My Best Friend's Surprise

September 4, 2012
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Christophe Wright sighs and pinches the bridge of his nose. <i>I thought it would be a good idea to have a kid... why?</i>

“PARKER!” he yells.

The little girl stops, finger inches away from the large fountain’s water. But she doesn’t turn around.

“Parker Anne Stone!” Christophe yells again.

This time, she turns with a big smile.

“Don’t touch the water. You’ll catch syphilis or something.”

She frowns and asks, with hints of her native accent, “What’s all that?”

“Your snide remarks are not appreciated, young lady. Come over here.”

“But I-”

“Parker, <i>please</i> don’t make me get up. It’ll end badly for both of us.”

Pouting, she stomps over in her pink rubber boots. He smiles and hands her a menu. “My friend’ll be here soon, so look at this and tell me what you want.” It’s not his proudest victory, but he’ll take it.

“All this stuff looks rank,” she complains with a frown.

Christophe opens his mouth to disagree, but just as he’s about to eloquently state his opinion and completely humiliate her with his facts, common sense pops into his brain. <i>Perhaps bringing a six-year-old girl to a cafe wasn’t the greatest plan.</i>

Okay, it really wasn’t a good idea, but when Mordecai called him, Christophe couldn’t really find a place to say “I’d rather go to a more kid friendly place, if you don’t mind” in Mordecai’s rambling.

His best friend had been talking at the speed of light- or a mile a minute, Christophe had failed Physics and done even worse with idioms. All he’d been able to pick out from that hurried phone call was “lunch!” “today!” and “Godot Café!”, mispronouncing the latter as usual.

So here he is on his precious lunchtime, with this little girl who he’s considering tying to the table, waiting for his best friend’s big news.

“THIS!” Parker shouts, shoving the menu into his dazed face.

“What’s ‘this’?” he asks, pulling it away from his face.

“A lat-tee. Is there strawberry? That’s my favourite.”

With a smirk, Christophe puts the menu down. “Strawberry’s your favorite, huh? New rule, Parker. If you can’t pronounce it, you’re not getting it.”

“Mummy would get it for me!” she whines.

“Yeah, well, Mommy would probably tip in a dash of the hard stuff too,” he mumbles looking for something a little less caffeinated. <i>Dammit Wright! You’ve got to get better at this parenting thing!</i>

But Parker pays him no mind as she starts inspecting the menu again.

“Dude!”

Christophe looks up to see his long-time friend. Same old Mordecai, getting excited like a kid at Christmas. <i>Or a Muslim on Eid. Or I guess in his case, a Jew on Passover... or Ramadan... or... oh wow, I need to get up on my studies of religious holidays. My best friend is Jewish; he would probably get annoyed if I said Chanukkah. Maybe I should say bat mitzvah. Crap, that’s how you pronounce it right? Let’s give it a shot.</i>

“Hey buddy, how was your bat mitzvah?” Christophe calls.

Mordecai’s smile from a distance morphs into a frown up close. “Bat mitzvahs are girls. Boys are bar mitzvahs. I keep telling you, you become bar mitzvah. And my ceremony was almost fifteen years ago.”

<i>Dammit.</i>

Mordecai has his eyes on Parker who is happily humming and drawing circles on the table.

“Who’s the kid?” he mouths, sitting down.

“Parker! This is my dear friend, Mordecai Justice! Mordecai! This is my darling daughter, Parker Anne Stone,” Christophe answers rather loudly.

Mordecai can’t control the surprise that jumps out of his face as he looks at Parker. <i>Parker Stone? Seriously? Heh heh, poor kid.</i> He covers his mouth to hide a smile. So he doesn’t have the silliest name in Liberty City, good to know. Leave it to Christophe to be so much of a geek that he gives his daughter the last names of his idols.

She looks up and gives him a big smile. Expecting to see Christophe’s dark blue eyes, Mordecai is a bit surprised to see a large pair of pale green irises looking up at him, almost mirroring his own.

“Oh, hullo!” she squeals. “Are you the reason Daddy Chris left my mummy?”

