Summary: How in the world is Claire supposed to get her baby brother to sleep when her older brother and his friends are making such a ruckus?! And now that Peter Wright of all people wants to help…how is she going to keep her sanity?
Claire knew something was wrong the minute Alex walked into her room baby monitor in tow. She sighed, sat up in her bed and glared. "I'm not doing baby duty tonight." Claire said flatly, "No way, no how, get out of my room." She held the book she had been reading as a protective shield in front of her chest.
Alex simply smirked and placed the offending object on her bedside table. "Sorry Sis." He grinned not looking sorry at all, "I have friends over tonight and since all you're doing is reading on a Friday night, the parents decided you wouldn't really mind anyway."
She gaped at him. The evil bastard! He'd gone straight to their parents to make sure she didn't have a say in the matter. Damn him. And damn her parents too! It wasn't her fault that they'd reached their mid-life crisis at exactly the same time and decided to have a baby to add meaning to their 40-something year old lives. It also wasn't her fault they hadn't been able to snatch the vacationing Spencers' baby-sitter before the Wrights employed her for the next three Friday nights. But did her parents care? No! She was still chosen to babysit just because she'd rather spend her Fridays quietly and, they chose to assume, unoccupied unlike her rowdy older brother.
"Get out of my room you scheming piece of shit!" Claire knew she was stuck with baby motoring duties but there was no reason why she should accept it passively. She threw her book at Alex's head and glared when it missed; he left the room laughing loudly and mockingly.
An hour later, Claire was still glaring for all she was worth, her fingers tapping impatiently against the leather bidding of the book she was trying to read. The baby monitor was one of those new types with the small TV screen and programmable two way radio transmitters so that parents could actively watch their child and coo soothing words to them in the middle of the night without having to go to their room. Through it she could see her poor baby brother Charlie fussing, tossing and turning trying to go to sleep but unable to because of the huge racket their older brother and his friends were making. Hell, if the noise was keeping her from completely immersing herself in one of her favorite books, she could only imagine her baby brother's distress.
"Alex shut the fuckin' hell up! You're bothering the baby!!" She yelled at the top of her lungs, belatedly registering that her words and volume had been poorly chosen specially when taking into account Charlie could hear her quite clearly through the monitor.
In fact, her outburst caused him to burst into sudden, heart-melting sobs of frustration.
Claire jumped from her bed and raced to Charlie's room feeling conspicuously guilty. She had a lot of work to do in the competent-big-sister department.
"Shhhh." A male voice cooed quietly, "You're a good baby Charlie…shhhhhh."
She stopped in her tracks. He was holding her baby brother. No freaking way! "Let go of him you maniac!" Claire launched herself into the room and carefully wrapped her arms around Charlie tugging him slightly away from the glowering boy's gentle hold.
"Let me have him Claire, I think you've done enough damage for one night." Peter Wright elbowed her in the chest and successfully regained control of the small bundle. "Don't worry Charlie-kins I won't let her take you away from Uncle Peter." He sing-songed fondly.
Claire's mouth gaped quite unflatteringly. "Uncle Peter?! O. my. god. You're so retarded. And give me my baby brother back! He doesn't want you!"
Charlie chose this opportune moment to cuddle closer to Peter's strong chest and gurgle happily, his sleepy eyes already drooping.
You little traitor! Claire scowled and sighed. He was a little baby after all, Charlie had no way to know that he was enjoying the company of a boy who had tormented and bullied her all the way from pre-school to the present, her junior year in high school. "What are you doing here anyway? Aren't you supposed to be making a ruckus with Alex in his room?"
Peter rolled his eyes and quietly carried Charlie over to the door and closed it gently. The room was immediately covered in darkness, the only light coming from the basketball-shaped nightlight in the corner. Claire crossed her arms; she was keenly aware of the goosebumps running all along her arms. "Well?"
"I was coming back from the restroom when I heard your screams and Charlie crying. I thought I'd better make a stop to calm the baby and show you a thing or two about caring for one." She couldn't really see his wry smile but his tone told her everything she needed to know.
"As if," She growled, "Don't be a jerk Wright. Your parents hired the Spencers' baby-sitter it's not like you personally take care of your little sister!"
"Shhh." He glared pointedly at her and looked down at a blinking Charlie. Still annoyed, Peter walked over to the rocking chair and sat down. Then he glanced up and bit his lip when he realized Claire was struggling to hold in her tears. "You're scared you're not doing it right, aren't you?"
Claire sniffled and made a defeated swipe at her nose. "I have no idea what I'm doing." She admitted forlornly. "He cries every time I try to hold him…that's why I hate looking after him, I feel like I'm hurting him…he smiles every time Alex holds him…why doesn't he like me?"
She didn't about how Peter had always teased her, she didn't think about how she was crying in front of her worst enemy, she didn't think about how silly she'd feel once she emerged from the seclusion of Charlie's dim-lit room; Claire simply allowed her legs to walk over to the rocking chair. She looked expectantly into Peter's kind green eyes but when he lifted her baby brother up to her she hesitated and shook her head. "He'll wake up."
"Trust me." He whispered and smiled crookedly when she reached for Charlie. Once he knew the baby was secured in her grip, he slipped an arm around her waist and tugged her down onto his lap.
Eyes wide and blushing Claired turned her head close to his ear. "What are you doing?" She hissed.
"Shhhhhh." He admonished her, "Be quiet." Peter waited until the rebellious light flickered out of her eyes before wrapping his arms around her own. "Not so tight…relax" He murmured, "He doesn't want to feel like a bag of potatoes in your arms."
Claire smiled. "You suck." She whispered back but relaxed her grip on Charlie. Idly she wondered if his fingers stroking her wrist had anything to do with the ease with which she had done it. "Now what?"
"Now you sit back, look at him and bond…quietly." He chuckled and began rocking in a steady rhythm. His hand released her wrist and gently tugged her head under his chin. "Don't worry if you get drowsy, I'll take care of you guys."
She knew he would too…and a few minutes later when he kissed the curve of her neck she didn't resist. Instead she unfolded one of her hands and gently stroked his face. "Thank you."
"Yah, dude, that's like so brilliant."
"How come we've never thought of that before?"
"Hey, dude can I borrow your baby brother next Friday night?"
"Shut up!" Alex growled dangerously and glared at the baby monitor. He'd turned down the volume at the end of his line and was watching his best friend kissing his little sister through narrowed eyes.
One of his friends commented dryly, "I guess your comment of 'put her in her place Pete, don't let her think so much of her baby-caring abilities' got lost in translation…"
Alex rolled his eyes and finally smiled, "Took them long enough."