Rex rushed down the hallway, Bliz hot on his heels. They stopped short just after rounding a corner to avoid crashing into two shinies.
"Sir!" they said as they snapped to attention.
"At ease, soldiers," Rex said.
"We need your help finding...something," Bliz said carefully. "But you can't tell anyone! Do you understand?"
"Sir, yes sir!" the two shinies said.
"I...lost a baby," Bliz said slowly, not wanting to freak out the shinies.
"You...lost a baby?" the first one asked.
"Yes," Bliz confirmed. "She was about this big..." Bliz held his hands apart about one foot, hugely underestimating the size of the toddler.
The two shinies stood silently for a moment before speaking. Rex watched on in interest at what transpired:
"She's already gone, sir..." the second said even more awkwardly then the first.
Wait, Bliz thought, alarm bells ringing in his head, My loss? What? It suddenly hit Bliz when Rex started snorting, then giggling, then full-out laughing. Bliz's face started turning red under his helmet. How could they actually think that I- You know what? Whatever! He thought angrily.
"You two should know that is not what I meant!" Bliz almost shouted. Realization hit the two troopers, but they showed no signs of embarrassment at what the were assuming.
"Sir, do you mean the toddler?" the first asked.
"What? YES!" Bliz cried. "How could you even-!"
Rex's fit of laughter was finally beginning to die down enough or him to say "Wh-where is she?" Rex held his gut, he was laughing so hard.
"We saw her walking down the hall into the mess, sir," the second answered.
Rex and Bliz froze when the news reached their ears. "The mess..." the trailed together.
"Sir, is something wro-" the first clone said, but didn't finish as the two officers took off down the hall way. They almost ran into the door as they opened it. Rex, not noticing Bliz's sudden lack of movement, crashed into his back, forcing him farther into the mess hall.
Hundreds of pairs of eyes- not all of the men in the mess hall, but most of them- turned to the two officers at the front of the room. Bliz ignored them and walked straight to the first table within his line of sight. "Have any of you seen-" he cut himself off as he looked at what one clone held in his arms.
"Ba!" She yelled, stretching her arms above her head as if celebrating. Rex checked off the mental list in his head of what he remembered about the toddler:
Pale skin with rosy cheeks-check.
Jet black hair in pigtails-check.
Little pink dress that showed off her diaper whenever she bent over-check.
"Good, you have the child," Rex said, panting ever so slightly.
The toddler made a funny face while the rest of the troops at the table laughed. "We found her wandering the halls sirs-" Bliz flinched "- so we decided to bring her here. She's brighter than she looks," the clone holding her- Mif, as Bliz recalled- said.
"And she is absolutely adorable!" another said, pinching her cheek lightly. The toddler giggled and played with his hand, spreading out his large fingers.
The toddler reached down to pick up a piece of food from one of the clones' trays and put it in her mouth. She chewed with a slightly confused look on her face.
"Maybe she doesn't like it," one soldier said, studying the toddler's face.
"She's not supposed to be having that!" Rex and Bliz cried at the same time.
"Why not?" Mif asked.
"How do you know she's able to digest something like that? She's just a toddler!" Bliz said sternly. Mif's eyes widened in shock.
"I guess you're right, then," Mif agreed. Rex reached forward to try and pull the food out of the baby's mouth, but when he got near, she bit him.
Rex yelped and yanked his hand back as Bliz cackled behind his helmet. He examined his finger, even though the glove would have protected him from worse than a bite from a teething child.
Rex cleared his throat, grabbing the attention of all the clones at the table. "Well, thank you for finding her, but she needs her nap now." Rex tried to ignore the feeling of plain ridiculousness that came over him.
Mif looked a little upset that the child was leaving, but nodded his head. "Can we see her later?" Rex looked at him through his visor.
"Maybe." One of the worst hings you could possibly do to a shinie -or any clone, but mostly a shinie- was break his spirits...
And Rex suddenly got the feeling that that was just what he did.
He ignored said guilty feeling and reached out to pick up the toddler. But instead of going willingly like Rex would have expected, the toddler wrapped her small arms around Mif's neck...
Rex tried again...
