Ceasar knocks firmly, three times as is his habit, because even though Alice just buzzed him up he knows she’ll have forgotten to unlock her apartment door. The door cracks open, and Ceasar can see a shock of blonde hair and one blue eye peeking out. “Oh!” Alice exclaims, “Ceasar, you’re wet!”
“I forgot my umbrella at home.” Ceasar has his arms folded tightly in front of him, his hair plastered to his scalp, a grocery bag dangling at his elbow. “Are you going to let me in or not, why do you still have the chain on?”
Alice laughs and shuts the door. Ceasar can hear a rattle and then it’s open again, “Get in here, I’ll find you a towel. Don’t sit on the couch!”
“I’ll just stand here with your ice cream, then,” Ceasar pouts.
“Yes, please do!” Alice calls, “Don’t eat any, though!”
“I’m going to, nom nom, so good.”
“Augh, you suck!” Alice comes back out and throws a fluffy purple towel over Ceasar’s head. “Strip, I found you some sweats. And don’t even start on the jokes.”
“The thought didn’t even cross my mind.” Ceasar peels off his wet clothes, towels himself off, pulls on a pair of sweatpants and a hoodie, the arms and legs too short. “Oh yeah, maternity sweats, this is sexy.”
“I can barely keep my hands off you,” Alice deadpans, ruffling the towel through Ceasar’s hair. Ceasar reaches out and places a palm to Alice’s stomach, which she quickly bats away. “No feeling me up until I get my Ben & Jerry’s,” she says.
“Stingy.” Ceasar picks up the grocery bag and thrusts it towards Alice, who lets out a happy squeal and plops down on the couch. Ceasar laughs and follows her, sitting down beside her and putting a hand to her stomach.
Alice frowns. “The worst thing about being pregnant is people feeling up my stomach all the time, like they got some damn right.” She takes the seal off her pint of brownie batter ice cream with a satisfying crack. “The best part is using your stomach as a table,” she continues, resting the carton on her belly, “fat people have been keeping it under wraps all this time, it’s so awesome.”
“Like an otter,” Ceasar murmurs, pressing his ear to Alice’s stomach. “Soon you’ll start craving sea urchins.”
“You’re such a dork, and you’re getting my shirt wet.”
“Boo-hoo,” Ceasar says, sticking his tongue out, and then all of a sudden he lets out a shriek.
Ceasar rubs his face, frowning at the damp spot he’s left on Alice’s blouse. “It kicked me.”
Alice bursts out laughing, and Ceasar’s face turns red. “That’s my boy,” she says, patting her stomach, “You deserve a little reward, let me just find where my spoon went.”
Ceasar, still blushing, picks the spoon off the floor and wipes the crud off on his pants. “It’s definitely a girl, moody little thing.”
“It’s a boy,” Alice replies firmly, shovelling out a big spoonful of ice cream.
Ceasar rolls his eyes. “Whatever you say.” He sits back down and puts and arm around Alice’s shoulder, and she snuggles against him as well as she can without upsetting her ice cream carton. Ceasar smiles. “Hey Alice?”
“I’ve been thinking, and I–”
“No,” Alice frowns, cutting him off.
Ceasar blinks. “No what?”
“I don’t want to marry you for the same reasons I didn’t want to date you,” Alice tells him, struggling off the couch and heading for the kitchen.
Ceasar follows. “How did you know I was going to ask that?” he exclaims.
“It’s the only thing you’ve been thinking about since this happened and you try to subtly bring it up like every other week,” Alice replies, sticking her ice cream in the freezer. She licks the spoon before chucking it into the overflowing sink. Behind her, Ceasar sighs and turns on the faucet, digs around for the dish soap. “Nothing’s changed except we’re having a baby together,” she continues, “The problem still persists.”
“Everything’s changed,” Ceasar grumbles, attacking a pot with the scrub brush. “We’re going to be a family, right? We should be a proper family.” He examines a glass and scrapes at a spot with his fingernail. “You know I love you.”
Alice sighs. “But I’m not number one, right?” she asks, picking up a dishtowel.
Ceasar becomes fascinated with a spatula flaked with dried egg. “That and this are two entirely different things,” he says, and the scrub brush furiously goes skritch skritch skritch.
“They’re the same thing! Do you love me more than him or not?”
Ceasar glances over, helpless, and his sad sad eyes almost make Alice feel like saying yes, almost. “I love you an awful lot,” he says.
Alice can’t help but crack a smile, and she leans over to kiss Ceasar on the cheek. “If I ever move up that one spot, let me know,” she says.
Ceasar blushes and turns his attention back to the sink. “You’re a slob,” he says.
“I know, dear.”