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Duplication: A Sequel to Priorities by Elizabeth

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    Duplication: A Sequel to Priorities by Elizabeth

    You glance up from your computer with a look that could be annoyance, though I turn my gaze back to the floor before I can tell for sure. The chair in your office isn't the most comfortable thing I've ever sat in, as I've already pointed out - I don't know why you'd be surprised to see me fidgeting in it, out of the corner of your eye. So you probably aren't, which leaves annoyance as the most likely cause of your interruptance of your own work.

    "Do you need a change?" you ask after a moment, mouth likely twitching up into a half smile as you notice my attempts to keep from glancing up. I shake my head. "Hmm…" You pause again; this time my eyes move up a little too far from the carpet in front of your desk, catch your eyes, and I can't help but giggle a bit. "Do you need to use the potty?"

    Your smile grows a bit more as I stick out my tongue and shake my head. Like I wouldn't have already told you if I did! I'm not a baby! Or, I think, glancing down at the bulge beneath my jeans, wiggle a little in the slightly damp diaper underneath them, not that much of one. And, as you know perfectly well, it's not like I -need- that, even.

    "We're out of Pull-Ups," you'd claimed, what was probably at least a hundred years ago. And then you hadn't gotten any more, even when I bug you in the store to the point where you threaten to swat my bottom, and I just pout at you for the rest of the trip. "I don't think you're ready for them again yet," you always say. "Remember Father's Day?"

    Of course I do. So I sigh and nod, and then pout some more, just in case that extra little bit will make you change your mind. Hasn't yet, but I never know for sure. I -do- know better than to even think about big girl panties, however, and that -is- for sure. I'm sure I still have a few pairs somewhere, but I think you hid them or something, because all I can find in my underwear drawer anymore is my socks, and the extra Pampers we don't have room for on our changing table yet.

    "Well, then," you turn in your computer chair, the fun kind with wheels, "can you sit still for me? You're kind of distracting, sweetie, and I need to get this done soon."

    I nod solemnly, decide against bringing up how much better your chair is than mine. Last time, you suggested I sit on the floor instead. This time, it might not be a suggestion. I don't -mind- sitting on the floor, but I don't like being told to do so. Plus, even in the middle of a Thursday afternoon, there's always a slight chance someone might come to see you. The church isn't the busiest place today, but you can never tell when something will come up. And I'd rather not be sitting on the floor like a little baby when it happens.

    "That's my good girl." I catch your smile as I look up ever so slightly again. "I'm almost done, okay?"

    "Okay!" I chirp. You turn back to your computer, and I sit up nice and straight, and, I swear, do my best to keep still. I can see out of the window behind your desk if I do, so I tell myself I should just watch what's going on out there. Like nature TV, except, hopefully, fewer antelopes getting run down by lions or whatever.

    After a minute, or possibly hour, or two, I realize that, while there aren't as many of those, there's not much of anything else, either. I can see the line of trees out behind the church, and every now and then, a leaf falling down from one of them to the ground below. There aren't even any squirrels scampering around. No birds flying or singing, or stray cats to rush to the kitchen to try to find some food for.

    I slowly start to turn my head, trying to force the rest of my body to stay still as I do so. My foot twitches a little, itching to start swinging back and forth again, so I pull them up, ever so quietly and carefully, and fold them underneath my soggy bottom before continuing to scan your office for things that look neat.

    Your bookshelf is the best bet - there's a bunch of stuff there, all kinds of books, from really skinny to absolutely huge, in all the colors I can think of. Unfortunately, I can't really read any of the titles from here, at least not with my glasses so dirty.

    I glance over at you briefly, reaching up ever so slow for my glasses, watch as you suddenly turn into a giant blur. I'm not sure what my shirt's made out of - I just know its pink, with little hearts around the hems, and that's good enough for me - but it isn't the greatest thing to clean with. When I put my glasses back on, I think they managed to get even dirtier. Or at least somewhat more smeared.

