Diaper Study

By: Maria V. Snyder

Chronicles of Ixia 09.5 [Soulfinders]


"Are you sure you can handle it?" Yelena asked.

"For the millionth and twenty seventh time, yes, I can handle watching a tiny human for a few hours,"

Janco said, trying hard to keep the annoyance from his voice. New mothers could be such worry warts. Hmmm...he wondered where that term came from. Was it because people worried about having warts or the warts themselves were worrying?

"When's Ari coming back?" she asked as she balanced Liana on her hip. Yelena peered dubiously around Janco and Ari's apartment in the Commander's castle.

Granted, it wasn't the most well organized of places...well, Ari's side was militarily perfect, but his...never mind. "First, I'm insulted that you think I need Ari to babyguard Liana for a few hours, and second, Little Miss Assassin has him on a ten to twelve day mission."

Yelena shook her head. "You're still calling Onora that? She's your boss you know."

He grinned. "Even more reason to use it. Besides, it keeps her humble." Janco waggled his eyebrows at Liana. The baby giggled then continued to suck on a handful of her mother's long black hair. Drool glistened from the wet strands. Yuck.

"If you're sure..."

Janco plucked Liana from Yelena's arms. Pretty solid for a seven month old. Her short black hair curled at the nape of her neck. With her big blue-green eyes, this girl was going to be gorgeous.

Scratch that, she was gorgeous. "Go, have fun on your ride with Valek and the Commander. We'll be fine."

She finally relented. "Liana's had her nap and just ate." Yelena handed him an oversized bag. It weighed more than the baby.

"What's in here?" he asked.

"Diapers, a cleaning cloth, a bib, a blanket, toys, a change of clothes, a bottle, a book and a few medical supplies."

Janco stared at her aghast. "What do you expect to happen?"

"Hopefully nothing, but I've learned to be prepared."

"Prepared for what? A siege?"

"Maybe I should--"

"Say hi to Kiki for me." He pushed her out the door and shut it. "Mothers," he muttered. Liana stared at him. "You're going to have a tough time getting away with anything," he said to her. "Between your overprotective mother and paranoid father, you're going to have to be one smart cookie to fool them."

Janco smirked. "Good thing, you have your favorite uncle to teach you all you need to know."

She babbled back at him in complete agreement. Super cute. At least she didn't seem to mind her mother leaving her with him. Not too surprising. From what he'd seen since Yelena and Valek had arrived in Ixia for a visit, she'd been a happy and easy going baby as she was passed from lap to lap.

Ari was going to be mad he missed them. Too bad, so sad. More love for Uncle Janco!

He set the bag on his desk and sorted through it one handed. Finding a yellow teething ring, he handed it to her. She immediately put it into her mouth and munched on it. Okay then. Janco set her down on the floor and proceeded to set up a nice little play area. Blanket spread out, toys within easy reach--she should be entertained for hours.

But when he turned around to move her onto the blanket, she was gone!

Frantic, he searched the room for what felt like hours until he found her crawling under the coffee table. Crawling! Yelena said Liana napped and ate, but failed to mention the most important thing--

the infant was mobile.

He scooped her up just as she reached into his bag of tricks. Clutched in her chubby hand was Janco's butterfly knife. Thank fate it was closed. Relief rushed through him. She stuck out her lip when he took it from her. It trembled dangerously.

"Not yet, baby bunny. You need a little more coordination to handle this." Janco shifted her to his left hip and flicked his right wrist, demonstrating how to flip the knife open, revealing the double edged blade. Her eyes widened. "Nice, right?" He swung her around to his right hip and repeated the motion

with his left hand. "It's important to be equally adept with both hands in case you need to hold a sword in one and the knife in the other."

Liana gurgled and he took that as a good sign.

"I'll have to see if I have any rubber training knives for you. In the meantime..." He placed her in the center of the blanket. "Play with your toys." Janco relocated his bag of tricks to the top of his desk. He glanced around the room to see what else needed to be moved only to discover Liana had ignored her toys and once again crawled away. Grabbing her before she could pull a pile of books down on top of her, Janco set her back on the blanket.

Then she proceeded to play "chase the baby." Every time he returned her, she just took off for the most dangerous thing within reach. Although Liana could have been hurt a dozen times, she thought this was the most fun. Janco, on the other hand, was not amused.

Finally, he pulled the book from the bag, picked her up and sat on the couch with her nestled in his lap. "How about Uncle Janco reads you a story?" The colorful pages of the book were thick and sturdy.

The title read, The Iddy Biddy Farm.