Cosmo was asleep by the time Brooks got home. It wasn’t even late but, he’d imagined she’d had a long day…
What with switching homes, spending the afternoon with Sandra and then the forty-five minutes of pure hell it took for Brooks to get her car seat into the car.
He watched her now, as she let out a soft snore, her round cheeks placed perfectly on her formed jaw line; counterbalanced by the tiny little ’o’ her mouth was forming while she slept.
Her eyes fluttered softly as she dreamed on, nestled safely and securely in Brooks’ large arms.
It was the weirdest juxtaposition he’d ever been in. At times he felt like this was all crazy, there wasn’t even a chance that he could look after a child, not at all. It was illogical and stupid for him to think that he should be even attempting this… he wasn’t ’father’ material. Hell, he wasn’t even boyfriend material!
He hadn’t had a girlfriend since junior high, and that relationship was nothing more then phone calls and a few awkward dates to the movie theatre.
No, he was definitely not a relationship person, not with women anyway. And here she was, this tiny little girl that needed someone to be there for her, someone who could be a constant place of support, not someone who was gone all the time and had no idea how to raise a child.
He moved towards the couch, sitting down gently and allowing himself to exhale loudly as he shut his eyes. The other half of his mind began to take over as the room around him disappeared.
It was the other half of his mind that was throwing him off kilter; the half that felt relaxed, when he should be on edge.
He’d just found out that morning that not only was he a father, but that he was expected to raise his daughter alone; that would be enough to set anyone off. Yet when he held her like this, he felt clam, like it was right thing to do, the only thing he could do.
He held her tiny body and just knew that she was his; just this moment was enough to tell him it was true. The scariest part was, he was ok with it.
It wasn’t as if Brooks had spent a long time thinking about a future family, in fact, he had never really spent any time thinking about it at all. He had assumed that at some point he’d meet someone and get married, maybe have kids, but it was never something he looked forward to; more of a rite of passage, something he was expected to do.
His mother would never forgive him if he didn’t give her grandkids.
That thought should have comforted him, but it didn’t. His mother’s incessant request for grandkids was always followed first and foremost with the understanding that he would be married by that time. He wondered now what she was going to say when he called her.
Would she be too excited with the idea of a granddaughter to care that his relationship had been founded in a bar and survived only as long as his drunken stamina? Probably not, but no amount of sulking was going to change her reaction.
Laying the sleeping Cosmo down on the black leather cushions, Brooks got up softly and crossed the room. He lifted the cordless phone off it’s charger and dialled in the long distance number to his mother’s home in Canada.
That was one thing he’d probably never get use to - even though he’d been living in the states for a while - a long distance phone call home.
“Hey mom…” Brooks said into the receiver as the familiar sound of his mothers voice flooded the line.
“Brooksie!” She squealed in her trademark Fran Drescher tone. “Oh my god! I wasn’t expecting a call from you… is everything ok?”
Sighing deeply, Brooks pinched the bridge of his nose and closed his eyes. “There’s nothing… wrong…” He said finally after a long pause. “I just, umm… what would you say if I told you that you were a grandmother?”
“Oh Brooksie! What? When is this happening?! Oy vey! I didn’t even know that you were seeing someone!
Is she nice? She’s Jewish isn’t she?”
“No mom… it’s not exactly a ’when’ it’s happening… it’s more of an ’already did’ sort of thing. And, I don’t think she was Jewish.” Brooks grumbled, wondering how all of this was going to go over.
“Already did? As in… she had the baby?” She asked, slowly, too slowly. He could just picture her now, dropping into a kitchen chair and pouring herself another glass of cooking sherry.
This was not going to be good.
“Ok mom listen… before you start asking more questions, just let me explain.” Taking a deep breath, Brooks tilted his head back and readied himself to expel every piece of information he knew, as fast as possible.
“I met a girl at a bar a long time ago and I guess, after our meeting, she was pregnant. She never told me and I don’t really know anything about her other then she was killed a little while ago in a car crash.
The child protection people just showed up here this morning and dropped this little girl off and… and I need your help…I don’t know what to do.”
There was no answer for a long time, to the point that Brooks pulled the phone away from his ear and looked at the tiny screen, trying to see whether or not it was still working. It was.
When his mother finally answered, it was without her usual, excited, tone. “Oy vey! I mean, I can’t believe that you… or that this… a baby!? You said a little girl? Is she cute, does she look like you? What’s her name? How old is she? Where was she born?”
“Umm…” Brooks was unable to find the right words. He hadn’t been sure what to expect but he was thinking there’d be more time spent on the whole ’random girl’ aspect of the situation.
Now she was asking him questions, the most obvious of questions… but he had no answers.
Trying to stall, he murmured some unintelligible words into the phone as he frantically searched the counter for the information left by the child protective services.
