Babytalk – A Higher Ground Flashfic


I posted this last year on my Live Journal, but who goes to Live Journal any more? So as a Valentine’s treat I thought I’d give it an airing over here. A little tale of what might be in the future for Adam and Zach from my novel Higher Ground. I don’t often picture my guys as parents later on, but always did for Zach and Adam. Another time maybe I’ll post up a little snippet I have in mind involving Cal from Patient Z and what happened when he got caught in a “zombienado”

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Baby Talk

Zach has a little insecurity about his parenting skills.

“Oh good girl,” Adam said, as Emma balanced one building block on top of the other and looked at Adam for his approval. She smiled back at his grin and clapped her hands. Adam, lounging on the floor beside his daughter, handed her another block to balance on top of the two she’d already stacked. She placed it carefully and clapped again, laughing in delight at the tower of blocks.

“Hey,” Adam called, as Zach passed, with a smile at them playing on the floor. “Look at that.” He grinned up at Zach. “Wouldn’t you say she’s displaying exceptional facility with building blocks?”

Zach made an annoyed growling sound and nudged Adam’s elbow with his knee as he passed, to make him sprawl on the rug.

“Ah, he got me!” Adam said dramatically. Emma apparently found this hilarious, and went off into peels of laughter, clapping. “Oh, are you laughing at your daddy?” Adam said, reaching out to pick her up and rest her on his stomach. “Are you laughing at your daddy?” She went on laughing. Her weight surprised him every time he picked her up. How quickly time had passed, since she was so tiny. Now almost two years old, walking, talking, laughing. His little girl, less little every day.

When Zach came back into the living room twenty minutes later he found Adam still flat on his back and Emma asleep on his chest.

“Are you staying down there all night then?” Zach asked.

“I’m sure she’ll wake up for dinner. Come down here.”

Zach rolled his eyes at all this undignified sprawling, but he sat and then lay by Adam and Emma, leaning up on one elbow. Adam and Emma got a kiss each. Emma stirred but didn’t wake at the soft, quick touch of his lips on her forehead. Adam put one arm around Zach, hand resting on his back.

“You’re so good with her,” Zach said. “Playing with her I mean. Talking to her. All that baby talk stuff. I wish I could do it.”

“Of course you can do it. I’ve heard you do it. You can babble with the best of them.”

“Maybe while she’s tiny. But she’ll soon be getting to the age you can have a conversation, of sorts, with her. And I don’t think I know how to talk to her.”

“Rubbish.”

“It’s true. Look, just yesterday I took her out for a walk and we passed a field and she drew my attention to a horse in the field and—”

Adam raised his hand to cut Zach off. “Just a second. When you say she drew your attention, what did she actually do?”

“Does it matter?”

“I’d just like to get a clear picture.” Adam was sure he knew exactly what she’d done. He just wanted to hear Zach say it.

“Fine.” Zach sighed. “She pointed at the animal and called out ‘horsey!’”

“Thank you,” Adam said with a grin. “And your reply?”

“I confirmed that she was right and congratulated her on her correct identification of the species.”

Going by the teasing look in his eyes Zach was the one doing the winding up now, but Adam went along with it. “Again, if you could tell me exactly what you said.”

“I said ‘yes, it’s a horsey. Aren’t you a clever girl?’”

“Sounds like good baby talk to me.”

Zach sighed. “Up until then, maybe. But I started… babbling. Talking about horses, their historical, economic, and cultural relationship with humans. Before I know it I’m telling her about the evolution of the Equus genus. That can’t be right.”

“It certainly is not!” Adam scowled. “When the time comes to explain Darwinism to our daughter, that will be my job, thank you very much.” Then he grinned. “How did she react to this lesson in evolutionary biology?”

“She fell asleep.”

“Clearly she’s a very smart girl.”

Zach sighed and curled in closer to Adam, resting his head on the floor, his mouth close to Adam’s ear, breath warm against his neck. Adam rubbed his back slowly.

“Zach, stop worrying. The detail of what you say to her doesn’t matter. All that matters to her is hearing your voice.” He rested his other hand on Emma’s back. “None of the details matter,” he went on. “All she hears when you talk is that you love her.”


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