A/N: Big Heart Bear is owned by Teacher Bear
Chapter 26: Baby Boom, Love-a-Lot and Tenderheart
“One more push, Love-a-Lot,” Take Care said. A moment later the sound of crying echoed through the delivery room as Take Care cleaned off the auburn bear cub. “It’s a boy. Did you have a name for him?”
Love-a-Lot lay, sweaty and exhausted, and shared a look with Tenderheart, who just nodded before he replied. “We decided on Big Heart Bear.” It was almost reflex as Tenderheart’s symbol lit up and fired off onto his son’s tummy, and created a large red heart that grew pinker toward the middle for his tummy symbol.
Take Care half-glared at Tenderheart, “You should have waited until I was done testing him.” She sighed and went back to work.
“Sorry…” Tenderheart looked slightly ashamed for a moment.
“It’s alright,” Love-a-Lot smiled up at him.
“Are you alright? You could have taken the medicine,” Tenderheart sounded concerned.
Love-a-Lot shook her head, “I wanted to feel everything, not dull the pain. It hurt but I think… I think it’s something I needed to go through.”
“It was your choice,” Take Care said. “If you have time, Get Well can help you fill out the birth certificate.”
“Alright,” Tenderheart leaned over to give Love-a-Lot a kiss, “I love you, see you later.”
“I love you too, Tender,” Love-a-Lot sighed then lay back. Before long she was dozing.
Tenderheart sat in the living room surrounded by the pieces of an automatic swing with the instructions unfolded in front of him. “Attach rod C to shunt F?” He looked at the instructions then turned it over to the French side, “I can read any language so how come I can’t figure out these instructions?”
“Why don’t you just ask for help?” Love-a-Lot stood in the living room doorway.
Tenderheart didn’t look up from his task as he stuck two of the metal tubes together, “I need to set an example, to show everyone I can be a good father and leader.” Tenderheart was stopped when Love-a-Lot pulled him to his feet.
“Tenderheart, what’s really wrong? You’ve been obsessing over this all day.” She pulled him to the couch and forced him to sit down.
Tenderheart sighed and leaned back to stare at the ceiling, “I just… I’ve been thinking about True Heart and Noble Heart’s retirement. I mean… They haven’t been doing much to lead us for years but I always felt safe knowing I could ask them for help and now. I guess being a leader, being a father. I feel like I need to prove myself, prove I can handle all of this responsibility on my own.” He saw that Love-a-Lot was about to reply and he hastily added, “the same way you said you needed to prove you could handle giving birth without that painkiller from Paradise Valley.”
Love-a-Lot paused, then sighed, “Alright, I guess I felt I needed to let myself take all the pain, and I regret that decision, but what’s done is done. Besides you’re not alone here, or when it comes to leading. Brave Heart and Love Heart are there to help you.” She gave him a peck on the cheek, “And I’m here to help you with this,” she turned to the mess on the floor, “ok, maybe I can’t help with this specific mess.”
Tenderheart could help but laugh at the mess he had left on the floor, “Ok, I’ll call Grumpy and see if he can sort this out.” As Tenderheart pulled out his Heartphone he paused, “Why haven’t I heard anything out of Big Heart?”
Love-a-Lot held up a finger to her mouth, “Because he’s asleep.”
Tenderheart stared back at her, “After only a week? Last time I saw Champ he looked like he just sprinted a marathon.”
“I guess Big Heart’s just a quiet baby. Maybe he’ll get rowdier when he gets older.” Love-a-Lot stood up, “but I’ll go check on him, just to be safe.”
“Thank you,” Tenderheart dialed Grumpy as Love-a-Lot left the room.
Take Care double-checked her notes after she passed Big Heart back to his father. Tenderheart had become concerned that their son was still oddly quiet and not very active at one month old. At first Take Care just expected to find nothing wrong and that Big Heart was just a quiet child, but she was nothing if not thorough.
“Tenderheart, I think your son has asthma.” She gave the news maybe a bit too bluntly but she saw the bear’s face fall so she quickly moved to assuage him worries, “It’s too early to be certain but the symptoms he has are similar to other cases I’ve done research on. I’ll probably be able to tell more when he’s a year old but until then just let me know if he has any breathing problems when he’s awake or asleep but otherwise don’t worry.”
Tenderheart nodded then looked down at Big Heart in his arms, who just looked back up at his father. “Is there anything I can do, Take Care?”
Take Care did her best to give a reassuring smile, “Yes, just don’t worry too much and let me know if he has trouble breathing. Other than that don’t panic.”
“Ok. Thank you Take Care.” Tenderheart turned and left. No doubt Love-a-Lot wouldn’t take this as well, but for now all he could do was wait and look after his son. He sniffed then grimaced, and change his son’s diaper.
By the time Tenderheart got home and finished changing Big Heart’s diaper, Love-a-Lot had returned from her little excursion. Tenderheart was watching Big Heart lie in his crib and stare back up at his father.
“Everything alright, Tender?” Love-a-Lot whispered as she came up behind Tenderheart and put her hands on his shoulders.
“No…” Tenderheart turned to look at her, “Take Care says he might have asthma. That might be why he doesn’t cry very much.”
“Oh…” Love-a-Lot wanted to freak out, but she knew that would only upset Tenderheart so she just squeezed his shoulders in a comforting gesture. “So what do we do?”
“Keep an eye on him, see if he has trouble breathing… hope it’s just an overreaction…” Tenderheart stepped away from the crib and stared at the ceiling, “I’m supposed to be psychic, Love, but I feel like I haven’t learned anything. Soulful doesn’t talk with me about these things and Aqua’s picking things up faster than I am. I feel like I’m failing in my responsibilities to everyone.”
“You’re not failing, Tender,” Love-a-Lot gave him a kiss, “You’re just doing the best you can in a crazy situation. Don’t stress about how you’re failing, focus on what you’re good at: being a leader and a father. I know things will work out.”
Tenderheart smiled, “Where do you get this confidence, Love?”
“From you,” Love-a-lot kissed him. They wrapped their arms around each other and kissed while Big Heart dozed off.