Second scream: same as the first, but a whole lot louder and a whole lot worse.
Not only was she screaming in directly into Mif's ear, she was screaming loud enough to draw the attention of every man in the room. She clung to Mif's neck like a drowning man would to a life boat.
"No!" she shrieked even louder. Mif flinched and rubbed his ear.
"Sir," Mif said, still rubbing his ear gingerly. "I could come with you, she's kinda choking me right now."
"Alright then," Rex relented. He stepped back to let Mif out of the table. Rex could hear the whispers begin among the men.
Why is a baby here?
What's up with the kid, and why are the COs a part of it?
Did you hear about the Commander's apparent dilemma with his baby?
Bliz flinched when he heard this comment, and apparently Rex heard it as well, because he started giggling again.
Mif was already up and walking to the door. "You coming, Commander?" Bliz didn't realize he had frozen to the spot until Rex and Mif were at the door.
Bliz rushed to the the other two and exited the mess hall, his face still burning from the questions some of the clones asked.
As the trio (excluding the toddler) walked down the halls, the small girl would make useless chattering noises, and Mif would hold one-sided conversations with her, occasionally pointing out the more prominent details of the Radiant.
Bliz looked at Rex who only shrugged. Silently, they both agreed that civilians were more of a liability than a help- to anything. the three man stopped in front of the door to the baby's quarters.
"Well, I guess this is a good bye, kid," Mif said, smiling sadly. The toddler held onto Mif's neck even tighter.
"No!" she yelled, squeezing Mif.
"Mif, do you think you can put her down?" Rex asked. Mif nodded and bent over to put the child on the floor. She started crying when she realized what was happening, and although he didn't like her, Rex could feel his heart breaking in two.
"Don't worry kid, I'll be back," Mif looked up to Rex for confirmation.
Don't make a promise you can't keep, kid. Rex thought. Before he could voice his thoughts, however, Bliz cut in, "Sure, we'll call you when she's leaving."
The toddler continued crying, despite Rex's and Bliz's efforts to calm her down. They'd been trying for almost and hour already. eventually, she calmed down on her own, but she refused to look at or even acknowledge Rex and Bliz.
"Do you think she hates us?" Bliz asked. The child was just sitting on the floor with her arms crossed, facing the wall. If this was what children were like, Bliz couldn't imagine what an angry teenager would do.
"Probably, but that's her problem," Rex answered. Bliz gave Rex a look and Rex and only shrugged.
"We can't suffer this alone, I'm calling Fives," Rex said, tired of the toddler's act. "Fives, get down here," Rex ordered through the comm.
"I'm on my way, sir," Fives answered back immediately. In a few minutes, he was standing at the door, looking down at the little girl on the floor. "So this is the kid everyone's talking about." He walked in squatted down in front of her.
At first, she didn't look at him, but when she realized it wasn't Bliz or Rex, her small face lit up and she ran into Fives' arms.
"She does hate us!" Bliz cried.
"Fives," Rex said sternly. "She's not going to-"She nodded her head.
Bliz looked defeated as he slumped his shoulders and sat down in the nearest chair. He took off his helmet (which he'd kept on the entire time) and placed it on the floor by his feet. The toddler immdiately ran to Bliz and hugged his leg, looking into his face with the most innocent look in the galaxy."Hey, kid," Bliz said, brushing the bangs out of her face. She giggled and swatted his hand away.
"Looks like she likes you now," Rex said, ever so slightly jealous.
"I'm not really seein what the problem is here," Fives said as he stood up. "She seems fine to me."
Rex sighed. " We just wanted your help taking care of her for the next few hours, that's all.""Sure!" Fives said happily. "I love kids!"
The child seemed to be searching for something while all of this transpired. "You looking for your sippy cup, kid?" Fives asked, smiling a little. The child nodded and toddled towards the duffel Rex had replaced on the table.The three clones turned around to search under the chairs and tables for where the small cup could have fallen.
Which required completely turning their backs on her.A loud crash was heard by them all, and they spun around to see a sight that made all of their blood run cold.
The child was on the ground...The bag was on top of her...
And she wasn't moving.