Most of the readings showed large groups. There were a couple of smaller groups but even they were seven or more members. He trekked deeper into the forest, moving fast and scanning in all directions. By the time the sun had started to set he had all but given up, and then three new bleeps appeared on his scanner. They were close, two static and one moving around. The Elite could hardly contain himself and broke into a run. The scanner showed that he was practically on top of them. Justin scanned the area visually, searching for signs of habitation. They were there, he knew they were.
“Jay-cee,” he shouted. “Ju-cee.” He waited, getting no answer. He dropped to the ground his head in his hands. All the guilt of leaving JC came flooding to the surface, consuming him, submerging him so deeply that he was unaware of the little boy sitting next to him until he spoke.
“Baby,” Ju-cee said tugging on Justin's tunic to get his attention.
“Ju-cee!” Justin scooped the toddler into his arms and hugged him. He opened the baby’s palm and spoke with sign language, sounding out the words for the baby to learn. Ju-cee gurgled and pointed towards a small hole in the side of a rock face. Justin watched as the child wriggled through the hole then popped his head back out giggling.
Justin manoeuvred himself through the gap into the large cavern hidden behind, he gasped in horror at the sight before him. JC was lying on his back with the newborn baby on his chest. The child was still attached to its afterbirth that lay between JC’s blood covered legs.
The Sub was barely breathing. His blood loss had been great and the sheer effort of giving birth had weakened him further. Justin tipped out his bag and found his medkit. He filled a hypo-spray and pressed it to JC’s neck. Almost immediately the drugs took effect and JC’s breathing evened out and the bleeding stopped.
The Elite turned his attention to the infant, severing his cord and tying it off. Then using water from his canteen he washed the child clean before wrapping him up tightly in furs and laying him down to sleep. All he had to do now was wait.
Justin spent the time playing with Ju-cee. Teaching the bright little boy new words. Soon his vocabulary was greater than JC’s.
“What this?” Ju-cee asked innocently, holding up a worm he had dug out of the ground.
“Worm,” Justin said as he traced the word on the baby’s hand.
Ju-cee popped it in his mouth and started chewing it.
“Eww, no Ju-cee, bad boy.” Justin dug the chewed remains out of the little boy’s mouth trying not to laugh and gag at the same time.
“Worm good,” Ju-cee insisted. “Dada told if he sleep eat worm.”
“Well he would. I’m here now so you don’t eat worms.” Justin picked up the toddler and carried him to where the contents of his pack lay spread on the ground. He picked up a protein bar and ripped it open before handing it to Ju-cee, laughing at how the little boy sniffed it before biting into it, just like his father had done.
“You are beautiful,” he told the little boy. “Just like dada.”
“Dada,” the little boy repeated. “Dada baby.”
“Yes, dada had baby. Sleep now Ju-cee,” Justin told him through sign and speech.
“Ju-cee,” JC’s thin voice was barely audible but his child’s little ears picked up the sound with no effort. He wriggled out of Justin's arms and ran to where his father lay covered in animal skins.
“Baby sleep,” the little boy said, his tiny fingers dancing on JC’s open palm. He nuzzled his fathers hand with his nose. “Hug dada?” he begged.
Justin lifted him away and gave him a hug. “Sit and play angel while I talk to dada.” Justin sat by JC’s side and lifted his hand so he could sign what he said.
“I’m sorry,” Justin said not really knowing how else to start. “I didn’t mean the things I said. I haven’t gone a day without thinking of you and regretting my words. I love you Jay-cee, I need you.”
JC turned his face so the Elite couldn’t see the tears building in his eyes. “You left me,” he signed. “I gave me to you and you left me and Ju-cee alone.”
Justin turned JC’s face towards him and caressed his cheek. “I came back,” he signed back. “I’ll never leave you again.”
JC blinked his beautiful blue eyes and gazed up at the man who had hunted him down twice, unable to resist pressing into the contact.
“Jay-cee,” Justin asked. “Who baby’s father?” he signed the word father not knowing if JC understood the spoken word or not.
“You,” Jay-cee answered softly, he turned away again afraid of rejection.
Justin made him look at him again. “What baby’s name?” he asked out loud.
“Jus-in,” Jay-cee replied shyly as Justin's mouth covered his.