    You'd see a hint of a frown on my face if you looked away from your computer, and a glint of determination in my eyes, as I try again, this time giving myself more time. I get bored of rubbing the bottom of my shirt in circles pretty quickly anyway, but, luckily, when I replace my glasses, I can see through them pretty well. Probably would have been better if I had some water.

    Still can't make out any of the titles. The lettering on the spines looks a little clearer, like the books were trying to make fun of me, knowing that they were just the tiniest bit too far away.

    I give the rest of the room a fair chance. However, your office isn't all that interesting, and I've already seen the pictures you have hanging up, and on your desk. Besides, the bookshelf keep gnawing at the back of my mind, no matter how hard I try to ignore it. Finally, I get fed up enough, reach down to grab the bottom of the chair.

    I should just need it moved a centimeter or two, if that, I tell myself. It shouldn't be too hard.

    You look up on my third attempt. Or possibly before - you get up on the third, at any rate, start to walk across the room, which causes -me- to look up.

    "Hi, Daddy," I smile innocently, hurriedly letting go of the chair and sitting up again, nice and proper. I can't tell if you buy it; it starts to seem less likely as you pick me up at of the chair, one hand resting on the squishy seat of my jeans. Your eyebrow raises, though, to your credit, you don't ask if I was sure I didn't need a change, or remind me how coming here with you had been my idea.

    In fact, you don't say anything while you carry me down the hall. I decide to follow your lead, keeping my mouth shut as you open the door to the nursery, flip on the lights, set me down on the changing table, where my diaper bag is already waiting.

    You unbutton and unzip my jeans, shaking your head when you start to tug them down. "You should tell me before you get so wet," you say. "Do you want to get a rash?" I shake my head, nose wrinkled. I'd gotten one before, had no desire for a repeat.

    You finish the change quickly and quietly, with just a dash of powder before you pull the diaper up between my legs and tape me into it. I risk a "There?" as you pick me up. You pat the back of my freshly re-zipped jeans gently - maybe you're not mad after all? I hardly pay any attention as you gently yank off one of my tennis shoes, and then the other.

    It's a but harder to ignore when you lift me up, set me down in one of the cribs. You smile down at me for a moment, just long enough for me to realize you're just playing. I prepare to stick my tongue out, lifting my arms for you as you reach out to pick me up again.

    Except, apparently, I'm too easy to mistake for the side of the crib, since you accidently grab it instead. You don't even notice, and keep on trying to pick me up, making the side lift up, the top of the railing coming almost to my chin before stopping, clicking into place. You find me then, but only my glasses, which you lay on the changing table.

    "I'll come get you when I'm finished," you joke.

    "Uh-huh," I nod, trying my best to sound convinced. You start to walk away, make it all the way to the door before stopping. I hadn't realized it until now, but I feel my heart stop beating quite as fast at the sight of you pausing there, as if it had believed my performance even more than you had.

    The room goes dark, other than a few slivers of light peeking through the blinds and the light from the hallway, getting rapidly smaller as you close the door. 'Just a joke,' I remind myself. You're just trying to make me nervous, because you're mean that way.

    Even so, I hear myself squeak out, "Daddy!" right before the door closes all the way. It stops, swings the other way just enough to show me your silhouette in the doorway.

    "What is it, baby?" you ask, starting to look around before I have the chance to say anything, and, amazingly enough, finding something. "Oh, did I forget the night light? I'm sorry, sweetie." You even take the time to walk clear across the room and turn it on, then go all the way back to the door. "Try to have a nice little nap, all right? I shouldn't be too long."

    I only let the door close an inch or so before I speak this time, an uncertain, "Daddy?"

    Your voice is starting to sound annoyed. "What?"

    "N-Nothing," I say, biting my bottom lip.

    You guess anyway. "Look, baby, I need to get this done, okay? You'll be fine here, I promise. I'm right down the hall."

