Chapter Eleven | Family Bed
'In the best of all possible worlds, childbirth enriches a marriage. In the worst, it harms it. No matter how good their marriage is, most couples find that having a baby challenges their relationship.' – Jean Marzollo
The new family quickly fell into a routine; Tom was a quiet sleeper for the first couple of days, but within a week he was turning into a little terror, waking Jake and Neytiri up at ungodly hours of the night. Jake thought it would go the other way around, with the child getting a more rested sleep as the weeks passed. Much to their dismay, they had no such luck. Jake and Neytiri were like walking zombies in the middle of the night, tending over little Tom who demanded attention like the little prince he was. Jake really hoped that trait wouldn't pass into adult life. The two new parents were exhausted and trying to think of a solution to this, and Neytiri came up with one.
One night, when Jake came into the room, he spotted Neytiri tending over little Tom, who was snoozing quietly beside her in their bed. Jake smiled at the beautiful sight of mother and child. "He's so beautiful when he sleeps," Jake said, looking at Tom adoringly. "Shall I put him to bed?"
Neytiri shook her head and looked at her mate. "No, he will be sleeping with us tonight." Jake looked at Tom in concern and perched at the side of the hammock, trying not to sway it. He gently placed a hand over Tom's forehead, trying to feel for a fever; he was fine. "He is not sick," Neytiri explained, "But our people say that babies sleep better with their parents. It is called 'The Family Bed'." Neytiri smiled triumphantly.
"Oh, I've heard of that," Jake said, looking back to Neytiri. He paused for a moment. "Isn't that designed to help breast feeding?"
Neytiri nodded, her triumph fading somewhat. "Partly. Why?"
"Well, you're not lactating. If our son wants to be near the milk, he might as well sleep by the refrigerator in RDA," Jake said.
Neytiri smiled. "This is not just for me; it is for him and you. It will allow you to bond with him too."
Jake smiled a little. "Well, sure," he said, moving a little closer to Neytiri. "But it won't let me bond with you..." He let his words trail off to imply his meaning as he smirked at her and tried to kiss her cheek.
Neytiri pulled away from Jake's touch with an entertained smile. "Darling, sex is the last thing a woman wants right after she has given birth."
Jake frowned thoughtfully. "But you didn't give birth – you watched and served refreshments."
Neytiri mirrored his expression. "Well, looking after a baby is still tiring. Good night." Neytiri quickly kissed Jake on the lips and then snuggled beside her son.
Jake sighed and gently slipped into bed, looking anxiously at Tom. "Uh... What if I roll over and crush him?" That was in the realm of possibility.
Neytiri had already shut her eyes, but she said in a dangerous tone, "Don't."
· · ·
A few days into the 'family bed' idea, and Jake was already feeling its toll. He was so terrified of rolling over and suffocating their precious little prince, he spent his nights hugging the side of the hammock, trying to distance himself as far away from Tom as possible, as if he were sprayed with poisonous toxins. As a result, he got minimal sleep. On the bright side, Tom and Neytiri slept like little angels.
Neytiri was with Norm in the royal's lounge one afternoon, cradling little Tom as she sat. Norm watched over them like the protective uncle he was, but all of them looked up as Jake came in. Jake was looking at Neytiri with a smile, but it had an annoyed edge to it. "Ask me how my morning was."
Neytiri exchanged looks with Norm before looking back at her mate with intrigue. "All right. How was your morning?"
"Glad you asked," Jake said somewhat sarcastically as he sat down beside his mate. "Well, I nearly shot poor Taw'te in the head as we practiced archery since I was half asleep. Neytiri, this 'family bed' thing has got to stop."
"We just need some more time," Neytiri replied defensively. She strongly believed in the family bed; the Na'vi clans used it all the time, or at least they used to when she was younger. For some reason, it had started to fade out, just like a lot of their old traditions. "And Tom is sleeping so soundly," she added. That was true. Tom had barely uttered a squeak since they had hauled him into bed with them.
"That's not the point," Jake said, though it was really the whole point. "Are we just going to wait until I kill one of our members before we put Tom back in his own bed?"
Neytiri sighed. "Look, just find something to help you sleep."
Jake rolled his eyes. "I used to have something that helped me sleep. Of course, that is off the menu these days." Norm snorted with laughter and Neytiri frowned at both of the men. Jake shook his head. "Well, if anyone needs me, I'm going to start setting up a bed in the lounge."
Neytiri's eyes widened in shock. "You are leaving our hammock?"
Jake sighed as he stood up. "Look, Neytiri, I either have to sleep, or get lucky tonight. I will have better chance at both if I'm alone." Norm and Neytiri exchanged aghast glances. Jake started to leave the room when he 5ealized what he said. "And yes. I know how that sounded..." Jake shook his head at himself and left.
· · ·
Neytiri was walking down the stairs with Tom in her arms. He was too small for a baby carrier yet, and Neytiri preferred holding Tom – it made her feel closer to him. Jake had stayed true to his word, and had slept in the lounge that night. Neytiri hadn't 5ealized how much she needed Jake sleeping beside her until she woke up that morning, and in a yawn her arm draped over to feel the side of the hammock where he lay. It had been cold and lifeless, and Neytiri felt hollow.
Neytiri cast her eyes about downstairs, and spotted a Na'vi male with a young girl. A small smile came over her face as she looked at her little 'niece', Reiqa, and her father, Nikti's mate, Reran. Nikti had dubbed Jake and Neytiri as Reiqa's uncle and aunt, and they did the same for Tom with her and Reran. "Kaltxì," Neytiri greeted pleasantly as she came over to them.
