You Can’t Make an Omelet Without Breaking...Wait..
Summary: “You dropped my kid?” “No, I hatched him. So, you’re welcome”. Or, Gandra takes a nap and wake up a full-fledged parent because her co-worker is an idiot.
Read on AO3: “You Can’t Make an Omelet Without Breaking...Wait...”
Gandra never liked to admit when she was tired, whether to herself or to others. As long as she was able to keep her eyes open, she would insist that she was fine, and continue to work on whatever project she had decided to focus on at the moment.
Being busy helped to distract her from being tired. Or, at least, that was how it usually worked; but lately, that method hadn’t been working as well as it had in the past.
Maybe she just had too much on her mind right now, adding mental exhaustion to the physical. But it wasn’t like she could avoid thinking about everything – the stuff she did for FOWL was literally her job right now; the Cloud was not only her chance to get away from the organization, now that she knew she wanted to leave, but it was also the only time she and Fenton could really be together; and then there was the egg, which may as well be a ticking clock as far as Gandra was concerned.
She knew that, at most, she had a little over a month before her egg hatched, and it was more than likely that it’d be closer to three weeks, taking family history into account. After all, if she’d hatched a little early herself, it wasn’t unlikely that the same thing would happen with her child.
Of course, she was already prepared for when the baby actually came – at least, in the physical sense. She had gotten a hold of all of supplies she needed (mostly stuff she’d bought, but Pepper had insisted on throwing a bit of a baby shower and gotten a few things for her as well), with most of it already set up in her apartment; and Bradford had already promised her about two months of maternity leave after the egg hatched. Which meant she was completely prepared for this….if she ignored how she was personally feeling about the whole thing.
Gandra wasn’t afraid or anything – definitely not – but she did have to admit that this was going to be a seriously big change, actually having a baby to take care of.
With the egg, she only really had to worry about keeping it warm, which was easy enough for her to do, using blankets and the heating-pad carrier she’d rigged up when she needed her hands free and couldn’t actually hold it to her body for warmth. An actual baby was going to be a lot more work – feeding, changing, getting the kid to sleep – on top of the fact that she was still working for FOWL, and after her leave was over, she’d have to try to balance taking care of a baby with the projects and missions Bradford gave her.
Not to mention the work she was doing with Fenton, trying to finish up the Cloud and actually launch it so that she could leave this place for good; something she was even more determined to do than before, now that her kid was so close to actually being here.
She didn’t think her kid would be in danger here – the people she worked with were mostly villains, but she knew they all had some standards. But, she still didn’t want to have them growing up for too long in a place like this; the FOWL headquarters probably weren’t the best environment for a young child…though maybe that was mostly Gandra projecting, since Jay seemed fine whenever she saw him with John (as the old heir had started insisting she call him, though she still preferred using his surname) at the meetings. It didn’t change the fact that she still wanted to leave FOWL as soon as she could, though she was starting to consider finding ways to keep in touch with some of her associates, even after she was gone.
The sound of a door opening snapped Gandra out of her thoughts and she turned her swivel chair around to face the source, admittedly curious to see who had come to her “office”.
Most of the Eggheads tended to knock, so she was expecting someone higher up in the chain of command – if not Bradford or Heron, then at least someone like Rockerduck or even Steelbeak.
Apparently Pepper was the one Egghead who decided to be different from the others in that regard. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that she was getting pretty close to the Phantom Blot; maybe she was just naturally bold; or maybe she had knocked before, and Gandra had just been too focused on her own thoughts to hear it – they all were equally likely possibilities at the moment.
“Unless it’s an emergency, tell Bradford I’ll be there in ten minutes,” Gandra said, turning herself around to return to the project she’d been trying to focus on – thankfully something for FOWL, meaning Pepper’s sudden intrusion hadn’t put the Cloud, or, more importantly, Fenton, at risk. She paused mid-turn when Pepper actually responded.
“Actually, we don’t have a meeting going on right now, and Director Buzzard is busy making plans with Black Heron.”
Gandra had to admit, she was a little confused after hearing that. If Pepper wasn’t coming to retrieve her for a meeting, or at Bradford’s command, why did she bother coming to see her at all?
She didn’t ask the question out loud, but she had a feeling that her confusion was made clear by her expression. Her assumptions were confirmed to be correct when the other woman spoke again.
“I just wanted to check up on you, is all,” Pepper explained. “Blot and Rockerduck were talking the other day about how you’ve been working a lot of extra hours and going home late. Have to admit, the way they were talking, I was kinda worried you were maybe overworking yourself a bit.”
Trying to ignore the heat coming to her face, Gandra muttered that she was fine. She was lying through her teeth, but it wasn’t like she could really talk to Pepper about this, anyway. Talking would mean having to give some kind of explanation for what was making her so tired in the first place; and while Gandra didn’t exactly consider Pepper an enemy, there wasn’t anyone involved in FOWL that she trusted enough to keep a secret.
