DOCTOR, MAKE IT BETTER INSTANTLY

you're the only one who can

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Morning, May 15
pensive
hbic_cuddy wrote in cuddys_house
Cuddy really didn't sleep after House left, not even after she turned off the light and stretched out in the bed. She dozed a little but always roused after a few minutes to look at the bassinet. Emma slept, at least, and watching her daughter sleeping so innocently was completely engrossing for Cuddy.

Eventually Emma woke and this time she was truly hungry. Cuddy shuffled over and changed the baby's diaper before carrying her back to the bed. A nurse stopped in to see how Cuddy was getting along and she stayed for a few minutes to give some pointers on breast feeding and to make sure Cuddy was comfortable with the process. Cuddy still felt a bit awkward with getting Emma to latch on properly but once Emma was happily sucking away, Cuddy felt even more proud and protective. She loved the idea that even though Emma was no longer being completely sustained by Cuddy's body, she still depended on her mother for nourishment.

Emma fussed occasionally because colostrum was more difficult to suck than Cuddy's milk would be. The baby had to work a little harder but she managed to fill her little belly and she dropped back off to sleep, worn out. After returning her to her bassinet, Cuddy discovered she was ready to sleep herself. She settled on the bed and drifted off into a light but still restful sleep.

The next thing Cuddy knew, she was being gently shaken awake. She looked around with bleary eyes and saw one of the hospital phlebotomists standing by her bed, hands gloved and syringe at the ready.

"Sorry, Dr. Cuddy," the young man said. "But I've got to draw blood for your labs."

"Right, of course," Cuddy said groggily. She rubbed her eyes and sat up, her eyes immediately going to the bassinet.

"She's fine, just fussing a little in her sleep," the phlebotomist said as he put a tourniquet around Cuddy's arm and felt for a vein. "She's a cutie."

"Thanks." Cuddy waited until he was finished, then slipped out of the bed to look at Emma. The baby was starting to make some more definite noises, her eyes blinking open and closed as she began to fully wake up. Cuddy rubbed her belly soothingly, then decided to make a quick run into the bathroom before Emma woke up and realized she was hungry.

Of course, the best laid plans always went wrong. Cuddy had barely sat her ass on the toilet when Emma let out a demanding wail. Cuddy tried to hurry but by the time she could get back to the baby, Emma was red in the face and howling.

"You definitely have your daddy's lungs," Cuddy muttered. She decided to skip the diaper change until after Emma had fed and carried the wailing baby to her bed. She got herself settled into a comfortable sitting position as quickly as she could but she had to sway Emma in her arms for a little bit to get her to settle down enough to latch on. Cuddy was beginning to think it was going to be impossible when Emma seemed to realize she'd be happier if she sucked on the nipple Cuddy was shoving in her face rather than screaming at it.

"Boy," Cuddy said in the sudden silence. "You really know how to make some noise."

  • 1
For a little while, House managed to get back to sleep. It was a doze but with still vivid dreams, a doze that had him feeling groggier when he roused from it. For a little while, he struggled between finding the energy to get himself up out of bed and simply rolling over to go back to sleep. Physically, he felt like he could sleep for the entire day but as thoughts of the night before took more solid form in his mind, he forgot about tiredness and got lost in thought over the baby.

Eventually he got up. The clock read 7.52am, he was hungry, stiff and in need of a strong cup of coffee. Despite having a shower the night before, he got undressed and had another one simply to loosen his muscles and to make him feel a bit more refreshed. He dressed in jeans, a t-shirt and a grey hoodie, took his medication, grabbed his car keys and something else from his apartment and slipped out the front door.

On his way to the hospital, he stopped by the main street to get a few things. First, he stepped into Starbucks to grab that strong coffee he needed to wake up. Once he'd had a few sips and felt the caffeine hit his system, he was back out on the street and he headed into a cafe that offered all kinds of foods, including breakfast and takeout. For himself, he ordered a roll that was crammed with egg, bacon and fried mushrooms with ketchup. And for Cuddy, he ordered muesli and low fat yoghurt mixed together and a container of mixed fresh fruit. He grabbed her a drink, too - a bottle of freshly squeezed orange juice, and he also picked up some snacks for her to eat throughout the day if she wanted. Some fruit - bananas, apples - and a couple of high fibre muffins.

Once everything was packed in a paper bag for him to take away, he stepped back outside and went to his car. He drove to the hospital, parked up in his spot and grabbed everything, and headed inside. He arrived on the maternity ward and as he walked towards Cuddy's room, he could hear crying that got louder the nearer to the room he approached. He realised that the crying was Emma and he poked his head through the door just as he heard Cuddy say to the baby that she knew how to make noise.

"She doesn't get that from me," he replied, knowing full well how loud he could be. Not that the baby's crying was any indicator of that. A loud, responsive baby was a healthy one. He was still in some kind of state of denial or disbelief or daze that he was a father. He had a feeling he wouldn't be shaking that from him any time soon. He was in a reasonably good mood, though. Disbelief, denial or daze though it may be, he was also on some kind of weird cloud nine. He stepped into the room, closed the door behind him and limped over to the bed.

"Good morning," he greeted both Cuddy and Emma. "How are my two favourite girls?" He held up the paper bag, adding to Cuddy, "Breakfast for two."

"Well, she doesn't get it from me," Cuddy retorted in a mild tone. Emma's crying was.... Well, it was loud but it was also completely normal. Babies cried. Early on, they had very few ways of communicating their needs. Crying was a very good way of getting Mom or Dad's attention when a baby needed something. Emma clearly wasn't going to have any trouble communicating her needs.

She watched House walk over, smiling when he asked about his two favorite girls. She honestly hadn't known what to expect when he returned to the scene of the crime, as it were. He'd been very supportive all through her labor and he'd been affectionate with Emma but he'd also been a bit dazed by the whole experience. She wasn't sure how he'd be feeling about fatherhood once he had a chance to clear his mind. It appeared either his mind was still clouded or he was warming up to being a daddy.

"Thanks." Her smile brightened even further when he held up breakfast. She didn't know what he'd brought but she was sure it would be fine. He knew her well enough to know the kind of meals she liked. And frankly, she was hungry now and she'd eat just about anything.

"I'm a little busy right now but I'll eat as soon as the boss here is finished." She nodded at him to come closer until she could reach up with her free hand and pull him in for a quick kiss. Emma's fist thumped against Cuddy's breast as if reminding her of what her priority was supposed to be. Cuddy shook her head but settled back to let Emma to feed.

