Baby Talk

by Drink Sparky Cola

October 2010

"What do you think about the possibility of us—maybe… having a couple kids?"

Steven Bloom's aim went wide, sending a few rounds of ammunition from the sub machine gun he was firing off one-handed flying at random into the nearest light post. To his credit, he had still managed to take out the armed gunman pursuing them, but all three adults winced at the misfire.

"Kids? You really think we can handle kids with everything else we've been dealing with these past few months?" He lowered the weapon to his side and allowed his wife to take point as he shifted his burden—a wounded Leo Nash hanging on his right side—to get a better grip.

Samantha took out another gunman on the rooftop above them with two well-placed bullets and continued to lead the way. "I don't see why not. I mean, we'd always talked about having kids. I know things have changed a little bit but I kinda figured that was one thing that hadn't."

"Really?" an incredulous Leo whined, wincing as he stumbled across the wet lawn of the Moscow-based office building he'd been held in for the past 36 hours. "Now? You're gonna choose now to have the 'Let's have a baby' chat?"

Ignoring the younger man, Steven continued, "I don't know, sweetie. I just don't know how we'll even work something like that into our lives right now."

"Well, why not? We've been back in the game now for eight months and we're doing great—"

"Except for the part where they got their super-awesome, handsome spy B.F.F. Leo caught and tortured—"

"That was super-awesome spy B.F.F. Leo's fault for running his mouth off to the wrong guys when someone told him to keep quiet."

Leo considered her words briefly then added, "You forgot 'handsome'," a smarmy reply that was interrupted when Steven 'accidentally' led the other agent headlong into a parking meter.

"Oops," Steven replied in a droll voice.

Dazed, Leo recovered himself, muttering something along the lines of "so much hostility… can't take a joke…"

Without missing a beat, Samantha resumed her argument. "Plus, we could always set aside the catering business for a little while. Lizzy's been doing so well lately, and Lord knows we've left her alone enough times to run the place while we run off to take missions." She spotted two more armed guards and took aim, clipping one. The trio ducked behind a low cement wall to take shelter from their other assailant as a shower of bullets landed at their feet.

Holding a hand up to his earpiece, Steven radioed in their position. "Hoyt, we've got Leo; we're ready to be picked up at the rendezvous point A.S.A.P. Do you copy?"

"Loud and clear Agent Bloom. I can meet you in 90 seconds."

"Copy." Steven watched as his wife reloaded her pistol and immediately jumped up to return fire to their assailant, expertly taking him out with just a few rounds. Steven was always enraptured by his wife, but ever since rejoining the C.I.A. less than a year ago, he found himself newly impressed by her ever-increasing skills set on a near-daily basis. It seemed that there was no end to what she had up her sleeve—and this revelation was just another thing to add to the list.

"What brought all this on, anyway? Even before we got back into the game, it had been a while since we'd talked about starting a family."

Samantha shrugged, and Steven noticed how her face was lit. Whether it was from the adrenaline or her genuine glee at the subject she'd forcibly breached, it was difficult to tell. "I don't know. It's just—the shower we catered last week got me to thinking—"

"I knew it!" Steven said in his best a-ha! tone. "I knew that's what got you!"

"Oh you do, do you?"

"Yes, ever since you had to draw those little pink baby booties in piping gel on the cake, I knew this conversation was just around the bend—"

"Really, 'cause you seemed pretty surprised when I brought it up a minute ago, or did you mean to neutralize the threat that telephone pole was posing?"

"OH. MY. GAWD, I'm DYING here!" Leo moaned, banging his head against the wall.

Samantha gave him a sharp look. "Oh, please, you are not—"

"No, no! Not from the gunshot wound. From your BICKERING."

They were interrupted by another round of gunfire. Steven took the initiative this time, eliminating the target while Samantha checked on their wounded team member. The head wound on his left temple had stopped bleeding but the gunshot wound on his right side was bleeding again. She tightened the makeshift bandage and he winced. "Sorry," she apologized genuinely, locking eyes just early enough to see the pained expression that he instantly wiped away and replaced with a flirtatious one.