“You need to take a bit of a snooze. Me and Blot can take care of things if Director Buzzard needs you for anything.” The Egghead’s voice was just as bubbly and friendly as it ever was, but it was mixed with firmness that the younger woman was unsure if she’d ever heard her use before. It was unlikely that she was going to take no for an answer, and Gandra did have to admit that she probably could use a couple hours of sleep, if only to help get her mind to finally quiet down enough to let her think clearly.
However, there was one small, but still very significant, reason why she couldn’t do that.
“Thanks, Pepper,” Gandra said, trying her best to sound sincere, “But it’s not exactly easy to get some sleep around here when I have to worry about holding onto this.”
She briefly looked down at her egg, a slight smile playing at the corners of her mouth despite what she’d just said. But she wasn’t lying about having the egg with her making it harder to sleep; there were a few cots in a nearby break room that had been provided for anyone who needed to stay at the headquarters over night, but they were all pretty narrow. If she did try to get some rest on one of those cots, while holding her egg, she’d probably be too worried it’d fall off the edge to actually get any sleep, no matter how firmly she held it.
“I can take care of the little one for you,” Pepper said, offering a smile along with the suggestion.
Gandra hesitated, thinking it over.
She had to admit, after that mission in Swanstantine – where she’d been more or less forced to leave her egg behind at headquarters-, she felt a little weird about handing her egg over to someone else; even if she was pretty sure she could trust Pepper. But…now that the offer of getting some sleep had been given, she was all too aware of just how tired she was.
She really could use a few hours to herself, and when she thought about it, it wasn’t really all that different from when she would put the egg in her little “nest” of a heating pad and blankets when she took a shower back home....Gandra sighed.
“Okay, fine,” she said, very carefully removing the sling from her body and handing it, as well as the egg cradled in the “basket” section, to the Egghead. “Just…come and get me if I’m not back in three hours.”
Pepper agreed to the terms, then gently ushered the younger agent away, instructing her to get some rest and once again promising to take good care of the future child in her care as Gandra headed down the hall to the nearby break room.
“Well, little fella, looks like you’re gonna be spending a couple hours with Auntie Pepper while Mama gets some sleep.”
There was no response from the egg, of course, but Pepper smiled at it regardless, giving the shell a slight rub as she carefully put on the sling Gandra had handed her. It was a bit of an awkward fit, even after she’d adjusted the straps to be more secure around her body.
Not too surprising, when she actually thought about it – Gandra had probably made the sling herself, so it was most likely designed to fit her perfectly.
It didn’t really matter much, however; it only took a few moments of fiddling around before Pepper was satisfied with the way the carrier was situated on her torso; not a perfect fit, but a secure one, which was at least good enough for the time being.
“Now, let’s get back to work. Don’t want to keep Blot waiting too long.” At this point, the Egghead was mostly just talking to herself (even if she ignored the fact that, right now, any conversations she had were going to be pretty one-sided by default). That didn’t change the fact that she did need to get back to the Phantom Blot; she had asked to be excused in the middle of their conversation when she’d suddenly realized she wasn’t sure if Gandra had ever gone home the night before, and wanted to make sure everything was alright with her co-worker.
To her surprise, when she returned, she found that Blot was no longer alone. Instead, he was talking with Steelbeak about something…or, more accurately, Steelbeak was talking to him, and he seemed to be begrudgingly listening, or at least, pretending to listen.
“What’re you guys chatting about?” Pepper questioned, stepping in between the two men. The question was asked partially out of genuine curiosity, and in part because she could tell Blot was losing patience with the other agent.
Her sudden interruption seemed to work, at least as far as distracting the hooded man from his annoyance. Instead, his expression morphed to one of presumed surprise, his eyes going wide under the hood.
“Oh, don’t worry ‘bout this,” Pepper said, already guessing what he was going to be asking her, as she gave a gentle little pat to the egg in the carrier strapped to her waist. “I just thought Gandra could use a little bit of a rest, so I’m watching this little fella while she takes a nap in the break area. She said to give ‘em back in a couple hours, though, so not gonna have ‘em for long.”
The brows of the Phantom Blot’s hood lowered slowly, him muttering something to himself about how he “supposed that made sense”; though Pepper didn’t respond as she knew he wasn’t actually talking to her.
Someone else did speak to Pepper, however, a second later, when Steelbeak called her name to get her attention. He also tapped her on the shoulder, surprising the Egghead both with how sudden the contact was, as well as how hard the fingertip jabbed into her shoulder.
Apparently being gentle wasn’t something that Steelbeak knew much about…Still, he was one of her coworkers, and she didn’t want to be rude by ignoring him.