"Did you get some sleep?" she asked House. He didn't look fresh as a daisy but he looked better than he had. He certainly looked better than she did, she was sure. She hadn't showered yet. Her hair was a tousled mess. Her face was puffy and pale. And despite all that, she was smiling.

Letting Cuddy take his hand, House bent down and met her lips, giving her a light kiss. He let her hand go and brushed his fingers over the side of the baby's head, as a kind of acknowledgement of her and to let her know he was here, even though she wouldn't care or even know what that meant.

"Not a wink," he replied as he put the paper bag on the dinner trolley. He opened it. "Well, maybe a couple of winks. Definitely not forty of them." He glanced over at Cuddy, at her tired and pale face, as he pulled a couple of the bananas out. "You look about ready to hit the town and party for the night."

He quickly unpacked the rest of the bag, gesturing for Cuddy to see the things he'd bought her. He laid them out so she could take whatever she wanted once she was done feeding and then he pulled the chair by her bed closer and sat with a wide spread and a sigh.

He started to unwrap his breakfast. "Oh, I almost forgot," he said. Reaching into his back pocket, he produced the soft, squeaky Pooh bear toy he'd bought a while ago and squeezed it a couple of times at Cuddy. It was for Emma of course, something for Cuddy to play with Emma with.

"Thought I'd bring this along and annoy the crap out of you with it." He squeezed it a couple more times to punctuate his point.

Cuddy let out a soft snort. Yeah, she was sure she looked like she was ready for a party. A slumber party, maybe. Definitely a shower kind of party. Somehow she didn't think she was going to have much of night life in the near future, not the partying kind anyway. Her nightlife was going to consist of diaper changes and midnight feedings and that didn't sound too bad. As much as she enjoyed getting dressed up and going out, she liked staying in just as much. She liked the idea of staying in with Emma even better.

"Hand me a banana," she told him. She could eat that one-handed while Emma continued to nurse. She decided she didn't want to have to wait for Emma to finish. Seeing the food made her stomach growl. No surprise there--she hadn't eaten since lunch the previous day. "And no," she added quickly before he could twist her words. "That's not a euphemism."

She ate at the banana while House settled down to eat his own breakfast. Her eyebrows rose when he pulled out a toy and squeaked it at her. Even Emma reacted, pausing in her nursing as the new sound caught her interest. Not for long, though. She went right back to nursing as Cuddy shook her head at House.

"As if you needed any assistance in annoying me," she said. It was a cute toy. She'd always had a fondness for Winnie and his pals, ever since she was old enough for her mother to read the stories about the 100 acre wood to her. That was something she'd have to do with Emma--find her favorite childhood books and read them to her. There were so many things she wanted to share with her daughter, she wasn't sure how she'd have time for all of them.

She leaned over to set the banana peel on the bedside table and Emma fussed at the disruption. "Shhh, shhh," Cuddy said quietly. "It's time for you to switch sides anyway." She raised the baby into a sitting position, one hand supporting her wobbly head as she gently burped her. Breast-fed babies didn't tend to swallow as much air as with a bottle, but they weren't burp free by any means. Of course, Emma just fussed because she didn't understand why her breakfast had been interrupted.

"All right, all right," Cuddy said, turning the baby to lie the other way. Cuddy struggled with her for a moment to keep her from latching on incorrectly but after a few seconds the tap was flowing and Emma was sucking away. "She definitely gets her appetite from you," Cuddy teased.

"Annoyance is like sex - more fun with toys." He squeaked the Pooh bear a few more times before putting it up on the bedside cabinet. As much fun as he got out of annoying Cuddy, he hadn't actually come today to do that. More to the point, he was too hungry to bother with things like being annoying. Unwrapping his roll, he sat back and took a big bite while watching the baby suckle on Cuddy's nipple.

Part of the reason none of this yet felt real was because, well, as much as the hospital was an every day thing for him, it wasn't a natural surrounding to have a baby in. Reality would truly hit once Cuddy was out of hospital and home. And even then, House was having a hard time picturing what life with a baby was going to be like, even with the baby now right in front of him. Apart from the cuddle or two he'd had with her, he wasn't really sure what to do as a father. Did he just stand by and let Cuddy do most of the work? Did he wait for Cuddy to tell him to do things for the baby?

With a quiet huff, he tried to lay those thoughts aside while taking another bite of his breakfast. At the same time, Cuddy was trying to get the baby to latch onto her other breast while Emma made impatient whining noises.

"I don't make noises like that when I want to be fed," he argued. He then rolled his eyes. "Well, in that case, she gets her fussiness from you." He finished chewing and swallowed his mouthful. He reached over for his coffee, took a few sips and put the cup back down.

"So, what was the night like after I left?"

"Wanna bet?" Cuddy said. House might not make the same noises Emma did when he wanted to be fed but he did make noise. A hungry House was a grumpy House and he didn't usually care who knew it...not unlike Emma. And Cuddy refused to address the issue of who was fussy one in this family.

"Not bad. She slept quite a bit at least," she said. Her own lack of sleep couldn't be blamed on Emma. Well, it could but not on Emma being awake. She hoped the baby would continue to sleep well at night but she knew she couldn't judge by last night. Birth was an arduous process for the baby as well as the mom and Emma's sleepiness could well have been because of the simple need to recover. Cuddy wouldn't really know what their schedule was going to be like until a couple days had passed and they were at home. Then she'd find out what the 'normal' routine would be.

"I had to get up and nurse her, of course, but otherwise, it was pretty quiet." And speaking of feeding, Emma's nursing had faded off to just the occasional little suck. Cuddy decided that meant she wasn't hungry anymore so she burped her and then laid her on the bed in front of her. She reached for the yogurt House had brought and ate while Emma wiggled and stretched, her limbs occasionally flailing out because she didn't have much control over them just yet.

After a few moments of gobbling down her breakfast, Cuddy leaned over and grabbed Winnie the Pooh. She squeaked it, then held it to the other side and squeaked it again in a very unofficial hearing test. Emma reacted, her eyes moving in a definite albeit somewhat uncoordinated attempt to find the source of the noise. Cuddy brought the toy around and brushed it lightly against Emma's cheek. Emma jerked, one arm thumping against the mattress, but she turned her head toward it.