"Hey, don't apologize. You can touch me with those hands wherever you like—"

"LEO." Steven shot a severe warning gaze in the wounded man's direction. Anyone else would have been properly cowed by such a gaze coming from such a man, but of course, this was Leo he was dealing with.

"Oh you know I'm just kidding. You're welcome to come over here and cop a feel instead, if you'd like. I wouldn't blame you, I have rock hard abs."

Steven just rolled his eyes and ignored him, searching the horizon for any new threats. It wasn't that he didn't want kids anymore; he hadn't chosen the spy life for good… he just had a lot of reasonable doubts, not the least of which was the danger inherent in their career.

"I just think there's a lot of things you're not considering, not the least of which is Shaw—" Steven chuckled. "Oh, Agent Shaw. Whatever would HE have to say about this?" He briefly entertained a vision of Shaw fuming at them, his ears going all pink like they did every time he was trapped in a room with the married couple.

"Oh, I'm not afraid of him, and you shouldn't be either." Samantha replied. "He disapproves of everything we do, on principle. And anyway, didn't he even say back when we started that no matter what we asked for they'd accommodate us? Just imagine: this baby would have two world-renown spies for parents, and when we're gone on a mission, government-sponsored, high-security daycare round the clock."

"The agency does have a good benefits package," Steven nodded to himself. "But what about us? What if we're killed on a mission?" The thought of bringing a child into the world only to leave it alone without it ever knowing the truth about what happened to its parents was incomprehensible to Steven, and he knew Samantha felt the same way without even asking her.

At this, Samantha faltered, but shockingly it was Hoyt whose voice chimed in all their earpieces.

"Actually, the odds are pretty decent that the two of you could lead totally normal lives and still die in a freak accident one day, whether you have children or not. There's really no way of telling when your day will be up."

"Thanks, Hoyt. Thanks for that," Steven radioed back.

"Yeah, Hoyt, thanks for that… comforting reassurance," Samantha added, more confused and unsettled than she was grateful for the backup.

"Sorry," Hoyt replied. "Especially to you Mr. Agent Bloom. For taking her side," he clarified.

"We get it, Hoyt."

"Sorry again. I'll be there in twenty seconds."

Steven and Samantha watched as a seemingly interminable horde of armed guards piled out of a back door. "Christ, where are they keeping these guys?" Steven groaned just as Hoyt pulled up behind them, tires screeching and van door sliding open to invite them in. In one fluid motion, Steven slid an arm under Leo's shoulder, hauled him to his feet and helped him into the van while Sam covered them. "I'll drive," Steven said, jerking a thumb to the back seat. He ran around and took Hoyt's place while the tech specialist wordlessly complied, climbing into the back seat to help with Leo. It wasn't that Steven didn't think Hoyt was a good driver. He just thought Hoyt would be a better help dealing with Leo. In truth, all this talk of starting a family was starting to make Steven worry that—in addition to all the obvious problems—Steven just wasn't very nurturing.

As he took off down the dark city streets looking for a busy road or an alley to lose their soon-to-be tail in, he caught a glimpse of his wife in the rearview mirror, ripping off Leo's temporary bandage and replacing it with a clean piece of gauze. She snapped her fingers at Hoyt to hold it in place while she wrapped the rest of the roll around his middle tightly, eliciting another groan.

"Drugs! Please!" Leo whined, eyes screwed tightly shut.

"I'm on it," Hoyt answered, snatching a morphine syringe from the first aid kit and administering the sedative just in time for the van to be rocked by gunfire from the tail they'd recently acquired.

"And I'm on that—" Samantha countered, climbing into the front seat and leaning out the window with her pistol. Steven just chuckled, eyes ahead on the road. "What is it?" his wife asked, perplexed.

