Alek didn't want to be at the party. He would have much rather been with Deryn, where he would be on the couch, relaxing, probably listening to the radio, singing along, or maybe dancing. He smiled at the thought of her.
"Aleksandar?" A voice asked him, and he snapped back into the real world.
"Yes." He said, his eyes now focusing back at the boffin in front of him. "What was the question?"
Those British boffins could be so annoying with their pointless questions. No answer he gave was ever enough for them. There was always some controversy that he had to dissipate, some international conflict that he had to downplay for their sake. They might have been the most intelligent minds of the Allied Powers, but they knew nothing about world politics. At least not like he did. "What are your thoughts on the uprising in Germany? Do you think that there is another war coming along?" The boffin asked, his small round eyeglasses hung on his sharp, Roman nose. This particular boffin always seemed condescending to Alek, as if, because he was a Clanker, he was not as clever or important as the rest of them.
Alek sighed. He had already answered this question about a million times, and he would have to answer it another hundred times. "Yes. I have spoken to Lord Churchill about this matter and he does not agree with me at this current moment." That idiot, Churchill, wanted to ignore that madman that was on a rampage in Germany, the one who was pledging religious-based massacre. "He wishes to wait until he has just cause to attack."
"What are your wife's thoughts on this matter?" Another boffin asked. Alek recognized Dr. Andrews simply by his height. The man was nearly two meters tall and very hard to miss.
Alek smiled. Dr. Andrews was very fond of Deryn, and she reciprocated the feelings. They had learned so much from him. "She thinks that he is a dummkopf, as she herself would say."
"I'm just surprised that she hasn't sent an angry letter condemning him of treason." The doctor chuckled.
"I'm quite sure, that if she were in the condition, she would." He said. Out of the corner of his eye, Alek saw Count Volger approaching him, weaving himself through the crowd of bowler hat-adorning scientists. He tapped Alek on the shoulder to make his presence known and whispered something seemingly urgent into Alek's ear. Once the Count had finished, Alek's eyebrows furrowed for a minute but then his entire face lit up into a bright smile. "Excuse me gentlemen, but I must be on my way. Family matters." He said and ran out of the room. Literally ran, leaving Count Volger to handle the rest of the explanations.
Alek cautiously walked into the bedroom, careful not to make any noise. He didn't really have to worry, because no one was asleep. Deryn was propped up on the bed and holding a small, blanketed bundle in her arms. Her ears were as sharp as her name, because when Alek opened the door, she looked up, a wide smile plastered on her face. Her face was sweaty and there were bags under her eyes, and her hair was falling out of its loosely made bun. To Alek, she had never been more beautiful.
In the corner of the room, in the comfortable chairs that were laid in the room, sat Ma Sharp and Jaspert, obviously more tired from the delivery than Deryn. Alek walked over to the bed and sat down beside his wife, careful not to disturb the balance of the mattress springs.
"Can I hold him?" He asked, unsure of how to proceed in the situation. Alek had never been the most confident fellow in the world and improvisation was not as natural to him as it was to Deryn.
"Of course you can, you ninny!" She whispered teasingly, her eyes moving to the small slow-breathing bundle in her arms. "You're as responsible for his creation as I am." Deryn adjusted her arms and passed the baby to Alek. He was so small and fit perfectly in Alek's arms, as if the little boy had been designed to snuggle in his arms. "I haven't named him yet." She told him, slowly stroking her newborn son's soft, wrinkly skin. "I thought I'd wait for you."
"Hmm." Alek mumbled, agreeing. He was holding his little boy, his creation, his first-born child, and therefore had no ears for Deryn at that moment. He loved her, but he was simply mesmerized by his son's perfection.
"I was thinking of naming him Jean Bom Jacques Strap," she joked, sensing her husband's lack of attention. "Or Shithead. I've always liked Mildred, as well."
Alek nodded, but then took a minute to process what she had just said before realizing what was happening. "What?" He exclaimed.
"Shhh!" Deryn hissed. "He's sleeping!"
"You want to name our child Mildred! Our son?" Alek hissed back, heatedly.
"Of course not, you dummkopf! You weren't listening to me!"
Alek sputtered indignantly. "I was too listening to you!"
Deryn gave him a look of skepticism. "You were going to let me name our son Jacques Strap! Barking spiders! Thank Darwin that I'm the one who wears the pants in this house!" She exclaimed, wiping off the sweat on her face with her sleeve. "Everything goes in one ear, and right back out the same ear! It doesn't even go through your brain!"
"Your son is not even an hour old and you two are already fighting?" asked a groggy voice from the corner of the room. Both Deryn and Alek whipped their heads to face Jaspert's waking figure. "Name him Artemis." He said, rubbing his eyes. "After Da, and his middle name can be Ferdinand, after Alek's Da."
Deryn looked at Alek, who stared back into her eyes. In Alek's arms, the baby started to fidget, taking his little fists from the bundle in which he was wrapped. Alek looked to his small son as the boy opened his wide blue eyes. Deryn's eyes.
Alek smiled at his son, and looked at his wife once more. "Artemis Ferdinand Sharp-Chotek." He said. "That's a little long, but he's a Hapsburg. It's tradition."
Deryn throws her head back in laughter, taking one of Artemis' small fists into her much larger hand. "Hello there, Artemis." She cooed. "You have your grandda's eyes, you know. Big and blue, just like your ma and your uncle Jaspert."
"I'll leave you two alone." Jaspert said as he got up from his chair and walked over to the chair where his mother was sleeping. He swept Ma Sharp into his arms as if she weighed nothing and left the room. He was smiling as he left the small family in the bedroom. He had no doubt that they would start their bickering again soon.