Author's Notes: As some of my friends out here know, I have been dealing with infertility issues that have been hindering my chances of having a second child. This story is inspired by the son I had been blessed with and is derived from my memories of holding him for the first time, nearly three years ago.
Summary: Jango Fett comes to terms with being a father as he holds baby Boba for the first time.
Disclaimer: I make no money, and I only write about what I enjoy. Everything belongs to George Lucas, and I merely visit the playground that is his galaxy. The Mando'a words were taken from Karen Traviss' Mando'a language, and the opening quote can be found on the Wookiepedia website, under the entry pertaining to Jango Fett.
A Simple Beginning
I want the first clone for myself, unmodified.
As I make my way down the barren, white hallway to the quiet and secluded room, I ponder over the concept that this is probably one of the most unusual births anyone would ever witness. Instead of standing beside a female partner in a sterile medical room, fighting off the potential hysterics that normal birthing is known to cause, I am merely summoned by the comm. board in my room that the time has come and my prompt attendance is expected.
When I get to the room, there is only one male Kaminoan doctor here to greet me, and I cannot say I've ever encountered him before but I don't bother asking his name either. His identity is irrelevant to me as I watch his large, black eyes blink slowly in that oval head of his. I hate having the feeling of looking up at this species, but their long necks give me no other choice. I'd rather keep an eye on their expressionless faces, trying to guess exactly what goes on in their overly proud minds, than waste my time thinking they are beings who do kind things out of the graciousness of their hearts. Even I know they're far too clinical and meticulous to know what kindness truly means.
Making myself forget about Kaminoans once again, I had already inventoried that there is no midwife, no anesthesiologist, and no medical droid present in the room. Most unusual of all is that there is no sharing this moment with a laboring woman, no one with whom I have created an attachment and a life. This birth is merely clinical and uncomplicated. It's nothing more than a simple beginning.
My attention on my thoughts is quickly distracted as the Kaminoan doctor motions for me to sit on one of the comfortably padded chairs next to a table that is neatly littered with pre-packaged infant formula, a pile of stark white blankets, and a couple linens that are sized for something so small I wonder if they're for another species.
The doctor sets himself up near another table that is full of towels and medical supplies, arranging the items in an order that only he seems to comprehend while he tells me to drape a large, sterile sheet over my clothing, at least until the initial examination has been completed and all chances of contamination have passed.
Another Kaminoan, a female this time, wheels in the vat full of fluid and the small child within. Her movements are graceful as ever as she pushes the artificial womb towards the doctor. Amazingly, I realize none of the fluid spills over the edges of the open vat, and I decide that I would rather not waste time thinking about Kaminoans and their graceful abilities any longer as I bring my eyes to the baby boy that they created for me.
While I look to his miniscule and compacted form, I remember how I had watched him slowly growing for the last nine months. The first few weeks were nothing spectacular. He was merely a cluster of cells that were so deformed from the human image that it meant very little to me. Somewhere in the third or fourth month, however, he began to change into a baby. Arms and legs sprouted, his head had evened out proportionally, and the tailbone absorbed into his back as his torso elongated.
Had I created this child traditionally, I never would have had the opportunity to watch this baby grow every day. I would have had to rely solely on scans and images taken from a partner that I would have had to put my faith in would have done everything right for a healthy child. The only thing I probably regret is that I wasn't able to feel this child making movements by placing my hand upon his vat. Hastily, I push that irrational thought away because I realize I had a better gift than feeling an unborn baby's movements. I watched – truly watched – the infant within the vat develop and grow.
Of course, now when I look at this baby, still floating within his cloning container, I see that he had been curled so tightly in the small vat that I wonder if he is even still alive.
The Kaminoan doctor quickly pulls on a pair of long, sterile gloves. He reaches into the vat and pulls out the baby, one hand tucked under the head and the other securing his small buttocks.
Moving without hesitation, the doctor and nurse settle the child onto the towels. They run vitals so quickly I can't even comprehend what they are doing. It is just a blur of towels and instruments. Then, I suddenly hear a cry, and it is sharp, piercing into my eardrums.