"Nothing, it's just—look at you! You'll be Super Mom! You go from slapping on the proverbial band-aid to taking out a truck full of armed gunmen, like that!" He snapped his fingers for emphasis. "How in the Hell do you do it?"

"This is a lot more than just a band-aid, buddy!" Leo slurred from the back seat as the drugs began to kick in. "It's a lot more than proverbial too!"

The van sped up and the other truck backed down momentarily. "I'm not sure what you mean," Samantha replied, turning to face her husband. She peeked in the rearview mirror and spied Leo fiddling with the new bandage, peeling off a piece of tape. "Leo, you stop messing with that or you're gonna loosen it again!"

"But it itches!"

"I don't care if it itches! Leave it alone. And Hoyt, make sure he doesn't fall asleep; I think he may have a concussion."

"Yes Mrs. Agent Bloom."

"See? That! THAT is what I'm talking about!" Steven grinned, taking a sharp left, followed belatedly by their tail. "You're all nurturer one minute and voice of authority the next. I don't know if I can do that."

"What are you talking about? Of course you can."

"Mrs. Agent Bloom? Could you please tell Agent Nash to sit still? I can't take care of the cut on his head if he keeps fidgeting—"

"I'm just trying to get my gun."

"Leo, we don't need you to help us right now. Just sit still and let Hoyt help you."

"Whoa," Leo shrugged the young tech off, sat up and swayed, grabbing Samantha's seat to steady himself. "We're going really fast," he slurred, now thoroughly taken by the effects of the morphine. "Who's driving this thing, my grandmother?"

"Isn't that a joke you make when someone's driving too slow?" Steven asked.

Leo grinned. "Obviously you haven't met my nana."

Steven ignored him as the ping-ing sound of bullets ricocheting off their car once again fought for his full attention… which it would not get because Samantha was giving him that look… the one she reserved for the situations when Steven said something so mind-numbingly stupid that all her words failed her.

"Steven, you can do anything—listen to me: ANYTHING—you set your mind to, and together we're even stronger. Don't you dare for one second think I would dream of doing this without you. You're my rock and I know you'll be a wonderful father."

"For once, I 100% agree with Mrs. Agent Bloom. You could move mountains Mr. Agent Bloom. You're just so skilled and capable and awesome—"

"And hey," Leo's voice popped up into his ear. "Even if you fail then you'll just be a regular old dad like everyone else's."

"Alright, STOP. Everyone stop talking all at once or I am turning this car around and we're gonna go surrender to the bad guys."

There was a beat then, predictably, it was Leo who broke the silence. "By the way, I think I'm a shoe-in for Godfather. Am I right or what?"

"I think, actually, Mr. Agent Bloom, that you should consider a more reliable—"

"Okay, that's IT." Without further warning, Steven slammed on the breaks and spun the wheel to the left, spinning the car around so the driver's side was facing the oncoming vehicle. In one fluid motion he removed his sidearm, pointed it at the truck, and fired off four rounds, the last two embedding themselves in the driver's chest. The car swerved violently then overturned, rolling a few times before coming to a rest upside down.

Opposite the wreck, Steven skidded the car to a halt, a little shocked himself at the success of his impromptu move.

"Cool," Hoyt breathed, sinking back into his seat.

Samantha just flashed that winning smile of hers. "Good job, honey. As always."

Steven exhaled the breath he didn't know he'd been holding, and a smile crept onto his face. Alright, so it was probably just the adrenaline doing his thinking for him, but he just couldn't shake the sudden feeling that maybe he could do this whole 'dad' thing after all… maybe…

Leo's voice suddenly popped up in his ear, unbidden as always. "Hey, can we grab a bite to eat on the way home? I haven't eaten in two days, and I heard they built a Subway here recently. Five dollar footlongs!"

Steven just sighed and shifted the van into gear, leaving the wreckage for the approaching authorities. "Just sit down and put your seatbelt on."

Then again, maybe he'd been playing the part all along…