The first through the door to the hospital room were Tom and Mike, though the red 'bot had him beat by far. He nearly crashed into the window but swerved just in time to propel himself away, but ended up knocking into Mike. The two went down and then were stepped on by Crow and slithered over by Gypsy, the latter of who went straight to Joel while the former stared at the woman lying on the bed, propped up against several pillows.
There was a bundle of blankets held in her arms, but both her and Joel's attentions were distracted by the entrance of the group. Cambot did a few circles before immediately zooming up to the bed, causing Joel to swat him away.
"Come on honey, calm down, you can see perfectly fine from there…"
Crow and Tom (now hovering next to his gold counterpart) were at the foot of the bed, peering curiously. Joel looked at the two and smiled before stealing a glance at Mike and Bridget, who were hanging back to let the robots see.
"So…" Crow stood up on his toes, "That's…it?"
"I thought there'd be more gross stuff," Tom offered, to which Mike batted him on the dome. "Hey!"
"No, they cleaned all that up," Laura replied with a laugh, shifting her arms. "Joel honey, you want to hold her for them to see…?"
"Oh…sure, yeah." The inventor leaned over and carefully took the baby from his wife's arms, gently cradling it in his arms. "Alright you guys…this is your new sister."
"Sister?!" Gypsy repeated excitedly. "You're not lying?! A girl?!"
Joel chuckled. "Yes, that's what I mean…"
"What's her name?" Bridget piped up as her and Mike shimmied their way closer to the bed, taking Crow's and Tom's spots as they now stood next to their father.
"How cute!" Bridget chimed in delight, grabbing onto Mike's arm. He simply nodded approvingly, much too focused to say anything.
"Look Sophie," Joel cooed, stooping down for the 'bots to be able to see. They stared at the bundle in sheer fascination, mouths agape at the small mass that suddenly twitched to life and squirmed. They backed away, but soon crawled back when a tiny hand twitched into the air. "Hey, c'mon guys, she wants to see you…"
Tom and Crow peered cautiously at the baby. The gold 'bot slowly lifted his own lanky arm up and moved to touch her hand, but before he could, she grabbed his and held on tight.
"Ah! Ahhh! Joel Joel Joel she's got me she's going to kill me I just know –"
"No no, calm down honey, she just likes you, that's all!"
It took a moment for Crow to breathe normally, at which point he looked at Sophie and opened his jaw wider into an impromptu smile. "She's…she's cute." He then used his free hand to tickle the baby's chin. "Aww…who's a good human? Yes you are! Yes! Awww yes!"
"Hey c'mon, stop hogging her!" Tom whined, bumping Crow aside. He extended his hand, which Sophie took with great interest and tugged at. The springs creaked out as she pulled, hitting the red 'bot with the slightest of recoils when she let go.
Gypsy extended her neck up and over Joel's shoulder to get a better look. Sophie stared up at the purple 'bot, her eyes wide as the robot inched closer. But just as soon as she opened her mouth, Joel could see what might've happened and pushed Gypsy away.
"Be careful honey," he murmured before Cambot zoomed over and swerved in an orbital pattern around the baby. Her eyes followed him perfectly before she reached up and managed to grab onto his lens, throwing the camerabot off-balance and into a mild panic.
There was minor mass chaos as the four robots suddenly became entangled in a myriad of panicked beeps, swift movements to avoid being hit, and a baby that was having more fun in a few minutes that most had in a whole month. Joel held onto the baby tighter, ducking and dodging while the four robots screamed in terror. Finally, however, the process of parenthood kicked in.
"OUT!" he shouted, stomping his foot on the ground. "Guys, I'm sorry, but this is – this is just too much…and she's now – oh she's…asleep." He sighed before handing her back to Laura. "Why don't you…get something to eat at the cafeteria or something…"
The four looked defeated, staring from their father to their new sister and back.
"Oh…kay…" was all Gypsy said quietly before they sullenly left the room. Mike and Bridget hung back, waiting to see what would be desired of them, but all Joel did was sink into the chair next to the bed and rub his tired eyes.
"You okay there?" Mike asked, shifting the weight on his feet. Joel nodded without looking up, sighing.
