Dean shows up a week after Franky’s back in Bristol from her last trip, while she is still dodging the hell out of the Mini situation. It’s both the best and the worst timing - he provides Franky with a ready made excuse to avoid Mini - and that is how Mini meets him, which she won’t forget any time soon if ever. Franky regrets it when she’s done avoiding Mini, but there’s no changing it. Introducing him to Elsie does something for the damage, does something to reassure her, even though the initial introduction goes badly. The second meeting goes well, though.
Elsie is a game changer. She makes Dean love her, he doesn’t have a chance. They’ll never know if it was intentional on her part (how could it be, she’s a toddler) or if Elsie is just so used to everyone loving her that she didn’t consider any other possibility. She takes to him right away - to be fair, she takes to everyone right away, it’s more a matter of who sticks after the shininess of being new has worn off. It takes a bit longer than usual for his new to wear off - he’s grumpy, and that’s something Elsie has not had a lot of exposure to. He’s a little like Uncle Rich, Elsie thinks, but not really. It doesn’t matter to her. He’s new, he makes Mummy make funny faces, and Mama introduces him like he’s magic. Mama doesn’t look at a whole lot of people like they’re magic.
Really, though, the deciding factor for Dean is not the way that Elsie is insistent to play with him or how sweet she is. Elsie wins him over mostly, simply, by the look she puts on Franky’s face. He can't bring himself to resent her – he does try, because she’s the reason Franky won’t leave, but. After he’s spent some time with the tyke, he just can’t.
He admits, to himself, that Mini provided Elsie in the first place, and that Mini causes a similar reaction on her own, but her he can resent. Her intentions are not so innocent and she is not so sweet.
His visits are sporadic, at best. He visits more often after he’s gotten used to Franky’s new situation, but then when moving out becomes a plan rather than a thought, he makes himself scarce.
He pops back by a little over three months after they've moved in, and he's pretty quickly taken hostage by Elsie. She insists on showing him every inch of *her* new backyard, and then her room, and then the playroom, and on and on.
(Mini pulls Franky aside while they're outside, her hands fidgeting, "I don't think you should tell him. Not yet. The house was a big enough surprise, this would be-. I don't think you should tell him this visit, show him the shed but that's enough for one visit, I think." Franky smiles and gives her a quick kiss. "Thank you.")
Franky waits, purposely, till that evening, after dinner, to show him the shed. She uses Elsie as her excuse, but really it’s so that it’s a little easier to convince him not to leave immediately. She gets him to hang around until lunch the next day, which she takes as a win. And he drops by again two weeks later, which is another win. She’s racking them up, lately. More than lately.
Mini convinces her - well, not so much convinces as suggests something Franky was already thinking but she didn’t want to decide without Mini, not to mention that they’re trying for another baby, until they succeed. And then when they succeed, they decide not to tell anyone for the first trimester, in case it doesn’t - well, in case. They don’t feel like jinxing anything. It’s lucky enough that they succeeded so quickly – Franky will be making jokes about Mini’s fertility probably forever.
Franky doesn’t tell him in person. She would have, but the choice is taken out of her hands. She puts it off. It’s tough, he’s come around to Elsie, and he and Mini may not be friends but they aren’t enemies, but this shakes things. It’s still awkward, she’s settling and she knows he doesn’t quite get it, or want to, and another baby is another nail in the coffin of their plan. Mini tells Liv, and Liv makes a joke on facebook and tags them in it. Franky knows he’s seen it when his contact trickles down to just text messages. There’s so much to do, she hardly has the time to be bothered. They have to decorate and furnish the baby’s room (very serious, obviously), Franky ends up taking on more photographer gigs, and all the doctor’s appointments. Mini’s blood pressure is higher than it should be, again, and convincing her to work less takes a while, and then there’s the stresses that come with her working less and getting out less and gaining weight. Elsie is excited, at first, and then fairly quickly not so excited, when it means less playtime and less Mummy&Mama time.
He starts visiting again around the time when Mini has started definitively showing, which makes Franky brace herself. The potential comments - well, he doesn’t make them, so it doesn’t matter. When he visits, he spends most of it with Elsie. That seems to make him feel better about it, that Elsie isn’t quite sure if she’s excited. Mini overhears them, one day, while she’s confined to bed rest and Elsie has dragged him into the backyard to play. She cracks the window and is greeted with the sound of Elsie throwing a hissy fit about the fact that she’s been asked to give some of her baby clothes to the new baby. He just listens to her, which isn’t really something Mini or Franky had the luxury of doing.
It means more than she could possibly explain. She doesn’t tell Franky about it, for a while. There have been many times she’s been glad that she bit her tongue around Dean, or invited him to something, simply and solely because of how happy it made Franky, but this, this makes her glad in an entirely different way. It makes her happy in a similar way to when Franky was avoiding the hell out of her but still saw Elsie regularly. Her daughter, all of three years old, already has a support system all her own. There were chapters in What to Expect about how when you become a parent, you need to make sure that you aren’t only Mum or Dad. She appreciates those chapters, particularly on date nights, but there is a part of her that is always Mum, now. It’s unavoidable. And sometimes Dean impresses that part. This feels a bit like a pay off, if Mini’s totally honest, and she isn’t going to tell Franky that part, so she just savors it, for a little while.
