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Bikky got out of doing any of the Thanksgiving cooking by claiming he had an extra credit paper to write. Ryo, who was all about encouraging academic excellence in his remedial-everything kid, perked right up and sent him to his room with a slice of pumpkin pie: the same one Dee had been strictly forbidden to touch before dinner, on pain of no-sex-for-the-next-month. Bikky could hear Dee complaining about the unfairness of it all the way down the hall.

He did, actually, have something to write. It just wasn't "extra credit" so much as "partial credit, and consider yourself lucky I'm not just marking it down as a zero for being late, young man." He finished something passable in maybe half an hour, leaving him plenty of time to enjoy that pie and some frisky IMing with Carol.

She hadn't come home over the break. Crashing with a friend was cheaper than buying cross-country tickets, and she was trying to put some money away. Bikky had tried to convince her to let Ryo front her the plane ride, but no dice.

Was it good for you? Y/Y/MFY, she sent presently.

mfy like always babe, he typed in reply. (Out in the kitchen, Dee was apparently trying to help. The important word there being "trying." There was a clatter, and some yelling.) woulda been better if u were here tho.

Got to start saving at some point! ^_^ pointed out Carol. Do u not want to be able to have kids until we're like 30?

Bikky's heart about stopped. Right on cue, the smoke alarm started going off.

idk, he sent, followed by ryo needs help w dinner g2g.

 

-+-

 

Ryo hauled the smoking remains of the casserole out of the oven with mittted hands while Dee switched off the smoke alarm. "Great. Now I'm going to have to crowd into whatever store is still open with all the other panicky last-minute shoppers and hope they haven't sold out."

"C'mon, baby, don't worry about it," wheedled Dee, fanning at the smoke with both arms. "Why don't we skip the green beans and get to dessert that much faster, huh?"

"I guess," said Ryo, looking mournfully at the blackened beans and crisped onions topped with a fine layer of Parmesan ash. "It's just...I got this recipe from my mom, handed down through my family for generations, and it wouldn't feel right to have a big family meal without it...."

Dee's face fell. "Ryo...I didn't know. Of course, if it's that important to you, I'll go myself!" He pumped his fist in a show of manly determination. "And I won't rest until I've brought you back the greenest, beaniest...."

He caught himself long enough to notice the look on Ryo's face.

"...Are you pulling my leg?"

"Yes, you dork." Ryo chuckled into his flowery oven mitt. "Yes, my mother served that traditional Japanese dish of green bean casserole, made with that classic Edo staple, Campbell's soup."

"Well, I didn't know!" said Dee, folding his arms. "What do I know about Japanese cooking? Damn, I liked it better when you only jerked me around because you were too obtuse to know true love when you saw it."

"No, you didn't," said Ryo with a knowing smile, tossing the mitts aside and sidling toward the front hall.

"No, I didn't," agreed Dee, following. "At least now I have a chance of getting laid out of the deal. Seriously, do you have to go? It's not like it was the turkey I ruined."

Ryo was already pulling on his coat. "True, but someone needs to make sure you get your vegetables. To say nothing of Bikky. We both know that kid's been living on pizza and cheap beer in L.A." He turned to drop a quick kiss on Dee's temple. "Tidy up the kitchen a bit while I'm gone, okay?"

"What the hell kind of weak motivation was that?" huffed Dee, before shoving Ryo up against the door and extracting from him the kind of steamy, bone-melting kiss you wouldn't think would be necessary before doing basic housework, but hey, that was Dee for you. It was comforting to know that some things never changed.

 

-+-

 

When Bikky finally got up the nerve to trudge out of his room, Dee was alone at the sink, wearing a frilly apron and scrubbing grit out of a casserole dish. "What happened to Ryo? You didn't finally scare him off, did you?"