    The door stays open, and you stay in it, until I sigh and pout, even though I know you can't see it in the dark, and say, "All right," sitting down on the crib's rather thin mattress.

    "Good girl," you nod. The door closes without waiting for me to reply, "Of course." The little girl on the shade of the night light hears, though, and possibly prays a little harder. I can't really tell, since I can't actually see her without my glasses. Can't really see much of anything, other than the bars, stretching up above my head, seemingly growing taller every second I keep my head craned up to look at them.

    I glance down before they connect with the ceiling, and I get stuck in here forever - or before they break a hole in the roof and I get in trouble for that. The sheet on the mattress is rather boring, I know from having peered inside before, just a plain kind of peach color. The guard thing running around the bottom edge matches. I guess it's there to keep babies from getting their arms or legs stuck in between the bars, but I've never gotten around to asking anyone, so I can't be sure.

    One thing I -am- sure of, however much I'd like to ignore it, is that my leg most certainly doesn't go high enough to get over those bars, even before they started growing. If I knew where the latch was, I might be able to lower the side… I never paid that much attention to the crib, though, and even if I had, I'm pretty sure there are two latches, one on each side. Both of which likely have to be pushed, or pulled, or whatever, at the same time. My arms aren't long enough for that.

    All in all, I think the moral of the story is that my body is completely ineffective, at least in this sort of situation. But I'm sure you had already figured that out, before ever putting me in here, huh?

    I sit and pout for a little while, until I realize you're not coming back right away to see. The nursery isn't too bad when you can see, but in the dark, its even more boring than your office. And the darkness eventually makes my eyelids feel rather droopy (must be, since I certainly wasn't tired before this). After a few minutes, I give in to your advice, curling up on the surprisingly comfy, for how flimsy it had looked, mattress.

    I halfway wish I'd brought my pacifier along, hardly noticing my thumb slowly drifting upwards as the mists of sleep rise all around me, starting to turn the nursery into a princess's bedroom in a fairy tale castle. Guess I'll be okay without it…

    What seems like a second later, I blink, idly wondering when you'd opened the blinds, and moved the crib right next to the window. And why there are so many cars outside on a Thursday afternoon.

    Then I blink again, clearing out most of the cobwebs from my still sleepy mind, and quickly take my thumb out of my mouth before anyone in the car next to ours can see, assuming they hadn't realized we were there until I saw them. My diaper feels mostly dry as I uncurl and sit up. Guess you must have changed me before we left. Why you didn't wake me up then, too, I have no idea.

    "Did you have a good nap, sleepyhead?" you ask, taking your eyes off the road just long enough to smile over at me. I shrug; I feel like my dream had been a little on the weird side, even if I can't remember any details of it. "Looked like you were," you tease.

    I don't particularly know what to say to that, so I glance back out the window, trying to figure out where we are. We've been planning to go out to eat, but we still hadn't decided where by the time you put me in the crib. What did you end up deciding on? I hope its nothing too fancy. I guess I should have picked out something a little fancier to wear anyway, just in case, but you didn't say anything, so I figured it was all right. Then again, its not like there are -that- many actually fancy restaurants around here. And even in them, it's hardly rare to see people dressed like me.

    Except with, you know, possibly slightly thinner underwear. And, given how many kids are usually around when we go places, that isn't necessarily true. Well, yeah, even then, unless there's just an abundance of infants.

    I giggle a bit as I see the parking lot you pull into. "We're going to Wendy's?" I ask innocently.

    "No, silly," you smile.

    I make my eyes go wide. "You mean we're having dinner at Baskin Robbins?"

    You pull into an empty parking space - there are plenty to choose from, as its still kinda early. We ate lunch early today, too, though, and my tummy growls a little in anticipation before you tickle it, fingers dancing down to unfasten my seatbelt. "No, but if you're a good girl, we might go there after."

