They stood over the little bed, arm in arm.
“He is the most perfect thing I have ever seen,” Malcolm said.
“Shh, you’ll wake him. You told me that when he was born, a year ago.”
“Well, he still is, love,” Malcolm said, yawning, “that was quite a birthday party. I’m exhausted.”
“Do you think he was scared at all?”
“He’s a Halloween baby. But I don’t think he quite grasped the concepts of the masks. And he figured out it was us immediately.”
“He’s a smart boy. He has your cheekbones,” she said.
“And your beautiful eyes.” They kissed.
But they weren’t quiet enough, and Declan woke up. He did not fuss, but stared at them, as if to accuse them of making too much of a racket while he was trying to get a little shut eye.
She went over to him but didn’t pick him up. “How you doin’ there, Dec?”
Declan looked at his mother and father, back and forth a few times. “Ah, uh.”
“Do you suppose he’s trying to communicate?” asked Malcolm.
“I’m sure of it,” she said, “but he hasn’t gotten the hang of the fact that the sounds aren’t random. At least, I think that’s what’s going on in his head.”
“I never thought my life would go this way,” Malcolm said, “I thought I was destined to be one of those long-term ancient hermit types that everyone’s trying to fix up with their old Auntie Hazel or some such.”
“I am nobody’s Auntie Hazel.”
They were about to kiss again when Declan said, “Adda!”
“What do you suppose that means?” Malcolm asked.
She came closer but Declan was not looking at her. He pointed at Malcolm, “Adda!”
“I believe he’s talking about you.”
And Malcolm stood there, and didn’t even bother to fight weeping. He’d let himself go enough times in their presence already. It was all right, it was safe, and no one was expecting him to be the big fighting man, the Tactical Officer, the hand to hand combatant, the superb marksman.
“I had nothing before you,” he finally choked out, “whatever I had, it was nothing. And now, now I have love.” He whispered out the last word as if it were fragile in addition to being precious.
“Forever,” she said, “it’s all you need.”