Hyle kept the 'cursed Tech-mother of Seeker Troy' mask fully visible. After all, what mother seeing her child in agony would not want the best for her, hmm?
As Tuki's grip relaxed in her hand, Hyle was able to take stock of the situation.
The two goons she had barged past in her haste to be at Tuki's side seemed distracted, 'useless' was another verb she had in mind also.
The midwives were now busy administering pain relief and other prenatal cares to Tuki.
Hyle did, though, catch the occasional resentful glance coming her way from both of them, but the glances were quickly averted when Hyle caught their eye.
As for the resident doctor. He was indeed fully applied to the task, checking and rechecking every minute detail of the ongoing labour.
Hyle had sometimes watched Tuki at work in the clinic, and her adopted daughter displayed the same diligence as was being enacted by the doctor now.
Hyle was reassured Tuki was in fact in good hands.
Tai, well. He was looking pretty much like the one who was always picked last for the team. The spare part. Persona non grata. Hyle almost smirked.
She could imagine he felt worried, worried for Tuki and for the tiny being making its way into this life. Powerless, even though he was the father.
Right here, he was not needed, in a technical sense. He felt out of place. The thought came to Hyle. Now he starts to learn the craft of fatherhood.
Hyle looked down at the sweating, purple face of her daughter. Their eyes met. Between Tuki and herself, the stern mask was invisible. Nothing was said, the tenderness shone through.
The whole story. From urchin thief to motherhood, was exchanged between them in a second. Hyle smiled, a perfect moment.
The sudden clenching of Tuki's grip on Hyle's hand signalled the return to real-time...
Everyone, except the midwife, clenched their collective sphincters as Tuki's whole body stiffened and her eyes opened wide.
However, instead of the air being filled with violent expletives, several seconds of quiet calm ticked by before Tuki slumped,
her only words on the subject of the four-inch needle sticking in her being the well-worn mantra used by doctors and nurses since the invention of the hypodermic syringe.
"This might feel a little uncomfortable.
" The words used indicating that her brain had sought refuge from the painful intrusion by falling back on the only familiar comfort phrase that seemed to fit.
Sphincters now relaxed again, and the midwife withdrew the needle to leave the catheter nicely placed between two vertebrae.
Swiftly connecting the other end up to the anaesthetic drip, she opened the valve, and Seeker Troy's lower half ceased to be an overly active participant in the pain thing.
Job done the midwife stood up to see the gobsmacked expressions turned her way. She exchanged eye rolls with the resident physician.
"She's a brand new Mum to be, all perfectly normal. If you think this is distressing, just wait until she starts pooping herself..." She turned to Tai. "New Dad? That will be where you come in."
Taiyoko's expression was priceless.
After the midwife's words, everyone got down to business.
Those who needed to scoop poop, scooped poop.
Those who needed to hold hands, held hands.
Those who watched from the corners, watched from the corners.
Those who helped ease a new life into the world, did so with consummate care.
Those who made sure the mother didn't die in the process, performed admirably.
And those whose job it was to push, pushed with all their might so that the life that had grown inside them for nine months could take its place, for good or ill, in the harsh, careless,
beautiful world that would be its new home and its last cradle.
And so, at 17:33 and some few seconds, Ichiro Joseph Dane Troy made his undignified debut into the fallen earth.
After mother and son had been cleaned up, and the father had washed his hands, the first family photograph was taken.