Chapter 5: When A Child Is Born
A/N: Kalxti everyone! This is the last and final chapter of 'The Greatest Gift'. Finally, I know, especially since I've dragged this supposed 'two-shot' for five chapters. Anyway, many thanks to all you readers and faithful reviewers (you know who you are), for your endless support and kind words. So enough of my rambling, I now give you chapter five!
P.S If you're upset this is the last chapter though; you can take comfort in the fact that it is extra long.
RECAP: She smiled bashfully up at me and her cheeks darkened, "You are very handsome, Jake. The night we met, I hated you for what you were, but I could not deny that you were good-looking."
I grinned cheekily at her and placed my hands on her hips, drawing her closer to me until her round belly was pressed against mine, "Was that part of the reason you brought me back to the clan? So you could keep me?"
She scoffed loudly and rolled her eyes yet again, "Do not flatter yourself, Jakesully. I would have left you behind, handsome or not, if Eywa had not sent me a sign."
"And you would have regretted it." I retorted smartly, kissing her forehead lovingly.
"Maybe, one cannot regret what one does not know of." Neytiri replied, tilting her head upward to kiss me softly. She smiled and giggled, her hands falling to stroke her swollen belly. "Our son is happy. He can feel our love."
I smiled and caressed her stomach. I could not wait until our son was born. It would be soon and I was prepared to welcome someone else into my life; someone else besides Neytiri whom I would protect and guard with my life. When I was younger as a human, having children wasn't something that I was keen on, and after I was paralysed it didn't seem like a possibility anyway. But now on Pandora with a renewed life and renewed hope, I was ready to be a father.
*** JAKE & NEYTIRI ***
Neytiri screamed, the shrill sound piercing my eardrums and sending pang after pang of fear shooting through my gut. I gripped her shaking hand in both of mine, willing her to fight the pain, to carry on and never give up. Beads of sweat trickled down her face and her body shook with spasms and pants.
"Jake," She whispered exhaustedly, her head falling back against the wall and lolling to the side to face me. The exhaustion was eminent in her golden orbs and I felt my heart drop like a dead weight into my stomach. Her grip was loosening and I swallowed my fear. Neytiri was giving up. The hot tears left sticky trails down her cheeks and I pressed her hand to my mouth, willing her to keep pushing.
"Neytiri, you can do this!" I urged desperately, reaching out and wiping her tears away with my thumb, "Please Neytiri, fight the pain! Fight it! Keep pushing it'll be over soon enough! Just please, don't give up, don't- Please-"
She was so tired; so worn out. She had been struggling to push the baby from her body for nearly eighteen hours now and the ordeal had taken a great toll upon her both physically and mentally. Mo'at was chanting prayers in an eerie monotone from her position in front of Neytiri's spread legs.
"This is hard, Jake." Neytiri breathed, her voice raspy and barely even a whisper. More tears ensued as her face became a grimace of pain and she heaved as hard as she could. "I am sorry, Jake. I cannot-"
"YES you can!" I half-yelled, my own tears stinging my eyes, "You CAN do this, Neytiri! For our son! For me!" She was a strong woman, she would pull through this! She wouldn't let something as simple as childbirth pull her down. Giving up was not in her nature; it just wasn't part of the Neytiri I knew.
Neytiri drew a slow breath and she gave a great push, crying out in the process before the cries of a baby filled the air around me. However, not even hearing my son's first cries could halt the fear rising in my chest as I saw Neytiri's eyes droop and her head loll to the side limply. No. NO! I shook her frame roughly, hoping to elicit a response from her as my own cries of her name tore hoarsely from my throat. Neytiri slumped lifelessly into my arms and I threw my head back in anguish, cradling her in my arms, before letting out a defeated wail.
"No! NOOO! Neytiri-"
"Jake!" I called out, grabbing his broad shoulders and shaking him in an attempt to rouse him, "Jake, awaken!"
"NOOO! Neytiri! NEYTIRI! AAAAAARRRGGHH!"
"Jake, awaken! You are dreaming!" I exclaimed frantically, cupping his face with both hands and kissing both his eyes as his lean body writhed beneath me.
Despite my attempts to wake him, however, he continued to toss violently, calling out my name in the process. His handsome face was contorted into a permanent mask of torment as his nightmare raged on. A light sheen of perspiration coated his forehead and in sheer desperation, I raised my hand and smacked him hard across the face.
