Tony had to yell to be heard above the noise from the television, “I understand she’s busy but this is urgent.” He and Mel Boudreau had been playing phone tag for days now and her secretary was getting on his last nerve, “Could you just have her call me back at the Santos residence? Yes, she knows the number. Thank you.”
After finishing the call Tony surveyed the living room and grimaced. Michelle was going to ring his neck when she got home. The room was a mess, with toys and books strewed all over the place. He thought he’d gotten a handle on this babysitting thing but once Danny and Michelle stepped out the door to take Danielle to her first check-up and to visit with the Bauer’s chaos had ensued. Hope had gotten lunch in her hair, Robbie had been bursting with energy, and Tony wondered how Danny and Michelle did it without loosing their minds. Hoping to escape Michelle’s wrath Tony began trying to clean up the mess.
He started gathering the toys and placing them in the clearly marked boxes courtesy of Michelle and her organization skills. He felt a tug on his pants leg and looked down.
“Uncle Tony I’m bored.”
Tony had known Robbie as a baby and they had become buddies since he’d been back in Springfield. Hope was another story all together, Tony had no experience with little girls other than his cousin Pilar growing up, and that wasn’t saying much since they had all teased Pilar constantly. He looked down at what he was holding, “Um, don’t suppose you want to play baseball do you?”
The little girl just shook her head emphatically, “Nu-uh.” She seemed to think it over and looked up to him with a smile, “Will you play Barbie’s with me?”
Him? Barbie? “Maybe we can watch a movie?”
Hope just shook her head again, “Please?”
He should have known that wouldn’t have worked. Once Hope got it in her head that she wanted to do something there wasn’t any amount of pleasing, cajoling, or diversion that could steer her in another direction. She was just like her mother in that regard. He glanced at Robbie. The little boy’s attention hadn’t wavered from whatever he was playing on the game counsel. Tony might just get away with this. “Okay.”
Hope grabbed his hand and tugged him towards the playroom. This was going to be interesting.
Tony looked at the naked plastic doll in his hand. “Don’t you have a Ken? Or maybe a G.I. Joe?”
Hope picked up a plastic container and dumped the contents on the floor where they were sitting. “Nope. His head popped off. But you can have first pick of the good clothes.”
As Tony found out minutes later that deal wasn’t as sweet as it sounded. He found pulling clothes up Barbie’s rubbery legs was harder than it looked. “What am I doing wrong here?”
Hope looked at the mess he had gotten tangled up in and giggled. Tony found the sweet, innocent sound adorable. Adorable? He was really turning into a softie. “You have it on backwards silly.”
After getting the dress turned the right way Hope handed him some shoes. “Since when does Barbie come with hooker boots?”
Hope looked confused, “What are hooker boots?”
Well damn. Michelle might ring his neck after all. “Nevermind.” As Tony pushed the pointed feet into the boots he had another thought, “Um Hope you’re not going to tell your dad about this are you?”
Hope reached for her own pair of “hooker boots” for the doll she was currently dressing, “Tell him what Uncle Tony?”
He moved his arm to indicate the sea of pink he was currently swimming in. He may be going soft but if Danny caught wind of it he’d never hear the end of it. “You know, playing Barbie.”
She did that giggle thing again which made him smile, “You sound just like Daddy! He said the same thing yesterday.”
Tony was speechless. He’d already knew Danny was an excellent father. Michelle and their children were the center of Danny’s world, and you could tell he wouldn’t have it any other way. But never in a million years would Tony imagine his cousin sitting and playing dolls. Which made him wonder what kind of father he would be. He’d never had a father and the only real male role models he’d had growing up had been his Uncle and later on Danny and Ray. But he’d always wanted to be the kind of father he’d never had. Hell he’d even married Catalina just to prove it to himself, and to others, that he took care of his responsibilities like a man.
But things were different now. The thought of children with Marah made his heart race with joy instead of the panic and feeling of being trapped like he’d felt with Catalina. He looked at Hope who was moving furniture around in the gigantic pink dream house. He’d love if they had a little girl who looked just like Marah…
The shrill ringing of the telephone interrupted his musings. He put the doll on the floor, “I’ll be right back sweetheart.”
Walking through the living room he noted that Robbie was still engrossed with his game. At least that was one less witness to Tony’s Barbie party in the other room. He checked the caller-id before answering, “Hello Mel. Thanks for calling me back.”
Hours later the adults were seated around the table listening while Mel spelled out what they had to do to have Tony legally declared undead. Mel had gotten him an emergency passport so that he could travel with Marah to Paris but that was just the beginning.
“Okay first off you should go down to Cedars and get some blood taken. A simple DNA test would go a long way to proving your identity. You said your fingerprints were already on file correct?”
Tony nodded, “Rafael ran my prints after he found me. When they came back saying I was deceased he knew I was telling the truth.”
Mel made a note on her legal pad and pulled out some forms, “Fill this out and I will file them as soon as the DNA results come in. I assume you want this expedited as much as possible?”
He looked up from the forms she’d handed him, “Definitely. I can’t do much of anything when I am still considered a ghost.” He signed the last page and handed them too her.
She looked over them to make sure all the necessary information was included and signed her name as well. “Okay that should be it. Just get that DNA test done and in a couple of weeks you will officially be undead.”
They both stood and Tony shook her hand, “Thank you for all you’ve done.”
Mel laughed, “Just wait until you get my bill. But in all seriousness I’m glad you’re alive and well.” She finished packing up her papers and turned to Michelle, “Now that business is done I want to see that beautiful daughter of yours. Leah says she’s as cute as can be.”
After the women left the room Danny looked at Tony, “We can make an appointment with Rick in the morning and get it all taken care of.”
Sounded good to Tony. The sooner this mess was over the better.