Smiling, Cuddy continued to play with Emma, glancing over at House every once in a while. She still worried about how he was reacting to all of this, understandably so since he'd been so resistant...when he wasn't being terrified. She really wanted the two of them to get off to a good start. If he bonded with Emma quickly, it would make it easier to deal with everything else.

Cuddy glanced down at a soft but unmistakeable sound issuing from her daughter's diaper. "Oh, goody," she said, giving House a look. "A dirty diaper for Daddy to change."

"Maybe she does take after me," House said as Cuddy finished telling him how the baby behaved the night before. "Luring you into a false sense of security."

He was only teasing but it was possible he could be right, too. Perhaps when the baby was taken home, her true colours would come out, so to speak. Maybe she'd be a good sleeper and easy to get into routine... not that House really had any idea how to 'put' kids into a routine. Or maybe she'd scream the place down from dawn 'til dusk.

While Cuddy set the baby down to eat her food, he worked his way through the rest of his roll and sipping his coffee in between. He was two bites away from finishing his breakfast when Emma made an announcement that something had dislodged.

"Oh, goody!" he echoed Cuddy with mock excitement. "Just what I've been looking forward to all morning!" He took another bite of his roll but as he chewed, he heard another noise coming from Emma's diaper, followed by a grizzle from her. It took only seconds for her grizzling to escalate into something louder.

He dropped the remainder of the roll into the bag it had come to and scrunched it up. Tossing it onto the dinner trolley, he stood and stepped over to the bed. Emma was getting more and more worked up by the second, her hands clutched into fists and her face twisted up unhappily. He looked around, wondering where on earth he could change her diaper. More than that, how on earth to change her diaper.

Leaning down, he awkwardly scooped her up in his hands and he looked more than a little lost while he limped away with her flailing and crying. He carried her over to the changing table and lay her on it. It was ridiculous he felt intimidated by a tiny baby but in all honesty, he didn't know how to do this. After a few aborted attempts at wondering where to start, he pried the tabs off her diaper.

"That looks tasty." he said dryly at the mound of dark green meconium awaiting him. Of course, he realised now that he hadn't gotten anything set up to clean her with. Everything was over by Cuddy's bedside and he was all the way over here with a screaming baby.

"This was well planned out," he added aloud to himself, a little frazzled by how out of his depths he felt. Her increasingly unhappy cries weren't doing anything to ease the situation, either. He put a hand on her belly to hold her stable and safely on the changing table and stretched his other arm out to reach for a fresh diaper... which was too far out of his reach. So were the wipes. So was everything he needed.

He threw Cuddy a somewhat uncomfortable, helpless look. "A little help?"

Cuddy leaned back slightly and grabbed the bottle of orange juice House had brought her. She poured some into her water glass and watched as he tried to figure out the secret to a successful diaper change. She could've just gotten up and told or even showed him what to do but she decided to let him work it out himself. Not because she was amused he'd could be defeated by something as simple as a diaper change...well, not just because of that.

She honestly thought it would be good for him to try it himself, and to find out getting it wrong wasn't the end of the world. Sometimes he got so uptight about failing at any or all aspects of fatherhood she worried he'd talk himself out of even trying. He needed to see that minor mistakes were common and they weren't going to hurt anything, least of all Emma.

Smiling, she set the juice aside and got the wipes and a diaper. "Don't worry," she told him. "At home, all the diapering supplies are on the shelf of the changing table. You won't have to worry about gathering things together." She pulled out a wet wipe and handed it to him, then leaned over and caught Emma's arm as it jerked around.

"Shh, honey. Daddy will have you feeling better in just a moment." Emma wasn't overly impressed by Cuddy's promise. She kept fussing but she did dial it down a notch, her attention at least partly distracted by Cuddy talking to her. She kept kicking her legs, though, which only made House's job more difficult.

Cuddy took the soiled diaper and used wipe and disposed of them. She went into the bathroom to wash her hands, leaving House to deal with the new diaper on his own. "Just remember to fold it down in the front so it won't rub against her umbilical cord," she reminded him as she returned to the changing table.

"Well, that's a relieve," he said in a sarcastic tone as Cuddy assured him everything was within easy access at home. The wipe handed to him, he gave Cuddy a look - a playfully annoyed one because while he had no clue what he was doing, he wasn't really annoyed - and then set to work wiping the meconium off the baby's bottom.

It took a fair bit of wiping to get it off, too. For a start, House just had no idea how one wiped a baby's butt. The only thing he did know was to wipe from front to back, not back to front. Otherwise, he wiped and wiped... and wiped, and he didn't seem to be getting anywhere. The baby's kicking only made it more difficult.

"This stuff is like..." He trailed off to wipe some more poo from her bottom, though it was smearing rather than actually coming off. Meconium was very thick in sustance. It had a tar-like consistency. "You could lay bricks with this stuff."

At last, he seemed to have most of it off. As he dumped the diaper and the wipes in Cuddy's hands, he said, "I feel like the missing scene from that movie, Three Men And A Baby." He looked back down to Emma while Cuddy went to the bathroom. Emma was a lot happier now. Kicking her legs in an uncoordinated fashion, jerking her arms about, eyes wide open.

"You may have won this round but don't think I know how to step up my game." The baby replied with another jerky kick, her head shaking as her ended up on her mouth, automatically startling her rooting reflex. Of course, he wasn't done yet. He still had phase two of Operation: Diapering to get through, and that was the actual diapering part.

He picked the diaper up and opened it just as Cuddy reemerged and told him to avoid the umbilical cord. "I know that," he said. He went to slip the diaper under the baby but found it a lot harder than it looked. A couple of times, he tried to wedge it under her but she was kicking too much and he was just too uncertain of what he was doing.

Eventually, he managed to get the diaper under her bottom by gingerly grasping one of her ankles and lifting her on a weird angle. He glanced over at Cuddy, positive she was laughing at him by now. Returning to Emma, he folded the crotch over, untaped the tabs and fastened them... around the back instead of the front, not realising that the diaper was on backwards. The diaper was loose, crooked and badly put on, but it was on all the same.

"Operation: Diapering complete." He leaned over to look at Emma, frowning challengingly (in a playful way) at her. She stared up at him with a fascinated frown, her lips pursed in a tiny 'o'. "I won that round. You may try to trick me by looking cute but just so you know, you can't outsmart Dad."

Cuddy had watched the whole process trying to hide a smile. It wasn't that he was doing anything wrong because he wasn't. A baby's first bowel movements were thick and sticky and not easy to clean away. House's problem was that he was apparently so nervous about handling Emma, he wasn't wiping as firmly as he could. She left him alone, though. With a little practice he'd get used to it and he'd be fine.

