Takes place after the series
The frigid February Seattle air felt like ice against his face and ears, but Braeden didn’t mind. He had things to do and people to help. Nothing could keep him from taking care of business, not when his buddy turned brother-in-law needed him.
Braeden rubbed his hands together before knocking on Declan’s front door. He could have just used the key he had for emergencies, but it wasn’t really an emergency, so it felt like cheating. It didn’t matter that he was there for important reasons. Important didn’t equal emergency. He’d learned that lesson the last time he showed up at his sister’s house unannounced.
“What are you doing here?” Declan asked as he pulled open the door.
“I’m here to help,” Braeden answered, though he did his best to keep the implied ‘duh’ out of his tone.
It was pretty obvious Declan was in one of his moods. The man was surly at best, downright cantankerous at his worst. Braden never knew which one he was going to get, and he never knew when the mood would change. He liked to think he was pretty good at reading his brother-in-law by now, but his wife, Declan’s sister Andi, didn’t think so.
At least he wouldn’t have to deal with her while he helped his friend. Andi was at their house with Declan’s wife Brooklyn having a playdate with their twins. Braeden hoped his girls behaved themselves. The last thing he wanted was to hear about how his daughters were mean to Declan’s sons. It wasn’t his fault he was raising two strong-willed girls.
“I don’t need any help.”
Declan started to close the door, but Braeden stuck his foot inside before he could. He pushed his way inside, then looked around the house to see what he could do for his friend. A hockey game played on the big screen TV in the living room, an empty beer bottle sat on the table next to the couch. That was something he could do. He could get his friend a new beer.
Leaving Declan at the door, Braeden made his way into the living room, tossing his coat onto the recliner, then grabbing the bottle off of the table. He could hear Declan muttering something behind him, but he ignored him since he had things to do. After tossing the empty bottle into the recycle bin, he grabbed a fresh beer from the fridge. He quickly took the bottle to the living room, popping the top, then leaving it for Declan so he could return to the kitchen.
There was a sink full of dishes just waiting for him to wash. What an easy way for him to help his friend. Unlike most people, Braeden actually liked hand washing dishes. It was therapeutic in a weird way. Plus, on a cold day like the one they were having, it helped keep his hands warm. He put the stopper in the sink, then added a dollop of dish detergent before turning the water on as hot as he could stand it.
“What are you doing?”
“I’m washing your dishes.”
This time he couldn’t hold back the ‘duh’ in his tone. But at least he didn’t ask him ‘what does it look like?’ which was his initial instinct. Sometimes Declan could be really obtuse. Especially when he was in a bad mood.
“Okay, maybe I should have said, why the fuck are you washing my dishes, instead.”
“I told you I was here to help, this is me helping,” Braeden answered as he grabbed the sponge and started in on a bowl.
“What the hell is wrong with you today?”
Declan was making it very hard for him to want to keep helping. Why couldn’t the man just be grateful? Here he was being a good friend and instead of saying thanks dude, he was getting asked what was wrong with him. That was just plain rude. If he wasn’t bound and determined to help his friend, he might have left him with a sink full of dishes, and taken the beer with him.
Although that wouldn’t be a good idea since it was against the law to have an open container of alcohol in his car. And it was completely against his moral fiber to pour out alcohol of any kind. Ugh. There really was no good way of punishing Declan, which meant he would just press on. He would persevere no matter how mean his friend got.
“Braeden, why are you here? Why do you think I need help? Did Brooklyn send you here?”
Braeden laughed. “Nope. I’m here because of what day it is. I would have been here earlier but it’s a work day and all.”
“Ummm…today isn’t special.”
“Are you kidding me? It’s February 16th.”
“You really need to start paying attention to the calendar dude. It’s National Do a Grouch a Favor Day.”
Braeden could almost hear Declan’s eyes roll, though he couldn’t see it since his friend was behind him. He scrubbed another bowl and then a plate while he waited for a response. Even with his hands in the hot soapy water, Braeden felt a chill in the air. Uh oh.
“You need to go home.”
“But I’m not done.”
“Yes you are. Go home, Braeden,” Declan nearly growled the words.
“I’m just trying to be helpful. And you really are proving to be a grouch.”
“Braeden…” Declan warned.
Grabbing the hand towel off of the counter next to the sink, Braeden turned to face Declan as he dried his hands. The look on his brother-in-law’s face told him he had about thirty seconds to get his ass moving before the shit hit the fan.
“Fine. I’ll go, but don’t say I never tried to give you a hand. I am going to count this so I can cross it off my list.”
“All I wanted was a peaceful night to myself,” Declan grumbled. “We never should’ve gotten you that one-a-day calendar with the stupid freaking holidays on it.”
“I’ll have you know that I’m learning a lot from that calendar and other people are benefitting from my knowledge. It’s nobody’s fault but yours that you’re too grumpy to enjoy a simple favor.”
“Ugh. I’m going,” Braeden said as he threw the towel at Declan, then made his way back to the living room to grab his coat. “This is the last time…”
“We both know it isn’t, no matter how much I wish it was.”
“I don’t even know why I bother with you.”
“Me neither. Now get out and when you get home, you better make sure my wife and kids stay an extra hour for the nonsense you just put me through.”
“Wait…if I do that, then I’d be doing you a favor. YES! That’s exactly what I needed. See Declan, I knew I could help you.”
“Jeezus. Yeah, sure that’s totally it. You’re welcome. Now leave before I change my mind.”
“Bye, buddy. See you on Sunday.”
As soon as Braeden was on the porch, the door slammed behind him but the smile on his face stayed put. Despite Declan’s prickly attitude Braeden knew his brother-in-law loved him and appreciated how thoughtful he was.
Even so, Braeden figured it might be smart to wait a while to use Declan to fulfill any of his other calendar duties. Which was fine. He had plenty of friends so he could spread the wealth. Maybe he’d ask Oliver if he was interested in racing crabs for Champion Crab Races Day and he knew the whole crew would be down with National Drink Wine Day. He’d have to be very careful what day he chose to celebrate next with Declan, but no matter what, he knew it would be a doozy.