“What do you wanna talk about?” Pepper asked, figuring that if Steelbeak had tried to get her attention, he probably had something to say.
However, the rooster simply pointed at the egg, saying, “Let me see that thing for a sec. I wanna try something.”
There was something about the way he asked that made Pepper hesitate; not to mention the fact that she had promised Gandra that she’d take care of the egg while she was resting, so handing it to someone else felt a little like breaking that promise. Still, it was only going to be for a second, and what could really happen?
“Okie-doke,” Pepper said, trying to sound much more confident than she was admittedly feeling. “Just for a sec, though – need to make sure the little guy stays warm as much as I can, you know?”
She also chose to ignore the way Steelbeak’s eyes rolled when she carefully lifted the egg out of the carrier before handing it over to him.
“Yeah, yeah, whatever – it’s not like I’m gonna stick the dumb thing in the freezer or somethin’” muttered the rooster as he took the egg in his hands. He flipped it over in his hands; a small chuckle escaping his beak, the smile remaining even after the sound was gone.
Suddenly – so suddenly that neither of the other agents present had time to properly react – he held up a single finger, managing to quickly balance the egg on the tip, and then using his now free hand to start it spinning; literally treating the unhatched child like it was a basketball.
The shock was overwhelming. Pepper’s mouth opened in an attempt to say something, anything, but her brain was sending so many mixed up messages and signals that no matter how much she tried to get actual words to come out, there was nothing but silence. The fact that time seemed to be simultaneously slowed to a crawl and racing by at once wasn’t helping.
And that was before the egg suddenly fell off of Steelbeak’s fingertip and, before the shock could wear off and either Pepper or Blot could even try to catch it, landed with a very loud smack on the ground.
Bradford knew something was wrong from the moment he stepped into the room. With the agents he had, he knew well enough that when he allowed them to be left alone in a room together, silence was the last thing he should be expecting. The group was usually able to work together fairly well on missions, but the varied personalities often clashed when everyone was left to their own devices at the organization’s headquarters; which meant that the almost echoing silence that filled the room was honestly much more concerning than even the loudest screaming would have been.
Black Heron had followed him into the room, but Bradford paid her no mind.
Despite knowing that he most likely would not want to know the answer, he demanded, “What is going on in –“. He stopped speaking abruptly as he took in the scene before him. Steelbeak standing in the center of the room, a single finger pointed towards the ceiling for some reason the buzzard couldn’t even begin to guess.
Phantom Blot and Pepper were also in the room, both looking at something on the floor with what the director could only assume were near identical looks of horror; the face-covering hood often made it difficult to discern facial expressions for the magic-hater.
The question of what was causing that sort of reaction crossed Bradford’s mind - and then his gaze followed that of his two underlings.
His question was immediately answered; he also found himself very close to cursing, but held back, knowing how unprofessional that way. Though, even if he had cursed, he supposed the circumstances would have made it understandable - after all, the fact that Agent’s Dee’s egg was on the floor was bad enough; the other factors just made Bradford realize just how bad the situation really was. And it only became worse as a new sound filled the room; it wasn’t very loud, but in the silence, it was all too easy to hear the distinct sound of something cracking - specifically, an eggshell cracking.
Now completely overcome by internal panic, Bradford could only watch as a small hand broke through the shell of the egg, followed closely by the very tip of a pointed beak. A pair of webbed feet popped out from a little further down, breaking off more of the shell in the process.
With the egg broken in more than a few places, it took only a moment or two longer before the FOWL agents and director found themselves staring, stunned, at the small newborn, still damp from the inside of the egg, and surrounded by shards of broken shell.
At first, when the newborn stopped wriggling, Bradford assumed he was simply going to fall asleep. Which was good enough for him - he still needed to figure out the best way to deal with explaining the situation to Gandra when she awoke. Unfortunately, less than a second later, the infant let loose with a chirpy cry, one that seemed exceedingly loud for how small his lungs had to be.
Bradford immediately flinched back at the sound, as did Heron and Steelbeak.
The only one who actually moved was Blot, who seemed to tap into some instinct that had presumably been buried some time ago, quickly moving to gently pick the baby up from the floor and cradle him in his arms.
“Shhhh, it’s okay, you’re okay,” muttered the Phantom Blot as he very carefully rocked the still wailing newborn in his arms. The tone of voice was so unlike the magic-despising phantom that even Bradford couldn’t help but stare.
Meanwhile, Pepper had moved closer to her partner, eyes sparkling as she looked at the baby.
“Baby boy. Baby,” she cooed, carefully reaching over to stroke the downy light brown feathers on his cheek; an action that finally seemed to settle the child down, if only a little. He was still crying, but not as loud as before, and had stopped his squirming, opening his eyes just slightly to reveal eyes that matched Gandra Dee’s in hue, if not in shape.
