child to the red-headed angel who lay before him, John could not have felt more…well, complete. It seemed like so long ago when he had convinced her to give in to him, to give in to the fact that they both had feelings for each other. That was the first step. That was what started it all. That was what led to this. He was speechless in awe at the site before him. Here this day, they, together, gave life to this otherwise insignificant being.
She was right when she said she was scared. She should be. They should be. This life was now gifted to their care, to rear as their son, to develop as a person. With an amused grin he returned his gaze back to the child as he gently began lessening his grip.
"Thanks, kid. I appreciate you saving some for me." Shayera smiled and opened her eyes, looking at her lover.
"You got plenty of 'em when this little fellow was conceived, Marine."
"Ya, but if he sucks 'em dry, I'm not gonna get to show you how much I love you…repeatedly."
At his statement, she smirked as he leaned down and kissed her collarbone. He continued to caress and kiss her as he moved from her collarbone to the valley between her breasts. He stopped for a moment to look up at her face, which was now relaxed and slightly flushed as she closed her eyes. Man, how he loved her eyes. Everything about her. Even down to her fiery temper.
"Are you done yet?"
"I think he is. He's let go, at least."
Shayera looked down at him as he kissed her chest again, and rolled her eyes. "Not him. You."
"Me? I could stay like this forever."
She grinned again and pulled the front of the gown up and over her bare shoulder, motioning for John to redo the buttons. John diligently snapped each button into place after having kissed her bare back first. His fingers nimbly caressed her back and rose to her shoulders as he finished his work.
"You have got to be the most beautiful woman with the most gorgeous red-hair and green eyes." Leaning his forehead against hers he held her tight as he slid on the bed beside her. "And you, Shayera Hol, will I love until the day the universe comes to an end." Reaching out to stroke the face of his son…their son, he looked into the emerald eyes of his lover, his fiancée, his future wife. "It's a lousy way to spend it, but Merry Christmas, Shay."
Her grip on the boy loosened as she held him fast with one arm and raised the other to John's face. "It's the perfect way to spend the holidays. A holiday of giving, right?" At his nod, she smiled a true, genuine smile. "Well, Merry Christmas Rex, we give you life. And you, John…Merry Christmas, I give you our son." She gently raised the infant to lay him gently in John's arms as he settled back against the back of the bed.
With two arms held securely around Rex's tiny form, John watched in fatherly pride as the newborn's green eyes slid closed and the child fell into a content sleep. Shayera snuggled next to the Lantern as she wrapped an arm through his left arm and laid her head on his shoulder.
Closing her eyes she said the only thing that came to mind: "Lord knows what all I had to go through to get him to you."