Disclaimer: I do not own any of the original characters or places.
Terminal City, one year after the Jam Pony Siege
Mole stuffed his cigar stub into his mouth, then froze, a frown creasing his leathery face. Turning around he searched for the source of the shrill noise that had suddenly invaded the headquarters of Terminal City, but saw nothing…that is until he looked down to his own knee level.
Then he saw her, an X-5 infant, standing a few feet away. Mole would guess that she was around a year old, but what did he know about X-5 offspring. She stood with her tiny fists clinched, huge tears rolling down her cheeks, and lips quivering, until she locked eyes with Mole and let out another high pitched cry, tempting Mole to cover his ears.
"Hmhhh," Mole mused, his scaly brows arching. At his tense exhalation, the baby only cried harder. And Mole went from wandering who would let a second generation X-5 run loose, to considering the fastest way to get said X-5 child out of his sight. He looked around, not seeing any X-5's nearby that might claim the child, but remembered that 494 was upstairs going over the last minute details for an interview with a local TV reporter with Luke. Jerking his cigar from his lips, he belted out, "ALEC! ALLLLECCC!"
"What?" Alec called back, leaning over the upper railing to see what Mole's problem was.
"GET YOUR BUTT DOWN HERE. THAT'S WHAT!" Mole snapped, despite being technically subordinate to TC's second in command. Mole was unsure how the petite little thing in front of him could reach the frequencies she was reaching with her cries, but he knew that neither his sensitive ears or his nerves could take much more of it.
Alec sighed and bounded down the steps to see who had gotten Mole's panties in a bunch this time. He stopped sort in amazement when he saw the squalling infant and Mole's exasperated face. Amused, he asked, "What's the problem?"
"What's the problem?" Mole muttered around his cigar which was once again in his mouth. "Baby," Mole pointed, glaring at Alec. "Do something."
"What? If you couldn't charm her, what do you expect me to do, big guy?" Alec teased.
Mole practically growled at that. "She's X-5" he spat, looking at Alec as if that should be explanation enough.
"So…X-5 or not, when do you think Manticore trained me in child care?" Alec quipped.
"Don't know…don't care….make it gone." Mole insisted.
Alec rolled his eyes, moving closer to the still crying child in an attempt to appease Mole. "Uh, hey baby," he mumbled as he approached her. The little girl looked familiar with her brown curls and big brown eyes, but there had been a number of X-5 children born in TC shortly after the siege, so Alec really couldn't tell for certain whose child she was. He looked around the room to see if any other X-5's were around that might have misplaced a baby, but then again, they'd have to be deaf not to have located her by now. Sighing, he realized he was going to have to get closer to the girl to see if he could calm her. Taking another step, he hesitantly patted the child on the head, surprised at the softness of her silky hair. "Um…what's your name, kiddo?"
The child looked up at Alec and for a moment, he thought she might actually respond. So far as Alec knew, she should be talking at her age. But she simply shoved her thumb into her mouth and sniffled, her little chest shaking as she tried to stop her tears.
Alec reflexively pulled the girl's tiny thumb from her mouth only to be rewarded by another full force cry.
"Hey…hey now." He stepped back and crossed his arms, having no idea what to do. Finally he decided to treat this as any other mission. And as a mission, the first course of action was to identify the target…well, she wasn't exactly a target, but whatever…identify. Leaning over, he tugged gently at the back of the child's shirt and searched her tag. "Ahah....," some Manticore habits came in handy. "Nadia." Well, at least that mystery was solved. Now he recognized the little girl as Gem's daughter.
Moving on to the second objective of the mission…contain the target…or in this case, contain the high pitched cry coming from said target, Alec once again tried to calm the girl. "Ok…Ok, baby…uhh…Nadia…it's ok." Having no luck hovering above the girl, Alec decided to get down on her level. Squatting in front of the baby, he cajoled, "Hey…hey there, sweetheart….it's ok, we'll find Momma."
Alec wasn't sure who was more surprised, himself or Mole, when Nadia suddenly threw herself at him, her little chubby arms encircling his neck. "Oh….ok…ah….good baby," Alec whispered, patting the girl awkwardly on the back, relieved at least when her cries subsided. "Ok….yeah…that's good…that's good." He muttered, trying to pull the child from around his neck so he could stand, the knee he'd injured slightly while training with some X-6's protesting his current position. But the miniature X-5 only tightened her hold. "Ok…well…" Alec finally had no choice but to stand, lifting the girl up in his arms. When he did, Nadia released his neck and curled into his chest, her head burrowed under his chin, wiping her nose on the collar of Alec's gray sweater as she repeatedly fisted her tiny hands into the soft sweater material.
"Humph," Mole grunted, slapping Alec on the back hard enough to almost knock him off balance. "You're a natural, Princess."
Any response from Alec was cut off by Luke calling down to him. "Hey Alec, the reporter's here and apparently there's some big story going on across town, so she has to make it quick. Can you come do the interview now?" He asked, as he came down the stairs to where Alec and Mole were.
"Um…yeah…sure." Alec replied, turning toward Luke with Gem's baby in hand. "I just need to …ah…." He looked at Mole in silent question, only to have Mole blow a ring of smoke around his cigar stub and glare silently as if to say, "Do I look like a babysitter to you?"
"Yeah….well…." Alec motioned from Luke to the girl still clinging to his sweater. "Um…Luke, can you …ah."
"Oh….oh…." Luke backed away slightly, hands held up in front of him. "I don't really ....ah….have any experience with children."
"Well, there's a first time for everything, right?" Alec commented, stepping closer to Luke.
"Ah…yeah, I guess." Luke replied, moving forward hesitantly to take the child.
But, Nadia had no intentions of leaving her new safe haven. The minute Alec tried to pull her away from his chest to hand her to Luke, she started crying again, practically climbing up Alec's chest to wrap her arms around his neck once again, hanging on for dear life.
"Uh…what now?" Luke muttered.
Alec sighed. "Someone needs to find Gem or Dalton or even Joshua." He instructed.
"I'll get someone right on that, but the reporter isn't going to wait long Alec." Luke answered.
"Well then," Alec looked down at baby Nadia, "I guess it's time for you to make your television debut, huh kid?"