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It was absolutely the last straw, and Alex simply stared at the blank screen on her computer, too stunned at all the work suddenly gone to even yell. She rubbed her eyes, thinking of everything she had just done and whether it would be simpler to try to get it back, redo it, or build a time machine. She groaned then, checking the time. Dinner would have to wait...until the next day, but when she dialed Patrice, she got no answer. That was just as frustrating, and Alex sighed as she simply started typing again, thinking longingly of the hours of sleep she had luxuriated in weeks before. At least all the time at work had kept her away from Patrice during the worst of the hormone treatments.

Patrice balanced Eli on her hip, letting the child twist her hair to stay occupied. It was a small price to pay to keep her relatively quiet as she walked toward Alex's door. She knew she should wait for later in the night, but patience had never been her strong suit—at least not when it came to news. Patrice knocked on the door, then opened it quietly. It was too late for client meetings anyway.

"Patrice..." Alex stopped typing as she looked up, startled. It took her a moment for the smile to appear on her face, and she immediately got up, rounding the desk to take Eli into her arms and to kiss her partner softly. "HI...I just tried to call you."

"Oh, sorry I didn't pick up, I've only got eight arms." She laughed quietly, knowing Alex still wasn't a fan of surprise visits, at least not without pretext. "About done for the day? I thought we could get something to take home, I feel like a night in, actually."

"I..." Alex bit her lip and glanced to her computer. Since Eli's birth they had both tried to make a point to spend less evenings at their respective offices, to find time that they didn't seem to have before. But there were some nights where it just wasn't possible. "I don't know, Patrice. I really should stay here and try to finish this...or at least get some more done." She shifted Eli on her hip and pulled her earring out of the girl's hand. The disappointment on Patrice's face was entirely noticeable in that she was trying to hide it.

"Oh." Patrice tried not to let her expression change, though that had been harder and harder to do lately, "I just, well I was looking forward to some time with you. But it's okay, I know how it is."

The way Patrice's voice fell make Alex bite her lip harder. "No...you know...it's fine. I'll just come in early tomorrow." She sighed softly and simply closed the computer, resolving not to think about it. "I can't say no to my girls, now can I?" she asked, tickling Eli's ribs.

“Yay!” Eli giggled as she shied away from Alex's fingers.

Patrice grinned, knowing it was a significant concession on Alex's part. She kissed her on the cheek. "Well, then you might be downright hopeless soon." She had meant to wait until later—after dinner, or walking through the park, but she just couldn't manage it.

As she processed the statement, Alex blinked. She didn't even stop Eli from grabbing at her earring again, and it was the child's fastidious attention to trying to make the gem catch the light that brought her back to herself. "You're serious...?"

Patrice blushed, eyes glancing down to her own stomach, then back up again. "Yes, I...well I wanted to wait to tell you, but..." She laughed, realizing they were still entirely in Alex's office on a Tuesday, "But...I just couldn't."

Alex laughed as well, catching Patrice's mood. She pulled the blonde to her in a quick hug, pressing her lips to Patrice's cheek. They had started trying again, but she hadn't expected results so quickly, especially after it had taken some time with Eli. "I'm glad you didn't... I just... We're having another baby." She was smiling brightly, old fears not intruding yet. Alex bounced Eli on her hip delightedly as she grabbed her coat. "You're going to have a little brother or sister, baby..."

*****
Alex glanced over her shoulder as she clicked the dishwasher closed. She could see the subtle movements of Patrice's hands in the sink through the slight ripples in her backhand shoulders. She had insisted on doing the rest of the dishes, but Patrice insisted more adamantly that she would rather continue to do things while her feet remained unswollen.

She smiled to herself. Dinner had been interesting enough in that Eli learned she preferred her kale raw and her sweet potatoes without cinnamon, and it was one of the first times she had ever been fussy about food. But her personality was becoming more full every day, and she was growing so quickly. She also talked so much that the silence just then was comfortable, even though it seemed somewhat strange. Alex ran her fingers against the small of Patrice's back as she passed her, and when she reached the kitchen door, she smiled. Eli was asleep with her head on the table, spoon in her hand and bowl of ice cream melting in front of her. She had been at the park most of the day—the zoo, then the playground—and Alex hadn't realized how much she must have worn herself out. Her smile turned into a warm grin as she turned to Patrice.

