She Knows if He Knows (jp: Cuylar, Darrica [NPC]) 3/7
Cuylar waited at the entrance to the Infirmary for Darrica to return. The talk with his mother had gone about as well as he could have expected. His mother gave him that look she had when she knew he was lying, but she was going to play along anyway. She was still busy, so she did not spare a lot of time for discussion. But she did wish him and Darrica both well. And asked that he not forget to bring her grandson to visit when he was old enough.
The wails of a baby were audible before Darrica was visible, and she was trying to soothe him as she carried him in one arm and her bag in the other. She had dressed in what seemed likely to be her best travelling clothes -- and dressed the baby warmly as well, trying to protect him on what might be an arduous journey.
“Hush now, hush then, shhh.”
Well. Between was cold, Cuylar thought. No harm in being ready for that. Especially for a baby. If he had his way, a baby that young would not go between… but one jump should not be too harmful.
And despite the cries, he could not help but smile. He did look just like Cuylar. He held out his arms for the boy, his smile becoming more tentative. "Can I hold him for a minute before we go?" he asked.
Darrica hesitated for a moment. For all her issues with her situation this was her baby and after all, she barely knew this man. “You have to support his head,” she said a little grudgingly. “It’s floppy otherwise.”
Cuylar smiled and nodded. "I will," he promised. It was easier just to take the advice than to insist that he had experience with holding small babies. And that he was a Healer.
He very carefully took the baby into his arms and then looked down into his eyes. And, as the cliche went, immediately fell in love.
"Hey, buddy," he greeted him. "I'm your daddy. And I'm very happy to meet you."
Darrica watched, trying her best not to be jealous, fighting the urge to snatch him back. Cuylar was apparently nice, Cuylar was kind, and this was still her baby and was this all a terrible idea? She shifted her bag to her shoulder, suddenly uncertain.
Cuylar leaned down to smell Cuyric's hair, gave him a few gentle rocks, and then handed him back to Darrica.
"Thanks," he said. "Hey, let me carry the bags for you, OK?"
She didn’t quite hide her relief at having him back, clutching him protectively close. “..Thank you.”
Cuylar nodded as he took the bags and left Darrica to carry the baby only.
"This has to be really hard for you," he said as he walked with her. "So if you need anything, anything at all, you can tell me, and I'll do my best to get it for you. We're not married, but you're still the mother of my son."
Darrica smiled, a little uneasy now the plan felt real. “What happens if -- doesn’t being a Healer take a lot of time? And babies take an awful lot of time. Usually I work with him in a sling.”
"I'm going to make this work," Cuylar promised. "Being a Healer does take a lot of work. But I'll be there right beside you the whole time to help you. I'm a Healer, too, you know." He smiled. "I wouldn't ask you to move to the other side of the world if I wasn't going to help you."
“If I’m not good at it, will the Hall send me back home?” Darrica asked anxiously. “And-- and what happens if Cuy-- your dad shows up?”
"He doesn't come see me; I go see him," said Cuylar. "And he's bound to hear from Mom about this, anyway. So he'll know. And he'll know that we know. But you won't have to see him again."
"And if you decide that Healing isn't for you, then we'll find you something else," he explained. "Home is with me now. So they can't send you anywhere else you don't want to go."
She hadn’t considered that, and stopped, suddenly worried. “Your mother will tell him about Ri--Cuyric?”
"How could she not?" Cuylar asked. "She has a grandson. Dad has a grandson. She wants him to come up to visit when he's old enough. She might not even be working here by then, though… but you get the idea. My mom is Cuyric's grandma now. So my dad is his grandpa."
“He’s going to know we’re lying.” She sounded panicked by that realisation.
"Sure. But he'll play along," said Cuylar. "Or else he has to admit what he did." Shells and shards of Faranth's first egg – while he was there at the same hold!
Darrica hesitated. “What if he wants Cuyric?” she asked, looking down at the baby. “Would he?”
"He would likely have found a way to take care of him if he had found out first before me," said Cuylar. Perhaps a way that involved taking him away from Darrica and allowing Sela to raise him as hers. "But I don't think he will try to take him from me. He's old enough to be content to be a grandpa instead of a father again. And he'll trust me to take care of him and you."
“I didn’t really know -- at first I figured that if he wasn’t even living with his wife it wasn’t really real anyway, you know?” Darrica started to walk and chattered nervously again as she did so, forgetting again that maybe Cuylar didn’t want to hear these details about his parents. “I mean, what kind of marriage is it if they don’t even live in the same Hold anyway?”
"Yeah…" Cuylar said more softly. He had been trying not to think about that. He had always simply accepted whatever his parents told him about their relationship. "Well. Mom doesn't seem, uh… She seems happy."
"Ah, look!" said Cuylar as they emerged from the Hold to see Elphith, who had graciously walked as close to it as she could manage. "This is Elphith."
((You have a son now,)) she said. Not quite a question. She had been paying attention to it all, but she did not intervene. She did not need to – Cuylar had done the right thing without needing her to tell him.