Of Clones and Heirs
Ian Edgerton knocked gently on the door to the Eppes family home. There were cars in the driveway and lights were on but he didn’t want to risk waking a sleeping baby. Alan opened the door.
“Agent Edgerton. What can I do for you? Is something going on?”
Ian smiled. Alan had obviously been an FBI dad too long. “No, no, no emergency. I just found out I missed the baby shower and thought I’d drop by with my congratulations.” Ian held out a pink bag.
“Oh thank you.” Alan took the bag. “Come on in. The boys are passed out but I’m about to feed Esther.”
As Ian followed Alan through the house he spotted Granger and Charlie. Alan wasn’t kidding when he said passed out. Both were asleep at the dinning room table with their heads on stacks of paperwork. Granger was snoring and Charlie was drooling across student papers. Both looked like five shades of hell.
In the living room was a pop-up basinet. Ian looked into it. Esther looked back.
“Hello again. You look better when you’re not screaming.” Alan came in from the kitchen with a bottle. “May I?” He asked Alan.
Alan handed over the bottle. “Be my guest.”
Ian easily lifted Esther from the basinet. It may have been many years since he’d handled a baby on a regular basis but some things stay in muscle memory. He sat on the couch and let Esther latch onto the bottle.
“You’re pretty good at that.” Alan said.
“Mom had ten of us. Eight after me.”
“Ah. I see.” Esther sucked for another minute then turned her head away.
“Hey lovely, is that all you want?” Esther fussed a little.
“We’ll be lucky if that stays down for more than a couple of minutes.”
“Not a good eater?”
Alan shook his head looking nearly as tired as the men in the other room. “No. We’ve tried every formula and then some. Doctor just gave us a whole new set of samples, see if she takes to one.”
Ian tickled Esther’s cheek a little. “Have you tried goat’s milk?” Ian asked.
“Goat’s milk? No.”
“One of my sisters just wouldn’t eat first few months. Neighbour started bringing over whole goat’s milk every morning. Did the trick.”
Alan shrugged. “Sure, why not. Something got to work. Neither of the boys were fussy eaters, especially Charlie. We were always pulling weird things out of his mouth.”
Esther gave a hiccup and Ian quickly grabbed a rag mopping up most of what had just been eaten. The smell dragged him right back home where everything had always seemed to smell like second round formula and baby powder.
“You got plans for one of your own?” Alan asked.
Ian shook his head. “No. The job is not exactly conducive to buying a farm and having a litter. Plus I have something like forty nieces and nephews, no chance of the Edgerton line dying out anytime soon.” Ian looked back down at Esther. “You, on the other hand, are the long awaited heir to the Eppes throne, aren’t you?” Esther’s eyes flicked over to look at Ian. Ian squinted at her. “I think she knows what I’m saying.”
“I know. They say at two months there’s no way, and Charlie keeps insisting that super genius is a one time genetic anomaly, but I’m not so sure. Every so often she just gives me a look and you can tell the wheels are spinning up there.”
Colby stumbled into the room rubbing his eyes, a paper clip was stuck to his cheek. “Agent Edgerton. Has something come up?”
Ian smiled. “No, no problems. Just thought I’d drop by and say congratulations.”
“Thank you.” Colby replied. Ian found that amusing. Colby obviously considered the kid his as much as Charlie’s. Colby sat down next to Ian who handed Esther over. “Did she eat anything?” He asked Alan.
“Any of it stay down?”
Colby sighed and looked at Esther. “You’ve got to eat something sweetie.”
“Ian here suggested goat’s milk.”
“Sweetie, if you’ll eat goats milk I’ll buy you a goat. We can keep it out back with the koi.” Alan and Ian chuckled. “I swear she knows what I’m saying.”
“You and Charlie should start watching your language.”
“Talk to Don, he’s the one who swears like a sailor.”
“I live in dread of her first word.” Alan said.
“There’s a pool at the office.” Colby said. “So far the good money’s on math, fed, or fuck.” Ian chuckled and Alan rolled his eyes.
“What was Charlie’s first word?” Ian asked.
“Don.” Alan replied.
“He actually didn’t talk until quite late. His mother and I were worried he might have developmental problems.”
Ian laughed “Well that what a bit of unfounded worry.”
“He still can’t spell.”
Charlie stumbled into the room.
“Hey Ian.” He said still half asleep. “Is everything..?”
“Everything fine, just a social visit. Congratulations by the way.”
“Thank you.” Charlie sat down next to Colby. He pulled the paper clip off Colby’s cheek then brushed his hand over Esther’s already thick curls.
“Did she eat?”
Charlie looked down at his daughter. “You’re just trying to drive me nuts aren’t you?”
“Of course she is.” Alan said. “That’s what children do, drive you nuts, age you prematurely, make your hair fall out, and then one day if you’re very, very lucky they’ll move out of the house and come back with grand children for you to spoil and corrupt as your revenge against your own children.” Ian and Colby laughed, Charlie just sighed.
Esther gave a yawn and Ian had to resist the urge to go ‘awwwww’ as she was at the age when everything is cute.
“Looks like someone’s ready for bed.” Colby said.
“Maybe she’ll sleep tonight.” Charlie said like it was a desperate plea.
“I think everyone should be heading to bed.” Alan said.
Ian stood. “Well I should check in with the office one more time. See if anything new has come in.”
“Well thank you for coming by.”
“My pleasure. Congratulations again you two.”
“Thank you.” Charlie said.
Ian let Alan walk him to the door. As the door closed Ian gave himself a minute to contemplate mini Ian’s running around a big craftsmen house somewhere. Not ten, just one, maybe two. He could picture them quite clearly, the mother on the other hand remained fuzzy. Maybe he should talk to Charlie about cloning.
When Alan got back to the living room Charlie and Colby were chuckling softly.
“What’s so funny?”
“Edgerton.” Colby said.
Alan shook his head. “I missed the joke.”
“You know who Edgerton is, right?” Colby asked.
“Sure, he’s an agent, Don introduced us about a year ago. Seems like a nice man.”
Charlie actually put his face in his hand and shook his head.
“Special Agent Ian Edgerton is the scariest and most feared SOB in the entire Bureau.” Colby said. “Top ranked tracker, third best sniper in the country, gets to pick all his own cases. He was in Afghanistan same time I was. Man was a ghost, never saw him, no one saw him, just his work. Was once poetically described as the bastard child of Clint Eastwood and Yoda. His raw instincts are almost as good a Charlie’s math.”
“I said almost.”
Alan was taken back a bit. Agent Edgerton had seemed more like a family man waiting to happen, not a hard boiled fed and soldier. “Well he knows his infants, and seems to like Esther, he brought receiving blankets and hypoallergenic wipes. You should write him a nice thank you note.”
“Absolutely dad, first thing in the morning.” Charlie said.
“Esther, sweetie.” Colby said, gently smoothing down a lock of her hair. “That nice man who was just here, if anything ever goes wrong, really, really, wrong, that’s the guy you call ‘cause he’s the one you want watching your back. And he seems to like you.”
Alan shook his head at the morbid advice, having more fear than he cared to admit at the thought of his first and only grandchild becoming one more fed.
“All right, that’s enough of that. To bed, all three of you.”
Alan accepted goodnights and watched as the boys climbed the stairs with their little girl.
“And may we all have a good night.” He said to the house, though no one would hear.