She had to press her hand over her mouth, though, when he held the baby up by one foot. It looked like he was picking up a mutant frog or something, and Cuddy couldn't suppress a smile. He wasn't hurting Emma; she was seemed happy now that he'd cleaned her. He simply wasn't doing things as easily or efficiently as he could be. Again, she refrained from correcting him, though. Her instinct was to step in and fix his errors but she didn't want him to feel like she was criticizing him.

She stared at the final result, a diaper that gapped and drooped and would leak all over the next time Emma urinated. She watched him declare his victory while she silently debated leaving it alone and taking the consequences. Her fingers were twitching with the need to get that diaper fixed securely, though, so after allowing him a moment to savor his victory, she reached for the diaper.

"Not bad for a first time," she said, a hint of amusement in her tone. "There's just one small problem which could lead to a leakage issue." She pulled the tabs loose and slid the diaper out, flipping it over. She grasped both Emma's ankles with one hand and lifted her butt, sliding the diaper under her, right side up this time. She'd done plenty of diapering over the years--babysitting as a teenager, caring for her nieces--so that was one aspect of baby care she was very comfortable with.

"The side with the tabs is always the back," she explained, fastening the diaper securely below the stump of her umbilical cord. "Don't worry if you forget. Emma certainly isn't going to care which way her diaper is on. In fact, she'd probably prefer no diaper at all. Diapers are for our benefit, not hers."

Emma was content now, belly full and bottom clean. Cuddy grasped one of her flailing feet and leaned to kiss her little toes. Then she looked up at House again. "And now that she's fed and changed, you can play with her for a few minutes while I take a shower, right?" She ran a hand through the mess of her hair and gave him a pleading look. "Seriously, I need a shower."

House caught the amused tone in Cuddy's voice and he frowned at her, wondering what the hell she found so amusing, aside from the spectacle of diapering a baby. He could see the diaper was loose but, hey, he'd never done this before in his life. When Cuddy took over, he watched with his frown deepening further but then he shrugged because what else could he do?

"Fine, I get it. You're better at this than I am," he said with a dramatic roll of his eyes. He perked up then. "All the more reason to leave diaper duty up to you." Like he'd get away with that and he knew he wouldn't. He watched Cuddy kiss Emma's foot, meeting her eyes when she said about having a shower.

He shrugged again and waved to the shower. "The kid's been de-stinked. Only fair you get your turn." Once Cuddy had left for the bathroom again, he turned back down to Emma. She was contentedly looking in the direction of the window, her fingers spread wide while she jerked her arms about. He carefully scooped her up. "Guess it's just you and me for a little while he told her."

Carrying her over to the seat by Cuddy's bed, he sat down and got Emma adjusted until he had her sitting on his thigh. He supported the back of her head with one hand and had a firm grip around her back and under one arm with the other. He studied her for a while. She pulled all sorts of faces that newborns pulled, from squinting her eyes to opening her mouth wide and moving her tongue in a sucking manner. Her arms moved about without any direction, her little fingers closing into fists every now and again.

He was a dad, he thought to himself for the hundredth time. Yet, hundredth time though it seemed, it still didn't seem any more real or credulous. This was his daughter. His flesh and blood. It was too crazy to fathom. This tiny, vulnerable, little creature was his daughter. Amazing how something so small and innocent could be so threatening and scary.

She made a noise, a kind of gurgling sound. House pulled his face into a look of intrigue. "Really?" he replied. "I didn't know that." She was definitely alert. He had her close enough to him on his thigh that she would be able to see his face this close. Her eyes remained on him when he spoke.

Emma made another noise, a quiet grunt. "Well, duh," House replied. "Everybody knows that. Even me." Her fingers fanned out as she moved her arms outwards again and House rolled his eyes. "You caught a fish that big? Tell another lie while you're at it."

"No, all the more reason to leave it up to you," Cuddy said firmly. "All you need is a little practice."

Satisfied he wasn't too intimidated by dealing with Emma, Cuddy leaned in and gave him a kiss on the cheek. She gathered her toiletry bag and clean panties and nightgown--her own--and headed into the bathroom. She got the water running in the shower and yanked the hospital gown off. She made the mistake, then, of looking down at herself. Her abdomen...sagged. All that stretched out skin and muscle hung there like a deflated hot air balloon. She knew it was normal to look like that just after giving birth but it was still freaky to see herself looking that way.

She resolutely raised her eyes. She wasn't going to look at it, she wasn't going to think about it. A lot of the sagginess would take care of itself as the overtaxed tissues recovered. And the rest, well, she'd be doing some exercises when she got home. But that was for later. Right then, it was all about getting clean and then spending some more time with Emma and House.

The hot shower did wonders to perk her up. It didn't erase the fatigue by any means but it eased some of the muscle aches. And just feeling clean again was a psychological boost. By the time she'd washed her hair and given herself a brisk scrub, she was feeling pretty good. She toweled off and dressed, her skin a pleasant pink from the heat of the water. She combed out her wet hair but didn't bother doing anything with it. Nor did she bother with make-up. She was as vain as the next woman but this was one day she figured she had a free pass to not look her best.

She walked out of the bathroom feeling far more comfortable than when she'd gone in. A smile softened her face as she saw House talking to Emma. His ability to be a little silly was going to go a long way to helping him bond with the baby. Some men would feel strange or self-conscious talking to a baby. Maybe House felt that way, too, but he was doing it and that's what counted.

She walked over and leaned over to drop a kiss on his head, then crouched down beside the chair. "Hey, Sweetie," she murmured, grasping Emma's hand and letting her curl her fingers around Cuddy's. Emma's eyes moved, trying to locate the source of Cuddy's voice as she gave a jerky squeeze with her hand. "Daddy telling you stories? Hmm? Or are you telling him how it's going to be now? You telling him who's boss?"

Cuddy smiled up at House, knowing no matter how much he might protest the point, Emma was going to be something of the boss now. Her needs would have to take priority. That didn't mean Cuddy could ignore House's needs, especially with him just out of the hospital. She shouldn't ignore her own needs either but the fact was, Emma was going to be center of attention for the time being.

Just then, a brisk rap on the door led to Wilson poking his head in and glancing around warily. "Is it safe to come in?"