    "Aww," I pout, having to hold it for a minute while you get out of the car and come around to open my door for me. "Can't we go there first?" I beg, eyes wide.

    You shake your head, of course. You're no fun sometimes. "You'll ruin your appetite, baby. It'll still be there when we finish."

    "Better be." I take your hand, renewing and strengthening my pout. I imagine it still loses it effect rather quickly, since I can't keep myself from starting to bounce excitedly by the time we're halfway across the parking lot. I'd mentioned I had been craving Chinese a few days ago, not really meaning it as a hint. Can't say I mind you taking it that way, if it gets me a meal at The Golden Dragon.

    We get a table right away; no time for staring at the pretty fish, or the gigantic Buddha, even taller than you, before we get whisked away to our usual booth. I've always liked the painting there, but, hey, panda bears are just cute. I'm sure you like it, too.

    I can't help but blush when the waitress shows up, faintly hoping she won't recognize me, up until I notice the way she's smiling at me. And I can tell from -your- smile how much I'm blushing as I order my Mountain Dew in a quiet voice, and surprise the waitress by already having the rest of my order ready. I'm not sure if you'd been ready for that, but you're up to the challenge, only having to flip through a page or two of the menu before being able to answer, "Do you want to order now, too?"

    I hardly notice my first cup is almost empty before the waitress snatches it up, returns with it and our soup. Guess I must have been thirstier than I thought. Usually am, though, after taking a nap.

    Much as I like Chinese food, I'm not too big a fan of soup, period, so I mostly just push the wonton around. Even when I'm honestly trying to eat it, that's pretty much the best I can do - it's rather tricky, for being a noodle.

    "Didja get done?" I ask, setting my spoon down, finally tired of playing around, at least for the moment.

    "Hmm?" you look up from your own spoon, still in your hand, half full of broth, and a piece of the elusive wonton. "Oh… Yeah, I got it all finished."

    "That's good," I nod. Not sure what I'd have said if you hadn't, but we likely wouldn't be here now, were that the case.

    The waitress takes my glass again when she picks up our bowls, making me blush again when I notice her rather amused smile. She probably thinks I'm trying to race her again…

    Considering how that went last time, I most certainly am -not-. I'd been younger then, and my sister had been sitting across the table, rather than you. We'd had the same waitress as now, also a little more youthful at the time. I happened to mention to my sister how the waitress always seemed to just appear whenever we were almost done with our drink.

    An innocent enough comment, surely. But, of course, she had to twist it, to use it to trick me into seeing if I could manage to completely empty my cup before it got refilled. And, being as I was young and stupid, I decided to give it a try.

    My sister, as you know, is just as eager as you to find excuses to put me into diapers, maybe even more so. She'd seen me soaking through my Pull-Up by the end of the contest - which I lost - as the perfect reason to do it again. She never did explain why she just happened to have a diaper with her in the first place.

    It would have been better if she'd had a spare pair of pants, however - even though I hadn't really been wet enough to get the chair wet, the inner legs of my jeans were just damp enough to make my sister refuse to let me put them back on. Thankfully, the shirt I was wearing that day was on the long side. Still, I can't help but wonder if it wasn't quite long enough, from the way the waitress had smiled at me on the way out, and every time I'd seen her since then.

    One might take that story as a warning. I would, too, normally, but I'm too thirsty to pay it much mind. Maybe my dream took place in a desert. But I'd already decided this would have been my last glass, if you hadn't decided to tease me.

    "Are you -trying- to make your diaper leak?"

    I look around quickly first, thankful to see the restaurant is still mostly empty. Then I stick my tongue out. It's all the reply you really need, but I can't leave it at that. After all, that story took place a long time ago. I'm older now; surely that wouldn't happen again. And I'm not racing, just trying to show you how much I've changed since then, that you can't make fun of me about it anymore. And hopefully impressing you enough to call my sister and tell -her-, so she'll leave me alone about it, too.

