A/N: I totally did not plan on updating so soon! But this just sort of... poured out of my. Like liquid. Anyway! xD Haha, thanks to you guys who reviewed; I'm glad you think I got Spencer's character right. Lets hope I can keep it up! :D Enjoy Chapter 2.

Chapter 2

Thiiiis was not going well.

Okay, I guess it was going all right. I mean, Carly wasn't dead or crying or throwing up, so I must have done something right in the past twenty-four hours. Maybe. Hopefully. That was the problem with kids— they didn't talk. Or maybe that's just Carls. From what I remember of myself, I was pretty freaking hyper. All the time. Forever. And that was without sugar.

Mmm, sugar…

Anyway! Carls kind of just… sat. On the couch. Watching TV, really, really quietly. It was what she'd been doing since she got to my apartment. Our apartment, I mean. It was in the same building as my old one, but humongously-ginormously bigger. Dad was paying for it, obviously. I'm just a poor artist-man.

Carly's poor artist-man brother hopped himself over to her. And by that, I mean I went and sat by Carly on the couch. Hmm, maybe I should start referring to myself in the third person. It could be so cool. That's what spies do, don't they? Or maybe they just blow things up and make out with chicks.

I could go for that.

"Hey-hey-hey, Car-lay," I sang, nudging her shoulder. She smiled at me. Aw. I love her. More than a lot of things. Maybe not oxygen…


Is that it? Me, her poor artist-man brother, gets only a 'hi'? I am so offended. "Watcha watching?" I asked, attempting to connect with a six-year-old, which one would think would be easy considering I've been accused of having that mental state ever since I actually was six. But Carly, in case you lovely observant people haven't noticed, is female. This means her brain operates on an entire different, mystical level.

Even at six.

"Girly Cow," Carly said, pointing. "It's new."


"Is it fuuunny?" I asked.

She nodded. "Yeah."

More silence.

"You want some lunch, kiddo?"


Yet more silence.

"Whaddaya want?"

"Can I have some of the noodles we got yesterday, after that man almost hit you?"

"She speaks!" I yelled, pumping my fist in the air. "That was at least fifteen words. Good going!" I offered my palm for a high five. Carly gave one gladly, giggling. "Hey, he did not almost hit me!" I added as an afterthought.

"He was gonna," she pointed out.



I ruffled her hair. I'd decided that braids weren't really necessary after it took about an hour and three combs to undo all the knots from the one I made yesterday. "I'll get your noodles."

"Thank you."

"So polite!" It figures that me, the craziest dude in Seattle (according to four out of five ex-girlfriends, at least), winds up with Car-lay for a little sis. Not that I'm complaining. She's pretty freaking adorable, like, all the time. I went into the kitchen and stuck her lunch in the microwave; at least she hadn't wanted to buy anything that required use of a stove. I was still a little… bachelor-cliché-ish when it came to that.

I leaned against the counter, almost knocking over a box of what looked like kitchen supplies that I would probably never use. I hadn't exactly finished unpacking yet. I did the important stuff first (Carls' bed, the TV, the computer, anything resembling technology), but everything else was sort of… languishing in convenient boxes. I made a mental note to get on that. (Maybe I should think about transferring my mental notes into actual notes; my mental inbox was getting pretty cluttered.)



"Ah, phone!" I batted boxes away in an attempt to remember where I left my Pear-phone. Over by the knives? Wait, was I even allowed to have knives in a house with a small child? Were there people who came to check out that? What if Carly accidentally stabbed herself in the throat?! What if I accidentally stabbed myself in the throat?! Oh my God, Dad was totally suing the chiz out of me!

"Spencer!" Carly yelled. I looked up. She was clutching my Pear-phone tightly in her hand while it rung. "It was on the couch."

"Oh," I said. "I knew that. I was testing you."

She laughed. I jogged over and flipped the phone open in a suave, debonair sort of way. I am like a spy; suave and debonair are in the job description. "What goes on?"

"Spencer! Dude, you gotta get over here!"

"Where's here?" I asked, watching the episode of Girly Cow on TV out of the corner of my eye. "Kinda busy, Socko."

His voice went low. "Oh yeah, the kid."

"Carly. She has a name. I happen to think it's kinda nice."

"I'm not a fan of Carly," Socko mused. "I think I'll call her Vanessa."

"Ooookay then." Vanessa? "What did you wanna tell me?"