Jake's eyes snapped open, darting around wildly as his chest heaved with his heavy breaths, "Aaaah! Neytiri!" Immediately, his strong arms coiled around me, crushing me to his chest above him in a vice-like grip as he buried his face into my hair. His breathing was ragged and I could hear him sobbing into my ear. Quietly, I soothed him, stroking the sides of his face, as I wondered what my fate had been in his nightmare to have made him scream my name, with such agony, in his sleep like that.
I felt one of his hands fly to clutch at my swollen belly before it relaxed upon feeling its roundness.
"I am here, Jake, it is alright. I am here." I soothed gently, before I wriggled, trying to pull away.
However, Jake's grip on me only tightened further and his voice cracked as he begged me not to pull away, "N-No don't- just s-stay, stay-"
He was so frightened, and he clung to me like a terrified child clinging to his mother after a nightmare. I could feel his body trembling beneath me and I nuzzled the side of his cheek, before wriggling a little to the side so I was lying on my side with one leg thrown over him instead of resting on my belly atop him, which was a rather awkward position due to my bulging belly.
"Neytiri," Jake whimpered, pressing my frame against him as he took a deep breath of my scent.
"Shhh, it was just a bad dream, my Jake. Go back to sleep. It is still night." I said tenderly, my left palm flat against his chest just above his heart with my thumb stroking against his damp skin. As much as I yearned to ask him what his nightmare held, his breathing had begun to even out again and I knew he was drifting back to sleep. I kissed his shoulder and let my own drowsiness wash over me. I would ask him in the morning.
*** JAKE & NEYTIRI ***
The bright light of morning was red behind my eyelids as I awoke and squinted in the blinding glare. Instinctively, I extended one arm out, feeling around for my beloved Jake, but to my surprise found nothing but air. Sitting upright I looked around and found Jake sitting by the entrance of our alcove, elbows resting on his bent knees, staring at me expressionlessly.
"Good morning, my Jake." I greeted tenderly, flashing him a loving smile as a yawn tugged at the corners of my mouth.
Jake smiled a small smile and returned my greeting, "Good morning, my love." He got to his feet and came back to the bed, sitting down and kissing me lightly on the lips. Up close, I could see the worry behind his casual façade and I could also see that he had not slept peacefully last night, not even after his nightmare.
I reached up and caressed his cheek adoringly, watching as he leant into my touch, his own hand cupping my hand against his cheek. Turning his face inward toward my palm, he kissed it and I chuckled at the ticklish sensation. However, the light moment was gone as swiftly as it came when Jake spoke.
"I dreamt you died last night." Jake said gravely, his eyes downcast and unwilling to meet mine, "I dreamt you died giving birth."
A frown etched itself deep in-between his eyes and his nostrils flared. My own eyebrows furrowed and I sighed, "Oh Jake." As silly as I thought he was being for letting a mere nightmare irk him, I knew the fear was very real for him. I had seen it with my own eyes the night before. How he trembled all over and clutched my body to him as if I would be snatched away from him if he didn't.
Jake shook his head and his frown deepened, his thin lips pursing into an unhappy line, "You screamed so much… so loudly. And I-I couldn't do a-anything to help you-"
His words poured rapidly from his lips, each word more hysterical than the last as he began to stutter. The fear from before had crept back into his eyes and I cupped my hands on either side of his face, stroking his cheeks in an attempt to soothe him. Breaths of air escaped him as quickly as they had entered and his balled fists shook by his sides.
Reaching behind me I took hold of my queue and held it out to him, knowing that sharing his fear would allow me to both understand and alleviate it, "Show me, my Jake."
With trembling hands, he connected our queues and the moment Tsa'haylu was made, his fear washed over me like an icy draft. A woman's laboured wails resounded in the confines of our joint bond, and within me I could feel our son grow very still, shrinking into the warmth of my love and away from the horrible feeling that was currently present in the bond.
Jake's forehead met mine and his arms grasped the back of mine tightly. The hoarse screams continued and I could see beginnings of Jake's nightmare as he fought to focus on a single image. The blurry images focussed and the corners grew in clarity until finally it was there, as clear as Jake had dreamt it.