“What do you propose we do now, Bradford?” Heron asked, speaking up for the first time since the two of them had stepped into the room; also surprising Bradford just a bit, as he’d honestly briefly forgotten she was even there.
Bradford cleared his throat, attempting to hide just how startled he was. However, her question was a fair one to ask – what were they going to do now? Obviously this was not something that he had any sort of plan for; he had expected Agent Dee to have started her maternity leave and be home by the time the child hatched, not have it hatch at FOWL headquarters, with the mother nowhere to be seen. Which raised a question of his own, one he addressed to the agents who had been in the room before him.
“Where is Agent Dee?”
It was the Egghead who responded to the inquiry. Bradford was fairly certain it was the first time she’d ever spoken directly to him, actually.
“She looked pretty worn out, Director Buzzard, so I told her to take a nap in the break room for a couple hours while I kept an eye on this little fella,” Pepper explained, briefly looking away from him to gently stroke the sparse, curly dark-brown feathers that on top of the newborn’s head.
Normally Bradford would be bothered by the lack of respect that came from looking away when talking to someone, but as the action seemed to help calm the child’s screaming a bit, he chose to ignore it.
“Then I suppose someone wake her and inform her of what happened. The child is her responsibility, after all,” Bradford commented.
In spite of what he said, it was apparent that nobody present was in any rush to tell Gandra exactly what had occurred (not that Bradford himself knew for sure, though context made him certain that Steelbeak was very much involved), meaning he would be forced to volunteer one of the agents if they didn’t make the choice for themselves. He was debating between sending Phantom Blot or Pepper – Steelbeak seemed an unwise choice, given the circumstances – when the sound of Gandra Dee’s voice coming from the doorway made the issue moot.
“What. The. Hell. Happened?” the young woman asked when she stepped into the room, each and every word said very slowly, and absolutely dripping with rage that was clearly just barely contained.
She seemed to relax a little when Blot handed the child to her (an act that also seemed to pacify the baby, as he finally stopped wailing as soon as his mother was holding him), but the look on her face made it clear she was still waiting for an answer.
Nobody said anything…but Gandra caught the way that Pepper’s eyes drifted over to Steelbeak; which also led to her noticing that the rooster was standing closest to the pieces of broken eggshell on the ground.
“You dropped my kid?” Gandra asked, sounding both incredulous, and like she wasn’t at all surprised by what she was saying.
“No, I hatched ‘im,” responded Steelbeak. “So…you’re welcome.”
Everyone who could see Gandra’s eyes at that moment winced as they seemed to literally spark, the feathers along her neck and cheeks bristling for the briefest of seconds before settling down again, though the angry glower never left her eyes. When she spoke again, her tone was calm…but that was not comforting, not at all.
“Then I guess it’s time for his first science lesson,” she began, adjusting her hold on the infant to pull off one of her gloves. “What happens when you combine electricity and metal.”
Whatever part of Steelbeak’s mind seemed to be responsible for self-preservation seemed to kick in just then; his expression changed from smug to obviously fearful, but trying to downplay said fear.
“Hey, hey, hey, Dee…don’t you think you’re making a big deal out of this? I mean, you know that whole thing about omelets and eggs and all that?”
The others in the room were torn between trying to get him to shut his mouth before Gandra shocked him even more painfully than she was obviously already planning (and considering her palm was already starting to spark, it seemed like the electrocution was all but inevitable), and having a bit of morbid curiosity as to where this was eventually going to lead. Heron in particular appeared to be very invested in the “show” happening in front of her.
Just as it looked like Steelbeak was about to learn what it felt like to be extra-crispy, the baby let out a yawn, followed closely by a little whimper; sounds that appeared to distract Gandra enough to pull her out of her rage, momentarily.
Gandra inhaled deeply, letting the breath out in an obvious attempt to calm herself down more before she did or said anything else. Once she felt like she could speak without saying something that she may or may not have regretted later, she did so, though as she spoke, she also removed her sweater from around her waist and wrapped her son in it, unable to keep herself from smiling a little at the contented chirp he made once he was bundled up in the clothing.
“I’m going to grab one of Jay’s diapers from Rockerduck’s room, and then I’m going home,” Gandra told Bradford simply.
Bradford wanted to say something in protest – he did still need her for certain projects he had planned, after all – but he knew he couldn’t; he had promised her paid maternity leave when her child hatched, and he couldn’t very well revoke that promise simply because the child arrived sooner than expected.
“Very well,” he replied, taking great effort to contain his disappointment in the situation. Whether the effort was in vain or not, he wasn’t entirely sure, as Gandra didn’t say anything else in response; she simply walked out of the room, closing the door behind her.
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