    It's all her fault, really… If she hadn't told you about it in the first place, whenever she'd done so - probably during some big embarrassing story marathon, since I'm sure you both have plenty to share - you wouldn't have teased me.

    I haven't quite gotten halfway through by the time the waitress brings out our food, but she gives me another refill anyway. I can already feel my bladder starting to ache, for a split second before I let it go, without really thinking about it. Warmth spreads across my bottom and my face - guess it's a good thing you're still keeping me in diapers, or that sudden "accident" would probably send me back into them, unless I managed to convince you I hadn't gone yet, and then pretended to have the accident on the way to the bathroom. Unless you decided to check me before letting me go back there.

    Or even that might not work, I realize, as you ask, "How's your egg roll, Miss Soggy Pants?"

    "I don't know what you're talking about," I say primly, setting down the egg roll defiantly and picking up my chopsticks for the token attempt at eating with them. I've never been able to figure out how exactly they're meant to be used. The pictures on the package don't help at all, and for some reason, I just can't ever imitate the way people who actually know what they're doing hold them.

    I can hold one like a pencil, and, in theory, I could eat some stuff like that, by stabbing it. That would hardly help me with my rice, nor would I be able to get eat than one thing at a time. You already complain enough about how slow an eater I am. Don't think this would help.

    If I could just figure out the right way to hold the second one, I think I'd be okay. However, none of the fingers left over from holding the first one are any good at keeping things steady. I think my thumb is supposed to be on this one, maybe… But then how do I keep the first one up?

    You reply to my sigh of frustration with a chuckle, earning yourself another stuck out tongue, what I probably should have just done last time. Defeated, I set the chopsticks down and return to my egg roll. I have to drop it again a minute later as I see the waitress getting closer, so I can take a big drink from my Mountain Dew, and stare smugly at you when she goes to get me more.

    By the time I get maybe a fourth of the way through my actual meal, having given in to the evils of using a fork, my tummy starts to hurt. You're just about done by then. I take a few more bites while you finish up, but nod quite vigorously when the waitress asks me if I'd like a box. You look like you're going to say something, probably about having too much to drink; I cut you off by taking another sip, hoping you won't notice how much less than usual I actually drink. It's not like I ate -that- much less than usual anyway. I always have leftovers when we eat here.

    That last sip, however small, seems to have been just enough to fill up my bladder. I don't want you to see that I have to go again so soon, nor do I want you watching when I do, since you always seem to know. Like you seem to now, insisting that I stay up at the counter with you while you pay our bill, instead of going to visit with the fish, behind you, where you can't see me wetting myself.

    "You ready for some ice cream?" you ask jovially, handing me the box with my leftovers long enough to open the door, then taking it back and walking across the parking lot with it in one hand, and me, desperately trying to avoid fidgeting, in the other.

    I resist the urge to groan at the thought of more food, even yummy, delicious food. "I don't think so," I shake my head.

    "Well, how about we get some for later?"

    I can't help but nod - who could? You put the box in the back seat of the car, your hand lingering over the diaper bag beside it. "Let's go," I urge, tugging at your hand. "Someone could be stealing all the good flavors!"

    "Do you need a change while we're in there?" Your hand moves towards the top of my pants, until I move away, glancing around the parking lot, which was starting to look slightly more full than when we arrived. You take the hint, sort of. "Are you sure?"

    I nod, go back to pulling. "Come oooon!"

    "All right," you laugh, closing the car door and letting yourself be led over to Baskin Robbins. I can almost forget about my tummy ache when I think about how good the ice cream will be later on tonight, or maybe tomorrow for breakfast, if I can talk you into it.