I saw Jake, kneeling by the form of a young woman wailing away in the pangs of childbirth. Her forehead was damp with sweat and the strands of her dark hair clung to her cobalt skin. It took me several seconds to realise that the wailing woman was me, and though I shouldn't have been surprised, I was. Jake's fear increased tenfold as the Neytiri in his nightmare emitted another hoarse scream and worked to birth her child.
I felt my mate's forehead shift against mine as he murmured in a raspy voice, "You were in so much pain, and you were so exhausted."
Through his memory I saw myself cry, whilst clutching my swollen belly, that I couldn't hang on any longer. The Neytiri in his nightmare was not someone I recognised. Dark circles had drawn themselves around her eyes and her spirit waned as the pain wracked her frame. I focussed deeper on the images and discovered that the birth that Jake had pictured in his nightmare was nothing remotely like a Na'vi birth at all. The rituals were all wrong. That must have been how tawtute babies were born.
Jake was pleading with the Neytiri in his nightmare, begging her to carry on, and I saw the other version of myself shake her head wearily, tears flowing like rivers down her cheeks. Another burst of pain shot through her body and I saw her give a pained cry before the cries of a newborn child sounded.
"No," Jake whispered against my forehead as he pulled me flush against his body and showed me the very last image in his nightmare of him cradling my other self in his arms whilst he cried in anguish. It was just a dream, a mirage of his imagination and yet the fear was so very real within Jake. His heart raced far ahead of mine and his well-muscled arms crushed me against him.
"Shhh, it is alright." I cooed gently, nuzzling his throat and encircling his slim waist in my arms, "It is over. Forget about it."
I heard Jake take a deep breath and I could feel his fear dissipating, love and content stepping into its place.
Something that sounded a little bit like a scared whimper surfaced in our bond and I felt our son move within me. Immediately, Jake acknowledged the little one's presence and quickly whisked away any remnants of his nightmare, aware that it must have scared his unborn son. Our son was questioning us about the nightmare and I could feel his concern for me as he struggled to convey his meaning. I was moved beyond wonder at the intelligence of our child. He knew no words and yet his comprehension of emotions, and our presence, was vast. He must have recognised us in the nightmare.
Astonishment on Jake's part flooded our bond and I looked at my mate, who seemed astounded at the fact that his son recognised him in his nightmare.
"He knows me!" Jake exclaimed, "He knows what you and I look like!"
I laughed at the pure fascination that had replaced the fear on Jake's face, "Of course he does. You forget, Jake, that Tsa'haylu is a very powerful thing. When we are bonded, our son sees whatever we see in our head. He sees images of you in my thoughts and images of me in your thoughts."
Jake's eyes widened and he smiled, "So he's seen everything then, pretty much? I mean, he's constantly bonded to you, right? So if you can see what's outside here around us then you can show him all that too?"
I nodded, beaming at my handsome mate, "Yes. He knows the graceful Ikran, the gentle Pa'li, the fearsome Palulukan, and the mighty Toruk in addition to everything else. He will know who you are when he is born. As will he know me and my mother."
"That's so awesome." Jake remarked, still looking absolutely flabbergasted. Jake was such a big part of me and the Omaticaya now that I often forgot about his tawtute roots. He had learnt so much since he had first joined me and yet there was still much more that he didn't know of. I then remembered that I had to explain to him about Na'vi birthing rituals, and I hoped that once he understood them, he would not be so afraid when my time came to give birth.
*** JAKE & NEYTIRI ***
I watched as Neytiri moved to disconnect our queues, and I swiftly sent my unborn son an apology for scaring him followed by an image of me smiling, at the thought of having him, to show him my love. Neytiri kissed my jaw and smiled at me before she shifted so she could cross her legs on the bed, and patted the space in front of her, gesturing for me to sit facing her.
"Time for another lesson," Neytiri stated firmly, watching as I obediently sat cross-legged before her.
"What's the lesson topic for today?" I asked glumly, silently lamenting the fact that I would be sitting down for at least another hour, listening to Neytiri, instead of getting up and about amongst clan members.
My mate gave an exaggerated hiss in mock disapproval of my pessimistic approach and flicked one of my ears, "It is for your own good, my Jake. Today I will be teaching you about Na'vi birth rituals."
My ears pricked up at the subject. Well at least it would be an interesting lesson compared to learning Na'vi words and greetings. I cocked my head to the side and took a breath, "Fire away."