"Hey, shut up, midg—" Dee checked himself as Bikky got close enough to loom over him. (With at least six inches on almost everyone he knew, Bikky had gotten good at looming.) "It's fine. He's off getting more plant matter after I — uh, I mean — somehow this casserole got burned. Total accident. How's your paper coming?"

Bikky sat down in a chair with a huff. The metal creaked in surprise. Ignoring it, he planted his elbows on the kitchen table next to the cranberry sauce and still-empty gravy dish. "Fine."

"Whoa, that didn't sound good. What's going on? If you flunk out, Ryo might go easy on you, but I—"

"How come you didn't invite Ryo to move in earlier?"

"...Huh?"

"I got it in the beginning," said Bikky. "The adoption had to get approved, and you didn't want some idiot social worker freaking out at Ryo having a strange guy living in the place. But you were basically married already by that point, so after it went through, what was the hold-up?"

Dee shrugged. "We never really thought about it that way, you know? I mean, let's face it, I am awesome as studly handsome boyfriend material, but I'm not exactly dad material."

"So the problem was you, not...." Bikky let the end of the sentence hang in the air. Mostly because he was choking up. Damn emotions.

"Aw, geez." Dee gave his hands and forearms a quick wipe-down with the nearest towel and sat across from Bikky, looking awfully serious for a man with a pink kerchief tying back his hair. "Okay, listen up, because I'm only gonna say this once: You're a good kid. Sure, you've pinched some hubcaps and beat some people up, but you look out for your friends, you never did drugs, never gave Ryo more trouble than he could handle. Hell, you never did half the stupid stuff I did when I was a teenager. Probably got arrested less, too, once you factor out the BS being-somewhere-while-black incidents."

Bikky raised his eyebrows. "So what you're saying is, I'm a better kid to Ryo than you."

"Yeah, but if you ever tell him I admitted it, I'll — whoa, what was that? I'm not Ryo's kid!" spluttered Dee.

"Then how come he has to mother you into cleaning up the kitchen, huh?"

"Don't listen in on other people's conversations, brat!"

"Don't have private conversations in the kitchen!" countered Bikky, pulling a face before relaxing into a slouch and a grin. "Guess I could be better father material than you too, huh?"

"Yeah, you wish — hang on!" Dee slammed both hands down on the table, pushing himself up to loom as best he could. "Is Carol pregnant? Didn't I tell you, it's a man's job to always use protec—"

"No! Relax, it's cool, she's fine. Just thinking about the future. That's a man's job too, right?"

"Sure is." Dee tousled his hair with rough affection. "Also a man's job, now that his homework is obviously done: helping in the kitchen. C'mon."

 

-+-

 

~*~ Carol ~*~
Im soooo sorry! Did I scare u off w/ the kids comment? I thought u knew!

BIKKY
no its ok

BIKKY
we shud talk about this more in person

BIKKY
but

~*~ Carol ~*~
Of course!

BIKKY
basicaly: i am ok with kids IF

BIKKY
we can aford them AND

BIKKY
my career is not 2 busy 2 hang out w them evry day AND

BIKKY
we can aford to settle down in a place w fewer drugs kidnapers rapists crazy bommers etc

~*~ Carol ~*~
All that sounds good to me <3

BIKKY
bc lets face it

BIKKY
we practicly died a bunch of times

BIKKY
i was 10 when some of that shit went down u no?

~*~ Carol ~*~
U dont have 2 remind me sweetie.

BIKKY
exactly

BIKKY
nevr tell anyone i said this but

BIKKY
it was way scary watchin u hav 2 jump out of a buildin even when 13 seemed like this cool older age

~*~ Carol ~*~
<3

BIKKY
and like

BIKKY
these would be OUR KIDS

BIKKY
not like ryo and d don't love me an all but it took me a while to grow on them

BIKKY
maybe ryo more than d idk

~*~ Carol ~*~
Dee would be heartbroken if anythin happened to u. U know that.