Mordecai slowly looks over at Christophe who is tilting his head at the girl, all the while sporting a blank expression.

“Wh-what?” he asks, clearing his throat.

“Can I call you Daddy Mordecai?!” she exclaims.

“She’s uh, cute,” Mordecai offers uneasily.

“Cute isn’t the word I would use,” Christophe sighs. “Parker, sweetheart, Mr. Justice is an adult. You wouldn’t refer to him so informally. Daddy Justice, remember?”

“Right, Daddy Chris!” she beams. “Can I listen to some music?”

Christophe sighs again and searches his pockets for his phone. He hands it to her and helps her put in the ear buds. “Please don’t break it.”

“I think that would’ve been more effective if you had said it before she turned the volume up. Speaking of which, I’d turn it down unless you want her to hear ringing for the rest of her life.” Mordecai observes.

“I’m new at this, give me a break,” Christophe protests. He turns it down, and then smoothes her strawberry blonde hair back from her headband. “So what’s this news?”

“Is it bad that now I kind of want to talk about your uh... daughter? Because I kind of really do.”

“Mordecai-”

“Let me see your hands real quick.”

Deciding not to protest, Christophe spreads his palms on the table.

“Yeah, I don’t see a wedding ring,” Mordecai teases.

Indignantly, he withdraws them and snaps, “You didn’t drag me out of my office to discuss my marital status. So let’s talk about YOU before I have to go back.”

“Okay, okay!” Mordecai folds his hands on the table with a big grin, but Christophe can still feel his legs shaking the table underneath of them. “Do you want to know?”

“Yes,” Christophe says certainly.

“Do you REALLY want to know?” Mordecai asks again.

Christophe furrows his brow. “No. I no longer have any interest in knowing. In fact, I have no interest in sitting here when someone is undoubtedly eating my lunch back at the office.”

“Mercutio Christopher Wright! You were SUPPOSE to say yes, then I’d ask if you wanted to know, then you’d say yes, then-”

“Don’t call me that. You know I hate that name. And that sounds stupid, man. You’re going to explode. Just tell me,” Christophe says.

“Okay... you’re looking at a representative of Rosencrantz, Guildenstern, & Justice Law Offices.” Mordecai leans back in his chair with a satisfied smile as he waits for Christophe’s elated reaction.

“I don’t get it,” Christophe frowns. “Isn’t it a little gimmicky to put ‘justice’ right in your building name? Your clients are going to think you guys are making a bad pun. Of course with the people you guys represent, they probably wouldn’t notice...”

“Ha ha ha,” Mordecai scoffs. “I’m the new partner, moron. They’re going to announce it in a few days.”

“Partner?” Christophe laughs.

“Thanks for your support,” Mordecai says, rolling his eyes.

“No, I’m just... impressed. You’ve been there what, two years? I didn’t even know you had applied for that. Isn’t that how it works?”

“No, you’re nominated. But to be honest, I didn’t even know that they were considering me, y’know? It’s like it came out of nowhere,” Mordecai replies.

“So you were nominated? That’s awesome! When’d they tell you?” Christophe asks.

“Yeah, they actually haven’t...”

“So...” An awkward moment passes through the two of them. The awkward moment where they both knew what Christophe has to ask. The awkwardness that neither of them wants him to ask. The awkwardness that they both knew that he’s going to ask anyway. Hesitantly, Christophe finishes, “...how do you know?”

“Well...” <i>“My best friend at the office was eavesdropping and stole some labels from the mailroom” isn’t going to impress Christophe.</i> “Just trust me.”

Christophe takes this into consideration. He wants to tell Mordecai how dumb that sounds. He asked for a reason and all he gets is “trust me.” But, he does trust Mordecai and he seems pretty excited about this promotion. And well… he had burst Mordecai’s bubble enough throughout the years. So he puts on a smile and says, “Congratulations buddy!”

Mordecai’s grin spreads and he sighs. “Awesome! So what are you getting?”

“I’m thinking just chai tea. I don’t need anything too strong... not really sure I can afford it anyway.” Christophe replies, resting his cheek on his propped up palm.