Neytiri began by reassuring me that my nightmare had been quite inaccurate to what a Na'vi birth resembled. Apparently, Na'vi babies were born quickly and easily. The mechanics and structure of the process were about the same; contractions would start, the amniotic sac would burst and that would be followed by the actual birthing. The only difference was that the entire ordeal, from the time of the first contraction to the baby's birth, never lasted more than a few hours.
The rituals were intriguing to say the least. As the clan's Tsahik, Mo'at would be present at the birth and would say three prayers. The first would be a prayer for the mother: that she would have an easy birth without complications. The second was for the baby: that it would be healthy and lead a good life. The third was for the parents: that they would raise their child well and teach it to respect and love Eywa. Along with that, Mo'at would be chanting to Eywa from time to time, thanking Eywa for blessing the couple with a child and for having granted the mother-to-be a fuss-free pregnancy.
I listened quietly like a diligent student for the first twenty minutes or so until Neytiri casually pointed out that during the entire ordeal, I would not actually be allowed to be with her or see her for that matter.
My jaw dropped, "What? Why not?"
"It is just not our custom, Jake." Neytiri reasoned gently upon seeing that the idea of not being able to be with her had upset me. "Besides, this child will be my gift to you. Tawtutes do not bring the person, they are giving the gift to, with them when it is being chosen or made do they? It is the same principle. Our son is my gift to you and therefore you cannot see him until he has been born, washed and wrapped in his birth cloth."
I pursed my lips and nodded, sort of understanding her point, "Kind of like how a tawtute gift cannot be seen until it has been chosen or made and wrapped in wrapping paper. I already know that your gift to me is a son though, so it wouldn't exactly be a surprise."
Neytiri's eyebrows furrowed as she pondered my reasoning, "Yes I suppose, but seeing your son for the first time face-to-face will be a surprise in itself, no?"
True. I knew I was going to be a father and that Neytiri's gift to me would be a baby, but I wouldn't know the individuality and uniqueness of my son until I saw him for the first time. Just like how you could tell a person you would be getting them a book or flowers, but they wouldn't know exactly what book or what kind of flowers until they saw their gift.
"Besides, you will be busy when my time comes." Neytiri continued, grinning at me, "All Na'vi males, who are going to be fathers, have to go to the Tree of Souls and collect atokirina (wood sprites) to place in the water of the birthing tub, and because our child's birth is the birth of the Olo'eyktan and future Tsahik's child, you will be even busier accepting gifts from clan members after that."
"Oh, what's the significance of putting atokirina in the tub water though?"
My mate smiled at me and rubbed her stomach lovingly, "It is so that the child is introduced to Eywa from the moment it is born."
The Na'vi way never ceased to render me awestruck. There was always such spirituality in everything the Na'vi did and every day as I journeyed and learned, I could more and more see the hand of Eywa in every detail of life. However, I was still upset and worried over my not being able to be by Neytiri's side during childbirth. Remnants of my nightmare darted through my mind and boldly, I refused to acknowledge my fear of losing Neytiri.
I worried my lower lip and looked at my mate, "So how many atokirina do I have to bring back?"
"You will have to pray to Eywa at the Tree of Souls. Ask her for guidance during fatherhood and pray for her blessing on our son. Collect any atokirina that you can find." Neytiri replied sweetly and maybe it was just my eyes, but the phosphorescent spots on her face seemed to be glowing extra bright today.
I sighed and touched my nose to hers forlornly, "It's just, every time I pictured you giving birth, I was there with you. It'll be hard staying away when I know you're in pain."
Neytiri scoffed softly and rested her hands on the left side of my chest, "You always underestimate me, Jake. I will be fine and you may not be with me in body but you will be with me in here." She rubbed the spot just above my heart, "Oel ngati kameie Jake."
A small smile danced across my thin lips as my heart soaked in the warmth of her love, "Oel ngati kameie Neytiri."
*** JAKE & NEYTIRI ***
The remainder of the day passed quickly and the clan gathered at the base of the Hometree around a bonfire for an evening of light frivolity. Apparently, Mo'at had decided it was time for the children schooling at Grace's school to show the Omaticaya what they had been learning.