BIKKY
ok ok true

~*~ Carol ~*~
And ur in luck b/c I totally agree :)

~*~ Carol ~*~
Lets save 2gethr 2 buy a big house in the suburbs where 1 day we can settle down & have a bunch of kids.

~*~ Carol ~*~
As long as we start before Im 30 Im happy <3

BIKKY
:)

BIKKY
wait

BIKKY
how much is "a bunch"?

 

-+-

 

It was the first Thanksgiving for the new couch Dee and Ryo had picked out together, as well as the new flatscreen Dee had bought as a housewarming gift to himself. (He claimed it was for Ryo; Ryo knew better.) Dee ended up stretched out along it, his head in Ryo's lap, while Bikky (who would barely have fit on the thing if it was empty) sprawled on the floor and cheered at every touchdown in between carrying on a poky back-and-forth with Carol on the laptop Ryo had splurged on in the vain hope that sometimes it would be used for schoolwork.

He didn't know where Bikky found the energy. And after eating half the turkey, too — not to mention most of the stuffing, half the casserole, and a double helping of sweet potatoes. If Ryo hadn't put aside some pie for later, that would be gone too. They were pretty sure he'd stopped growing, so where did he put it all?

Dee at least had taken the soporific legends about turkey to heart. Ryo kept losing track of the game, getting distracted with smoothing Dee's hair out of his face. Eventually, figuring Bikky would be oblivious to the rest of the world for the next however-long-Carol-was-awake, he let his own eyes fall closed....

"Hey, Ryo?" Bikky pushed the laptop and its spiraling cord against the wall, out of the way, and leaned back against the arm of the couch. His head was a few inches outside the deeply uncool zone of resting on Ryo's leg. "Can I ask you something?"

"Hm?" Ryo tried to shake himself awake without rousing Dee. "Of course. Anything you want."

"Well...Carol's talking about kids, and I...."

"Not until you graduate," said Ryo automatically.

"I know, I know. We're gonna save up money and make sure our careers are stable and get a place in a neighborhood with good schools, the whole deal."

The cider must have been going to Ryo's head, because he was hit with a sudden case of double vision. In front of him sat the little boy he could wrap his arms around and pick up, the tough and resilient street kid who would gleefully make off with anything from Dee's fresh-baked cookies to Ryo's police-issue taser, the lonely child who had cried on his shoulder that one fateful day down at the precinct. And in the same spot was a broad-shouldered young adult with at least six inches on him, talking about a future of responsible parenting like it was no big thing.

"I just wanted to ask something." Bikky shrugged, bumping Ryo's knee. "Would you be, like, offended or whatever if I wanted to get adopted by Dee too?"

Taking a risk, Ryo ruffled his hair. It wasn't tied back for once, just hanging loose, thick blonde locks going every which way around the curves of his skull. "That would be fantastic, kiddo."

"It's not for me, really," said Bikky quickly. "It's more like, you know, Carol's original parents are dead too, and she was raised by her aunt instead of getting more...but she says her grandparents are really fun, and I figured it would be cool if our kids got to have more than one."

Ryo tried not to wince at the image of himself (perfectly young and fit, thank you very much) as somebody's grandfather. I guess that's what happens when you go and adopt a ten-year-old in your twenties. "You're really okay with this, huh?"

Bikky shrugged again, which meant he was very serious, if he was trying this hard to be nonchalant. "I already have two dads. My dad dad, and you. What's one more?"

 

-+-

 

BIKKY
btw

BIKKY
really did hav 2 go help in the kitchen. d burned somethin

~*~ Carol ~*~
Aww was everyone ok?

BIKKY
yeah but he got yelled at

~*~ Carol ~*~
Ooh! Is Ryo standing up to him now, then?

BIKKY
kinda

BIKKY
its weird

BIKKY
i went away 4 a couple months an ryo made leaps an bounds in d manadgment

BIKKY
scary

~*~ Carol ~*~
Thats probably how they feel about u, u know.