"Come here," she whispered. It was the first time Eli had fallen asleep before ten in weeks.

Patrice dried her hands quickly, and turned, folding herself into Alex's arms. She smiled, chuckling quietly at the sight, "I think more than one of us is ready to go to bed early tonight."

As Eli stirred, Alex put her fingers to her lips before mouthing, "I'll take her." She slipped out of her shoes before crossing to the table, and as she gathered Eli into her arms, the child turned into her, making soft sounds that reminded Alex of when she was much smaller. She kissed the top of her head before slowly moving to her bedroom. There really was no harm in letting her sleep in her clothes, and Alex merely took off her shoes as she tucked her in. Eli didn't need or want a night light, and Alex didn't fuss about anything in her room—though it was something of a disaster. She wasn't going to risk waking her when it seemed that she and Patrice would never get a chance at a night of peace again. When she returned, she was shaking her head. "She should go to the park more often, I think."

Patrice's smile was broad as she caught the light in Alex's eyes. There had been little time for much of late, and she knew better than to waste what they could find. "I'd agree." She pulled Alex in, and met her in a kiss—lingering, building. The years had not lost the effect they had on each other.

"Mmm," Alex intoned,half sighing. She wrapped her arms around Patrice and pressed their foreheads together. "Someone seems more than willing to head to bed herself..." And Alex wasn't inclined to argue. Eli was enough of a handful, a challenge in more than just finding alone time with Patrice. She could only imagine what it would be like when the baby came. And she had memories of those early months during Patrice's first pregnancy that still lingered even then.

"Well yes..." Patrice paused, pulling back to give Alex a quiet grin, "That is, unless you'd like me to be difficult tonight."

"I very much..." Alex replied as she snaked her fingers through Patrice's hair and pulled her into another kiss, "would not like you to be difficult... I'd hate to spend half the night getting you to comply only to have a precocious toddler wake up for a drink of water."

"You make a good point." Patrice pressed into the touch, letting her eyes close just slightly, "Some other time then." She pulled away, taking Alex's hand to lead her to the bedroom. Quietly, she closed the door behind them. Patrice could already feel herself anticipating the next moments, smiling at the many memories from before, and the knowledge there were far more to be made still.

for a moment, Alex simply savored the simple, well known steps. Before Patrice could turn around, she stepped behind her and carefully gathered her hair before unzipping her dress, her fingertips brushing the warm skin, sending shivers down her own spine. "7 o'clock on a Friday...I hardly know what to do with you..." she breathed as she began to kiss Patrice's neck."

Patrice stepped out of the fabric at her feet, gently leaning against Alex's touch. She could feel her color rising, goosebumps spreading over her skin, "Mmm...I think you're doing just fine."

"Oh, good." Alex unhooked Patrice's bra and let his fall as she wrapped her arms around her and took her nipples between her fingertips. In her hands, Patrice's breasts felt slightly swollen, heavy, and her nipples hardened under her touch. Her breath caught at it, and she closed her eyes, breathing in the scent of Patrice's hair. She couldn't imagine ever tiring of this.

"God..." Patrice glanced down to watch Alex's fingers on her sensitive skin. She struggled not to rush the moment, as she had grown accustomed to on so many nights. She reached behind her, quietly tugging at the fabric of Alex's clothes, "Please, I want to feel you."

Alex shivered, stepping back reluctantly. She shrugged her clothes off and dropped them without thought, her sense of urgency rising. As she turned Patrice in her arms, she pressed their bodies together, luxuriating in the blonde's warmth. And when she began to kiss her, she was almost frantic with wanting her.

She began to back Patrice to the bed, each step intent but gentle, careful. Her mind did not once go to the carefully hidden away toys that she could have had at her fingertips should she wish it. Then, her focus was merely Patrice, what she wanted.

Patrice moaned quietly as she pulled Alex down to cover her. Their legs tangled together in a practiced, yet intent, manner. She exhaled sharply when Alex's thigh slipped between hers, allowing the first contact with her already aching center. They kissed again, deeply, and Patrice closed her eyes.

"You're beautiful," Alex whispered. She knew it was tryst, but no other words would come to her as she watched Patrice's face. she kissed her once more, lightly, lips moving away quickly to her jaw, to the tender skin under neath her ear. Her skin warmed to Patrice's and her desire heightened to a pleasant throb, a familiar ache. she could feel the blonde's wetness on her thigh, and she sighed as she slipped her fingers between Patrice's legs, raking them through her curls as she pressed deeper into her.