"I'm…fine…" He looked at his wife, smiling weakly. "You okay?"
"I'm fine, dear." She glanced down at the baby cradled in her arms and smiled before turning back to her husband. "Joel…"
"I think you need to talk to our other four kids there."
He sighed. "No…"
Laura raised her eyebrows. "No? Excuse me?"
"It's…I mean…" Joel sighed. "What am I supposed to do? What can I tell them? We've got a newborn baby here! I don't want her getting hurt, that's all..."
"But you hurt them. Can't you just…I don't know. Go down there and explain it over some chocolate pudding or something?"
"I…I don't…I don't know if I can..." The inventor stared sweetly at his daughter, brushing a finger against her cheek. It was so big in comparison…but she would grow. She would learn, slowly but surely, and then be able to perceive the world around her. She would walk, speak, play, and observe…
"Hey." The parents looked at Mike, who had his hands in his pockets. "You know…I can talk to them. I was their surrogate dad for five years."
"Thank you Mike, but Joel should –"
"No…let him do it." He sunk further into the chair. "I'm not sure I could even make it down there without falling asleep on a water fountain."
The blonde grinned. "Take it easy. I'll go talk to the 'bots."
A few moments after Mike left, his fiancé went after him, giving a nod to the two new parents. Joel deftly lifted his hand as a sign of farewell before completely collapsing, slumping his head onto the bed. Laura wiggled her fingers out from the crook of her arm and stroked his hair.
"Mmm?" he managed to groan out, his face smushed into the bed coverings.
"Do you remember…when I met the robots?"
"And how frightened I was?"
"But they were just as afraid because they didn't know what I was."
"I was something new to them."
"They take change hard Joel, that much I've gathered." She paused very briefly before saying, "And if you just mumble something again I swear I'm going to smother you to death."
Joel turned his head, his mouth free from the blankets. "Alright…"
"Good boy. And you know, a baby is huge for them. World-shattering. And they…don't really know what it means."
Laura grinned. "I remember it too well…You had told me about them, slowly but surely, and about your adventures in space…It was hard to believe but there was nothing else I could do. So I believed it. And then that day came, when you took me to go meet them…I couldn't believe it."
"You kidding? They sure didn't look like robots."
"But they didn't look legit, that's what I'm saying. I mean, you did build them from the parts you had lying around…"
"Okay," Joel conceded defeat, closing his eyes. "What about it?"
"Nothing…it's just that it took them a while to accept me as, well, something permanent that wasn't going to go away just because they didn't like me. But you know what…what made me really happy?"
"Hmm – I-I mean, what did?"
"When we were married…and the first thing that changed with them…was when they called me Mom. I wasn't just Laura anymore."
"'cause you were Laura Robinson…"
"That's not what I mean you doof," she said, flicking his head. "What I'm saying is…You need to tell them you still love them."
"But – I do…"
"They need to hear it from you, okay honey?"
Mike and Bridget found the 'bot sullenly eating the remnants of tapioca pudding at a table in the corner of the cafeteria. There was but one person on duty, and he appeared more than curious by the scrapheap figures that had come in to eat. Relief spread to his face when the two humans joined the robots.
"Hey you guys," Bridget greeted softly as she sat, sliding in-between Gypsy and Crow. "Anything good?"
"Pudding and coffee," Crow mumbled. "And it's not really all that great…" The gold 'bot slumped in his chair, spoon sliding into the mess of off-white pudding in the plastic cup. "Guhh…we screwed up big time, didn't we?"
"No you didn't," Mike said as he sat himself between Gypsy and Tom. Cambot was hovering around quietly, investigating the cracks in the walls to occupy his thoughts.
"We obviously did, since we got kicked out and everything," Servo replied with a depressed huff.
"Okay, c'mon, give him a break," the blonde shot back. "The guy's been awake since like, five this morning and has been running thorough this whole day. He's tired, just as anyone in their right mind would be."
"Joel's never really in his right mind," Crow said. Bridget patted his shoulder, smiling but rolling her eyes.
"Okay, so then – imagine that state of mind, coupled with being a new father and then dealing with the stress of making sure she stays safe. That's enough to drive anyone over the edge."
"You saying we're dangerous?"