House looked up at Cuddy emerging from the bathroom, immediately self-conscious that he was talking to the baby. He shifted in the seat slightly and resumed looking at the baby as though he hadn't been doing anything except just watching her. Stupid really, especially given that he'd already been talking to the baby in front of Cuddy. Being caught out doing it was something else, however.

He definitely didn't have the automatic and natural affection that Cuddy had. The soft, adoring way she spoke to the baby, the adoring touches, how clearly in love she was with the baby - she was a lot better at it than he was. He wasn't sure what to do, besides looking at the baby and talking at her. Cuddling and touching and kisses and all that adoration stuff: he felt, well, awkward with those sorts of things. Perhaps that was a job best left up to Cuddy.

"If she is the boss, I'm going to have a hard time believing anything she tells me. She was just telling me a bunch of old fishermen tales." Just as he said that, Emma's arms moved outwards again, the hand which wasn't clinging onto Cuddy's spreading open wide. House nodded to the baby. "See? Not even a day old and she's already learning how to manipulate."

At the knock, House looked up quickly to see Wilson poking his head in. Well, great. As if he didn't already feel self-conscious enough. "The kid loaded the room with trip wires last night while Cuddy was asleep," he answered Wilson's question. "Might want to rethink that 'can I come in'."

"I'll take it that means..." Wilson wasn't sure what that meant. Either it was House's backwards way of telling him the coast was clear or it was House's way of telling him to get lost. This whole House the Dad thing was as foreign to Wilson as it no doubt was to House.

Wilson opened the door and stepped in. "Well, whatever it means, I'll take my chances." In his arm, he was carrying an oversize stuffed yellow duck. He also had a bunch of flowers clutched in that same hand, for Cuddy.

"For me?" House asked with mock surprise about the flowers. "You really shouldn't have."

Edited at 2009-09-27 01:55 am (UTC)

"Of course, she's learning to manipulate. It's what kids do to their parents."

Cuddy had seen enough manipulation from her nieces and nephew to know manipulation made up a significant part of their interactions with their parents. Sometimes they didn't even bother with subtlety...and it still worked. Of course, if she were honest with herself, she'd been no slouch at manipulating her parents, too.

At least Emma's manipulations were reflexive rather than deliberate, for the moment. She responded positively to pleasant attention, which in turn encouraged the people around her to continue to pay attention to her. It was manipulation but at a primal level. That would change soon enough, though. Given she was House's daughter, she'd probably become a real master manipulator at an early age.

She was grinning at House's reaction to Emma, though. Sure, the baby had no idea what he was saying or why he was saying it or why he was even there. He was there, though, and her little mind was curious about this big, deep-voiced creature who was creating such interesting sounds and movement. There really were no rules for how he bonded to her--as long as he kept interacting with her in a positive way, they'd be fine.

Cuddy got to her feet and let out a deep laugh when she saw the duck under Wilson's arm. "For god's sake, Wilson, that's twice as big as she is," she said.

Wilson shrugged, looking slightly embarrassed as he sat the duck on the foot of the bed. Maybe he had gone a little overboard with the duck but then again, how often did your best friend have a baby? Actually, in House's case, the fact it had happened even once was damn near a miracle.

He gave Cuddy a gentle hug, afraid to hold her too tightly in case she wasn't feeling too hot after going through labor. He stepped back and rolled his eyes at House. "The flowers are for Emma. The duck's for you," he said dryly.

Cuddy set the flowers on the bedside stand. She'd put them in water later. Right now, she wanted to show off her daughter. She took hold of Wilson's arm and pulled him closer to House. She looked down at Emma, whose gaze was still fixed on House.

"Emma, meet your Uncle Wilson."

"Reminding me of old, incriminating times?" House retorted. "Though, we both know that I'm not the one with the duck fetish."

Wilson quickly cleared his throat, both to non-verbally tell House to shut up and because he should have known House would make some ridiculous link to that. Just like he should always know every time House had a party that it led to Wilson doing something irresponsible and embarrassing, the duck incident being a prime example. The duck he'd brought, however, was a toy, plain and simple. Something fun for the baby to stare at and play with when she got older. Trust House to twist it into something, well, incriminating, like he'd said.

Letting Cuddy pull him, he stopped by House's side with his hands in his pockets and he looked down at baby Emma. She was so small, especially so in House's giant hands. More than that was the fact House was holding her. Not that Wilson doubted House would but again, seeing House in the role of dad was going to take some getting used to.

"Uncle Wilson?" Wilson echoed. He glanced at Cuddy with his brows raised.

"See?" House replied. "Told you he wouldn't like it."

"Who said anything about me not liking it?"

House squinted at him. "You like it?"

Wilson shrugged. It wasn't a title he was expecting but he secretly did like it. At least he wasn't feeling excluded, and the kid probably would see him enough times to think of him as an uncle or some family member. He darted his eyes to Emma, who now had an eye screwed shut with her mouth wide open, some dribble seeping out of the corner of it.

"She's a cutie," he said to Cuddy. His lips quirked into a brief smile at the yawn Emma suddenly screwed her face into. Her fists then batted jerkily in the air and she squirmed in House's hands. Wilson looked over at Cuddy. "Your parents know they're grandparents yet?"

Cuddy merely shrugged when Wilson looked surprised by his sudden adoption into the House-Cuddy family. Surprise was an understandable reaction. He didn't seem unhappy about it, though, and that's what she cared about. She hadn't expected he would mind. Wilson had been such a big part of House's life for so many years, she couldn't imagine he wouldn't like being included in this part of House's life as well.

She smiled proudly as Wilson looked at Emma. Her expression quickly turned to chagrin when he asked about her parents. "God, no," she groaned. It had been too late at night to call after Emma was born and she'd been busy ever since waking up that morning. She simply hadn't had a chance to call. Worse, she'd even forgotten she needed to call...and she wasn't ever going to admit that to her mother.

"Mom is going to kill me," she muttered, looking around for her purse. She didn't sound too worried, though. The good thing about having this kind of news to share was that her mother would be too happy about the baby to complain about the delay in notification.

She located her cell phone and speed-dialed her parent's home, glancing over at House. She knew her parents would want to visit and soon, and she knew he wouldn't be happy about that. Too bad. She wasn't going to Emma from her grandparents. The fact House was keeping his own parents out of the picture only made Cuddy more determined that Emma have time with the Cuddy side of the family.

"Dad?" she said into the phone, puzzled when her father answered. He didn't like talking on the phone, didn't like talking much at all, so he only answered the phone when her mother wasn't home. Since her parents were a time zone behind New Jersey, she'd expected her mother to be home yet this time of morning.

