Summary: Paul Phoenix makes friends with the Law family.
Last one to go.
Laws of Friendship
featuring the Law family
Behind every skittish man is a vicious woman.
Marshall Law jumped as the summons cut the air, closer and sharper than before. Paul watched as his friend sought a sanctuary, a wild look in his eyes and his baby boy cradled tightly in his arms. The call cut the air again, and every cell of Marshall looked for an escape. There was none: they were effectively caged and cornered. Past the next room, there was nowhere to run. Marshall paused to stare at the windows so long that Paul was almost sure his friend was going to shoot through and run for it.
"Take him? Please?"
Paul Phoenix was already backing off strategic steps when Marshall's sudden dash forward foiled his retreat.
"Marshall, I don't know anything about babies."
He had watched Marshall baby that suspicious bundle, but he hadn't wanted to hold it. No way.
"It's probably nothing. She's been a little edgy," Marshall said uncertainly, and Paul, who was a friend, didn't say anything. Next thing Paul knew, he was in possession of the suspicious bundle, and Marshall had scurried away with a pleading look at him and a kiss on the bundle's forehead.
While Marshall went to face his doom, Paul was left with something more alien to him than a fleet of UFOs. He startled when he realized he was truly holding a baby in his arms. The fear that he was going to drop the bundle struck instantly, and he wrapped his arms around it tighter. The movement was sudden, and he realized just as quickly that babies didn't like rough treatment. He fully expected a roaring bawl to start, and angrily tried to brace himself for the torture he was about to endure.
No such bawl surfaced. The baby remained perfectly peaceful.
"Wha—?" Paul's amazement was boundless. His awe never had a chance to develop further; a shrill voice sounded from across the house. Paul looked around, glanced at the baby, and with a worried crinkle of his face, padded to the next door, pulling the door closed behind him.
The Law home wasn't that big. Paul had never understood what the small room was for or why they didn't renovate and get rid of it, but he was thankful for it now. It was nice and safe from afternoon heat. He figured babies didn't like direct sunshine. As an added bonus, the room had an easy chair with his name on it. Paul settled down guardedly. He scanned around for a crib or something, but the search proved unsuccessful. In the hour of need... Sighing, Paul leaned back in the chair as securely as he could, holding the bundle in his arms.
"It's just you and me, kid."
The bundle was staring at him with its dark eyes. Impossibly dark eyes.
"Aren't you something?" Paul said gruffly. It didn't even get scared, even though Paul knew his voice was rough and he wasn't much good at softening it. It wasn't crying, even though it didn't have mommy or daddy around. Paul's brow furrowed, and he cradled the bundle more securely. He didn't know Marshall's wife too well. A quiet woman, the reserved type, she had always been detached to him in a civil way. She had seemed normal enough, but he had learned different. The battle-axe had taken control. Maybe it's the hormones... Paul couldn't stop the tug of sadness.
Something else had to be done; he needed a distraction. Paul joggled the bundle. To his amazement, it reacted with delight. "Must be great to be happy about something so trivial."
His best friend had a kid. This was big. This was so big that even though this wasn't his kid, Paul felt like choking. He brushed the cloth the baby was wrapped up in. A small hand darted from inside the bundle and latched onto his hand. The baby had curled its little fist around his finger. It was a damn strong hold, like they were monkeys or something... Suddenly, Paul came to think of The Baby as an exceptionally insightful, apt baby.
"You and me are going to be best buddies, kid. I'll teach you how to ride a bike, when you're old enough."
The kid had him wrapped around his finger.
Noises came from the other side of the house. Paul glanced at the door, but they were out of the way so far. "That's just your daddy getting beaten up by your mommy. Luckily, you don't understand yet."
He had intended to stay put until Marshall returned, but then came the sound of glass breaking. The walls shook with suppressed impact. His plans received an instant update. "Whaddoya say we go somewhere else?"
To be a kid like that, without a worry in the world. It put the responsibility on other shoulders. Paul set the baby on the floor, almost sure it would develop the instant ability to run off. The baby proved worth his faith again; while he looked for a piece of paper and scribbled down a few words, it stayed neatly in place, seemingly happy. Paul cracked a window open and decided he would have no trouble stepping out. He gathered the bundle in his arms and, balancing it carefully, took one last look around. This was the right thing to do.
Marshall would come for the baby as soon as he could crawl again. A couple of hours, max. Paul gave his protégé one last chance to back up, but it seemed serious and trusting. Quietly, Paul snuck out of the window with the bundle. "Don't worry. Uncle Paul's got ya."
Published August 16, 2011.
Huge thanks to Gypsie for the proofreading!
Reviews are much appreciated! Many thanks to those who took the time for a good word and more: spongecake 2, Razer Athane (doubly thanks!), Sei Honou, occasionallyme, HOIME G, redeyedcat, Dechuu, MissDragunova, and RandomEncounter.