“You absolutely cannot be seen holding my baby in that,” Taako was bouncing Ada on one hip, looking entirely unimpressed. Magnus looked down.
“I think it’s super appropriate.” The shirt in question said ‘OKAYEST UNCLE’. Lup had gotten their family all matching ones after Ada was born. Merle had scratched his out so it read Foxiest Grandpa and they ended up setting it on fire for everyone’s sanity.
“I don’t care! My loinsfruit needs to be around class and shit,” Taako hefted said child in question up a bit to make sure she didn’t drop her pacifier.
She was absolutely adorable as the day she was born, all long ears that were almost as big as she was and big eyes. She was wearing a onesie with a promotion for Taako’s school on it. (“We also make bumper stickers now,” he had delightedly told Kravitz.)
“Taako I promise I will take awesome care of her,” Magnus put one hand over his heart and the other up in a swear.
Taako squinted at him, mulling it over. “If you mess up Kravitz gets to kill you,”
“Done,” Taako handed over the baby and Magnus squealed, cradling her expertly.
“Hi Ada hello it’s me your Uncle Maggie, coochie coochie—“
“She saw you two days ago Magnus you don’t have to do that every time,” Taako had already set about making himself a drink. The alcohol in his kitchen was as varied as the ingredients he kept there.
“Now remember, she’s gotta eat at three, food is in your bag, she’s crawling so don’t let her out of your sight and no snacks bigger than a fantasy cheerio,”
Magnus nodded, still staring at his niece. She returned the stare blankly until he blew a raspberry and she giggled.
“I’ll pick her up at seven,” the elf flopped back onto one of his barstools, sticking a bendy straw in his margarita. “Daddy needs a me-day,”
The park was absolutely perfect. It had a jungle gym some grade school kids were playing on, while their parents watched and talked amongst themselves from the sidelines. An elderly couple was tossing handfuls of food to the ducks gliding across the pond. All visible from hills to the west, the perfect place to picnic. Magnus had kept meaning to come by but never had a valid excuse to leave the dogs. Now he had the most valid excuse ever.
“Look at her Lucy ohhhh look at her little hands,” Lucretia sat across the picnic blanket from Magnus and Ada, reading a book and smiling softly. He had convinced her to take one of her few vacation days off to do this.
“I miss you when you’re at work!” He had announced, loudly, because everyone needed to know his feelings immediately.
She gave him a Look from across the dinner table. “Magnus,”
“We live together,”
(No one on the Starblaster could live alone after remembering being cramped together for 100 years. Taako Barry Lup and Kravitz shared one giant house. Merle had Taako make a teleporting ring in his living room so he could stop by whenever he liked. Magnus had asked Lucretia to live with him a little while after the apocalypse and Pan was it fun to see people’s faces when she answered the door.)
Magnus continued to stare lovingly at Ada as she pulled a fistful of grass from the ground. She held it up triumphantly and when Magnus gasped, she smiled. “Grass! Holy shit you’re the smartest baby ever,” he picked her up again before she could put the grass in her mouth.
“Language,” Lucretia didn’t look up from her book.
Magnus stuck his tongue out at her and got to his feet, baby in tow.
“Yeah okay sure like this kid isn’t gonna have the vocabulary of a sailor by five,”
“We’re gonna go feed the ducks real quick, wanna come?”
Lucretia hummed, turning a page. “I’ll join you in a bit once I finish this chapter,” she promised.
“Have fun ya nerd,” Magnus placed Ada on his shoulders and took off to the pond. He eventually won his wrestling match with the sealed bag of birdseed and was trying to coach Ada in the ways of tossing the food into the pond, not eating it when he noticed the laughter.
He turned and noticed the orc sitting near them, a kid in her lap as well.
“Is that your first?” Magnus did a double take between the mom and the baby elf in his lap. “Uhhh,” saying ‘This is not my baby,’ seemed like a bad idea and before he could come up with something better he rolled with, “Um yeah, first time feeding the ducks too,”
Ada triumphantly nibbled on a seed, which Magnus removed and flicked into the pond.
The orc cooed. “Well she’s just lovely, how old?”
Magnus sat back comfortably, content to let his niece play with his shoelaces. “Seven months,”
The orc gasped delightedly. “What a nice age. That’s how old my David here is, say hi David,” she took one of her baby’s fists and shook it gently in greeting. David chewed on his other fist and stared at Magnus blankly.