Her dad explained Carol was out at the beauty parlor, getting her hair done. He seemed to think that's all Cuddy would want to know and nearly hung up before she could yelp at him to wait. She quickly told him about Emma, a smile blooming on her face when she heard his low, happy laugh.

"That's wonderful news, Lisa. Mazel tov," he said.

"Thanks, Dad."

"But I think I'm going to wait until your mother gets home to tell her," her dad continued. "That'll give me about another half hour of peace before she starts notifying the entire western hemisphere."

Cuddy laughed. "Which means I've got about another half hour of peace, too."

"Best make the most of it," her dad agreed. "I'm sure we'll be talking to you again later. In the meantime, give that baby a hug from me."

"I'll give her two," Cuddy promised. "Bye, Dad."

"Love you," her dad said before disconnecting.

Cuddy turned back to House, Emma and Wilson with a big smile on her weary face. "Well, Dad is thrilled. And Mom doesn't know yet so the world is safe from the 'Attack of the Grandma' for a while longer."

Edited at 2009-09-27 04:41 am (UTC)

Cuddy wasn't the only one chagrined. But instead of being chagrined out of guilt, he was chagrined out of annoyance at Wilson bringing up Cuddy's parents. Well... perhaps it was also a little out of guilt, too. Guilt because any mention of Cuddy's mother always reminded him of the disastrous dinner he'd had with her and Cuddy. More than that, mention of Cuddy's parents reminded him of his own parents. As always, he tried to squash any thought of them down, though he had to do it with extra force now that he was holding his daughter in his arms.

Wilson stayed quiet while Cuddy phoned her parents, looking down at Emma fussing, though he was listening to Cuddy's side of the conversation. House was, too. He was expecting for Cuddy to end up on the phone for a millennium, knowing how much her mother could talk. He was also a bit apprehensive Cuddy might put him on the phone to her parents. He didn't know why she would but given he was now officially a part of the Cuddy clan through Emma, anything was possible.

He studied the baby all the while, watching her squirm and move her arms about. She yawned again and lightly thumped her fist against her face, which made her jump a little. She was starting to get restless, probably due to tiredness. Newborn babies slept for up to seventeen hours a day, after all.

"That's a relief," House replied when Cuddy finally got a phone. It was, too. Attack of the grandma was something he wasn't looking forward to.

Wilson snorted at Cuddy with a knowing smile. He knew what Jewish mothers could be like, how they could fuss and make a big deal over things. But then he turned back to House. "Could be worse. Could be your mother."

House rolled his eyes, quick to shrug it off. Getting into a discussion about his parents was not something he wanted to do, especially right now.

Wilson didn't take the hint, though. Or if he did, he ignored it. "I take it you haven't called your mother yet." House just looked up at Wilson warningly. "Did you ever get around to telling your parents about the baby at all?"

House darted his eyes quickly to Cuddy and then looked away, at Emma. "Your Uncle Wilson is really Aunt Wilson with how much he nags," he told Emma.

"I thought not," Wilson answered his own question with a sigh. He had more to say but he decided for the moment to leave it. He'd talk to House in private about it. For now, he looked back down to Emma, who was making a whiny noise as she thumped her cheek with her fist again. "Mind if I say a proper hello to my, er, 'niece'?" Wilson asked Cuddy, glancing at her.

"Of course, he hasn't," Cuddy muttered to herself as she tucked her phone back in her purse. She glanced over at House, then, her expression one of disappointment.

House had been resolute in his decision to not tell his parents anything about the baby. She still didn't fully understand it. He had issues with his dad, she understood that, but how was keeping John in the dark about Emma supposed to help anything? And what about Blythe? House got along with her and yet he was keeping her granddaughter from her. He was keeping her grandparents from Emma. As far as Cuddy could tell, everyone lost in this arrangement.

She shook off those questions when Wilson asked to hold Emma. The discussion about telling House's parents would have to happen, but not now.

"Of course," she told Wilson when he asked to hold Emma.

Wilson leaned down and took a slightly awkward handoff from House. Like a lot of men who didn't spend a lot of time around babies, he held her rather stiffly. He deal with pediatric patients in oncology but not newborns. She was so tiny, and light. It was like holding nothing at all. Wilson was very aware he was holding something, though, something very special. He knew if he messed up with this little girl somehow, Cuddy would be on him like a mother bear protecting her cub.

He wasn't sure House wouldn't respond the same way. His friend might talk about a demon child and how horrible it was to be a father but he wasn't exactly acting that way. House had been sitting with Emma when Wilson entered and he hadn't seen anyone holding a gun to House's head. For all his complaining, Wilson suspected House was starting to warm to his little girl.

For her part, Emma startled and fussed a bit when Wilson picked her up. She settled down, curious about this new person who sounded different and smelled different to the people she'd started to become familiar with over the last few hours. She squirmed a bit, her eyes trying to focus on his face. Soon, though, she started to fuss in earnest. She started to jerk her arms and legs around, her face screwing up and getting red as she fought sleep.

"Don't take it personally," Cuddy said with a smile as Wilson got a slightly panicked look on his face. She took Emma from him and grabbed her blanket from the bassinet. "She's just tired," Cuddy explained as she laid Emma on the bed and swaddled her in her blanket. Keeping her snuggled in the blanket would prevent her from inadvertantly waking herself with her random arm and leg movements.

Cuddy sat on the side of the bed and held Emma so her head was supported against Cuddy's shoulder. Her cries had lost some of their volume but she was still steadily crying and fussing as she resisted sleep.

The look of disappointment Cuddy gave House didn't go amiss. He saw it and he wished he hadn't. He wasn't particularly keen on handing the baby over to Wilson, either. He'd never admit it, but he was enjoying sitting with her, even if doing so made him feel self-conscious with Wilson in the room.

Once Emma was in Wilson's hands, House sat back and looked up at his friend holding her for the few seconds that she let him before Cuddy had to take her off his hands again. When Cuddy explained to Wilson that Emma was tired, House added, "And she just doesn't like you."

Wilson gave House a look but let House's remark roll off his back. He knew a tired baby when he saw one. For a minute or so, Wilson just watched Cuddy swaddling and cradling the baby, listening to Emma's cries. But then he looked down at House, who seemed to be listening to and watching Emma, too. House was definitely warming to his little girl, Wilson decided. If House wasn't, he'd show a lot less fascination than he was showing.

