It was late and Brooks was more thankful then ever that he had Emily with him at Target. She’d come over a few minutes after he’d left her apartment, just as she had promised.
They were now walking side by side, down the aisle, trying to gather everything that she’d put on the list he held in his hand. “Ok so… now we just need to grab the crib, and call Mike.” Brooks said absently as he scanned the list one more time.
“Why are you calling Mike?”
Brooks shrugged as he leaned over to peer into the cart; checking to make sure Cosmo was still happy. “This stuff is bigger than I thought, I’m gonna need Mike to meet us here with his truck…” He explained as he pulled out his cell phone and hitting the ’2’ - it was the only speed dial he had in his phone. “Hey man, where are you at?” Brooks chirped into his phone as he continued to move down the aisle with Emily.
“Ah… not a whole lot, just got Denise on the other line but, that’s not really important…”
Rolling his eyes, Brooks continued on with the reason that he called in the first place. “How close are you to Potomac… and are you driving the Lambo?”
“Not too far, just left Theo’s house… why?”
“Cause if you have the truck, can you meet us at Target? I bought too much shit and I don’t think I’ll have room for it.” He explained as Emily stopped her cart in front of a row of cribs.
“We as in… you and Como?” Mike pressed and Brooks could hear the intrigue in his voice.
“Yah, and Emily.” He added, trying to sound as nonchalant about the whole thing as possible. He didn’t want Mike making a big deal about it when he got there, and he definitely didn’t want Emily to think that he had some kind of ’thing’ for her, that would just be awkward.
Sure, he appreciated her help and was glad that there was a girl living nearby who was willing to help out but, there was no way that was ever going to happen.
No way. No how.
“What are you going to do for tonight?” Emily asked Brooks as they waited inside the doors for Mike to appear. Brooks shrugged, giving her an appraising look to explain that he didn’t understand what she meant. “I just mean, some cribs are pretty hard to put together so… where is she going to sleep?”
“In the car seat until later… the crib’s got like three pieces, it’s not going to be too hard.” He answered dismissively as his eyes focused in on Mike’s truck, rounding the last turn towards them.
Brooks put a hand above his head and waved in Mike’s direction, grinning as his room-mate pulled up to the curve in front of them.
Hopping out, Mike greeted Brooks with their traditional fist-bump-explosion ritual, that they’d been using since the day they met. Emily sighed softly as she adjusted the baby carrier in her arms and waited for the boys to load up the truck.
When it was done, Mike turned around and reached out for Cosmo. “Well, I guess she’ll just come with me if you guys want to…” He wagged his eyebrows and Brooks could feel Emily stiffen beside him as colour spread through his cheeks.
“No. You can take Emily.” Brooks replied hastily as he ripped the car carrier out of her hands and turned his back on them; leaving them both standing on the curb as he headed back to his own car.
“So what the fuck was that about?” Mike asked quietly as he and Brooks sat on the living room floor, trying to assemble the legs onto the base of the circular crib.
Shrugging, Brooks kept right on screwing, never taking his eyes away from his project. “What was what about? It was no big deal.” He said quickly before setting down the tool and finally glancing at Mike.
His friend moved to say something, but Brooks cut him off. “I mean it’s fucking Target. It’s not like we were… whatever… whatever.” Shaking his head Brooks pushed the crib away from him.
“And this is impossible… it’s a god-damn crib, I should be able to snap this shit on and put her in it. Who the fuck designs these anyway?”
Mike tried not to laugh as Brooks continued to huff uncomfortably, mumbling to himself.
He wanted to say something else, but he felt his phone vibrate and he pulled it out, examining his new message from Denise. She was wondering what the plan was for when she got home on the weekend.
Grinning to himself Mike text’d her back, quickly stowing his phone away again.
Brooks got up and yawned, stretching his arms above his head and letting out a low grunt. It was Brooks’ turn to search for his cellphone then, as it went off somewhere in the kitchen.
He dragged his feet along the floor as he went, too tried to care that he looked like a zombie.
He was exhausted and stressed and worried and everything else that went along with being a new parent, a single parent and an unprepared parent. Finding his phone on the counter, he flipped it open and felt his brow crease in confusion, as a picture came into view.
Brooks only wondered for a minute, why someone would send him a picture-text of a snuggie, before he clicked down to the message. “U should were this w/ nothin else.”
He couldn’t help it, when he saw who the message was from.
“Mike? What the fuck is wrong with you?!” He yelled over his shoulder as he clicked back to the picture of the pink snuggie. “Number one, a snuggie? And number two, you spelt ‘wear’ wrong you retard!”
“Wha- oh. That wasn’t… ah… that’s not for you, that was for Denise.”
Snorting Brooks began to laugh. “It’s ok Mike, I always knew you had a thing for me.” He chortled as he set his cell phone back down and headed back into the living room towards Mike.
“It’s true Brooks,” Mike laughed, continuing on with the joke as he got onto his feet. “It’s always been you… I can’t hide my love any longer!” He said louder as he dramatically threw his arms to the side.
