Writer's note: Father's Day was suggested as a holiday back in 1903, setting aside the 3rd Sunday in June to honor Fathers and everything they do. Although recognized in 1913 as a regular day of celebration, no formal proclamation was made until 1966. Father's Day became a nationally recognized holiday in 1972.
The faint rays of sunlight began to peek thru the curtains. The warm light touched his face and the handsome young father began to come back to the waking world. He was tired, unshaven, his hair in disarray and his clothes even worse.
He had been up most of the night, walking the floor, his precious baby in his arms. She was cutting new teeth and nothing could consol her. Just a month shy of one year old, she was her daddy's pride and joy and it broke his heart to see her in pain.
Napoleon slowly opened his eyes and tried to focus. Sunday morning already. He tried to quietly clear his throat. The baby stirred but remained asleep. He turned his face to look at her. She had his eyes and hair but everything else she got from her mother. He pressed his cheek against the top of her head and kissed her.
He looked at the clock on the fireplace mantle. Six am. He tenderly tightened his hold on the sleeping child and slowly stood up. He felt her move and she clung tight to his shirt, but remained asleep. It was difficult to stretch your back and hold your baby in your arms at the same time. But somehow, Napoleon managed to do just that.
He took a deep breath and his eyes began to water.
"Something tells me you need to be changed, young lady," he said a slight gagging sound in his voice.
Solo carried her into her nursery and laid the sleeping child on the changing table. He had become quite good at changing diapers and nothing bothered him anymore. Besides, if he could survive THRUSH he could certainly....
"Good grief, Nicki," he whispered, "Augh! How could something so small...Never mind."
Cleaned and changed, he put the child in her crib. Solo stood by a few minutes to make sure she was still asleep before he went to clean up himself. He made it to the door.
"Da-da," said a tiny voice behind him.
He smiled at the word and turned back around.
Nicki was standing in her crib, holding tightly to the rail. Solo smiled as she began to jump up and down calling to him. He walked back over and picked her up.
"I am spoiling you rotten," he said as he gently nuzzled his face against her hair. He felt her tiny hand touch his face and she quickly drew it back.
Nicki sat back in his arms and looked inquisitively at her daddy. He tried not to laugh as she drew down one brow and studied his face. Her tiny hands reached up and touch the stubble on his face. He felt her gently pat his cheek.
"You like that?" he asked, "No? Alright I'll get rid of it."
Napoleon playfully tried to grab her fingers with his teeth. Nicki squealed and jumped in his arms. He began to tickle her, stopping to occasionally give her a light jostle in the air. The entire apartment was filled with the sounds of the father and daughter's laughter.
Solo carried her into his room. He had a small playpen set up in there and sat her down in it. She immediately began to cry, reaching out for him. Napoleon melted. He knelt down beside the pen and she wrapped her arms around his neck, trying to climb out.
"Sweetheart don't cry," he said softly as he brushed his hand against the back of her head. "Don't cry."
Nicki began to sniffle. He reached up and brushed the tears from her cheeks. Solo slowly slid the pen closer to the bathroom door. He talked to Nicki, playing a variation of peek-a-boo as he moved it.
Solo managed to slip into the bathroom and started the shower. He would occasionally pop his head out of the door, still playing the game. Nicki laughed and clapped her hands. Napoleon made it into the shower, peeking around the end of the slightly opened glass door so his daughter could see his face. The game continued after his shower as he shaved and dressed.
He walked out of the bathroom in his t-shirt and trousers. All clean, hair brushed back, his face now almost as soft as hers. Napoleon picked her up and took her hand in his. He started to press her palm against his cheek, when she tried to pull it back. He smiled and got her hand against his face. It was soft and warm.
Nicki playfully patted his face. He saw her smile and put her arms around his neck, her one hand moved back to his cheek.
"Soft," Solo said, rubbing her hand against his skin.
"Soft," Nicki whispered, "Dada. Soft"
Solo carried her into the kitchen and started fixing something to eat.
Breakfast turned into an adventure. Nicki sat in her highchair in the kitchen while her daddy fixed breakfast. The smells of scrambled eggs, bacon and waffles filled the apartment. Solo sat the food on the table, then moved Nicki's chair next to the table. He gave her some cereal and her small cup of milk, but she wasn't going to settle for that.
The child tried desperately to reach for her daddy's food. Napoleon smiled. He chopped up some of his eggs into fine pieces and put them on a saucer. He sat it on her highchair tray. For a minute, Nicki looked at it. She picked up a little bit and put it in her mouth. Solo laughed as the child quickly devoured the food and held her tiny plate out.
"Okay Oliver, you want some more," Napoleon said.
He chopped up a bit more and gave them to her. Solo rested his elbow on the table, leaning against his hand as he watched her eat.
"You may be my daughter," he said, "But you have Illya's appetite."
"E-ya," Nicki said.
"That's right, Illya," Solo said as he reached over to wipe her face, "Although I will admit, his table manners are just a smidge better than yours. But not much." He laughed.