"I got Gretchen over. We're going to a party later. Wanna come?"

"Well gee let me think about no not really. Unless you want me to bring Carly along. Which I don't think she would enjoy seeing as she's a young child who needs sleep sometimes."

"Get a babysitter," Socko suggested.

"Dude! I've had her for, like, two days. I can't get a babysitter. I don't even know any babysitters."

"Party pooper," he said, obviously not mad. "Whatever. So, what do you think we're doing o—"


"Huh?" Who was that? I didn't have any poltergeist last time I checked. I glanced down to see who was tugging on my pants. Oh, maybe it's Carls. "Hold on, Socko." He kept babbling in my ear; I tossed the phone onto the couch cushions and bent down. "Whatcha need?"

Carly frowned, tugging on her hair. "The noodles," she whispered. "They're done and it's too high for me to get. I'm sorry."

Was that it? "No prob-lemo," I said, grabbing the phone. "Gotta go, Socks. I'm needed for a noodle emergency."

"I have that problem a lot."

"Don't I know it. Bye." I slammed the phone close, tossed it into the couch again like a ninja, and hopped myself over to the microwave. Carly followed me anxiously. "Worried about your noodles? Don't worry, I think they'll live."

"Sorry," she said quietly. "I didn't mean for you to hang up the phone."

I shrugged, grabbing the noodles and putting them on the table for her. "No big dealio. Socko talks too much anyway."

"Sorry," she said again. Jeez, why's she so sorry? She didn't do anything. Oh, Car-lay. Such a silly goose.

"You want some Peppy Cola?" I asked, watching her clamber into a chair. Kids are so small and cute. "That's one of the few things I never run out of."

Carly looked over at me, then started climbing down from her chair. Wait, what? Did I do something wrong? Is she coming to, like, kill me or something? I winced when she passed me. Huh? What's she— oh. She was getting some Peppy Cola.

"Um, Carls? Helloooo?" I said, knocking her gently on the head as she uncapped the bottle. "What do you think I'm here for? Entertainment?"

She bit her lip with concentration as she poured her drink into a cup. I rolled my eyes and took it from her, finishing the job. "Spencer!" she cried. "I was going to do it."

"I know," I said, picking her up and depositing her in her chair again, Peppy Cola in tow. Six-year-old's are surprisingly light creatures. "But you're tiny. And I'm not. And the counter is not. So me and counter, we go together. We're buddies."

Uh-oh. Apparently that was the wrong answer. Chiz! Carly stared dejectedly at her noodles. "Mom said big girls get their own drinks. I'm supposed to get my own lunch too, but you did it first. I'm a big girl. Now you think I'm stupid and little."

…Are you kidding me? "Car-lay," I said decisively, sitting down across from her. She didn't look at me. "Kiddo, you're six. That means I have to get you stuff, 'cause if you do it, you could… hurt yourself."

This time she did look at me. "You hurt yourself sometimes but you're allowed to get stuff," she accused.

This would be why I was not a kindergarten teacher. Because child-logic surpasses mine in every way. "I know," I scrambled, "but that's different. And, uh, Mom was kind of wrong. You're not stupid and little. Definitely not stupid. Whooo spelled 'platypus' right on her last spelling test?"

Carly frowned. "I read it in a book one time."

I poked her cheek. "Doesn't matter! 'Cause Carly Shay, that girl's got so much brain I'm surprised her head hasn't exploded." Oh please be the right answer.

It seemed that it was. Carly giggled. "That's messy. I don't like messes, I have to clean them up."

"Then lets not make any messes!" I grinned and jumped up. Unfortunately, the grin was purely for Carls' benefit. Which I hate, 'cause faking smiles is for losers.

I was so calling Dad. What was this chiz? 'Big girls get their own drinks.' 'Big girls get their own lunch.' 'I have to clean messes up.' Okay, I'm a twenty-year-old guy and even I think that's a little off. What's up with Mom?

Where was Mom?

"Spencer?" Carly called.

Right, kid in the room. Introspective inner monologue was for when I was alone. Or drunk. Either one. "Yeah?" I called back.

She took a bite full of noodles, then gave me a wide-eyed glance. Woah, she's like a deer. "I have to take a test tomorrow at school. Will you help me get ready?"

Oh. Right. She has school. First grade.

Thiiis suddenly got a lot harder.