Alai sent Talli off on an errand after Neytiri and her new son had fallen asleep. The girl shortly returned with a fairly large and obviously heavy clay jar that sat in a deep saucer.
Jake's odd focus on his mate and child had eased when they'd fallen asleep and he stepped over to relieve the girl of her burden. He was startled to find that the jar was very warm; he peered inside as he brought it over to Mo'at. It was filled with warm water and a number of the ubiquitous cloth-apprentices' washcloths.
His mother in law relieved him of the clay saucer and set it down next to her daughter, indicating that Jake should do the same with the jar. She gently picked up her sleeping grandson and indicated that the new father should hold out his hands. She placed the boy in Jake's palms, motioning to him to hold the baby over the saucer.
The Tsahik fished a washcloth out of the jar and used it to start cleaning the newborn. She went through a number of the cloths, depositing the soiled ones in the saucer as she worked. The baby squeaked and squirmed a little bit but between the birthing fatigue and a full tummy, not enough to really resist the bath. Mo'at finished by scooping out several handfuls of water and carefully rinsing the boy's hair and queue clean.
Alai had bathed and examined Neytiri while they were cleaning the baby and indicated that Jake should return the child to its mother. His son settled back to sleep almost as soon as he felt his mother's warmth beneath him.
The healer and her apprentice took the jar and saucer away and returned with enough food and drink for all of them. By the time they had finished eating Alai was satisfied with Neytiri's condition and excused herself, instructing Talli to remain in case the little family needed anything.
Jake returned to his position next to his mate. He and Mo'at were content to watch until the new mother woke up.
Neytiri was aware of two things when she awoke. First, she was incredibly sore. Second – and almost completely obliterating her awareness of the first – there was a very tiny person lying on her chest. She opened her eyes to see a small head covered with hair the exact color of Jake's right underneath her chin.
An incredible smile lit her face and she reached up reflexively to cradle the sleeping child. Movement caught her attention; she looked up to see Jake leaning in over her. His eyes were large and luminous. He looked like he wanted to both laugh and cry with joy. "Oel ngati kameie," he whispered as he touched his lips to her forehead.
She closed her eyes and reached out with one hand to grasp his as she echoed softly, "Oel ngati kameie."
Jake clasped her hand and drew back, tears now spilling unheeded down his face.
Neytiri looked down and ran her hand lightly over the baby's head. "He has your hair," she said in a delighted tone.
The marine laughed softly as they began to indulge in the favorite and most ancient pasttime of all new parents; looking for signs of self and family in the features of their newborn. He slipped a finger under his son's small hand - "He has your hands," a quick look confirmed, "and feet!" The wide grin that Neytiri loved so much appeared on her mate's face and she returned his quiet laughter as they inspected the baby's fingers and toes.
They happily explored their son. Jake was startled when he moved the baby's queue aside while looking at spot-patterns. "What's wrong with his queue?"
Both Neytiri and Mo'at hurried to inspect the newborn. "What do you mean?" his mother-in-law asked as her daughter picked up the appendage to examine it.
The new father took his own queue in his hand and held it up in explanation. "It doesn't have," he pointed at the writhing nerve-ends.
Both women relaxed. Mo'at snorted, "Do you think he is going to make tsaheylu with a pa'li and ride away before he even knows what his own arms and legs are for?"
The new mother smiled at the sarcastic question. "Children are born with the queue-end closed, Jake," she explained. "It will open when they are grown enough to begin learning their place in the clan."
"And their first tsaheylu will be with one of the Sacred Trees, so that Eywa can speak to them and remind them of who She is and how She loves Her people," added Mo'at.
"Oh," was Jake's sheepish reply.
Neytiri stroked her son contentedly, "That will not happen for quite some time, though."
The new father's voice got soft and low as he lightly touched the baby. "What should we call him?"
His mate smiled, "For now he is 'Jak'itan.' He will show us who he is as he grows, and then he will get a personal-name." She caressed her son proprietarily for a minute or two, then looked at her own mother. "Ma'sa'nok…."
Mo'at was ready, and smiled as she gave her daughter a handful of hair beads. Neytiri happily braided her son's queue, working the ornaments in as she went while Jake watched proudly. The baby woke when she finished and started nursing again. The new mother began singing softly to her firstborn, "…Uniltìranyu a hu txura txe'lan, Omatikayayä Olo'eyktan, Uniltìranyu alu Toruk Makto…."
Jake didn't mind at all.