Match Two: Seedling:
Alfred’s jaw dropped.
“Lydia. Is that…?” he began to ask.
“Yes, I believe so,” Lydia said. They stared down at a little pale baby wrapped up in white blankets. Alfred walked forward and picked up the child. How could a baby look so small in his arms? This little child didn’t make a sound.
“Is this child… mine?” Alfred asked.
“What do you mean?” Lydia asked. The American man shifted his eyes back and forth.
“Uh… we might have done some things while you were out elsewhere,” he sheepishly admitted. The American man nervously chuckled. Lydia raised her eyebrow at him.
“So that’s it,” she said. Alfred frowned.
“Are you mad?” he asked.
“No,” Lydia said. “It just explains everything.” Alfred bounced the little baby in his eyes. The child hadn’t opened their eyes yet. He hadn’t seen a baby with long dark brown eyelashes before in his life.
“What do you mean?” he asked. Lydia rubbed her forehead.
“I’ve never seen anything like this before,” she admitted. “I didn’t think it was really possible either.”
“You’re kidding,” the American man said.
“No,” Lydia said.
“Ah!” Alfred said. He looked down at the baby in his big strong arms. “Dude! Did you hear that? You are rare. Yes you are. Yes you are!” The baby cooed as he bounced them.
“Careful! You’re holding a baby!” Lydia said. Alfred ignored as he bounced the baby in his arms. Meanwhile, the child giggled.
Lydia and Alfred took the newborn to the hospital. They sat in the waiting room. The American man turned to the girl next to him.
“So what will we do now?” he asked. Lydia gave him a confused look.
“What do you mean?” she asked.
“You know,” Alfred said.
“I want to do it.”
Lydia titled her head. “Do what?” Alfred shrugged.
“Raise the baby,” he said. She wrinkled her nose.
“Are you serious?” she asked.
“Yes,” he said, nodding. Lydia didn’t say a word. The American frowned when he noticed the look on her face.
“What?” he asked. Lydia shrugged and shook her head.
“Nothing,” she said. “It’s just…”
“What?” Alfred asked again. She opened her mouth to speak when the doors blew open. They spoke up when they saw the doctor carrying the baby in his arms. He had a smile on his face.
“She is in good health,” he said. Alfred blinked for a moment.
“She?” he asked.
“That’s right,” the doctor said. “Congratulations, you have a healthy baby girl.” Alfred tried to think of something to say but nothing came out. He covered his mouth.
“I have a little girl? I’m a father now? What?!” the American man finally asked. He fell to his knees in shock. Meanwhile, Lydia shook her head and rolled her eyes.
“Hey, doc,” she said.
“Yes?” he asked. Lydia rose to her feet. She walked over to him with a serious look on her face.
“Can I see you in private?” the young woman asked in a soft whisper. He didn’t even need to take a guess what this was about. The doctor turned his attention to Alfred.
“Mr. Jones, can you excuse us for a moment?” he asked. “Ms. Foxwell and I need to talk in private for a moment.” The American man had a confused look on his face.
“O… Okay…” he said. The doctor gave him a reassuring look.
“This won’t take long,” he said. “We will be back soon.” Alfred had to make himself smile as he nodded. The doctor, Lydia, and the baby went into the back.
There was so much that the baby needed. Alfred stopped by the different stores before heading home.
“We’re going to need so many things,” he said.
“Uh-huh,” Lydia said. Clothes, food, baby furniture, toys, diapers, books, and hygiene products. Alfred couldn’t help but squeal to himself in public. Lydia shook her head.
“Can you calm down?” she asked. Alfred laughed aloud. Lydia rubbed her forehead. Okay, he was excited to be a dad. But still…
“Just let me do all of the shopping,” Lydia spoke up. “I don’t want you to blow the budget today.” She walked ahead and took the lead. The American man shrugged to himself.
“Okay!” he said. Lydia sighed and shook her head.
“Hey, Lydia,” Alfred said.
“What?” she asked.
“Where is she going to stay—your place or mine?” he asked. Lydia was about to say her house but took a moment to think about it instead.
That’s when he had to suggest something crazy.
“Come live at my place,” Alfred said. Lydia slowed down in her tracks and turned her head.
“What?!” she shouted.
“I’m serious,” Alfred said. “If not, I can come live with you.” Lydia’s eyes shifted back and forth.
“You sure about that?” she asked.