"Oel ngati kameie." Norman greeted jovially, as he joined Neytiri and I, along with a rather intimidated looking Max, in the circle of Omaticaya closest to the bonfire. We returned the greeting whilst Mo'at simply smiled warmly at the two guests.
"What will the little ones be doing tonight, karyu Norman?" Mo'at asked curiously, offering Norman a platter of fruit, which he gratefully accepted with both hands.
"Well, we figured singing in English would be more entertaining than rattling off greetings one by one," Norman began, "So Max and I have compiled a little recital consisting of common songs and rhymes that all tawtute children would know by tradition."
"Ah, I look forward to it." Mo'at replied, before returning her attention to her dinner.
"Lighten up, Max." I chuckled, elbowing my human friend gently, who jumped at my reaction and gave a nervous chortle.
"Yeah well, this is one of the times when I wish I had been an avatar driver." Max lamented, "The children aren't as tall as the adults and I'm used to you and Norm towering over me, but now amongst the entire clan," He whistled, "I feel quite disadvantaged here."
His response elicited hearty laughs from all around us who heard and understood, leaving Max slightly embarrassed and looking like a relation of the tomato family.
Once dinner had concluded and the platters had been cleaned, cleared and kept, Norman and Max nervously gathered the students in their class and positioned them before the Omaticaya. Norman was never much of a public speaker and I could see him valiantly trying to conceal his nerves as he addressed the clan in fluent Na'vi.
The first song the class sang, much to my amusement was 'Baa baa black sheep' and I briefly had to describe what a sheep was to Neytiri and said I'd show her an image the next time we bonded. The class sang in strong, confident voices and other than the strange accent that all Na'vi had when speaking English, hit every note and got every word right. 'Baa baa black sheep' was followed by 'Twinkle twinkle little star' and the good old 'Alphabet song', however the clan was most amused when two older students then acted out a skit according to 'Jack and Jill (went up the hill)'.
"Tawtutes have interesting songs. They are not like the songs we sing." Mo'at remarked casually, leaning in to whisper into my ear as she did so.
I grinned at her and shrugged nonchalantly, "That's because these songs are just for fun. They don't have any spiritual meaning to them. They're just sung for the fun of it."
The clan's Tsahik looked surprised before she nodded in understanding. I felt Neytiri snake an arm around my right arm, hugging it to her chest as she leant into me, stroking her stomach absentmindedly as she watched the little ones sing. I could almost see her thoughts running through her head. Soon, we would have our own little one to teach and nurture, and watch as he matured.
The highlight of the students' recital didn't come until the very end, however, and as Max introduced the last and final item for the night, I couldn't help but break out into a wide smile. All the students in the class sat down, and a lone young female remained standing: little Kitxka. Max introduced her and said that with his and Norm's help, Kitxka had managed to write an English song that was dedicated to the many we had lost in the recent war and spoke of the ignorance of the Sky People who did not see.
All eyes were on the little female, but as she started to sing, the clan broke out into cheers and claps as her ethereal voice carried through the wind.
You think you own whatever land you land on.
The world is just a dead thing you can claim,
But I know every rock and tree and creature
Has a life, has a spirit, has a name.
The Ikran and the Pa'li are my brothers,
The Toruk and the Angtsìk are my friends.
And we are all connected to each other
In circle, in a hoop that never ends.
How high can the Kelutrel grow?
If you cut it down
Then you will never know
And you will never hear the Nantang cry to the blue corn moon
Or let the Toruk tell you where he has been
Can you sing with all the voices of our Mother?
Can you paint with all the colours of wind?
Can you paint with all the colours of the wind?
The entire clan clapped wildly, whooping as Kitxka closed the joyous evening on a high note, and I saw her smile shyly, blushing when I winked at her. Mo'at and Neytiri seemed pleased with the work that Max and Norm had done as teachers, and out of the corner of my eye I could see Mo'at thanking them both.
Darkness had well and truly fallen by now and as the various families retreated to their alcoves, so did Neytiri and I. We said brief goodbyes to Norman and Max before retiring for the night.
Neytiri climbed into bed and I heard her curse silently under her breath, reaching around with one arm to rub her lower back. Sliding into bed after her, I shuffled until I was sitting behind her and began to knead my thumbs into her back.
My mate groaned in content, letting her head fall back to rest on my right shoulder, "Mm that is good."