Nicki looked at her father and smiled. They finished off breakfast.
Napoleon took her out of the chair and let her have the floor while he cleaned up the breakfast dishes in the kitchen. He paid careful attention as she played around his feet. Then he watched her as she stood up, holding onto the cabinet and shakily made her way out of the kitchen her tiny hands pressed against the wall for support. After the last wet dish was in the drainer, Solo went into the living room. He looked around.
"Nicki?" he said, "Nicki? Nicki where are you?"
Solo got on his hands and knees and began looking franticly for his child. She couldn't have crawled out of the door as it was securely locked. The windows were closed and locked. The young agent began to panic. He checked her room. She wasn't in there. He went into his room and she wasn't in there.
Napoleon heard a sound come from the partially open closet. He walked over and slowly opened the door the entire way. He shook his head as he saw his very best suite lying in the floor, the bent coat hanger next to it. He reached for the garment, when it suddenly moved.
He knelt down in the floor and lifted the jacket. Nicki was lying in the floor, scared. She had crawled into the closet and tried to pull herself up holding the pants leg of the suite. The hanger bent and the entire suite came down on top of her. Napoleon sat down and picked the frightened child up onto his lap. He reached over and picked up the jacket.
"This is daddy's best suite young lady," he said. He saw her lip tremble. "But, your daddy's best girl so that is more important." He held her tight in his arms and kissed her cheek.
He stood up and tossed the suite on the bed. What did it matter? He knew of a really great place to get his suites pressed anyway. Solo laughed.
The rest of the day went pretty much the same way. Nicki was fascinated by her daddy's apartment. It was a place she wasn't at very often, spending most of her time with her Nanny while her father worked at saving the world. So when she was there, it was a treasure hunt, an adventure to rival anything her father and Illya had ever been on.
She pulled the bottom drawer of his desk completely out, sending papers and folders everywhere. While he was picking that up, she climbed up on the sofa and bounced, her daddy catching her just before she fell over the side. Somehow she managed to get behind the fireplace screen and was sitting in the log grate. Solo contemplated the situation, and then decided he couldn't leave her locked in there.
He tried in vain to get her to play with her toys in the floor, but she wanted to find, discover everything about this strange new world. He lay in the floor and she climbed back and forth across his chest. He smiled as he listened to her baby talk. He didn't understand any of it, but he had a pretty good idea what she was saying. Remembering everything she felt, everything she did. Sort of the baby equivalent of talking to one's self, making mental notes aloud.
Nicki let him know that she wanted a drink. Her daddy went into the kitchen and filled her small cup with water. He came in and sat in on the coffee table. Nicki took a drink and sat the cup down.
She got down and began crawling around the room. Napoleon joined in the chase. His baby squealed as her daddy would grab her foot then let her go again. He did it several times and each time she laughed harder. The baby crawled under the coffee table, out the other end and stood up. She picked up her cup to take a drink when her father suddenly grabbed her. Nicki squealed with delight but dropped the cup. The water went all over his head. Solo looked up as water dripped down over his eyes. He wiped his hand across his wet hair and face.
"Ahh, Nicki," he said, flustered but not mad.
The little girl sat down in front of him.
"Ahh, da-da," she said.
Napoleon laid his face on the floor and laughed. He suddenly felt her hands on top of his head. She patted his wet hair. Water went everywhere. She laughed and patted harder. Solo reached up and grabbed her giving her a gentle tickle.
"I am your daddy, young lady," he said moving his face close to hers, "Not a set of bongos."
Napoleon gave her neck a soft nuzzle and he felt her arms wrap around his neck.
Father and daughter played in the floor for another hour or two. He had her lie down on his back and hold around his neck as he went on hands and knees around the room giving her a pony ride. Afterward, he laid back on the floor. Nicki was standing up between his bent knees. She gave them a pull.
"What say we give the pony a rest?" Napoleon said looking at her.
Nicki jumped up and down coming closer and closer. She lost her balance and Solo caught her just before she landed on a very tender stop. He breathed a sigh of relief and gave her a palyful jostle in the air. She laughed again.The sound of her laughter was music to his ears. She laughed just like her mother.
Napoleon turned the radio on low and sat in his favorite wingback. Exhausted, he slumped down in the soft leather and sighed. Suddenly he felt two hands pull on his trouser legs. He opened his eyes just a bit and saw Nicki pulling herself up. Her tiny hands rested on his knees and he watched her bob up and down with the music on the radio.
He reached down and picked her up, letting her stand on the tops of his thighs. He held her hands and she continued to dance for him. Solo smiled as she swayed with the music. Suddenly one of her feet slipped catching her father in a very tender spot.
Solo bit down hard on his bottom lip and made a small cry of pain. Nicki tried to get her foot back up on his leg only to make things worse as her second foot slipped. Napoleon's eyes began to tear. He couldn't hold it in. He held his baby in one arm, his other across his groin as he doubled over in pain. He cried out in pain.