    There are a couple other families in the store, most of them sitting down at what few tables they have in there. There's a toddler in one chair, holding a cone with both hands, face covered with chocolate. I glare up at you pre-emptively, to kill off any comparisons you might have felt growing in your mind. I'm not -that- messy! Most of the time…

    My attempts at keeping myself from squirming are starting to become more and more hopeless. Any second now, you'll glance down and notice, and then you'll make us go back out to the car, and then come back in, walking past all these little kids and their mommys with my diaper bag in tow, heading back to the restrooms. Of course, they'll all know exactly what's going on, and they'll probably all laugh at me when I come back out, and we'll get thrown out of the shop for causing such a commotion, and we won't even get any ice cream, and…

    "Why don't you look over there, sweetie?"

    I glance up, then over to the cooler you're pointing at, on the other side of the room. You don't seem to be joking, so I let go of your hand and walk over slowly, checking over my shoulder every few steps to make sure you - or anyone else, for that matter - aren't watching.

    By the time I'm over there, I hardly have a choice, but I do make what little one I have, forcing myself to wait an extra moment before letting go, just to show I can. By the time I'm finished, my diaper is feeling kinda heavy. And the toddler seems to be staring at me. I blush and look away from him, easily getting engrossed in browsing through all of the flavors in their little boxes. The flavor of the month doesn't sound particularly tasty, so, when you come over to see if I've found anything, box already in your hand, I point out an old standby - chocolate chip cookie dough.

    "Are you -sure- you don't need a change?" you ask, curiosity prompted by my sudden waddling as we cross the parking lot one last time. I shake my head firmly, try to straighten out my walk, only to be denied by the swollen diaper between my legs. I should be fine now, at least until we get home and I can get changed there. "I don't know…"

    "Our ice cream'll melt!" I declare, stomping my foot, a bit surprised by my own conviction, and dedication to proving you and my big sister wrong. If I can make it home, surely that'll do it.

    You raise an eyebrow for a frightening second, shrug it off. "Well, I guess if you want to get a rash that badly, I won't stop you."

    "I'm not gonna get a rash." I feel slightly less certain once I feel the size of the squish that greets my bottom when I hop into my seat. I can't quite keep my nose from wrinkling as you buckle me in. Luckily, you don't seem to notice. That wasn't too bad…. Looks like I win.

    We're barely back on the road when my bladder starts to complain again. 'Oh, come -on=,' I tell it. 'You've got to be kidding!'

    And it is, I'm sure. Sometimes after I drink a lot, it'll keep claiming it needs emptied, even after I just went. Generally, it's the tiniest bit full, but must want attention. It insists it's about to burst, until I give in, and then can barely even notice the difference in my diaper afterwards. And two seconds later, its back to whining.

    This must be one of those times. I mean, even after drinking… Well, I can't actually remember how much Mountain Dew… I can't need to go again so soon. No way.

    But on the other hand… What if I'm wrong? I -know- this diaper can't handle another wetting of any decent size. Not a chance. And if I mess up now, this will just end up another amusing story for you to tell my sister next time she visits, of how I managed to prove yet again that you both should have never even bothered with Pull-Ups, whether I liked them or not.

    Home isn't too far away. I can make it fifteen minutes. I'm not, after all, a baby. I just need to last long enough to get into a fresh diaper - though I'm sure you'll have something to say if I'm wrong about how much of a false alarm this is, and I end up flooding it not two seconds after you tape it up - or into the bathroom (Yeah right!).

    "What are you thinking about so hard, baby?" Your voice comes out of the blue, as does the hand tickling my belly once again. I halfway hope that means you're reaching for the buckle, like last time, that we're already home, and I'd daydreamed myself through the trip.

    No such luck… You move your hand back to the wheel and press on the gas before I can even reply with, "Nothin'."

    "I bet," you lie, looking over at me pointedly. I realize my legs are moving of their own accord, doing their best to keep me from getting wet…er. I make them stop with a blush, switching them over to the slightly more innocent-looking past time of swinging back and forth. You might miss that they're doing even that a little more quickly than normal.

    I can do this. Fifteen minutes is -nothing-. Heck, I bet five of that's already gone by - I make sure to keep my eyes on my ever-more rapidly swinging legs to keep from seeing anything out my window to contradict this. So there's just ten more.