Reiqa looked up and gave a brilliant smile as she looked up at her 'aunt'. "Aunty Neytiri!" She exclaimed, rushing over to give her a hug. Reiqa was a toddler, and she only reached Neytiri's knee . Neytiri chuckled and ruffled her hair, not bending down to give her a hug this time due to Tom being in her arms. Reiqa smiled and then rushed off to play. "She is growing so fast," Neytiri said in a contemplative tone.
Reran chuckled. "I know. Enjoy these days now, Neytiri – you will want them back soon enough." He smiled at the little baby in her arms and then looked back up to her. "If you are looking for Nikti, she just left to go hunting."
Neytiri nodded. "I was, but since you are here I might ask you. Did you and Nikti ever do the Family Bed with Reiqa?" She asked.
Reran smiled. "Well, it was not exactly a choice – she kept climbing in there," he laughed.
Neytiri chuckled. "Fair enough. Now, not to pry, but did that create any... issues for you?"
"You mean sex?" Reran asked simply, as if they were just talking about the weather conditions.
Neytiri flushed and gave a nervous laugh. "Well, apparently not to pry was not necessary... How did you deal with it? Again, not to pry – "
"The forest. We did it all the time there," Reran explained with a wink. "And do you remember that time you and Jake asked us to look after the royal's bedrooms when you went to the Horse clan?"
Neytiri blinked spastically. "Oh, okay then!" She said, not wanting to know anymore. Definitely should have talked to Nikti in this case. Neytiri gave a weak smile. "Thank you, Reran. I think..."
· · ·
Later that day, Jake came up to his and Neytiri's section to find her rubbing their hammock with a sort of disinfectant that the Na'vi had. It was made of certain berries and carried a terrifyingly strong scent. "What are you doing?" Jake asked as Neytiri scrubbed. "Why are you disinfecting the bed?"
Neytiri looked up from her work. The conversation with Reran flashed through her mind. "I have my reasons," she replied simply.
Jake blinked. "Okay then. So you and Tom are going to sleep on this hammock with that scent soaked through it?"
Neytiri sighed. "Ma Jake, you cannot sleep in the lounge every day."
"Must we have this conversation again?" Jake asked his mate. "I'm just so afraid of crushing Tom! Unless you want a Tom pancake in the morning, I shall be in the lounge."
Neytiri gasped. "Do not be so morbid!" Neytiri exclaimed on the pancake Tom comment. "Please Jake... I miss you."
Jake gave a saddened sigh and kissed his mate. "I miss you too. But I'm more concerned for the safety of Tom." Jake patted her cheek gently. "I'll be in the lounge if anyone needs me."
Neytiri sighed and looked over to little Tom who was sleeping in a little carrier. Her eyes flashed over to the milk bottle they kept for him, and she got an idea.
A few minutes later, Norm came by to see Neytiri pouring some sort of liquid into a drinking bowl. The liquid contained the pungent scent of alcohol. "Good Lord, Neytiri, what are you doing?"
Neytiri looked up. "Just a little something to help Jake sleep," she smiled innocently.
Norm frowned and went over to pick up the drinking bowl. He sniffed it. "Okay, what did you put in this?"
Neytiri frowned and snatched the bowl back. She hesitated and sniffed it herself. "Is it obvious I put three sleeping draughts in it?"
Norm's eyes widened. "You what?" He exclaimed. "Why are you drugging your husband?"
Careful cyan hands stirred the liquid a little, blending the draught and the alcoholic drink. "So Jake will be able to sleep back in our hammock," Neytiri replied, tapping the stirring rod on the bowl and then walking past Norm to the royal's lounge.
Norm thought for a moment and then groaned, remembering yesterday's conversation with Jake. "You are going to burn in hell for this," he warned Neytiri.
· · ·
"Hell. Burn. You," Norm growled softly as he looked at Jake's knocked out form. The three draughts had gotten to work very quickly, and Jake was dead to the world in a matter of minutes. Norm was kind of surprised Jake hadn't picked up on the scent of the sleeping draughts.
Neytiri rolled her eyes. "Shut up and help me!" She exclaimed, grabbing Jake's arms and trying to drag him off the sofa. Eywa, he was heavy.
Norm looked at Neytiri in shock. "You can't be serious."
Neytiri sighed and looked at Norm. "Yes, I am. Now grab his legs."
"I am not cut out for this," Norm mumbled as he lifted Jake's legs. "Why couldn't you just give him sex?"
Neytiri gasped. "Norm!"
"Neytiri, it's a science – men need sex. And it would make this so much easier!" Norm snarled. A thought occurred to him then. "You do 5ealize that if someone walks up here, they're going to think we murdered your husband?"
Neyitir thought about that. "Well, we best move quickly. Come on!" They both hauled Jake to his and Neytiri's hammock, and laid him there. It took quite a bit of effort, since Jake was deadweight, but they managed.
Norm thought for a moment after they had placed Jake in the hammock. "What's going to happen when he wakes up and finds himself in his own bed?"
Neytiri 5ealized her plan didn't go that far. "We are going to say he sleep walked. Okay?"
Norm groaned. "Fine. But he's going to just kill you tomorrow." Norm left then, and Neytiri placed sleeping Tom beside Jake and then climbed in. She smiled and kissed Jake's cheek. She was going to be in Jake's bad books tomorrow, but it was worth it.
So here's the original Chapter Eleven. Yeah, I admit, it wasn't my best work. Some of the lines in this I absolutely adored, but yes, like many of you said, it didn't fit. Hence, I took it out.