A Day at the Beach
Illya stepped out of his bedroom on a sunny, warm July Sunday morning and heard his partner and daughter having a very animated conversation in the kitchen. He walked in just an Napoleon handed Leona some foil – wrapped packages that the three year then dutifully placed into the blue cooler sitting on the floor next to the counter. "I put the sammiches in the box, Daddy," she announced proudly.
"Sandwiches, Sweetie," Napoleon corrected with a smile, "Thank you, you're a big help to me."
Leona Nicole smiled back. "You're welcome. Papa, hi!" she said happily when she noticed her other father enter the room.
"Good morning," the Russian grumbled as he moved farther into the kitchen to retrieve a mug from the cabinet above the coffeemaker. As he poured his morning coffee, he looked at his partner and asked, "Do I even want to know?"
Leona straightened up, moved to Illya's side and hugged his leg. "Daddy is taking me to the beach! You can come, too!"
Illya sat on one of the stools next to the counter and put the mug down on it. He picked Leona up and placed her on his lap. "Good morning, Little One. So," he said as he hugged her and slurped some more coffee, "I am invited to the beach. Whose bright idea was this, as if I didn't know?" He reached for the bacon and egg sandwich Napoleon indicated was his while he glowered at the man, who smiled one of his most dazzling smiles back at him.
"Mine, Partner. Rosie took the girls shopping while we were gone and bought them both bathing suits. I figured we can go to Long Beach for the day and introduce Leona to the sun, surf and sand. It'll be fun! Leona, please go to your room and bring your bathing suit for Papa to see."
"Yes, Daddy. Put me down please, Papa."
Illya put her down and she scampered off to fetch her suit. "This thing better have long sleeves," he muttered, mostly to himself. To Napoleon, he said, "How are you planning to get to Long Beach? And, what food are you packing in that thing to take along?"
Napoleon turned around and leaned against the counter. "I have it all planned," he said triumphantly, "Section Three is putting an agent and a sedan at my disposal for the day. Whoever Jackson chooses for the assignment will be here in two hours. I've got three bags' worth of ice in the cooler along with bottles of water, milk and wine, chicken wings I baked Friday night while you were out with the lovely Miss Melody, carrots and celery sticks, corn chips, pasta salad and ah, tossed salad. I've also thrown in some roast beef sandwiches, pickles and potato chips for good measure."
Just then, Leona returned with a JC Penney bag that she handed to her Papa. Illya reached in and pulled out a one piece sky – blue skirted suit with white piping along the wide shoulder straps and bodice. "Where's the rest of it?" he inquired of his daughter as he turned the suit upside down and looked inside it.
"Papa, you're silly!" she laughed. "I like it, do you like it?" If Papa didn't like her suit, she would be very sad. She had chosen this one from the two her Aunt Rosie had shown her. Daddy said it made her look very cute when Aunt Rosie put it on her for him to see. What Papa thinks means a lot to her, too.
Illya smiled at the little earnest face looking at him. "Yes, Leona Nicole, I do like it. Very much, in fact. Let's get you washed up and dressed and then I'll take care of all the things Daddy hasn't done yet. I hope Daddy fed you before he started you putting things in the cooler." That earned him a glare from the brunet.
"Of course I fed her; she had cold cereal with milk and banana, scrambled egg, sausage and toast with a glass of orange juice," he retorted. "It seems our daughter has your appetite, she ate the sausage, toast and eggs off my plate. And, by the way, if you look in her room and mine, you'll find that I've pulled out everything we'll need."
Five hours later, Napoleon was lying on a chaise lounge under a rented umbrella on the sands of Long Beach covered in suntan lotion watching his partner play with Leona in the surf and trying very hard not to imagine her being swept away by a riptide or attacked by an unseen great white shark poised just off the shore waiting for one of the many bathers to venture out just a little too far. Stop it, he thought, or you'll drive yourself crazy! He forced the negative thoughts out of his head and instead, looked around at all of the lovely young ladies walking by, playing volleyball, lying on towels or sitting in beach chairs. Every once in awhile, he would catch the eye of one and smile, which would usually elicit a returned smile and a blushing woman. He knew if he approached any number of the women passing him by, he would probably get a phone number and quite possibly, a companion for the rest of the afternoon. But, he was perfectly content hanging out with Illya and Leona. He looked back toward the water to see the toddler running toward him with Illya in "hot" pursuit.
Leona ran into the little blue tent Illya had rented to protect his fair skin. "I beat you, Papa! Daddy, I ran faster than Papa!" she crowed victoriously.
"Yes, Leona, Papa was worn out from playing in the water with you and you took advantage but, that is fine. I will win next time." He winked at Napoleon while he grabbed his towel and wiped himself dry. Sitting down on another towel in his tent, he reapplied sunscreen and then opened the cooler to get something to eat. He claimed a roast beef sandwich and red wine for himself. He took out a carton of milk and placed a chicken wing on a plate for Leona and asked, "Leona, would you like tossed salad or pasta salad?"