“Yes!” the American man said, nodding. He looked like a little puppy waiting for her to throw the ball. He sounded so sincere too. Boy, she felt bad about this.
“Oh…” Lydia mumbled. Alfred began to frown a little.
“No?” he asked. “But why not?” The young woman quickly shook her head.
“No! No! It’s not that!” she said. “It’s just…”
“What?” Alfred asked. Lydia quickly shook her head.
“Nothing!” she lied. “Nothing at all. Just forget it.” Lydia started walking towards their destination again. Alfred looked a little hurt as he looked down at his daughter.
“I don’t understand why your aunt doesn’t like me, dude,” he said. The baby cooed in his arms. A stroller would be nice too.
The shopping trip felt so awkward. Lydia wouldn’t even look at him. Alfred frowned as they looked through the baby clothes.
“Are you mad?” he asked. The young woman frowned.
“No,” she said. Alfred frowned.
“Then what’s wrong?” he asked. Lydia stopped in her tracks. She gritted her teeth.
“How long are you going to stick around?” the young woman asked.
“What do you mean?” he asked. Lydia whipped around. Her fists trembled at her side.
“I don’t understand you!” she complained. “Why do you even care so much? She’s dead because of you.” Alfred looked at her.
“You miss her, don’t you?” he asked. Lydia looked away with tears in her eyes. The American man walked up and pulled her into his arms.
“I loved her very much and I still do,” he whispered. “It’s okay. It’s okay.” She didn’t even try to fight him off. The baby cried between them. Alfred quickly backed away.
“Oh, sorry about that, little dude,” he said to her. He bounced her up and down to calm her down.
“Shhh. Shhh. Shhh,” the American man whispered. Lydia stood there was a blank look on her face. What was this? She slowly shook her head. He managed to get the baby to quiet down.
“There,” Alfred whispered. “I didn’t mean to do that you, little dude.” Lydia rolled her eyes.
“Can you at least not call her that?” she asked. The American man looked up at her.
“Then what should we call her?” he asked. Lydia paused.
“Oh,” she said.
“Let’s just do the shopping and then name her,” Alfred quickly said. The young woman nodded.
“Uh, yeah, yeah, yeah,” she said. “Sure.” The American man perked up as he looked through the brightly-colored dresses in front of him. Lydia started looking in her section of clothes as well. This would have to do, for now, she guessed.
They didn’t take long to set up the nursery. Lydia decided to move in with Alfred.
“What will you do with your house?” he asked.
“I don’t know,” she said after some thought.
“Maybe you should rent it out,” the American man suggested.
“To whom?” Lydia asked. Alfred shrugged.
“I don’t know,” he said. “I’m sure that you can find someone.” Alfred bounced the baby girl in his arms and chuckled. Lydia narrowed her eyes.
“What?” she asked.
“It’s funny,” he said. “Florence promised she would stay by my side forever. But I didn’t think she would keep it like this.” Alfred rocked the baby back and forth. Lydia leaned against the half-assembled crib. She couldn’t help but smile for some reason.
Lydia remembered the talk she had with the doctor days earlier.
“So she is a half-breed?” she asked. “A real half-breed?”
“Yes,” the doctor said. Lydia shifted with the baby in her seat.
“So… what does that mean?” she asked. “Will she die young too?” The doctor took off his glasses.
“I don’t know what to tell you yet,” he said. “I haven’t seen anything like it before.”
“What should I do then?” Lydia asked. He rested his hand atop hers.
“Just take her home and raise her right,” he said. Lydia looked unsettled at those words before slowly nodding.
“Yes,” she said. “Yes, yes.”
Lydia couldn’t bring herself to tell Alfred what she found out. Not just yet anyway. Let him be happy with his daughter for now. She would stay by them and keep watch over the little baby until a problem came up. That should be okay, right?
It took about three days to get everything set up. The baby girl’s room was painted green, pink, and white. Lydia set up her room in one of the other back rooms. Alfred couldn’t help but be content.
Three days later, the American man showed his new daughter off to the remaining sane countries.
“She’s so cute,” Ivan said.
“Isn’t she?” Alfred asked. The baby slept peacefully in his arms.
“What are you going to name her?” Francis asked. “Are you going to name her something like Wonder Woman or Supergirl?” The American man shook his head.
“Nope,” he said. “I’m just going to simply name her Florence.” The little baby looked so pink in his arms.
Well, you know what they say about happy moments in the Wasteland…