Finally finding the birth certificate, Brooks held it up and tried to make it sound like he wasn’t reading off a sheet of paper. “Well… her name is Cosmo Starlight Laich… and she was born February 22nd of 2009. She was born in Baltimore and her mother’s name was Anna-Beth.” He paused, glancing over into the living room where Cosmo was still snoring softly. “And she does look like me… only… she’s perfect. She’s beautiful.” He said quietly, smiling in spite of himself.
“Oh… I don’t know… this is all so much to take in…” She sighed, and Brooks could easily picture the look on her face as she puckered her lips and thought the situation over. When she did that it reminded him too much of Emily. "Listen Brookise... I'm gonna call Janet and then we'll head down for a week... help you boys out... it's gonna be fine. Oh, I can't wait to tell your father!" She yelled as she began to plan out the week in her head; this was worse then Brooks expected. It was one thing for her to come down but the last thing he wanted was for her to bring Mike's mom - Janet - along too.
Inhaling deeply Brooks had a stroke of genius. Emily. She was the answer to everything. His mom began to talk again, trying to help figure things out, but he was almost positive he’d just done that. “Listen mom, I have to jet… I’ll talk to you in a bit after you figure your trip out… bye!” He half-shouted, slamming the phone back down and running towards the door. He threw it open and ran into the hallway, getting halfway down the hall before he remembered that Cosmo was sleeping on the couch.
The high couch that had no protection around it. “Oh shit!” He muttered, as he headed back into his apartment to retrieve his daughter off the couch.
With Cosmo in tow he headed back towards Emily, reaching out to knock on the door with a steady hand. He didn’t feel nervous this time.
Even though he was asking her for a favour, he felt safe; she couldn’t yell at him if he was holding a baby, right?
He almost backed off when she opened the door and he saw the look on her face though.
She looked annoyed and tired. Her hair was pulled back into the normal tight bun that he was accustomed to seeing, and she was wearing a pair of slacks and a grey sweater; somewhat casual compared to her normal, pulled together self.
The only thing that kept Brooks standing in front of her dagger-gaze, was how quickly her face softened when she saw the little girl in his arms. “She‘s gorgeous!” She cooed, reaching out and gently taking Cosmo’s hand in hers.
She smiled lovingly at the little girl until her eyes moved back up to Brooks.
“I didn’t take you as the babysitting type. Who is she? A niece?”
Swallowing audibly, Brooks shook his head. “She’s mine.” To answer the questioning glance, he continued. “I just found out today… a while a go I took a girl home from the bar-”
“-the blond girl, yah.” She said, surprising Brooks with her recollection of the night.
Feeling the change in atmosphere as Brooks shifted his weight, questioningly. “I mean, it’s just not that often that you took someone home with you… actually, she’s the only one I remember.”
Brooks nodded, he wasn’t disagreeing with her, she was right, but he was just surprised that she’d played attention that closely; she clearly had no life. “Anyway…” He continued, filling in the empty, awkward, silence. “I just came over cause… I… did you lose weight?”
“You look, nice.” Brooks said slowly. His mother had always told him that if he wanted to give a girl a compliment on her appearance, he should always be specific, that way they knew you were serious; but Brooks just couldn’t find anything to support his statement. “Your hoodie brings out your eyes…” He said finally, when he was unable to find anything else.
“Umm… my eyes are blue, and my hoodie is grey…” Emily said, all the kindness wiped off her face.
Sighing Brooks dropped the ’good neighbour’ approach. “Ok look… I just really need your help. Please.”
He waited, as patiently as he could before clearing his throat, trying to prompt an answer.
“Fine. What do you want?” Brooks stared at her like she was crazy. He was standing in front of her holding a baby, clearly without any kind of idea as to what he was suppose to do.
Sighing, Emily finally understood. “I’ll be over in a minute.” She said, giving Cosmo one last glance before closing the door.
That didn’t exactly go as Brooks had planned it to, but it was close enough. He glanced down at Cosmo, surprised to find that she was awake and now struggling to sit up in his arms.
He leaned her forward, propelling her upwards until her tiny, chubby arms were around his neck and he had her firmly against his chest; his forearm acting as a seat for her.
He pushed the apartment door open and moved into the room, sitting Cosmo down on the couch and taking the seat next to her.
He turned on SportsCenter and started watching the analysis of the pre-season; their discussion trades, possible parings and anyone who happened to be out for an off-season injury.
He watched until the first commercial came on, before he glanced down at his daughter; who was snuggled in beside him, with her head titled all the way back so she could look at him. Her mouth was ajar and the image caused him to laugh.
The sound of his laughter, caused Cosmo to laugh, and soon they were both giggling together.
Realizing something, he leaned down and kissed her on the forehead. “I guess since you're mine, I’m allowed to do that… but I won’t… I mean… if you don’t want me to or something.
I don’t know how old kids are when they start hating their parents…”
For that, she had no answer, other than to stretch her arm up, extending a short finger as she pointed at him. “Dada.”
It was good enough for him.