Fierfek, did they harm that infant? I find myself wondering silently, my instincts to defend the child making me taut and ready to pounce.
Lungs, I suddenly realize as my senses start to come back under control. That baby…my son…my son has healthy lungs. I listen to that quick inhale of air and the hiccup like sound it produces as his cries are short bursts of screams. He goes on with that for the next few minutes, and I see his limbs flailing amidst the towels, the Kaminoan medical personnel, and the instruments they are using to examine him.
It seems an eternity that this goes on, but only minutes have passed when the female Kaminoan suddenly turns in my direction. I see the small, white bundle cradled against her, not in any form of affection, but strictly for stability. With graceful steps, she comes to me and quickly lands the swaddled baby in my arms.
There is no prompting, no warning. He is just there, and if not for my refined reflexes, I'm sure I would have dropped him.
"Your clone," she tells me in that melodic voice. I strangely expect her to say something more, something kind, but she simply turns and gracefully makes her exit from the room.
"He is as you requested, Jango," the doctor says, his voice nearly sounding like it carries disapproval. "Unmodified."
I feel my lip snarl in defense. He made my request for an unmodified clone sound like some kind of failed experiment, like my son should have been given their scientific enhancements rather than be a normal boy.
"I trust you've been studying the manual?" he asks me now.
I turn to the datapad on the table next to me and nod my head. He reaches to it and touches a key on the small keyboard to produce a holo-image. I've seen the recording a handful of times, and I felt I was comfortable enough to handle raising an infant on my own. I remember how the first time I watched it, I was confused with the overload of overwhelming information the holo contained.
The child in my arms suddenly begins crying, and the Kaminoan doctor makes his graceful but hasty exit now as well. I briefly wonder how they are going to handle millions of crying clone babies if they can't even be in the same room as the one I'm holding. Then, I dismiss it. The clones don't matter to me, only this infant does.
I push aside everything: all the planning, all the waiting, and all the constant anticipation that I had felt prior to this moment. Doubt begins to creep in on me about how to take care of someone so dependent, so small, and so helpless.
Lost amidst the tiny child's wailing, all I can do is look down to this petite boy in my arms, and I think I know how he feels. My mind is suddenly screaming for help, too.
Again, I find myself doubting if I ever should have taken on this responsibility alone. I was always just fine on my own, and maybe if I tried to play my sabacc cards right just one more time, I would have found me a woman who would have helped me do this child-rearing thing. There's some instinct in females, I've heard, that makes them know just what to do with a screaming baby.
I'm not one who panics and even in this moment of my life, when I have a screaming infant in my arms, I'm remaining calm. I find that strange.
Taking a cleansing breath, I realize that I can do this, and I'm not the only single father in the galaxy. Of course, the other fathers aren't probably giving their genetics for a secret cloned army and they probably aren't Mandalorian warriors who take on bounty hunting jobs on the side.
Despite my unusual circumstances, some kind of new instincts suddenly kick in, and now I look to this baby in a different way. He's not just some youngling left to me through a bad relationship or a loss. I chose this, and I have a responsibility to him. I'd be a lesser man if I walked away from that responsibility.
His crying begins to subside as I maneuver myself to remove the sterilized drape around me. My son needs to be a part of me, not separated by these sterile boundaries. Pulling him tighter, I let him snuggle into my faded gray tunic, where his olfactory senses can learn who I am by scent. His eyes won't be adjusted to sight for a while, but he'll learn who I am by touch, smell, and sound.
"Boba, it's Jan'buir," I whisper softly. "Daddy."
I look into his tiny face, watching as his eyes try to open and search out the being that is cuddling him while he hears words and sounds that are completely new to him.