    Okay, so maybe -ten- minutes is how many I'm already done with. Having only five left sounds much more encouraging, whether it's true or not.

    I bite my lip as you go over a bump in the road, probably just to torture me. My legs freeze for a brief moment, probably having something to do with my heart also stopping, as I wait in horror. My bladder tells me it wants to go even more, but it doesn't let go just yet, so my legs start swinging again, and my lip stays between my teeth.

    When you hit the second bump, however, that moment of waiting lasts a little longer, the begging from my bladder gets a little louder, and I finally decide to trust my instinct. It isn't worth all this to stop maybe two drops of pee.

    By the time I see the wet spot forming on my jeans, its too late to even think about stopping, praying you just won't notice a tiny wet spot. I try anyway, watching helplessly as that tiny spot grows larger and larger, until not even in my imagination could you miss it.

    Even though I'm expecting it, your sigh still ignites the biggest blush of the day across my face, conveying every bit of the "I told you so," you aren't saying.


    You nod in agreement. "I guess I can't trust you to tell me when you need a change, now can I?"

    "Yeah-huh!" I protest. As faulty and ineffective as it usually is on days other than today, the last thing I want to lose is my power to veto diaper checks. I'm sure you wouldn't -really- do them anywhere that would actually be -too- embarrassing, but I can't be absolutely certain of that. I'd rather not find out. "I'll do better, I promise! I just…"

    "Had too much to drink?" I pout as I realize I'd walked right into that one, nod sulkily. "Well… I'll think about it." Translation: Nice try.

    If I wasn't in the car, I might try a good old foot stomp to try to change your mind, make you see things my way. There's not a lot I can do here, though, other than continue to sulk until we get home. I barely have time to notice, or wonder about, the gigantic box in the entryway before you send me off to my room, while you put away the food. Rather than tempt fate to get a closer look at the box, I obediently walk down the hall to my room, where my kitty is sleeping soundly, curled up at the foot of the bed. He lifts his head when I come in, shakes an ear when you follow a minute later, while I'm trying to be helpful by taking my shoes off.

    My pants are next, but you handle those, lightly swatting my hand away from the zipper, keeping me from providing any further proof of how good a girl I could be. I lift a foot before you can ask, hoping that'll work, too, but I have to put it back down before you're ready for it so I can keep my balance, and you end up having to tell me to do it anyway.

    Once my jeans are off, and laid over one end of the changing table, you pick me up, set me on the other end with a sound almost like a squelch coming from my diaper. I'm too busy blushing at that to lay down on my own - you have to push on my chest gently to remind me. I stare up at the ceiling while you get out the baby wipes and cleaning my legs with them before I hear the sound of tapes ripping releases me from my soggy prison.

    A few more baby wipes, and you lift me up gently, tugging the diaper away and rolling it up. You pick my next diaper from the stack, slide it under me. You pause, almost long enough to make me look away from the ceiling to see why. Then I feel your hands rubbing the baby oil into my skin, letting me know you're not -too- upset, not really. Though I can't say I find the lack of your usual "Do you need the potty?" comforting, even if my answer would have been only an uncertain shrug.

    A dash of powder and a few closed tapes later, and we should be done. Instead, I hear you get another diaper. I decide against protesting, just lift my bottom like a good girl. Soon, you're picking up my pants to take them to the washing machine. "Stay here, baby, I'll be right back."

    I sit up and nod, having every intention of doing just that, until I see my kitty sitting on the bed, starting to take a bath, and I decide 'here' just meant my room. I hop down from the changing table, diapers almost fully visible beneath the hem of my shirt, socks padding my footsteps as I walk over to the bed, kneel down in front of it to pet the cat.

    He seems to smile at me as I start to pet him, his tongue quickly finding its way from his fur to my arm. I giggle as it moves across my skin, rough, but not in a bad way. I snuggle up against his fur, and he licks my forehead, getting another giggle.