He actually visits, probably accidentally, a week after Kenzie is born. She’s early, just like Elsie, and Mini is terrified, when they first bring her home, she refuses any mention or celebration of her, feeling like it would still be a jinx. When he lets himself in, he’s greeted with the high pitched crying of a newborn. (He records it, considering the possibility of making it someone’s ringtone at some point - thankfully, he decides against using this on anyone who knows the munchkins, but it might come in handy against some random, some day.) Kenzie is a clinger. For a while, he never sees Franky without the baby. Still feels a bit awkward – at first, anyways. But Franky does look entirely natural with the girls. He doesn’t much like that, but he does understand it. One thing he’ll say for Mini, without hesitation, she and her offspring have impeccable taste.
Once she takes her first steps, though, when Kenzie gets that first taste of independence, she instantly starts craving more. She tries to run before she’s even really learned to walk. He happens to be there, that day, and fuck if he doesn’t see his Franky in her eyes, like she was when it was just the two of them in their pirate ship. His Franky without fear, unguarded, what – who she should’ve had the opportunity to be. What the fuck is he supposed to do then? How is he supposed to not be glad for her?
Anyways, the world could certainly use more Frankys, so there’s that.
It doesn’t happen all at once, of course not. The resentment fades. They could’ve burned out quick, bright, and beautiful. It would’ve been wonderous. But it would never have been enough for Franky. She would not have been satisfied with that, that sort of giving in. It would’ve been much easier, if she weren’t so committed, so invested, but than she wouldn’t be Franky, and he wouldn’t care. He’ll always miss the way it used to be, but. There’s a but there now.
Possibly… the way it is now isn’t so bad.
He’s not gone for so long, the next time they get pregnant.
He’s even a bit excited, when he finds out it’ll be a boy. He nicknames the baby immediately, making jokes all the time about Mini actually carrying a cub – there is so, so much rolling of the eyes. He makes (mostly only in his head) plans, a fair few that involve corrupting the kid. Giving him his first beer, teaching him to pick a lock or hotwire a car. All the things they’d probably be pissed at him for exposing the kid to. Not really, though, actually. Franky understands the usefulness of such skills and Mini trusts Franky implicitly about such things, so probably they’d be alright. Peter thwarts all his plans, about 5 minutes into his life. He’s got so much of Franky, but not so much of Lion. He’s quiet, even as a baby, well behaved, calm. He’s a great kid (again, with the what Franky should have had the opportunity to be) and Dean wouldn’t change a thing about him. At times, though, it is truly painful to look at these children, that all look like potential paths Franky could’ve taken, if the world weren’t shit. He’s never going to get any less angry about that. Nothing could make him feel better about that – well, possibly stringing up a few certain people by their entrails.
But in a general ‘now’ sense, yeah, maybe he does feel better. Entrails, see, wouldn’t make Franky feel better. She’s not interested in revenge – she’s a fixer. But firmly steering these children down happier, safer paths? Protecting them, making sure they’re good, happy, secure, making sure they have it better? That could make a difference. And as far as Mini is concerned – he isn’t sure there’s anyone on the planet that could possibly deserve Franky. She tries very hard to, though. Anyone could see it. That girl would
.0..win the Try Hard Olympics in a second. She’s good for Franky, he can admit it. She looks at Franky like she single-handedly created everything good in the world, which, obviously, everyone should. What’s more, Franky can see it, which is good, cause he’s not sure that Franky can tell that’s how he looks at her, too.
Also Mini would probably assist him in hanging someone up by their entrails if they hurt Franky. That’s appreciated.
He ends up bonding the most with Kenzie. She got Franky’s roar, the fire. Elsie, she has a bit of a temper, but it’s cold fire, shown through sarcastic bitchiness and poison politeness, if at all, and Peter has even less. He only ever shows his teeth if his family is involved. But Kenzie got it all, and a fair share of her other mother’s temper as well, which is a bit more long lasting.
Whenever he visits, Kenzie is there five minutes after he flips the shed lights on. About half the time, Elsie and Peter are with her, but not always. Elsie and Peter both have all sorts of after school type activities, they’re the youngest people he’s ever met who had schedules. Kenzie has no interest in after school type activities. Kenzie wants him to teach her how to fight, how to pick locks, how to read a person, how to smoke, how to spot the type of people that Franky brings home sometimes. Some things he shows her, some he doesn’t. All of it he tells Franky and Mini about. Franky, first, generally. She gets a ‘lol look what your kid has come up with now’ text. The first couple times he lets Franky tell Mini - she can pitch it better, make it sound nicer, wiser. Package it in something like ‘doing the right thing the right way doesn’t always mean they’ll be safe or okay. You know they’d learn some of this, anyways. Kenzie would seek it out and share it with Elsie and Peter. At least we know where they’re getting it, and exactly what they’re getting. At least we control the environment, the timing.’
Mini hunts him down about it, right off the bat, and says simply, cleanly, as he expected, “So help me god, you tell them one thing – one – that ends up putting them in danger –“ She doesn’t finish her sentence. She doesn’t need to. This is a formality, he knows it. She knows he would not put the children in harm’s way. She just has to say it anyways. She’s a proper mum. There’s no doubt she’d burn the whole damn world down for her family, both her kids and Franky. Credit given where it’s due. In the end, she just finishes with “And you tell us whatever you tell them *immediately* afterwards. If not before. Yes?”
He stubs out his cigarette, looks her dead in the eye, and nods. “Always the plan.”