Vince stretched happily as his eyes fluttered open. God, he loved waking up in a good mood, it was like a perfect start to a day. He lay in silence for a while before lazily dragging himself out of bed and quickly dressing.
Bounding happily down the stairs into the shop, Vince called "Alright, Howard?"
"Shh!" came the reply.
Vince frowned as he saw that the shop was closed and turned to see Howard sitting at the shop counter. He had a little bundle in his arms.
"What's that?" Vince asked, intrigued.
Howard sighed sadly. "Vince... Do you remember Stella?"
"What, that girl I got with like a year ago?"
"That's the one. Well, she came over this morning while you were asleep."
Vince's eyes widened. "What did she want?"
Howard nodded towards a note lying on the counter, which Vince picked up and read.
I don't know if you even remember me, but you slept with me a year and a half ago, at your place. We were drunk so I don't remember much bit we obviously didn't use protection because hey, I got pregnant!
I can't do it. I'm really sorry to do this to you and your friend but I know you'll be better parents than me. I'm leaving Polly with you. She's definitely yours, I checked. She's also your spitting image, it's pretty obvious.
I'm so sorry, but it's for the best. I just can't do this parenting thing.
- Stella Robson x'
Vince looked slowly up from the letter, horrified. His blinked back tears.
"Is that...?" he trailed off, looking at the little bundle in Howard's arms.
The Northerner nodded, holding out his arms to reveal a small, sleeping baby wrapped in a lilac blanket.
"And... She's mine?" Vince asked, in a voice barely above a whisper.
The baby - Polly, it seemed - suddenly opened her eyes to reveal big, blue orbs, framed with long, sweeping lashes. Her little rosy cheeks flushed as she lifted a tiny hand to the little tufts of jet-black hair peppering her head.
"Christ," Howard muttered, not taking his eyes from the girl, "She looks just like you, Vince."
Polly looked around until her eyes met those of her dad's, and she held his gaze as if she knew. After a little while her little face crumpled and she began to grizzle, holding out her arms to Vince.
The smaller man looked panicked as he tore his gaze from Polly's to Howard's. "What do I do?"
Howard couldn't stop a little smile creeping onto his face as he held his arms out further. "Just hold her."
Vince hesitated before gently, oh so gently lifting the little bundle into his arms, carefully cradling her head with his small hand.
He looked down into her big blue eyes, so similar to his own, and couldn't stop the few tears that were threatening to fall.
Vince shifted so that the crook of his elbow could cradle Polly's head and lifted a finger to gently stroke her rosy cheek. Polly's tiny little hand reached up and gripped into his index finger, eyes never leaving his. Her little mouth slowly formed a beaming smile, making Vince's heart flutter.
At that moment, it was if the whole world had frozen. She was his baby. His. He had made this tiny little human.
He gulped and, with a small smile, whispered:
"Hi there darlin'. I'm your daddy."