I notice how his skin is paler than mine, soft and flawless. He has no scars and no blemishes, nothing to define him into anything more than an innocent baby. I find myself hoping he never has the remnants of a vibroblade fight across his forehead or an offset nose like I do. I know his chances of staying innocent and handsome are slim considering he will be raised with the knowledge of how to protect himself and win a fight. After all, it is in his blood – my blood that I gave to him – to be a warrior. He will be a Mandalorian, a being raised in the traditional ways of defense and offense. He will fight to his dying breath for himself and fight beyond his dying breath when he has bonded with those he would call his family.
His eyes open again, wider now as the temporary blue-gray of his irises tries to search out my face. I know that in a couple weeks, those irises will be the same brown as mine, but for now I can see that there is real curiosity in his eyes, and I can already see that he will be intelligent. However, the innocence is what baffles me. I've never seen anyone – any being – this faultless. He has made no mistakes yet, and he has angered no one. He has not yet brought agony or remorse into anyone's lives.
His lips drop into a pout again, and I find myself smirking in amusement at the absurdity of how this tiny being can make a hardened man like me feel soft and weak inside. As I suspected, his pout turns into a wail, and I look to the table next to me to see the small bottles of infant formula that the Kaminoans have provided.
With uncertainty, I reposition Boba with one hand and realize that I could hold him like that, nearly palmed. However, I decide that caution is more important, and as I take hold of the formula with my other hand, I curl the baby into the crook of my arm and chest to stabilize him from falling. I'd hate to go through this process a second time if I break this child, and then I force that notion aside quickly as I realize that I didn't find the thought funny at all. I find myself wondering how I could have possibly have been so crass as to think it.
As I remove the cap from the formula one-handed, I glance at the datapad and see the woman is repeating the instructions I had memorized on how to feed a baby. Deciding to just continue on my intuition, I ignore the datapad and put the nipple of the bottle over Boba's lips. His cries settle down as he instinctively realizes that the food he requires to satisfy his hunger needs only to be sucked.
Watching him drink the formula, I hear something I wasn't expecting and that is his little cooing. With every gulp, he lets out a little hum of satisfaction, and his eyes close in contentment. In mere moments, he has drunk his fill, and I can't believe it was that quick or easy. Then, I remember how, anatomically, his stomach is only the size of my eyeball, perhaps even smaller.
While he's quiet, I begin to think he has fallen asleep. However, that thought has only led me into a false sense of security as his face goes into a painful expression and the wailing begins anew.
Damn, I'm a di'kut, I scold myself, forgetting momentarily that a child this small and young needs to be burped.
Raising Boba into a vertical position, I rub his back gently, patting him. His crying suddenly stops, only to be replaced by a belch that would put a Hutt to shame.
Laughing, I bring him before me again. "You're a healthy, lad, aren't you?"
A giant yawn is the only response I get now, and his eyes close softly. "Rest now, ad'ika."
He snuggles into me again, and I take the time to study the holo playing on the datapad. The woman is going on about the processes of cleaning a child and changing him after a soiled diaper. Oh, fierfek. I had forgotten about diaper changes.
Rubbing the bridge of my nose, I close my eyes and remind myself that I'll be okay. After a couple years, he'll be old enough to learn the important things like blaster shooting and fighting with a vibroblade. I'll be sure to teach him all kinds of ways to do surveillance and self-defense, and he'll be able to handle himself.
For now, though, I just open my eyes and listen to his soft breathing, watching his innocent face sleeping. There will be plenty of time to teach him all about being a Mandalorian later. What he chooses to do with those skills will be entirely up to him, as I'm merely going to teach him how to handle himself in this complicated galaxy. I make a silent vow to myself that I'm also going to be the best damn father for this boy that I can. There's nothing wrong with being a simple man trying to make life just a little more simpler for my son.
I settle into the chair and take solace in the contented sleeping of this child, knowing that he'll probably have me up in the middle of the night from this point forward for a few months. Smirking to myself, I try to imagine a hardened man like me handling middle of the night diapers and feedings. Grinning with something just shy of madness, I study the sleeping infant for a long time. Yes, Boba, you'll have a simple beginning, but I'll see to it that you'll be prepared to deal with the complicated galaxy later.