Years after D-Day, Ida had resigned herself to the end of the war. She and the great Wendy Watson were able to co-exist, sharing The Middleman's attention during work hours, and thankfully not sharing him in any unprofessional sense. They understood they each had a role and tried to respect the boundaries.
Then Wendy Watson's body unleashed WWII; a tiny, treacherous being of infinite power.
To her credit, Wendy had not wanted to name the baby after herself. She spent months rubbing her belly and telling The Middleman she was still thinking about it. She suggested a thousand perfectly good names and smiled softly when the anxious and adoring new father insisted. Their little girl was as special as her mother and needed to have a name to honour both of his Wendys.
Ida had never criticized The Middleman's sweetness, just his choice of women.
Even trying to talk sense into the besotted idiot had made the android feel bad. She had insisted 'the little bastard' needed her own name to have any chance of a career other than artist and burnout. The Middleman had welled up in the eyes over his daughter's illegitimacy and she'd never brought it up again.
The Middleman could get married under an alias, but not under his real name. He didn't want any part of it to be a lie. For once, Wendy was the voice of reason, but she couldn't get the big green cheese past his morals. Never mind that he'd met Ms. Watson, fathered his apprentice's child, and lived with the two of them. Never mind that he called her 'Dear' interchangeably with 'Dubbie.'
He was going to tie the knot right and proper under his own name, or it wouldn't feel right. The little bastard would stay that way until her Daddy retired his title and took his Dubbie off into the sunset. At the rate they were going, little bastard was going to be getting married before her parents. Few partnerships had gone so smoothly. The Middleman had been able to take time out to train sub-apprentices for his girlfriend's maternity leave. Boss and the hophead were a good team and they wouldn't give it up unless they were seriously worried about dying. It could happen, but they usually had only small injuries. Everyone knew their daughter came first.
She was annoyingly omnipresent and godlike in her tiny, diapered might.
She was cute, though, with pink apple cheeks and a round body that invited cuddles. She was surprisingly quiet and smiley like her father. Her brown eyes sparkled as she watched Ida's earrings swing from her ears. She liked The Price is Right, but only with Bob Barker. Clearly, a little bit of good taste had bypassed both her parents and taken shape in her empty little head.
The baby shuffled on her butt and kinked her head back to look up at her sitter.
“Da, muh bu mmm mmm,” she said sincerely.
As yet, there had been no sign of the unquenchable sarcasm of Wendy Watson the first. Ida was keeping her fingers crossed.
“I know. Who bids one dollar? It's a snaky, cowardly move,” she agreed. “What you have to do is watch the eyes. You see Bob? He's always smiling, but when a guess is close his eyes go wide, then they crinkle again.”
A soft starfish of a hand waved toward the screen as Bob announced the winning guess. The contestant ran up to hug Bob, and teeny Dubbie slumped in tiredness. Ida scooted her around to lie across her arms, and rocked her unconsciously as she watched the putting challenge. Yellow socks wiggled on her elbow, and a steady stream of babbling rose as the girl got comfortable. Small fingers waved and Ida let her hold her fingers. Wendy held her thumb and yawned explosively.
“I know, girlie. Mom and Dad will be home soon. Radioactive moles are no problem,” she paused. “Although you probably won't be getting any siblings. Better for you. More presents. You're enough of a strain on your father. He's a bit overprotective, if you hadn't noticed.”
The baby moved her hand to rub at her eyes, and Ida pulled her arm down gently. She patted Wendy's belly and smiled reassuringly.
“Go to sleep, lady bug. No one's going to let the world end until you're big enough to save it yourself.”
She eased the curled up arms and legs to her shoulder and let the little girl loll her head around until she was comfortable. Fluffing the light curls, she stood up to walk around. It was half an hour later, a spot of drool oozing into her dress, that Ida turned to see The Middleman and Wendy arrive. They were calm and filthy, and the apprentice peeked at her daughter's sleeping face before heading to the locker room. The Middleman nodded and smiled as his partner looked over her shoulder. He secured their weapons and followed a moment later.
Pacing idly, Ida picked up various baby gear with one hand. She put the cap on a bottle and repacked the baby bag. The Middle couple returned in jeans and sweaters, silent as they gathered their spawn, wrapped her in enough blankets to broil the poor child and waved goodnight. When the door closed behind them, the receptionist sat with a huff and dabbed at her dress.
“Pain in the neck like her mother,” she smiled.