An awkward cough from behind Brooks, sent both boys spinning around. “I’m not interrupting anything, am I?” Emily asked cautiously as she pushed the door open a bit further, her eyes glancing back and forth between both boys.
“What? No… that was just-” Brooks began, but he was cut off by Mike.
“We were just screwing around.” Mike chimed in, before backtracking quickly when he realized the innuendo. “Not screwing… I meant that we were just fuckin aro-”
“-anyway Emily.” Brooks reiterated loudly. “Is there something you were looking for?” He asked as he moved away from Mike, his cheeks burning red.
Emily allowed Brooks to reach out and pull the door open completely, before motioning for her to move into the apartment; which she did, hesitantly. “I was just coming in to see if you guys needed any help with the crib or with Cosmo… at all. I mean it’s just- ok look I’ll be blunt here.” She said quickly, waving her hand as if trying to ward away a frightening image.
Brooks tried to hide his shudder as he wondered what was coming next; for as long as he’d lived by Emily, he had never taken her to be anything but frank. “I don’t trust you with her. Alone anyway. I know that you mean well and you both have the best intentions, but you’re both kind of stupid and… I just couldn’t sleep.” She finished, huffing proudly as she ended her opinion sharply.
At first Brooks wanted to argue with her, but he decided against it, figuring it would be best for Cosmo and himself if he just spoke the truth. “We can’t get the crib together and… I keep thinking like I forgot something, but I don’t know what.” He shrugged, glancing back at Mike, who nodded absently at the comment.
“Well…” She said slowly as she walked into the room and took a seat on the couch, in between the unassembled crib and Cosmo, sleeping lightly in her car seat. “I can help with the crib and… she’s in her jammies at least.” Emily noted, before her nose crinkled and she leaned forward. “Umm… who changed her diaper?”
“What?” Came the reply as Brooks and Mike looked at each other, neither of them sure what else to say. Of course they had changed her, but it was more because she'd spilt spaghetti all down here front then an actual conscious decision to get her ready for bed.
And there definitely had been no diaper change. Not even close.
Sighing Emily shook her head, and Brooks thought that a verbal attack was eminent, but instead he saw a small smile spread across her face as she bent low to gather Cosmo in her arms. "Alright boys, follow me." She said as she headed down the hallway, peering into each open door until she saw the room that held Cosmo's bag. "Ok so... now I'm gonna show you how to change a diaper."
She laid Cosmo down on the bed and gently kissed her forehead as the sleeping child began to wake up; her large green eyes finding Brooks immediately.
She yawned and reached up, her tiny fists opening and closing in an attempt to get picked up again.
Normally Brooks would go to her, even now as he watched her, watching him, he felt an unnatural need to come to her rescue - even though there was nothing to be rescued from... but he didn't. He was too afraid of what was going to happen once Emily removed the bulking pamper that she was now tugging at.
"Wait, does it have to be on my bed?" Brooks said suddenly as Emily finally pulled off the diaper and tossed it backwards. It his Mike in the chest and he caught it on reflex, before quickly dropping it onto the ground with a yelp.
"Ugh! It touched me!"
"Grow up you guys, it's baby pee... deal with it." Emily chided, but even from the side Brooks could see the smile on her face.
"So... someone needs to get me another diaper, wipes, and some baby powder from the bag."
When no one answered she glanced over her shoulder at Brooks, who was staring at Mike. "No way man... this is all you... your baby... you touch the pee!" Mike said, raising his hands in front of him, palms out.
Sighing, Brooks went to the bag and began fishing through it with his hand. He found the box of wipes first and chucked them over to Emily who was now pretending to eat Cosmo's feet; an act that was sending the little girl into hysterical laughter.
After finding another diaper and the bottle of baby powder, he walked towards her slowly, worry evident on his face. "Brooks, it's not going to hurt you... think about it, you've probably touched worse."
Defeated, he shrugged, waiting to be told what to do. "Alright, tell you what... how about I do this one, and you just watch for now, kay?"
"You're the boss." He grinned, not bothering to conceal his relief as he watched Emily's hands moved around expertly; until Cosmo was fully dressed and snuggled back in her arms.
"Now, how about that crib?"
Brooks waved goodbye to Emily from the doorway and watch her move down the hallway until she disappeared through her own door; but not before she gave him a small, over the shoulder smile.
When he closed the door and returned to the living room, Mike was eyeing him suspiciously, having just returned from tucking Cosmo into her newly built crib. “What?” Brooks asked, feeling his exhaustion kicking in as he flopped down onto the couch beside Mike.
“What?” Mike asked back, feigning ignorance as he shrugged his shoulders.
“Ugh, knock it off Mike! You know ‘what’, why are you looking at me like that?”
Mike pushed himself off the couch, a mischievous grin playing on his lips as he headed down the hallway. “Nothin man… don’t worry about it.”
“What, Mike?” Brooks hollered after him one last time before he disappeared around the corner.
Part of him wanted to follow Mike, and demand to know what his annoying little, ‘know-it-all’ grin was about; but he was jut too tired.
Instead he turned off the TV and kicked up his feet, throwing his arm over his eyes as he allowed sleep to take him.
Until twenty minutes later, when Cosmo woke up.