I kissed the crook of her neck, "Is your back aching really badly?"
Neytiri nodded silently and sighed, "Yes, it has never been this bad before. I think it is a sign."
I froze, "A sign?"
My mate chuckled and grinned, "Yes. I think our son will be arriving soon."
Worry began creeping its way back into my mind again. I had a very big hunch that Neytiri was right and my instincts were telling me to be prepared, for 'soon' might be an understatement.
I continued massaging Neytiri's back, "Well tell me when the time comes, ok? Even if it happens during the night and I'm sleeping. Don't disappear and leave me to find out from your mother or someone else."
Neytiri chortled softly and shook her head against my shoulder, her eyes still closed, "You are beginning to worry again, my Jake. Trust in Eywa and have faith."
Even after Neytiri had fallen asleep I refused to go to sleep. I was more certain than ever now that tonight was the night, and no matter how my heavy eyelids threatened to close, I forced them to keep open. Despite Neytiri's reassurance, however, worry continued to plague me. My imagination kept revisiting hints of my nightmare and my fear of losing Neytiri was making a come back.
Eventually though, I must have fallen asleep, because the next time I opened my eyes, Neytiri was nudging me in the back.
"Jake," Neytiri croaked softly, prodding my back as my eyes blinked in confusion. It was still dark.
Neytiri nudged me again, and let out a small whimper of pain, "Jake, please, awaken. It is time."
*** JAKE & NEYTIRI ***
Everything from there had happened so quickly I almost didn't remember how I had gone from waking Jake to sitting in the tub of blessed water in my mother's alcove. My mother had sent Jake to collect the atokirina and he had planted a long kiss on my forehead, before reluctantly leaving, knowing that the next time he would see me was when it was all over.
Another wave of fire seared across my swollen belly and I squeezed my eyes shut, a groan slipping out from behind my clenched teeth as my hands gripped the sides of the wooden tub. I had to admit, that when I had told Jake that giving birth would not be difficult, I had not known of what I spoke. The pain was crippling, like sharp stabs knifing their away through my torso, and with each stab that went by I felt a little bit of my energy escape me.
"Breathe deeply, Neytiri." Mey'ral advised in Na'vi, as she sponged my forehead with some cloth soaked in cold water. Mey'ral had offered to be my source of moral support when my time came, and I was glad that she did, as not only was she one of my best friends, but she was also a mother and could relate to my condition.
I sucked in a slow breath but it was lost as quickly as it came when I gasped and cried out through another bout of searing pain. I swore the pain was intensifying. It hadn't been even half as sharp as this when I had woken Jake earlier. It was not time for me to start pushing yet, however. The pushing only came at the very end, just as the baby was about to be born, so now I just had to sit and endure the pain.
Jake had been gone for a while now and briefly I wondered what was taking him so long with gathering the atokirina. My mother currently stood outside her alcove, awaiting his return. I could hear the sounds of clan members gathering at the base of the Hometree as the news of my labour spread and I felt a little guilty for waking them up at such an hour.
"I'm so happy for you, Neytiri." Mey'ral half-squealed and she reached to take one of my hands in hers. "You will have your own little bundle of joy by morning and our clan will have a little prince to celebrate."
I smiled tiredly, wincing as another wave of pain hit me. Yes the pain would all be worth it when I held my baby for the first time, and saw Jake's joy at my gift to him. Time continued to pass and the pain just intensified even more to the point where I could feel tears stinging my eyes with each stab of pain I endured.
"You're doing well, Neytiri. You're nearing the end." Mey'ral said knowingly, squeezing my hand in hers and brushing a strand of damp hair out of my face, "I just hope Jakesully arrives soon."
Sure enough I heard shuffling outside and in true Jake fashion, I heard him arrive even before I saw his feet appear in the gap between the hanging door cloth and the ground just outside the alcove.
He was breathing heavily as though he had been running and I heard him say, "I got back as quickly as I could. I tried to get as many of them as possible but they descended upon me in the hundreds and the bag you gave me wasn't big enough."
I heard my mother laugh in amusement before saying, "Oh my Jakesully, Eywa definitely approves of you. Now you must go down and accept the gifts of those who offer them to you. Go-"
"No wait," Jake interjected, "H-How's Neytiri? Is she alright?"
