A/N: This is the beginning scene of a much longer story I intended to write last summer. Forgot about it but still love the concept (and Mason).

I think I should say TW: gore lol

Enjoy <3


"Mason Niall Jaime Pendleton! Drop that this instant!"

"Louella Anne, don't—speak—to—your brother—like tha—aahhh!" Mama cried out in pain, the contractions bleeding into each other.

Louella paled as Mama's breathing grew heavier and heavier. I was scared too, and even though Mama and Louella had both explained babymaking to me before (which they didn't have to; I am seven years old, after all), nobody'd told me about the babyhaving part of it. And it's some scary stuff, so you couldn't blame me for "acting out," as Louella likes to say.

The thing Louella'd told me to drop is something I very much should not drop, but I'd never let her know I knew that. I'd picked up Mama's best vase to use as a lighthouse in my next adventure. Lighthouses are these real neat ol' buildings, tall as a water tower and bright as the sun, and old seadogs live in 'em and keep people safe. Least that's what Señor Granada tells me, he's been on all sorts of the type of adventures I can only dream of.

"The baby's coming, Louell—aahh!" Mama's screams were getting to be too much to bear. I set the vase down and clamped my hands over my ears.

"Mason!" Louella barked. "Quit standing there like a pickle man with no cucumbers and go fetch Goody Wilshire! Hurry, before the crowning starts!" Crowning? I didn't even want to know so I bolted like the good little brother I am.

Goody Wilshire is always easy to find, even in a bustling town like ours; her booming voice filled to the brim any room she was in and leaked through windows and onto the streets, so all I had to do was jog down Main Street with my ears pricked up. Soon enough, a burst of laughter shot out from Mr. Kanden's.

"Goody Wilshire! Goody Wilshire!" I shout, crashing through the saloon doors. "Mama's givin' birth and Pa isn't home! We need you before the baby starts crowning, Louella says!"

"Oh dear child," she says, setting down her glass with reverence and stepping off her barstool. "I'm on my way, may the good Lord protect her."

"Thank you, Goody, thank you! Now let's go," I huff, grabbing Goody's hand as she gathers a handful of skirt with the other. Dust kicks up 'round my feet and Goody's boots all down the street and I just barely remember to wipe it off on the rug before going inside.

"Ooh, Valley," Goody says to Mama, tucking back her hair and rolling up her sleeves. "There's your baby there, all right! I'm going to need you to push, Val, can you do that for me? Louella, fetch all the towels and bedclothes, and a pair of scissors. And Mason?"

"Yes, Goody?" I squeak, not expecting to be spoken to.

"As the only man in the house, it's your job to catch the baby. Can you do that?"

Mama's screams grew louder, almost louder than I could handle, but Goody's right. I am the man of the house, what with Pa bein' gone. Louella's back with what Goody asked of her, kneeling at Mama's side and clutching Mama's hand to her chest with worry on her brow. Can I do that?

"Yes, Goody," I say with a gulp of resolve. "I can do that."

She gives a nod and guides me to stand next to her between Mama's legs. My eyes go wide—or "bug out," like Mr. Kanden says.

"That's a head!" I think I may throw up. "Why is there so much blood?!"

All I can see are Mama's insides bein' torn out from her body and now I know why she's screaming so loud and all I want to do is look away but I told Goody I'm the man of the house so I must stand here and fulfil my duty as such, for Mama's sake and for Louella's and for the new baby's.

Goody Wilshire does what she does, which is her job as Mama's midwife, but I can't pay a lick of attention from all the concentrating I'm doing. Concentrating on breathing through my nose so I don't taste the bloody air. Concentrating on my hands so I don't see Mama hurtin' like I know she is. Concentrating on Goody's voice even though I don't hear a word of what she says—least not till she says my name.

"Mason!" she swats at me. "Blanket, boy!"

I follow her sharp orders, turning my arms into a hammock and gettin' close to Mama as I can, holding my breath but still smelling too many smells. My eyes water from Goody's brandy-tinged breathing down my neck, then Mama screams loudest she ever has and all of a sudden I'm holding a lump of crying goop, which means Mama had the baby, I think? It's a girl I see, but Mama's still hollerin' and Goody's face says the words I don't hear; "Another one." Another one? Lordy, now, another?

Louella takes the girl from me after Goody snipped something danglin' off her tummy with the scissors, face furrowed in concentration almost as hard as mine.

"Boy, get ready again now," Goody barks. Somehow I know what to do without her telling me exactly, and now I'm holding a different baby, a boy, and Mama's still crying but she's quit her shouting now and Goody snips again near this baby's tummy and both babies are caterwauling like no tomorrow. They look so alien, all sticky and stinky, eyes gooped shut and barely any hair on their heads.

This one I'm holding, he just won't quit hollerin' at me but I can't put him down. His face is one I've seen before. In stories and photographs Mama tells and shows.

Goody Wilshire pushes me gently towards Mama's side, next to Louella with the girl. And Mama looks at me and my sister, and my other sister, and my new brother.

"Well?" she sighs, sweat trickling down her chin, or maybe tears, or maybe both. "Can I hold my new babies now?"

"Yes, Mama," Louella and I breathe. Goody helped Mama sit up all comfy like, with pillows and washcloths, and I handed the boy baby as Louella handed the girl.

"Precious," Mama whispered. "All four of my precious babies, all here, with me. Thank you, Goody."

"Much obliged, dear Valley," Goody smiled.

"Now," Mama said. "What should we name them?"

Louella looked at me, then leaned closer to let the girl's teeny fingers curl around her own. "How about Maryrose Wylld for this one?"

"Oh, lovely," Mama said with a grin. She looked tired yet beautiful at the same time. Louella put her hand on my shoulder as Mama rested her eyes on mine. "Mason, what should we name your brother?"

I looked at the twins, now calm and only sniffling against Mama's breasts, already having an answer in mind. A smile spread across my face, missing someone I'd never met but sure of the name all the same.

"Maurice," I said. "Maurice Rembrandt. After Gran’pa, and his favourite artist."

Everyone smiled at me.

"Welcome to the world," Mama said to the babies. "Welcome to our family, Maurice Rembrandt and Maryrose Wylld."