“You know, when I said we could get a pet together, this was not really what I had in mind,” Carlos’ brow furrowed as he looked at the small animal TK was holding against his chest. “I thought dog, or cat, or goldfish.”
“Amazing that you think we could keep a goldfish alive,” TK lifted his hands and kissed the animal’s nose. “You can’t pet a goldfish.”
“True, but I’d bet you’d try; you can’t pet that either,” Carlos gestured. “And don’t they carry viruses.”
“If people stopped getting animals that could carry viruses, no one would ever have a pet, even a goldfish,” TK rolled his eyes. “She likes cuddles.”
“How do you even cuddle a hedgehog?” Carlos asked; peering closer, he studied her face; it was pretty cute, he guessed. “What’s her name?”
“Ruby,” TK answered, not seeming to mind as she nibbled at his fingers, curled up over his wrist and seeming quite comfortable. “I rescued her.”
Carlos reached out carefully and let the little thing sniff his fingers, smiling a little bit when she licked his hand. “Of course you did,” he replied, gently touching the quills. “She feels interesting.”
TK smiled up at him, eyes dancing as he did so. “So, we can keep her?” He asked.
Carlos kissed him gently on the lips and glanced at the cage on the table in the living room. “She stays out of places we eat; I hear they can breed salmonella,” he warned, moving to wash his hands.
“I promise she will stay out of the dining room and kitchen, and I will wash my hands eighty times a day,” TK vowed as he watched Carlos. “See, Ruby, I told you that you’d have two dads.”
Carlos would forever deny that he felt his heart clench in his chest at hearing those words. It was just a hedgehog.
She...she was just a hedgehog.
“Oh, this is priceless,” TK’s voice shook him out of a sound sleep, and he blinked sluggishly; sitting up on the couch, he quickly placed his hand under the warm spot on his chest so that Ruby wouldn’t slide down.
“What?” Carlos yawned, hiding his mouth in his elbow; he looked up at TK, who had his phone pointed in his direction. “Delete that.”
“Delete it? No, you and our baby girl are going in the group chat, cuddles with Papi,” TK cooed, leaning in to kiss him on the lips quickly; he gently took Ruby from Carlos and made kissy faces at her as he walked her back to her cage which was, as per usual, freshly clean.
“I can’t believe this,” Carlos groaned, standing; he made his way to the kitchen to wash up. “We were just sitting down for a minute.”
Had he really just used the word we to describe himself and a hedgehog? This was all TK’s fault.
“Carlos,” TK said his name, his eyes sparkling with suppressed laughter as he stood in the doorway of their bedroom, having just finished washing up. “Have you been shopping without me?”
Carlos frowned, trying to figure out what TK could be talking about. “No, not for anything important. Like toothpaste and stuff, I know you like to go to the market together.”
“Not any online shopping?”
“Nope,” Carlos continued, tugging a t-shirt over his head.
“No pet shopping?”
Carlos froze, seated on the edge of the bed. “Maybe.”
TK held up the tiny ring floatie in one hand. “You bought Ruby a floatation device.”
Carlos nibbled on his bottom lip. It wasn’t like he could deny it; he was a really terrible liar, something his brother and sister’s always made fun of him for growing up.
“Why did you buy her this?” TK asked, and he just looked amused and possibly like he was melting on the inside.
“She seemed scared of baths, so I thought it would help,” Carlos admitted; taking the ring from TK, he tossed it into the sink as he squeezed past. “She swims for it and tucks herself in; it looks super cute, and her Instagram followers love it.”
“Ruby has an Instagram?!” TK exclaimed.
Carlos hung his head, wondering when exactly he’d lost control of his life and how little he cared about getting it back. His heart had been won by a firefighter (now paramedic) and a prickle pig.