Each of his words was laced with worry and concern, and my tears like rain brewing in a storm finally fell as I relished the sound of his husky voice. My heart suddenly yearned for him to be with me, but I knew better than to request it so I called out a reply to his question, "I am fine, Jake. Now listen to my mother and go. I will see you soon, my Jake."
"Ok, I love you."
And that was all my mate managed to say before my mother hurried him away and entered the alcove carrying a small sack that was stuffed very full, supposedly of atokirina. My eyes widened as my mother opened the sack and drew out handful after handful of the white seeds, scattering them into the water around me. She chuckled, shaking her head at the sheer amount of atokirina in the sack. Even Mey'ral looked astounded.
The pain had ceased searing across my belly for the meantime and I was allowed to let out a hearty laugh, "The atokirina have always had an affinity for Jake. You should have seen him the night I found him, Sa'nu. He looked like he was wearing them all over him!"
"It is good that you didn't kill him." My mother remarked humorously, "Or we'd all be with Eywa now and you wouldn't be bearing him a son right now."
Mey'ral beamed at me, "You're so lucky. Eywa has blessed you with a wonderful mate and judging by all those atokirina, I daresay your son will be equally or more blessed."
The reminder of my son seemed to bring the pain back, this time with ten times the intensity and I could not stop a scream tearing from my throat. I felt the pressure in my body shift from my stomach to between my legs and I knew it was time.
*** JAKE & NEYTIRI ***
I wasn't focussing on the gifts that clan members were presenting to me anymore. With each scream that resounded above me, my heart pounded faster than before and my fear increased. I had received an assortment of swaddling blankets from various families, short strings of beads and feathers strung together for what I assumed to be hair ornaments, tiny choker necklaces, along with an elaborate basket for the baby to sleep in, woven by Mey'ral's mate Pükxra.
I had thanked each and every member as they brought the gifts to me, but my mind and heart were far away with Neytiri in her mother's alcove. Many Na'vi babies had been born between the time I had joined the clan and the present and not once had I ever heard screams whenever a female was giving birth. I had voiced that concern to Pükxra and he assured me that some did scream, and the reason I hadn't heard was because I slept like I was dead and probably wouldn't hear anything unless I was awake.
"Mawey (Calm) Olo'eyktan," advised one of the other males, grinning coolly at me as he held his own toddler son in his arms.
"I'm trying trust me." I replied in Na'vi as I swallowed the lump in my throat, "How long does it usually take? The whole process?"
Pükxra shrugged beside me, "It depends, but it usually takes between three to five hours."
I looked out into the horizon, where the morning light was slowly beginning to cast its golden rays across the lush Pandoran landscape. It had been almost five hours surely. After all, I had spent an insane amount of time at the Tree of Souls trying to stuff all the wood sprites into the small sack that Mo'at had handed me.
A hoarse scream echoed around the Hometree and I flinched, digging my nails into my knees where I sat. Silence followed for what seemed like an eternity before the unmistakable sound of a baby crying bounced off the interior of the Hometree. The clan erupted in loud cheers and whistles, and I was climbing up the internal trunks of the Hometree toward Neytiri before anyone could stop me.
It was as if I couldn't move fast enough and the moment my feet touched the ground of the level Mo'at's alcove was on, I darted through the entrance, skidding to a halt before Neytiri who was lying on a makeshift bed. I knelt down beside her and kissed her full on the lips.
Mey'ral trilled with laughter at the sight and joked lightly, "I wish Pükxra had done that when Sevin was born."
Mo'at was just finishing wrapping something in her arms and she clicked her tongue disapprovingly, "Pükxra followed my instructions and waited for my call. You need to learn the value of patience, Jakesully."
However, Mo'at's voice was just a buzz in the background as I nuzzled Neytiri and kissed her again. Her eyes showed her weariness but even that could not conceal her joy and relief. She stroked my cheek and beamed at me, the spots of her face sparkling like stars against the cobalt sky, "He is beautiful Jake."
I turned, my entire being buzzing with anticipation as Mo'at smiled and handed me the small bundle wrapped in a cloth. Cradling it in my arms, I shifted the blankets a little and was met with a small blue face, with small button nose and tiny pointed ears. My breath hitched as I gasped and I could feel my cheeks aching as I smiled from ear to ear at my baby son. His small eyes fluttered open to meet mine and a soft gurgle escaped him.
