A baby boy's cry echoed in the loft shared by Princess Tiana and her husband Naveen. Their humble abode resided atop their restaurant, "Tiana's Place", and while said owner was busy running her business, her husband was dozing. At least, he was, until a certain cranky boy decided to wake up half way through his afternoon nap and disturb the silence that had let Naveen drift into slumber. Being a first time father, he wasn't used to staying up into the wee hours of the morning with his son, but the napping helped. The Maldonian prince and his wife split shifts in the night and took turns running the restaurant while the other kept their son entertained. Luckily, if both parents needed some time together, without the boy, Eudora was on speed dial for those times.
Naveen, in a pair of olive slacks and white tank top, rolled onto his stomach and groaned. Why couldn't the boy sleep just a few hours more?
"Ashi danza," the tired father sighed as he headed to the cradle beside the bed. "Terrance, why must you be such a morning person?" Well, technically it was afternoon, but that was a minor detail. He picked up his wailing boy and propped the bundle against his chest, gently patting the five month old's back lightly, trying to calm him.
Despite his typical outbursts, Terrance was a surprisingly easy babe. Oh sure, he liked things a certain way (bottle at eight, his swing at four, story at seven . . .) but if one kept to the schedule, he would behave. Unlike most children (or so his friends had told him), Terrance loved nap time. That was why it boggled the father's mind as to why he was crying.
When the little boy didn't hush from the pats, Naveen did his most hated task: checking the diaper. The prince had learned a great deal since he married Tiana the year before, including diaper changing, but that didn't mean he liked it. Who knew such a tiny thing could make such a horrible stink! Naveen didn't recall this with his little brother, but then again it had been the nurse maids who dealt with that, not Naveen, who had been a wild adolescent.
In silent prayer, the father checked Terrance for any accidents, and breathed a sigh of relief when his son still smelt like baby powder and cleanliness. Well, if it wasn't a diaper issue, what could be the problem? Terrance shouldn't be hungry, but out of sheer desperation to calm the boy, Naveen attempted to give him a bottle. There was always one nearby in the mini fridge just for these sorts of emergencies.
As Naveen suspected, his son swatted at the bottle, his wailing continuing. The darkly coloured boy (he had his mother's skin tone) was as agitated as ever, as if something on the schedule was missed, so, having no choice, Naveen began pacing the length of their bedroom with Terrance in toe, trying to think of something. He sang songs, told him stories, gave him his rattle, the long list went on until Naveen was ready to collapse from all the walking he had done.
While trying to come up with his next plan of action, Naveen's mind drifted to his father. The two had never been close, for obvious reasons (Naveen's "leeching" and his father's stoic personality), but now that the young man was a father, he began to wonder if King Barabbas had ever paced with a crying Naveen, trying to soothe his cries. Or had he merely passed the babe off to a maid to fix the problem? Unfortunately, there was no third party to cease Terrance's cries. Then again, Naveen wouldn't have wanted there to be. He was going to parent his son damn it, even if it drove him up the wall.
He did remember how his father handled the younger prince of Maldonia, Naveen's brother Raphael. Oh, those two had been closer than a frog is to the mud. Naveen had never quite understood why his little brother was held in such a high regard while the elder prince was not. Perhaps it was because of how defying he was. Naveen had never been one to follow rules which obviously caused a lot of arguments that could have been avoided. But was that really a good enough reason to value one son over the other? Naveen certainly didn't think so. Then again he may not have the whole story. He doubted he ever would though. Some things were just not to be asked, and this was one of the cases.
During his time lost in thought, Naveen hadn't noticed Terrance had stopped crying. Now out of his daze, the prince grinned happily. He wasn't sure what he had done that made the boy drift off, but he was glad the crying had stopped.
Naveen, beginning to feel the faint beginning of a headache coming on, decided to try and nap again. Yet when he tried to put Terrance down in his cradle, the boy wrapped his hand around a clump of Naveen's shirt and clung to it. Apparently, the little boy did not want to go into the bed just yet.
After standing for a moment wondering what to do, Naveen had an idea. He went to his bed and, after arranging a pillow for his head, laid down on top of the covers with Terrance dozing on his chest. With his eyes half-shut, Naveen stared in awe at his little boy, watching as he inhaled and exhaled, his legs kicking free of his swaddling cloth; he almost chuckled when his son's arm dangled off Naveen's chest.
It still amazed him to think that he had created Terrance (Tiana doing all the real work though). Half the time it didn't seem real. Even when the boy was lying right on his chest, it still didn't feel like he had a son, that he was a husband and a father now. Naveen was still young, but instead of painting the town red, he preferred staying home with his family. He liked watching Tiana move about their home, wearing one of his button-up shirts and a floral skirt while she perfected the art of ironing and cake-making at the same time. He enjoyed sitting in his easy chair with Terrance on his lap, listening intently as Naveen read him story after story. This was his happiness now, and he couldn't help but smile just thinking about it.
Naveen ran his hand gently down his son's back, the stillness of the sun's rays lighting up the boy's upturned face. "My little prince, you will be the most happy, I promise. You will never feel like I don't love you, or that you're not good enough." He kissed the crown of his son's head then laid his head back on the pillow, his eyes fluttering shut. Maybe now he could catch up on the lost sleep.
"Naveen! Lottie and Derek are here!" Tiana called up the stairs. Terrence let out a wail and Naveen groaned along with him.
'Not again . . .' The prince reluctantly rose and after grabbing a baby blue shirt for himself, he headed downstairs with Terrance in toe.
"Let's let Mama calm you down, right Terrance?" The babe cried in return. Naveen chuckled.
"That's what I thought."