Peter was a wiggly baby, squirming happily when he was put down. He only seemed to still when he was being held, and hence he was often held. In fact, for the first few months after his birth, Axel all but refused to put Peter down. He would throw a tantrum if he had to let go, insisting that it was the only way to keep him from wiggling away, and that it had to be Axel because he was the big brother.
He’d calmed down a little in recent months, but he still didn’t like when Peter was out of sight for too long. Hence why he always had play time next to Peter’s crib so he could keep an eye on him. Right now, he was playing with his action figures while Peter gripped the bars and watched with the kind of rapt attention only babies could seem to manage. Axel smiled and talked to him as he played, telling him all about the show they were from and how Peter’s awesome big brother had carried all of them all by himself. He was about to give Peter one to hold (his least favorite one) when the baby laughed happily and said a single word.
“Axow!” Axel went still, staring at Peter with wide eyes.
“What did you say?” he asked. Peter didn’t respond except to babble, and Axel frowned and turned back to his toys. Another moment passed, and Peter threw his sippy cup onto the floor. Axel sighed and picked it up for him, looking him in the eyes.
“If you drop it again, I won’t pick it up for you.” he said slowly, as if the baby could understand. Peter drooled in response, and Axel rolled his eyes and wiped it up with a napkin, “Messy baby. You shouldn’t be messy because then people will make fun of you.”
“Axow.” Peter made grabby hands at him, wiggling demandingly in his crib. Axel gasped softly. He hadn’t been imagining it!
“Did you just say Axel?” he asked excitedly. His excitement seemed to please Peter, because he laughed happily and said it again.
“Axow.” he chirped, “Axow!”
“Yes!” Axel grinned happily, pulling him out of the crib and picking him up, “Yes! That’s me! I’m Axel!”
“Axow!” Peter beamed, patting at his face like he was trying to grab his smile and keep it. Axel beamed with absolute happiness.
“Momma! Daddy!” he called excitedly, “Peter said my name!” His parents came in with curious expressions, and Axel gave Peter a big kiss on his cheek, “Say it again. Say ‘Axel’.”
“See!” Axel beamed at them. His mother cooed with pure adoration and his father snapped a photo for his scrapbook.
“Guess we both lost the bet.” his father sighed, earning a laugh from his mother. Axel frowned at them.
“Your mom and I had a bet going about whether or not Petey’s first word would be ‘momma’ or ‘dada’.” he explained with a smile, “But looks like we were both wrong.” Axel blinked, and then his eyes went huge.
“But he said my name. That means I win and he loves me best!”
“Yes he does.” their mother laughed, “Petey, give Axel kisses.” she made the ‘mwah’ noises that Peter knew meant kissies, and he gave Axel a big wet baby kiss on the cheek.
“Ew!” Axel’s nose wrinkled as though he hadn’t thrown a fit when Peter had refused to kiss him a few days ago, “Drool!”
“That will go away with time.” Their father laughed, “Now come on, dinner’s almost ready.”
“Chicken?” Axel asked hopefully.
“And broccoli.” he nodded.
“No!” Axel wailed, devastated. Their father chuckled.
“It’s good for you. Now come on, give Peter to me so we can go eat.”
“No!” he hugged Peter tighter, “I wanna hold him.”
“You can’t hold him at the dinner table.” their father chided gently, but Axel was stubborn.
“He’ll drool in your food.” their father tried, but Axel shook him head.
“Not if I’m careful.”
“Peter, tell daddy you wanna sit with me!”
“Okay, okay.” their father laughed, holding his hands up in surrender, “You win.”
“I always win.” Axel laughed, “Come on, Peter! Chicken!”
True to his word, he didn’t let go of his baby brother all night. He was so happy that he went to sleep that night with Peter held securely in his arms.