"Yeah, she is," he said, feeling his heart sink when Echo reached out for him. He felt bad for leaving Echo, even if it was for a few minutes, or possibly a few hours. But he knew that he couldn’t work with her in the same room as him.
"I’ll be back," he said again, turning to leave. Then he stopped and turned towards Captain Smith, a thought popping into his head. "Oh, a bear is in her bag. Give that to her. It’s, um, her favorite toy," he said, rubbing the back of his head.
"A bear? Alright." Echo continued to reach out for Vanitas, calling out for him, but he still left her, and she got scared. No mom, no dad, she was all alone with a strange woman. Whimpering, she tried to get away from the woman.
Captain Smith shushed the little girl, rubbing the back of her head. “It’s okay. Daddy will be right back. Do you want your bear? Here, let me go get your bear.” She reached into the bag, finding a scattering of diapers, wipes, bottles, and a bear. She smiled. How like a new father. No one had taught him anything.
He nodded, looking at Echo. He could tell that she was nervous, scared even. “Yeah,” he said. Vanitas looked at Echo again, smiling a little for her. “You’ll be okay,” he said to her. “I’ll be back.”
"Daddy…." Echo said, reaching to him. "Daddy no."
Captain Smith smiled at how adorable the little girl was. No wonder Vanitas was the best of the best in the academy. Graduating a year sooner than most. He wanted to protect this precious little thing.
"Be back as soon as you can, Officer Black. Your daughter seems very attached to you."
Vanitas shook his head and handed Echo over to the woman, setting the bag down on her desk. He sighed, trying to think of the best answer. “She’s…on a vacation of her own.”
She’d never had kids of her own, so holding the little girl in her arms was like a godsend. Echo, on the other hand, was terrified. She didn’t know who this woman was.
"Ah. I was wondering why you took a week off. Anyway, just finish those forms. You’ll be back in three days, correct?"
While he was a little nervous about leaving Echo with strangers, he knew that she would be okay. And he knew that if he just kept Echo with him all day, she would be a distraction while he tried to work, so he really didn’t have a choice. “Uh, yeah,” Vanitas said, nodding once and taking the paperwork into his hand, “that’d be great.”
Captain Smith just watched Vanitas, then laughed again. “You’re not used to being a father, are you?” she asked as she stood and held out her hands. “I’ll take her. The paperwork shouldn’t take you too long. Where’s the mother?”
He felt his heart beat faster in his chest, telling himself over and over that this was a bad idea. “Uh,” he started, looking over at Echo, finding it easier to keep his eyes on her, “this is my daughter, Echo. I…couldn’t find a babysitter for her,” he added, but it sounded more like a question.
At the sound of her name, Echo looked up and stared at the strange woman behind the desk. Captain Smith watched the father and daughter for a second before laughing.
"I had no idea. If you’d like, I’m sure we have a few female officers who’d love to watch her while you finish this paperwork."
Everything felt awkward all of a sudden. It seemed that everyone was staring at him, and they probably were. He swallowed nervously. Maybe this was a bad idea, maybe he should have at least attempted to find a babysitter for Echo. Vanitas took a step, and another step, and then another until he was at his captain’s office. He hesitated for a minute before knocking the door.
"Come in," the captain said, still working on papers. When the door opened she looked up, only to do a double take. Vanitas. Officer Black. Holding a baby girl in his arms like it was no big deal. "Who’s this?"
Vanitas looked into his mirror a few times to check on Echo. She had finally stopped crying and was now making some kind of gurgling or humming noises. He smiled a little and focused back onto the road.
A few minutes passed and they finally arrived at the station. Vanitas unbuckled his seatbelt and got out of his truck, opening the backdoor and grabbing Echo, who now had a wet and slobbery hand, and the items he had packed for her. He took a deep breath before walking up to the building.
Echo clung to her dad, smiling and examining the new area. She’d never seen this place before, but the people walking around them were dressed in the way Daddy dressed sometimes. So she knew it was a good place. Still, she buried her face in Vanitas’ neck and didn’t make a noise.
Before heading out, Vanitas grabbed one of Echo’s baby bags and threw some necessary items in there. A few diapers, a few toys, two or three bottles of milk… Anything that he could think of that Echo would need or what would be important. Then he threw everything into his truck and put Echo in her seat. He looked at the clock on the radio and cursed something under his breath about being late.
Echo sat, some what annoyed, but in silence, in her seat, jerking her legs as she waited for the car to stop. She shoved her hand in her mouth, smiling and making small noises in the back of her throat.
Vanitas sighed again. He managed to slip the small socks onto Echo’s feet, struggling with the shoes for a few minutes. He tried to say things that would encourage Echo to be dressed, but he couldn’t think of anything. “We’re gonna go bye-bye,” he said, knowing that that worked for some dogs and wondered if it would work for Echo.
Echo just continued to scream, struggling as Vanitas carried her to the truck and strapped her into the carseat. As soon as she was buckled in, she quieted, thinking maybe they were going to her grandmas for a bit.