Magnus beamed back. “He’s cute,”
“Thank you, I’m Francine by the way.”
“Magnus,” he scooted closer so they could shake hands. Ada put an experimental hand on David’s face and the little orc sneezed. The adults laughed and chatted for a bit, about work and kids while some mallards came to investigate the birdseed in the water.
“You know I’m surprised I haven’t seen you here before,” Francine was saying. “or at least at the club,”
Magnus tilted his head the same way Ada was looking at the ducks.
Magnus had been gone thirty minutes. Lucretia squinted over her book. She hadn’t stopped at the end of her chapter truthfully but now she was regretting it, as she sat up and saw he wasn’t next to the pond.
She stood up, cracked her back (Old people pain sucked) and set out on a Magnus hunt.
He wasn’t by the popcorn stand or the monkey bars so the obvious was out of the way, but by the carousel-spinny-playground equipment thing there was a crowd and where there was a crowd there was a Burnsides.
She made her way over until she noticed that Magnus wasn’t the center of attention here, but a spectator.
“And those are just some of the ice spells I use for teething,” a tiefling woman was saying. The circle nodded, appreciatively. Lucretia leaned in to see each member seemed to have a baby or some sort of small child on their laps, in various states of sleeping, awake, or trying to grab things with their tiny baby hands.
She was able to pick Magnus out from the crowd easily, sitting cross legged and bouncing a sleepy looking Ada. She knelt behind him and tapped him on the shoulder. He turned and broke out into a big grin.
“Hey Luce, this is Francine,” he gestured to the orc lady sitting next to him, “Fran this is my sister I was telling you about,” Magnus chatted on excitedly as Lucretia shared a handshake with the woman.
“Nice to meet you, ah, Magnus,” she lowered her voice, “what in the fresh hell are you doing?”
Magnus winced, apparently bouncing Ada on one leg. “Well uh since this is my kid I thought I’d learn some tips—“
“Oh sweet jesus,”
“Whatever I’m having fun, and as a certified uncle I need to be prepared,” Magnus pulled Ada’s fist out of her mouth without breaking eye contact with Lucretia. She sighed and moved into the circle, a father scooting to the side to make room for her.
“Here I am again, supporting the madness, raging against common sense,” she rested a chin on her hands, and her smile betrayed her tone.
“Let’s learn baby things,”
“No no no, listen, I’m not here for you,” Kravitz was saying to the terrified father standing in front of the play structure. The half elf looked down at the baby strapped to his chest in growing panic, and covered her up.
Kravitz looked equally horrified and shook his head and hands, “No— goddess no I’m not—“
“KRAVITZ!” The reaper turned and the half elf took the opportunity to bolt. Magnus and Lucretia both strode forward across the playground and Kravitz’s fleshy face relaxed into a smile.
“There you are, I was looking for you,” Lucretia passed Ada over and she gurgled excitedly as her father took her and pressed a smattering of kisses to her face. “Hello there darling, I hope you weren’t too much trouble,”
“She was great,” Magnus looked sad to see her go but was giving her a tiny wave. “She ate and everything we had a great time,” the little elf cooed and grabbed at her father’s earrings, as Kravitz forced a smile.
“I’m so glad— Ada no we don’t do that to Baba’s shiny things,” Lucretia handed over a pad of sticky notes which the reaper took a little confusedly. “What’s this?” He flipped through it with one hand and held his child with the other.
“Magnus here had the wonderful idea of gathering some kid tips for you and Taako at the parent club they have here,” Lucretia gave Magnus’ shoulder a pat. The big guy looked at his feet and shuffled sheepishly.
“Yeahhh could I babysit this time next Wednesday? They meet weekly,” Kravitz looked surprisededly at them, and then down at Ada. His face softened into a smile.
“Well I suppose that couldn’t hurt. I’ll run it by Taako but I’m sure he’ll say yes,”
“Yes,” Magnus gave a small fist bump, then leaned forward and gave the baby elf a little high five.
“You pretended she was yours didn’t you,” Kravitz asked quietly once Magnus was that close.
The fighter gave a wide nervous grin. “Wellll I mean can you blame me?”
The grim reaper’s laugh echoed around the playground as his daughter played with his earrings. He stared at her adoringly. “No, no I cannot,”