Meanwhile, Napoleon had held up her towel and wrapped her in it to dry off and then placed it on her child – sized beach chair under the umbrella and motioned for her to sit.
"Pasta salad, please." She watched at Papa put a few elbows on her plate and covered them with sugar snap peas, cubed zucchini, shredded carrots, a little tomato and celery. "Papa, you always give me too many crunchy things!" she protested.
"The crunchy things are good for you; I want you to be healthy," he answered as he closed the cover of the cooler, placed her plate on in and placed it in front of her to use as a makeshift table. He reached into one of the bags they had and gave her a fork and napkins. He opened her milk and put in a straw.
"Thank you, Papa," she smiled at him and then began to eat. She suddenly remembered she had something she wanted to tell Daddy. She got up from her chair to move closer to him and stage – whispered to him, "Daddy, I have a secret."
Napoleon sat up and focused all his attention on the toddler. "You do? Well, ah, it's Daddy's and Papa's job to find out secrets so, are you going to tell us yours?" he inquired as he wondered if he should be concerned.
"Papa knows the secret," she said, still whispering.
He glanced over at Illya, who swallowed his mouthful of sandwich and said, "It's alright, Leona; I told you it was a secret from other people. You can tell Daddy and me anything and everything."
Leona nodded her head in the way that all wise three year olds do to show she understood. She then signaled Napoleon to lean in closer and when he did, she whispered, albeit loud enough for Illya to hear, "I pee'd in the ocean!"
Napoleon threw his head back and laughed out loud. Leona was so delighted she had made Daddy laugh she told him her other secret, "Papa pee'd in the ocean, too!"
Illya made a mock angry face and said, "Hey! I said you don't have any secrets from us. I can have a secret I don't tell Daddy!"
Napoleon kissed her and sent her back to her chair to eat her lunch. "You're a good baby," he purred at her then looked at his partner and laughed some more.
Later on, while Leona napped in Illya's tent, the two men sat under the umbrella with glasses of wine and relaxed. Maybe it was because of their exceptional abilities as Enforcement Agents that they were very good at being parents. Entertaining and keeping an eye on a small child takes a lot of energy and they both did it willingly and well. Her naptime gave both men a chance to recuperate.
"Illya, I caught the eye of so many women today and I didn't even ask for one number or one date even though I definitely could have gotten as many as I wanted. Do you know why?"
The Russian sipped his wine. "Heatstroke?"
"Very funny. I didn't want anything to interfere with Family Sunday. I don't spend as much time with Leona Nicole as I would like so, when I do, I ah, want to enjoy it. Who knew the first female in years to get me to commit to her would be a toddler?"
Illya chuckled, "I know what you mean, Partner." He pulled his communicator from a bag in the tent, clicked it open and said, "Open Channel C."
"Where are you?" Illya asked.
"On the boardwalk right behind you, sir." Illya turned around and saw Agent Tavares waving at him.
He waved back and said into the communicator, "We'll be leaving in forty – five minutes so meet us on Edward Avenue with the car. Thank you. Kuryakin out."
Napoleon was already up and packing their stuff and policing the area. When everything was packed, Illya took down the umbrella and the tent and took them back to the rental. While he was gone, Napoleon woke Leona and put one of Illya's T-shirts on her. The trick now, he knew, was figuring out how to keep a cranky, sleepy toddler awake until they got home.
Illya returned from the rental hut, picked up Leona and a couple of bags and began walking off the beach knowing that Napoleon had the cooler and the chaise lounge. Agent Tavares was waiting at the bottom of the ramp off the boardwalk. They packed the car and Illya climbed into back with Leona while Napoleon rode shotgun. Agent Tavares turned the car around and headed back toward Manhattan.
The two men sat in the living room, one with vodka and one with scotch. The combination of sun, sand and surf plus dealing with Leona, especially the ride home with Illya not allowing her to go to sleep had drained both of them. By the time they walked into the apartment, Leona didn't want anything to do with her Papa so Daddy was tasked with bathing her and brushing her teeth. She was so happy to finally be able to go to bed that all was forgiven and she had hugged and kissed both Papa and Daddy goodnight. They swore she was asleep before her head hit the pillow.
Illya held up his glass and said, "Here's to surviving a day at the beach. I'm glad we did it and even more glad that it's over."
Napoleon clinked his glass against Illya's and drank. He checked the time and said, "I can't believe it's only seven – thirty. I'm going to bed, I've had it."
Illya drained his glass and stood up. "I am also going to bed. I am turning up the baby monitor to maximum volume just in case. I suggest you do the same. Goodnight, Napoleon."
Both men probably fell asleep faster than Leona did. All three had lovely dreams of being at the beach.