He also decided to steal the moment to try and talk to House, find out how he was feeling about everything. "I could use some coffee," he said to House.

House turned his eyes up to him. He got the hint and he appreciated the chance to get away for a few minutes. Without argument, he stood up and went to fetch his cane. Wilson followed him, adding to Cuddy, "We'll be back in about ten or fifteen minutes."

"You don't really want coffee," House said once he was out in the corridor with Wilson. He threw his friend a look. "You just want a chance to grill me."

Wilson shrugged, hands in his pockets as they walked towards the elevator. "You're not exactly disagreeing to come with me." He hit the button on the elevator and waited until they were in the car together before he continued. "So, how are you holding up?"

"Boy, you don't waste any time," House sniped. But then he gave a one-shouldered shrug. "I've survived to tell the tale."

"That's good. You did good, House."

House eyed him. "I don't need your approval."

"I'm not giving you my approval. I'm just saying." He was trying to suss out how House was dealing with it all, especially given he'd not long got out of hospital. But as usual, House wasn't giving too much away. The elevator arrived at the lobby and they walked through to the cafeteria, where Wilson bought them both a coffee.

Heading back to the elevator, Wilson asked, "So, when are you going to tell your parents?"

House hit the button. "Oh, for God's sake, don't start."

"If I don't start, Cuddy will," Wilson pointed out. "I think it's better you take it out on me than her right now."

"How very noble of you," House sarcastically retorted.

"When are you going to tell them?" Wilson pressed.

House sipped his coffee and looked away. He didn't know when he was going to tell them. Never, if he could get away with it. Thing was, his mom was usually the one who rang and she always knew when something was different or wrong, didn't matter how much he tried to mask it from her.

Wilson sighed. "Your mom would be hurt if she finds out you've kept this from her."

Damn Wilson and his guilt daggers. House shot him a look. "It's none of your business whether my parents know or not."

"It's Cuddy's business," Wilson replied. "And it's Emma's business, too."

"How exactly does that equal to it being your business?"

"Because I'm the only other person you listen to."

The elevator arrived and House eyed Wilson for a moment before he stepped into the car. "Just in case you missed it, this is me, not listening to you."

"You're going to have to tell them at some point, House," Wilson said once they were both in the elevator and the doors had closed.

House was starting to get annoyed. "Will you stop?"

Wilson turned to him. "How are you going to explain it to them if they turn up to visit you and find a baby in your arms? How do you think your mom will feel if she discovers you've been keeping her granddaughter away from her?" House let out an aggravated sigh and looked away but Wilson pressed on. "Why won't you tell them?"

"Because I don't want my dad in my life," House snapped, reeling back on Wilson.

Wilson stared at him for a moment. "So, you're going to make your mom suffer for it."

"She's not suffering. She's just... she doesn't know. Not knowing never hurt anybody."

"It will hurt her when she finds out," Wilson pointed out.

"She's not going to find out," House argued.

"Yes, she will." The elevator doors opened and House followed after Wilson as they stepped out. In the corridor, his friend faced back to him. "Because if you don't tell her, I will."

House's face grew incredulous with a sudden drop of dread in his gut as he stared at Wilson, who gave an awkward but unapologetic shrug. If Cuddy had threatened him with such a thing, he would have been able to shake it off because he knew she wouldn't really contact them against his will. Wilson, on the other hand, had his parents' phone number and had in the past informed them of things on his behalf, both for and against his will.

He continued to stare after Wilson, his stomach knotting up in dread, as Wilson turned away and headed back to Cuddy's room.

Cuddy glanced away from Emma at Wilson's less than subtle attempt to get House alone. Her eyebrows raised when House was only too eager to follow along.... And then she simply turned her attention back to getting Emma to settle down.

The truth was, she didn't mind Wilson taking House aside. She assumed he wanted to get a feeling for how House was feeling and she was in favor of that. Sometimes House revealed things to Wilson that he kept hidden from her. Sometimes the difference was simply the way he revealed things to Wilson. Wilson was his best friend and a guy, and she recognized that sometimes House needed to talk to another guy. While she'd prefer he tell her everything, she knew that wasn't realistic. So she was grateful House had Wilson.

Emma fussed for a good five minutes after the men left but she eventually gave into her fatigue. The redness faded from her face and her little mouth fell slack as fell into a deep sleep. Cuddy continued to cradle her in her arms a while longer, staring contentedly at the little face. Emma wasn't even twelve hours old yet and Cuddy was still enthralled and curious. She wanted to memorize every little eyelash and the sound of every little breath and the every little everything about her daughter.

She'd just placed Emma in her bassinet when Wilson walked back in. Cuddy frowned at his tight-lipped expression. He had that "I'm putting my foot down with House and this time I really mean it" expression, which didn't normally bode well.

"What happened?" she asked.

"He's refusing to tell his parents," Wilson said, rubbing his forehead in agitation. "Won't even consider it."

Cuddy sighed, but this wasn't news. It also wasn't the most urgent concern. She wanted him to tell his parents but she also didn't want to pile even more stress on him. He was barely out of the hospital and a new dad and that was probably as much strain as his psyche could take.

"So I'm going to tell them," Wilson added.

"No," Cuddy said immediately, walking over to Wilson and grabbing him by the arm. "Don't tell them."

Wilson gave her an incredulous look. He knew family was important to Cuddy and he couldn't believe she'd be okay with keeping House's parents ignorant of their granddaughter. "Seriously? Why not?"

"Because," Cuddy started to say. She hesitated and glanced over when House opened the door. Then she looked back at Wilson and finished. "Because telling them is important but not as important as House having time to get comfortable with being a dad. If you bring his parents into this, who knows what could happen, and Emma needs him more right now than she needs her grandparents."

Surely Wilson wouldn't, House tried to reason to himself. Surely Wilson wouldn't phone his parents and drop that huge of a bomb on them. He rubbed his forehead and watched as Wilson slipped inside Cuddy's room, imagining the kind of conversation he was probably raising with her right now. Either he'd go in and pretend nothing had just been discussed. Or he'd go in there and make some kind of announcement that he was calling Blythe and John with some news. Or he'd go in there and start trying to manipulate Cuddy into manipulating him to call his parents himself.

One god damned stress at a time, he thought to himself with a weary sigh. Going to hospital was stressful enough. Getting out of hospital was even more stressful, given what he knew was going to happen within the following few weeks. Witnessing the birth of his child had been off the meter with stressfulness. And now this?