"God....so are you...Alex.." Patrice gasped, moving her legs to give Alex better access. The other woman's lips were still moving over her skin, and Patrice clung to her back, encouraging.

She knew she didn't have to say anything else. Patrice knew how much she loved her, how much she owed to her. Every movement Alex made spoke to it. As she slowly pumped her fingers into Patrice she took one of her nipples between her teeth, nipping it lightly before moving to the other, lazily circling it with her tongue. Nights like this had been common when they were expecting Eli, but now it seemed like they had been waiting too long, and she shivered at finally getting what she had been wanting.

It didn't take long before Patrice's toes were curling into the blankets, and she pulled Alex up to kiss her, smothering her building moans.

When the kiss broke, Alex was breathless and smiling. She smoothed Patrice's hair and moved to her side, keeping close, her own wants still present in the back of her mind. "Mmm," she intoned, not having anything coherent to say.

Patrice relaxed, breathing deeply for a long few minutes. She knew she could be content to stay that way, to drift, and Alex wouldn't question it. However, she shifted, glancing over and meeting Alex's eyes. They shared a second there, and then Patrice pressed her back, moving over Alex so she could look down at her. She ran her hands over Alex's arms, moving them to rest on her shoulders as she dipped her head to kiss down her neck to her chest.

Alex arched under Patrice's touch and moaned softly as she closed her eyes. "If you tired," she said, half hoping Patrice would ignore her. She might have gone to sleep easily a moment before, but not now. Still, she would endure the night away to make Patrice happy and comfortable.

"No....not tonight." Patrice eased lower, laying kisses over Alex's skin.

"Good...I'm glad...God, I'm glad," Alex gasped, squirming under the touch. She curled her fingers into the covers before running them down Patrice's back, touching her warm skin lightly.

Patrice took a moment to smile, before sliding between Alex's legs. She ran her hands up to catch Alex's, squeezing her fingers as she dipped her head.

"Patrice," Alex intoned, half pleading. She licked her dry lips, shifting her hips, anticipating, moaning finally as she felt the touch of the blonde's tongue.

Patrice moaned against Alex, lingering only as much as she herself had the patience for. She could feel the blond moving subtly under her tongue, the sweat starting to build on her skin.

The silence was punctuated with the sound of their breaths of Alex's quiet moans. As she felt her climax begin, she pulled Patrice to her, kissing her soundly, covering the moan she couldn't hold back. And when she finally stilled, she sighed softly and let herself relax under Patrice's body.

Patrice shifted, moving to lie at Alex's side, arms still wrapped around her. She breathed deeply, eyes already growing heavy though the night was still early.

"Mmm, do you think we'll be lucky enough to sleep in tomorrow?" she asked quietly, eyes closed.

Patrice smiled, nudging closer to Alex, "No, not at all."

"Then I guess," Alex said, untangling herself long enough to pull the comforter over them, "we had better get some sleep while we can." She wrapped her arms around Patrice and pulled her close, kissing her hair. "Mmm...night."

"Night..." Patrice's voice was soft in the darkness, content in what they were building, and what they managed to still maintain together.

*****
Even when the dogs were puppies and absolutely obnoxious at times, Alex couldn't remember her home ever being so noisy. They needed a bigger place. They had talked about it before, and it would come up again, but for now, it was cozy and functional. And they had a little time before the baby was big enough to make a really big difference. She sat at a makeshift desk in the living room, Patrice lounging on the sofa with the remote balanced on her stomach. The blonde seemed to be half dozing, but Alex had no idea how. Whatever came on after the news was not he television, and the floor was littered with costumes and feathers and articles of clothing Alex was half sure were hers, but Eli had been enjoying her little fashion show. And she kept herself occupied with it.

At that moment, she was tromping around in a circle, her small feet in a pair of Patrice's pumps, which had gone unused for most of the pregnancy. One side of her hair was in a lopsided ponytail, and the other side was wild from whipping her head back and forth as she seemed to vacillate between singing and a quasi treatise on the proper naming of stuffed animals. Alex realized she'd only half processed what she was reading, and her hand was cramping from holding her pen poised. She sighed softly and put her chin in her hand, giving up to simply listen to Eli, who was saying "...an' Bear isn't a girl or a boy, so Bear is okay...because bears are bears an' can be girls and boys. Giiiiirrrlllllssss and booooyyyyssssss," she began to sing in her high pitched child's falsetto.