"Oh come on, I know you guys are." Mike began bringing up memories. "Exploding things, breaking things, burning things, nearly killing things…"
"Says you, mister Mike Nelson Destroyer of Worlds," Servo shot back.
"And you wanna know something? Those were three planets in the future, which means that they exist right now and that I didn't blow them up, so ha! Eat me!"
"Joel's not mad at you," Bridget pressed, choosing to ignore the argument as to whether or not her fiancé had, in fact, blown up three planets or not. "He's just…he's not, okay?"
"…He's going to leave us again," Gypsy finally spoke. "Just like he did that one time…and then the other time."
There was silence, which was bogged down in more silence until a total blanket of awkwardness hung over them. Mike looked at Bridget, who for once was out of comforting things to say. The 'bots resumed their sullen eating of the pudding before the humans stood up to investigate what drinks there were available.
"Maybe we could run away from home," Crow mumbled, setting his spoon down. "We could live off the money Gypsy's making with her company, go out on our own, be swinging bachelors in a condo on the beach…"
"Oh I don't know…"
"GAH!" The 'bots leapt (and beeped) at the mellow human voice that had spoken. Joel had managed to sneak in the entrance and go the table unnoticed, but now he stood, his presence commanding them all like a father at a family meeting.
"Mind if I take a seat?" Joel asked, though it really meant nothing as he slid down in the chair formally occupied by Bridget. "So wha'cha eating?"
"Tapioca pudding," Servo replied. "It's not very good, you want it?"
"Uh, no, I think I'm okay –"
"You kidding?" Crow cut in. "You need to be attached to an IV with straight caffeine."
"Oh, right, that thing."
Joel smiled. "Yeah, I can't wait to take a nap but…I want to make sure we're all right here."
"Well, beyond the pudding I'd say we –"
"No it's…you guys know…" He sighed, averting his gaze to the table. "I'm sorry about yelling at you earlier. I didn't mean to make you guys upset. It's just…babies aren't like you guys. They're very…delicate."
"Delicate? They're so squishy-looking they're like the Michelin man! It's like they have their own protective coating or something."
"Yeah, but they don't. See, their bones are still developing, even after they're born…and uh…they just um…they're just fragile."
"…If I find a sticker that says 'Fragile: Handle with Care', can I put it on her?"
"No Tommy, you can't."
"…So she's…she's really it, huh."
"Yeah, pretty much. She isn't going anywhere, and…neither are you guys."
"Uh, says me, your father?"
"Ugh, I hate it when you use that card…"
With his arms able to support the weight of a baby, Crow walked around the hospital room the next morning, little Sophia Robinson in tow. She seemed quite content with the situation, making a few reaches for his bowling-pin beak, but only barely able to graze it. He returned the baby to her mother before observing her keenly.
"So is this all babies do Joel?" he asked, looking up.
"Sleep, eat, and poop, yeah. What did you expect?"
"I dunno, tricks?" Tom suggested. "You know…roll over…"
"Guys, it's a baby, not a dog," Mike quipped.
"What's the difference?"
"Well for star – ugh, never mind." He shook his head before feeling a tug on his arm. Turning around, he saw Bridget staring at the baby with a gleam in her eyes. It was something new…something he hadn't seen before. He gulped. "Uh…wha-what is it honey…?"
"Mike I…I want one."
"Be careful, Mike couldn't raise an earthworm," Crow said darkly. "Though he can raise you a delicious snack, heh heh…"
"We wouldn't eat it…"
"Hey, there's an idea, baby eating…"
"Crow!" the whole room snapped. The gold 'bot went on the defensive.
"Hey, I'm just sayin'! I mean, think about it – the cuter the animal, the better it tastes, right? I mean, veal and stuff? So on that note…baby must be delicious!"
"CROW!" they hollered.
"That's it – no baby time for you for the rest of the hour." Joel began to scoot him out of the room. "Out out out."
"But – but hey! I was just - !"
The inventor snapped the door shut, which was immediately knocked on by the robot locked outside. Smiling, he looked at his daughter before suddenly laughing.
"This kid…has quite a future," he said before opening the door a crack. "You ready to behave?"
"Good. Now stand over there – get your sister, I want to get a group shot of all my kids here…"