Neytiri sniffed in the corner and I knew she was crying. Shifting the blankets even more I noticed his tiny little hands with four fingers, his tiny belly-button and round stomach and his tiny little… oh well no matter, from a small acorn grows a great oak after all, he would grow to be a strong, virile male.
I peeked from the other end of the blankets and spotted his little tail with a tuft at the end and tiny feet with four toes. Neytiri was right. He was beautiful and absolutely perfect.
"I see you, my son." I whispered to him, my eyes swimming with tears of joy as he smiled a little at me.
"You can name him," Neytiri croaked from the corner, sniffling and wiping her tears away from the back of her hand.
I looked around the room before settling my eyes on Neytiri and realised that I had been so engrossed with my newborn son that I hadn't noticed Mo'at and Mey'ral leave the alcove. Crossing the alcove I sat down next to Neytiri, shifting my son in my arms so his head was resting in my hands and his body was resting on my forearms, facing me.
"Don't you have any ideas on names?" I asked Neytiri, kissing her on the cheek and then doing the same to my son.
Neytiri shook her head, "I do not really care for names. It does not matter to me what he is called. It only matters to me what he will grow up to be and accomplish."
My baby son yawned and his little golden eyes began to slide shut. I looked at his tiny face and saw hints of myself; hints of Tom, but I didn't want to call him 'Thomas', it didn't seem fitting or Na'vi enough in my opinion. Then I thought of Tsu'tey, my other brother whom I had lost in battle and then the name hit me: Tsu'tom.
"Tsu'tom," I mumbled before looking up at Neytiri and smiling, "We should name him Tsu'tom!"
Neytiri understood how I had come up with the name in an instant and she grinned at me in approval, "Tsu'tom. I like it."
*** JAKE & NEYTIRI ***
The melodious chorus of the Omaticaya singing filled the Hometree and I watched like a proud father as Mo'at blessed my son. Neytiri sat beside me, looking radiant after recovering from her exhausting ordeal three days before and as Mo'at smeared some yellow ochre across Tsu'tom's forehead, she gestured for Neytiri and I to step forward.
Mo'at handed me the baby and carefully I lifted him up in my arms and held him high, "My people, this is your prince!" The clan cheered in reply, some whistling loudly. "May Eywa bless and watch over him." I continued before I roared his name exuberantly, "Tsu'tom!"
"Tsu'tom!" Neytiri cried beside me, punching her fist into the air as the clan members got to their feet applauding and beginning a chant of my son's name. In the far corner of the Hometree I spotted my two friends, Norm and Max, and I returned their waves whilst grinning toothily at them.
I brought little Tsu'tom back into my arms and embraced him. The baby boy smiled a gummy smile and I laughed, pulling Neytiri in for a passionate kiss. All's well that ends well.
And yes, Neytiri's gift to me was definitely the best gift I had ever received.
*** JAKE & NEYTIRI ***
A/N: Whoa finally. Honestly, this chapter took me so long to write, hence the almost two week gap between the last chapter and this one. Sorry for the wait guys and I hope this chapter wasn't too bad. I can't help but feel like I've let you guys down with this chapter. Thank you to all of you for all your support and if you have read this story, please do drop a line in a review and tell me your thoughts. It really makes my day when you do. :D
Also yes this is the end of this story, however, as I have mentioned before I will be doing little spin-off oneshots on Jake's journey through fatherhood off this story. Any ideas for oneshots you'd like me to attempt are very welcome, leave a review and let me know your requests.
All aspects of Na'vi culture in this story are purely my creation. 'Kitxka', 'Pükxra' and 'Mey'ral' are all names that I have invented. What I do not own however, is the song that Kitxka sings in this story. I'm sure many of you will have noticed that it is simply 'Colours of the Wind' from Walt Disney's 'Pocahontas' with the lyrics tweaked to fit the story. :P So all credit for that goes to Disney.
There are lots of similarities between 'Pocahontas' and 'Avatar' though, and I also find that 'Dances with Wolves' has a lot of common themes. Anyway enough of my rambling, it'd be nice to hear from you, and once again THANK YOU!
P.S Sorry for any typo-errors or funny sentence structures. If you do spot one please review and point it out. It is much appreciated and easier for me to correct them if you tell me where they are exactly. :D