Patrice smiled then, shaking her head in amusement as Eli continued her chanting, now moving on to what exactly to call the pony who she seemed convinced was a boy, though he was a bright shade of pink. "Alex?" Patrice didn't take her eyes off of Eli, "Alex do we have any more of the rocky road ice cream?" For some reason, there was never enough in the house these days, and at times it was becoming a serious problem.

Alex licked her lips as she rubbed her chin thoughtfully. "We have...there's chocolate, I think. Eli insisted on it the last time we went to the store, even though she prefers strawberry, and you haven't touched it." She knew that wasn't going to be the right answer and she stood, going over to Patrice to rub her shoulders. "I could...make brownies to put in it...or...there are those ice cream bars..."

She worked at a knot in Patrice's neck as she watched Eli try to skip down the hallway to get the pony in question for show and tell. It crossed Alex's mind that she should tell her to take the shoes off, but she let her go and hoped for nothing more than a bruised knee.

Patrice tried not to appear too disappointed, trying to keep in mind Alex was doing her best. "No....its okay." She relaxed as Alex's fingers continued to soothe her muscles. She could hear a drawer opening in Eli's room, and the distinct crash of it being emptied onto the floor. Alex stiffened, poised to go fix whatever it was. Before she could get far, Patrice shrugged. "Yeah, okay....maybe chocolate is fine."

As she paused, torn between going to the kitchen and to Eli's bedroom, Alex heard the click and scuff of the heels in the hallway once more and sighed a little in relief. "Let me get you a bowl then... I think there's chocolate syrup...?" It sounded disgusting, but Alex didn't even try to question what Patrice might and might not want these days. She'd read that the cravings weren't supposed to last, but she'd also stopped comparing Patrice with her reading.

She nearly tripped over Eli, now wearing a zebra print mini skirt on her head like a headdress. "That is...an interesting outfit, Eli...why don't you go show Patrice." And Alex would use the time to think of how to explain to Eli that she wouldn't be getting a bowl of ice cream too.

Eli's face lit up as she hurried back into the living room and resumed her circular march in front of Patrice, dragging the pink pony behind her by the tail. "An' pony doesn't have a bump in his belly...but he's a boy..."

Patrice watched, raising an eyebrow at Eli. As amazed as they constantly were by her, she never seemed to give her enough credit for what she understood of the world around her already. She ran her hand over her stomach, thinking of just what Eli was going to take upon herself to teach her little brother. Patrice wasn't sure whether to laugh or cringe.

Eli paused then as she heard Alex in the kitchen, a thought occurring to her. A moment later, and she had slipped out of the oversized shoes, and ran down the hall, immediately attaching herself to Alex's pant leg. "Mommy! ...I...question!"

Alex steadied herself and the container of chocolate syrup that was dangerously close to falling to the floor. She put her hand on the top of Eli's head in an attempt to smooth her hair. An unsuccessful attempt. Brushing the tangles out later would be a feat and would probably involve screaming on both sides. "What is it, baby?"

"Why does Mommy have a baby in her? How does it get there?" While she waited for an answer, Eli wrapped her small body around Alex's legs, preventing any further movement.

As the final syllables of the question fell, Alex's mouth hung open. She nearly dropped the ice cream scoop. "I...well. Patrice is...it's that..." She searched for the right words, the terms for a three year old child. She and Patrice had had conversations about this moment, of course, but Alex had expected it to be more structured. In fact, she had expected it to come earlier, but Eli seemed content with the fact that there would be a sibling, and she preferred to play over asking questions. Until now. "Do you want some ice cream?" she finished, cheeks pink.

“Before dinner?" Eli's mouth hung open, and she released hold of Alex's legs, letting herself roll over on the floor before standing up and grabbing the pony again. "Ice cream before dinner!" She giggled, not quite sure what to make of the turn of events.

"Ice cream before dinner...and in the living room too," Alex replied a little too quickly, absolutely relieved. “Why don't you go tell Patrice about it while I fix you a bowl, mmkay?" She smiled as the girl darted off, and as she took out another bowl she could hear. "Mommy! Mommy! Guess what!!!"