Nicki jumped at his cry. Scared by the sound, she began to cry as well. Napoleon tried to calm her down. Through his own pain he talked soothingly to his baby, telling her it was alright, apologizing for scaring her, gently kissing the top of her head as he spoke.
"There was something inevitable about that," he said cringing, "Shhh, sweetheart. Daddy is okay. I didn't mean to scare you." He gently rocked her in his arms.
The baby began to calm down.
There was a light knock at the door. Thank god someone's here, Napoleon thought. He put Nicki down on the floor and stood up slowly. Nicki clung to his leg, her two feet on top of his one. He limped towards the door. Solo checked the peephole and opened the door. Illya was standing there. The blond stepped in and shut the door behind him.
"E-ya," Nicki shouted.
"That's about as close as she can get right now," Napoleon laughed.
"And it's still better then you," Illya said looking at him, "Even you had problems with it to start. Or don't you remember? You always pronounced it Ill-e-ya."
Napoleon laughed and shook his head. Illya knelt down. Her daddy watched Nicki teeter abit then flopped forward into Kuryakin's waiting arms.
"And how is my Sweet Nikita," Illya said picking the child up.
Napoleon watched in horror as his partner tossed the child into the air, giving her a slight spin. She landed safely in his hands. The child laid her head back, her eyes wide and her mouth open but no sound came out. Suddenly the air was filled with her delighted laughter. She began to buck in his grasp wanting another toss. But her father grabbed her and held her close. He could hear her gasping. Not from being hurt but from the sheer exhilaration of her flight. She bucked again hoping her daddy would do it.
"You idiot," Solo shouted, "She's a baby not a THRUSH. So help me Kuryakin, sometimes I could kill you."
Illya looked slightly hurt by the rebuff. He was only playing and didn't mean any harm. He would never do anything to hurt that precious little girl.
"I'm sorry, Napoleon," he said, "You know I would never..."
"Okay, okay," Solo said, "Just be more careful, for Pete's sake."
Nicki could sense that something was wrong. She laid her head on Solo's shoulder and looked at Illya.
He looked at her and smiled. Nicki smiled back.
Kuryakin looked around the room. Solo's place was always so immaculate but today, Hurricane Nicki had swept through it. He tried desperately to contain his laughter. He walked across the room looking at the things strewn around the floor, the folder Solo had missed, and the sofa cushions in disarray.
"Why wasn't I invited to the party?" the blond said.
Solo walked towards him, Nicki still safely in his arms.
"I don't know what it is, Illya," Solo said genuinely puzzled, "But when Paula drops her off on Saturdays, she is very reserved. Just wants to be held. It's like it takes her awhile to get use to me. But by Sunday morning," he motioned around the room with one hand, "This happens."
"It couldn't be a matter of getting use to you," Illya said a smile in his voice, "Some of us have worked with you for years and still aren't use to you. She just doesn't see you that much, so she wants to feel, I don't know, protected I think is the word I'm looking for. She obviously knows who you are, but she still can not comprehend why she doesn't see you all the time."
Kuryakin reached over and touched her tiny hand.
"Believe me, sweet Nikita. Enjoy being away from him now. Once your older, he'll never let you out of his sight," Kuryakin mused a smile on his face.
Nicki reached out for him. Solo relinquished the child and Illya held her close. She kissed his cheek. The Russian gave her a playful pat on the behind. Napoleon saw his face change expression. Illya looked at his one hand and then he looked at his partner.
The blond held the child out at arm's length towards her father. Solo saw his partner's lip curl slightly.
"I swear all she does is eat, sleep and poop," Solo said looking at his friend.
"Poop," Nicki yelled, "Poop..Poop..Poop."
Solo reached over and playfully put his hand over her mouth. But she continued to say her new word over and over, thinking it was a new game. As soon as Solo moved his hand away, she started saying it again. He covered her mouth once more and they could hear her muffled laugh as she kept repeating the word over and over, trying to pull her daddy's hand away. Illya was trying his best not to laugh.
"It's like having a parrot in the house," Napoleon said, "I don't think I can take another diaper right now."
"Alright," Kuryakin said, "I'll take care of it."
The Russian carried the child at arm's length into her room and laid her down on the changing table. Soon Nicki was clean, changed and ready to go. Illya held her closely in his arms, carefully holding her head down against his shoulder. She was sleepy, he could tell. He sat down in the rocking chair next to her crib and slowly rocked her to sleep. Solo walked up and stood in the doorway.
Once she was asleep, Illya put her gently down in the crib and covered her with the blanket. He saw Napoleon walk up next to him.
Illya folded his arms on the end rail of the crib and looked at the sleeping child. He had dreamed of a child of his own one day. It would have to be a boy. Girls were great and everything, but fragile. A boy you could wrestle and roughhouse with. Someone he could hold and love. Someone that was totally his. He looked at Napoleon.
Solo was looking at his partner and smiling.
"Sometimes, I really do envy you, Napoleon," he said.
Napoleon picked up the diaper from the changing table and started to drop it in the pail.
"With the emphasis on sometimes!" Illya added, with a laugh.
Happy Father's Day 2010