“And what about... ahem,” Mordecai points to Parker.

“I don’t know. Milk, I guess. Kids still like that, right?” Christophe asks, sitting up.

Mordecai smiles and looks Christophe in the eye. “We’re talking about this. Now.”

“I’m pretty sure the purpose of this meeting was to talk about your promotion.”

“Yeah, that changed when you, a twenty-eight-year-old man who can’t get keep a girlfriend for more than an hour, a man that I’ve known for almost half of our lives suddenly shows up with a kid that’s what? Seven? Eight?”

“Six,” Christophe informs him defensively. He takes out one of the ear buds and asks, “How does vanilla milk sound?”

Parker rubs her eyes and yawns. “Can I have strawberry milk?”

“Are you tired?” He asks, smoothing her hair again.

“No, you sod,” she scoffs, pushing his hands away and putting the ear bud back in.

“You have such a way with kids. I can only wish that I will one day understand them as you do,” Mordecai sighs longingly.

“Shut up. She can’t sleep in my office, I’m always on the phone, there’s always noise and oh yeah! It’s just barely a step up from a cubicle in terms of space,” Christophe explains.

“Well, why don’t you have her in some kind of camp? It’s summertime; she should be around other little vermin.”

“I don’t have time to look and I can’t leave her in my apartment, it’s not childproof. But speaking of new stuff, you know how last year a new Attorney General came into office, but he’s been completely secretive about his identity and stuff?”

“Yeah, it freaks Mai out whenever we get statements from him and he doesn’t even sign his name,” Mordecai murmurs, looking over the menu.

Christophe rolls his eyes before Mordecai looks up and continues, “Well, apparently we’re going to be the first district office that he’s visiting and everybody’s freaking out. They’re stressing me out while I’m balancing two cases from this stupid unit and neither of my victims wants to testify.”

“What’s your unit again?” Mordecai asks.

“Sex crimes!”

“Sex crimes. Yeah, real dumb,” Mordecai says sarcastically.

“I shouldn’t have said that. I mean, it was Special Victims or the Control Bureau. Snore fest. It’s just frustrating to constantly face juries that acquit rapists and child molesters. My conviction rate is abysmal. 48%.”

“That’s not... awful,” Mordecai tries.

“When the citywide conviction rate is almost 80%? Yeah, that’s not what the DA is saying. He isn’t impressed by anyone working in sex crimes- there’s three of us and I have the highest conviction rate, so if he cans anyone, I’m safe, I guess...” Christophe stops speaking as the weight of what he just said settles in. <i>If I screw up and fall below those two morons I’m going to be fired and then...</i>

“Eh, you’ll be fine. We both know what a creampuff the District Attorney is,” Mordecai assures him.

”Hey, how do we always end up talking about me?” Christophe asks with a smile.

Mordecai grins back. “Because your life is oh-so-interesting. So who’s her mom? Is she still across the pond? Didn’t you always have a thing for British girls?”

“Across the pond... you’re funny. But I’m still a little more concerned about this promotion. Bro, are you absolutely sure?”

“Why wouldn’t I be? I mean, who else would it be? I just have to decide what suit to wear to the meeting... I wonder if I can invite my parents...wait, what am I thinking? They’d be completely embarrassing…”

“Just... something seems off.”

“Probably the coincidence that we’re both getting new superiors. Speaking of which, I’ve heard a little about the new Attorney General. Apparently he passed the bar when most of the current ADAs were just born. And he does crazy philanthropy work, taking in disadvantaged kids.”

Christophe visibly freezes at that, then shakes his head.

“What’s wrong?” Mordecai asks.

“Nothing! I just didn’t realize how late it was, you know? Sorry, Mordecai, I gotta get back to the office. C’mon, princess.” Christophe stands up, carefully grabbing Parker’s little hand and leading her away.

“Okay. See ya!” Mordecai calls.

“Bye bye Daddy Justice!” Parker calls back. She turns and struggles to keep up with Christophe.

Mordecai watches them go with a smiles. <i>As he’s reclining in his chair,</i> he absently thinks, <i>Huh. She never got her milk.</i>





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