"Come on, kiddo," House said, scooping an unhappy Emma up from the change table. She was due for a feed and she wasn't holding back on letting him know about that. "Alright, I hear you," he told her, lifting her squirming body to his shoulder while she wailed and sucked furiously on her hand.
It wasn't the first time he'd been alone with Emma but it was the first time he'd been alone in the house with her while she was awake. Usually Cuddy came to the rescue when he couldn't settle Emma but today Cuddy was down at the day spa. She was a fifteen minute drive away from being the cavalry. Not that House wasn't coping on his own but getting himself organised was proving a lot harder than he anticipated. First of all, he'd fallen asleep while Emma was napping. Her cries had woken him, something he wasn't too pleased about. Secondly, he had yet to arrange everything for Emma and himself to take a trip in the car and he was far from ready.
"All right," he said, Emma's irritability beginning to rub off on him. He carried her out into the hall, to the kitchen. "I hear ay, loud and clear." Reaching the fridge, he blew out an exasperated breath at realising he had to heat the bottle up yet.
"Damn it," he muttered. He snatched the bottle out and thumped it down on the counter while bouncing an increasingly angry Emma against his shoulder. He switched the kettle on and gave Emma's back a few firm, impatient rubs. Of course, a watched kettle never boiled, as the old adage went, and it seemed like a lifetime before it finally did. Another ten minutes later and the bottle was warm enough for Emma to drink, though she was so worked up that when he sat down to feed her he had to spend a further several minutes trying to calm her.
"There," he grumbled once he managed to shove the teat into her mouth. Her cries subsided immediately, followed by fast and furious sucking. "That'll shut you up." He heaved a sigh and let his head drop back against the couch. Why he'd decided to go ahead with Wilson's suggestion of getting Cuddy a day spa certificate was beyond him. He wanted nothing more than to hand the baby over to her and wipe his hands of any parental duties for a while. No such luck, of course. He sat Emma up and peered at the bottle in mild bewilderment at how fast she'd downed half of it already.
His expression grew mock stunned at the loud burp she let out, loud enough to startle her. "Wow," House said. "I'm actually impressed. I can only manage burps like that after a beer or two." He settled Emma back in his arms and fed her the rest of the bottle. By the time she'd drained it all, she was much happier and content. He sat her up again and wiped her mouth while she belched again.
"Come on, no time for sitting around," he said to her after a few minutes. He stood and cradled her up against his shoulder again, leaving the spit rag and the empty bottle on the coffee table. "We got some errands to run."
House let Emma play on the floor for a little while as he tried to organise himself to leave the house. Luckily for him, Cuddy was exceptionally organised and he didn't need to do a whole lot of packing. He carted the bag and baby sling out to his car, threw on a t-shirt and pair of jeans after paying a quick trip to the bathroom and then gathered Emma up from the floor. "Wanna go on a roadtrip?" he asked her, shutting the door behind him. She squinted at the bright sunshine, bouncing her face against his shoulder. "I'll take that to mean yes," he continued when she gurgled.
He got her secured in the car seat and pulled the car out onto the road. Emma was quiet during the whole trip and House checked on her every now and again in the rearview mirror while he drove, radio on and the window wound down. When he pulled the car into the parking lot near the spa, he lay Emma in the backseat and wrestled the baby sling on her. The task took a lot longer than he expected. The damn thing was complicated, with a bunch of straps that went everywhere, not to mention the part where he was fighting to get the sling on properly over his shoulders. But eventually, sweat breaking out on his forehead from the heat, Emma was resting curled up by his chest in the sling and he limped up onto the curb, replacing his sunglasses to his face as he headed in the direction of the deli.
Nothing attracted more attention than a baby, he thought to himself once he was in the deli, waiting his turn. An elderly woman was smiling at Emma and occasionally eyeing him, to which he gave a single, brief, awkward and meaningless half-smile to. The woman behind the counter gave him the same look. Several other women waiting to be served did the same thing, he noticed, once he'd placed his order for two sandwiches and a salad. He was glad to get out of there once he'd paid and had a bag of food and drinks with him. As much as he never minded attention from other women, it was entirely different when his daughter was hanging off his chest.
He head back out onto the street once he'd made his purchases and headed in the direction of the day spa. On the way, he stopped by Cold Stone and bought himself an ice cream, which he ate the rest of the way to the spa. A bell over the day spa door rang when he pushed it open, and at the same time Emma let out a quiet cooing sound, perfectly happy where she was cushioned up to his chest for now. He gave another lick of his ice cream, peering into the spa in search of Cuddy while a woman behind the front desk eyed him and Emma with much the same expression the women at the deli had.
- Saturday 2nd June, mid-afternoon