    "I'm afraid you two are going to have to move," you say from the doorway, your smile somewhat ruining the stern voice you're going for.

    "How come?" I ask. My answer comes in the form of your arms reaching down to pick me up, carrying me further down the hall to your room and setting me down on your bed.

    You don't really have to say, "Stay here," as I already assumed those would be my instructions when you started to close the door, but you do anyway.

    Even sitting feels strange with double diapers; by the time I've gotten used to it, you're opening the door again, squashing any hope I had of trying to peek out to figure out what all those loud sounds coming from outside could possibly be. Guess next time I should worry about finding the right way to sit -after- I satisfy my curiosity.

    You pick me up from the bed, patting my bottom a couple times. You look a little sweaty now, but mostly you look pleased, as you hand me a little booklet. Half the words on the cover are in Spanish, but the picture comes across plainly enough.

    "A crib?"

    "It's a little bigger than the ones in the nursery," you tell me, like it's a good thing.

    "Is this because I fell out of bed the other day?" I ask suspiciously. "Or do you just want some place to put me where I can't get out?"

    You don't deny it. Instead, you take me to my room, where the giant box has taken the place of my bed. As you set to work pulling all of the pieces out, I sneak over to my desk, then sneak back over and tug gently on your sleeve. "Daddy?"

    You look down, and I shove the book into your hands. It's kind of plain looking, just black, with the title and two names printed on the front, though if you were to open it up, the inside cover is covered in a design of pink rattles and pacifiers. The two names on the front look quite familiar.

    "It wouldn't have our real names, of course," I say quickly. "I just wanted this copy to. A-And if you don't like it, then it's not too late to stop the whole thing. I just…"

    "No, it's fine," you smile, flipping through the pages, seeing the stories we'd written to each other, the ones I'd struggled so hard over, and often needed so much motivation to finish. "It's perfect, sweetie."

    I blush, stare down at my foot, trying to drill a hole in the floor. "The editor says she isn't sure how well something like this will sell, but she thinks some people will find it interesting…."

    You bend down to kiss my forehead. "I don't care if it ever sells a single copy," you tell me. "When do you find the time to do this?"

    "Here and there," I shrug, deciding against mentioning how incredibly long it had taken, how worried I'd been it wouldn't be done in time. "So, you like it?"

    "I love it."

    I smile, but try even harder to push my toe through the floor. "I… umm… I love my present, too." You chuckle at my blush, knowing better than to expect me to repeat that anytime soon. "Happy Anniversary, Daddy."

    "Happy Anniversary, baby," you hug me. "I almost thought you'd forgotten."

    "Not hardly." I stick out my tongue.

    We smile at each other for a few minutes, then you carefully set the book down, and go back to getting out all the pieces of my crib. "So, are you going to help me put this thing together?"

    I nod eagerly, picking the instructions back up and actually opening this time, trying to figure out all the little diagrams. After a moment, I look up. "Hey… When did you hear about my… umm… incident at the Golden Dragon?"

    "Huh?" you turn around, look of puzzlement on your face. "What are you talking about, sweetie?"

    "You mean… She didn't tell you?" You shake your head, and I sigh, starting to feel rather stupid. Still, I'm sure it's still my sister's fault… Somehow. It usually is. "Er… It's nothing."

    "Oh, okay," you nod. "Why don't you tell me about it anyway? We've got a lot of work ahead of us, after all."

    Guess it can't hurt much now, so I shrug. "First off," I start, sitting cross-legged on the floor, squirming a bit to find the best position, as you go back to the box. "This was all -totally- not my fault…"
    Choronzon: I am Anti-Life, the Beast of Judgment. I am the dark at the end of everything. The end of universes, gods, worlds… of everything. Sss. And what will you be then, Dreamlord?

    Morpheus: I am hope.

    -Neil Gaiman’s Sandman Vol. 2 Issue 4