Dropping his arm to his side, he continued towards Cuddy's room slowly and just as he was opening the door he heard the tail-end of the conversation - Cuddy telling Wilson their kid needed him more than his parents right now.

"She's right," House interjected. Wilson looked quickly over his shoulder at him. Shoving aside the unease, guilt and a range of other uncomfortable feelings the confrontation about his parents had stirred, House stepped into the room and closed the door behind him.

"This is my kid," he continued, gesturing with a wave of his hand over towards the baby. Then he circled his finger around to include Cuddy and himself. "This is my family. And I'm not going to screw this up. Doing something stupid like phoning my parents on my behalf will screw this up a lot faster if you don't let me do things my way."

"How is your way any better?" Wilson retorted.

House gave a quick shake of his head in mock bafflement. "You really think calling them is the right way to go? Watch me dealing with them way more than with my own kid?"

Wilson set his hands on his hips with a sigh. House... had a point, the stubborn son of a bitch. As did Cuddy. But he also didn't see how holding off on saying anything to Blythe and John was going to go in anyone's favour, either. God, trust House to get himself into a corner like this, where there was no harmless or easy way out. Whichever approach was taken, someone was going to end up seriously hurt.

"You're going to have to tell them at some point," Wilson conceded.

House shrugged, stepping around Cuddy's bed to sit with a slouch on the chair beside it. "Still not getting how any of this is your business."

"I already told you why it's my business."

House lifted a hand and waved a finger between Cuddy and himself. "Two against one. Means you're obliged to shut up. And I'd do it now before you wake up the baby and Cuddy claws your eyes out for it."

Wilson made one last attempt to make House see reason by appealing to Cuddy. "They're going to be hurt when they find out."

"It's too late to avoid that. He should've called them a long time ago," Cuddy said. She gave House a stern look. "And he will call them...just not today."

She absolutely agreed with Wilson. She'd wanted him to tell his parents back when he made the decision to stick around and be a father. Maybe she should've pushed harder to make him talk to his parents. Maybe talking to them sooner would've made it easier. Or maybe it would've made it worse. There was no way to know and it was too late to worry about it now.

Wilson threw his hands up in surrender. If he only had to worry about House, he would've pressed the issue. It wasn't just about House, though, anymore. House's life was about Cuddy and Emma now and Wilson had to be careful he didn't do anything to mess that up.

"Okay," Wilson agreed. He gave Cuddy a light hug. "I'll leave you to enjoy your new baby, then. Give me a call if you need anything."

"I will," Cuddy said. Wilson gave House a quick wave and left. Cuddy went to the bassinet to check on Emma. The baby had stirred during the conversation but she hadn't fully woken. Cuddy gave a couple of gentle strokes to Emma's belly to soothe her but otherwise left her alone to settle down again on her own.

Now that everything was quiet again, Cuddy was feeling tired. It was going to take a while for her to recover from the birth--from the entire pregnancy--and she'd be doing it while caring for a newborn. She knew feeling tired was something she was going to have to get used to.

Instead of crawling into bed, though, she walked over to House. She seated herself sideways on his lap and looped her arms around his neck. "You know you're going to have to tell your Mom and Dad about Emma. And the longer you wait, the harder it'll be." She gave him a kiss, then rested her head against his. "Maybe you should talk to Megan about it."

House ignored both Wilson's insistence and Cuddy's reprimanding look. Whatever issue they both tried to make about it now, it was too late. House knew it was too late. Part of him was regretting not telling them sooner, if only for the very reason Wilson had given: it wasn't going to be pretty if or when his parents did find out. And House loved his mother, he really did. He hated hurting her.

But it was too late to dwell on what he should have done, now. Perhaps had he told them sooner, it would have ended in disaster anyway. One thing he knew for sure was that they'd be a lot more involved in his life and as much as he loved his mom, he got annoyed with her fussing if he was around her for too long and he definitely didn't like being anywhere around his dad.

He shoved it as far from his mind as he could, attempting to shove away and all feelings of guilt along with it. He just rolled his eyes at Wilson's departure, annoyed at him for bringing up the subject of parents. Hopefully with him now gone, though, that subject would well and truly drop for good.

As it happened, he'd thought that too soon. He was happy to have Cuddy on his lap and was about to lean in for a kiss as she wrapped her arms around him, when she also pressed the issue. With an impatient click of his tongue and a sigh, he lolled his head away from Cuddy. "Don't you start, too."

He let her kiss him and he let her rest her head against his but he wished she'd leave the topic alone. "Is this really what you want to talk about right now?" he countered. He gave her a pointed look to go along with it. She had to know that pushing the issue on this was only going to end in an argument, which was something he didn't want to get into.

He settled an arm across her lap and gave her thigh a few firm pats. "Talk about something else. Talk about the baby. Talk about how much you're bleeding. Talk about... whatever." He patted her thigh another couple of times. "It's been a long night. It's been a long month. I'd prefer to enjoy this than get into a fight."

"No, it's not what I want to talk about right now," Cuddy said calmly. "And you're only mad because you know I'm right."

She had no desire to talk about telling his parents but as long as he kept resorting to his old habits of ignoring any issue he didn't like, she had no choice. She'd much prefer that John and Blythe already knew about their granddaughter. She'd prefer that she'd already met them, for that matter. She'd settle for having them involved with Emma, though, and if that meant dealing with House's issues with his Dad, then they'd deal with them. She wasn't sure how to deal with it, but that's part of the reason he had a therapist now--to help him face his issues. The one thing she was certain of was that ignoring the situation was only going to make it worse for House in the long run.

She leaned back against him and tucked her head in against the side of his. She could see Emma sleeping peacefully and it seemed to trigger some kind of sympathetic urge to sleep for her. She wanted to curl up and close her eyes and let her tired body rest. She still had that desire to not miss a minute with Emma, though, even if all she was doing was sleeping.

"Why don't you tell me what you want to talk about?" Cuddy said, keeping her voice soft so she wouldn't disturb Emma. She doubted he really wanted to hear about what was happening to her body as it recovered. She wasn't sure he'd really want to listen to her go on and on about how perfect their daughter was either. She was happy to snuggle and talk to him, even if he was angry with her, but if he wanted to avoid talking about his parents, then he could talk to her about something else he cared about.

"Talk to me about Emma. Talk to me about how many pairs of shorts you soiled last night. Talk to me about anything you want to talk about."

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