the last day of the 2718th year
"I ent goin' anywhere, hama." Tristaan grinned, clearly far more excited than the lovely witch about what was happening. Moving about the tiny, upstairs flat with a sense of calm urgency, grey eyes kept a careful watch on Sarinah.
It was so much easier to deal with his own pain than to be forced to observe someone else suffer, but he'd always felt that way. He'd been the little brother who lied and said he broke the expensive vase in the hallway when he and his sister had been chasing imaginary hatchers through the house. He'd been the dirty urchin who lied to the baker about stealing rolls from the window when it was some other street kid who only shared later because the old man had bruised his knuckles with a rolling pin. He'd been the scrawny son of a galdor who took beatings for friends who were too ill to keep up with their work schedule just so they had a chance of getting better. He'd been the one man left standing by Yulina after their failed raid on a hefty shipment of fresh opiates from Mugroba.
Here, in this ramshackle apartment begrudgingly granted to them by Silas Hawke himself, Tristaan could do nothing but watch someone else suffer—suffer the consequences of their own very real love for each other. Love he'd been afraid of. Love he'd told himself he couldn't have. Sarinah's body had grown and changed to make a new life they'd formed together and in the meantime his entire existence had been forced to grow and change alongside of her. Born a different creature, revealed to be the cursed, unwanted scrap that he was, children were illegal. Passing on such faulty genes a crime. Mingling his heritage with those of a lowly wick would have been disgusting, wrong, and downright detestable had the gods not twisted who he was before he even understood what it meant to be a golly in the first place.
Caught in the middle, dredged through the lowest of places, and told he was nothing, now he had everything:
He had family.
Had he wanted it?
Did he have a choice now?
Was this some grand apology from the Circle for selling him short at birth?
Gods, Tristaan didn't even know anymore, but he knew now what had been missing for far too much of his life—love—and he couldn't wait to hold what he and his lovely witch had (unintentionally but not ungratefully) brought together as proof.
The dark-haired passive explained when asked to keep up conversation, describing all the preparations he was making in quiet, soothing tones. He might have snuck in a snack somewhere in the process, making sure he offered water to the laboring woman with the awareness she probably wouldn't want any food. He'd pause to hold her through contractions, sing soft songs, tell stories picked up over the past several weeks he'd been working the docks when not fighting or sleeping off injuries. He was full of distractions and gentle kisses, whispered encouragement and strong, calloused hands for support.
All the while he took his time filling the bath with hot water from the stove and the lukewarm water that seemed to dribble from the tap, back and forth in the spare moments, having been told it'd be a comfortable option during some of the most uncomfortable moments. Minutes became hours and hours became houses, the afternoon fading into evening. Tristaan helped Sarinah into the steamy waters which happened to be ready in time for her to beg for them, borrowing the stool to hover by the edge of the tub and rub her lower back while humming the few tunes he knew that weren't too baudy.
"Ye can. Surely, it ent for much longer—oh—oes. All m' fault." Grinned the dark-haired passive, tongue against the back of his teeth at the olive-skinned dancer's pained accusation, "I don't remember any complaints 'til now, hama. When th' boch be th' most nanobo thing you've ever seen, that can be m' fault, too."
Fingers brushed hair from her face and his palm came to rest against her cheek for a few moments, smiling somewhat stupidly. He deserved nothing, but this sinking, helpless feeling in the face of Sarinah's very real pain made him realize with unspoken discomfort how she'd had to spend nearly the entirety of her pregnancy watching his so-called Hawke-sponsored career unfold in the Rose Arena. If she could endure months of his pointless suffering to keep them together, then he could most certainly endure a fistful of houses of her very purposeful suffering for the boch that was definitely on its way.
Into what kind of life?
Tristaan's mind drifted downward with his lovely witch's sounds of pain—her tones lower, more guttural—distracted in his own thoughts for several moments. Tired, leaning against the tub and losing himself in the darker depths of his self-doubt and fear. Was this how labor was supposed to go? So long? Was everything alright? How would they know if something was wrong? What could he do?
Gods, it was—
"What—somethin'—oh—" The dark-haired passive blinked, reaching for her as Sarinah stood, dragged back to the very real rawness of this moment and back into himself, not thinking but just doing, grey eyes wide and attention suddenly totally focused.
Something burst? Her waters, judging by the bath.
That's what she'd felt.
Slowly, cautiously, he couldn't help but smile again. Nervous anticipation and that helpless fear writhed beneath his excited expression, hands moving to support the olive-skinned witch who had clearly reached some new place in her labor. He made very ginger attempts with whatever threadbare towel was in place to dry her a little, wincing as her fingers curled into a sore shoulder,
"Somethin' wrong? Somethin' jus' right?" He had to ask, more of a whisper, moving them both toward the bed at the sound of much more urgent need, "Feel like what?" All the various instruction and advice he'd been given over the past several months seemed to flood his mind all at once, a mixed up jumble of voices and terminology, expectations and warnings. He hovered, attempting to help her find some comfortable position that no longer existed with a babe attempting to make its exit from narrow places,
"I'm here, but y' gotta talk t' me." Calloused thumbs brushed flushed, tear-stained cheeks and he fought his own anxious emotions that stung the edges of his eyes and tightened his lungs. He was known at being the quick thinker in a pinch, the ace up a sleeve in a tight spot, the one who knew what to do when no one else did.
He grinned and faked confidence, "Y' wanna push, don't you?" Finally. His brain strung syllables together and his tongue managed to get them correctly out of his mouth. That was the godsbedamned word!
But that meant—
Well. It was really time now.
"Don't fight 't, hama, if that's what y' feel. Ent no sense 'n hurtin' yerself 'r th' boch. I know ye don't wanna, I know it's all scary. Alioe knows this ent where we wanna be doin' this, but, well, th' boch doesn't know that. I'm here. It's us. An' it's gonna be okay—oh, gods. Listen, I—hmm—a'ight—lemme jus'—" This also meant he had to look, really look, and while he'd certainly seen and enjoyed all of the lovely witch's body before, he'd been told things would be remarkably different. He settled her on the stool and shrugged off his shirt instead of bothering to roll up his sleeves, settling on his knees in front of Sarinah and taking one selfish moment to himself to breathe in slowly, shove away all the darkness, exhale slowly, and carefully, cautiously glance downwards,
Slow breath. Slower blinks.
"Jus'. Benny. Everythin' 's benny, macha."
You can totally do this. Oes. Tristaan, you've got this. Sarinah needs you to do this. It's fine. Everything looks fine. As far as you can tell, anyway. Gods, what did it look like before? What would wrong look like?
"Ah, hama. Good news—you've been doin' all th' right things. Better news—I'd say we're jus' 'bout done." Voice wavered with only a hint of shock at what he would only later remember was called crowning, awareness hitting him hard in the chest that their babe was, quite honestly, just a few good, painful pushes away from being in someone's hands. That someone probably being his first.
Everything he'd ever been told he might possibly need was scattered around the bed and the floor and the stool but for the life of him he couldn't remember where any of it was at this moment. He was to offer a hand, a shoulder. He was to offer support down there to prevent tears. He was to pay attention to her vocalizations and encourage her. He was supposed to—
Gods, now was not a good time to be dizzy.
"I'm excited." He admitted, even if his tone of voice revealed all of his fear without his permission, "Hamaye. Yer amazin'. There's a boch ready t' meet us an' I'm jus' gonna catch so we can be properly introduced as daoa an' da—oes?"