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Adventures in Parenthood

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Gil was noting down final thoughts on a scout vehicle blueprint when Seth stomped into their Prodromos quarters and threw himself onto the bed.

“Ow,” he said, his voice only slightly muffled by pillows and blankets. And then, “You daughter is a menace.”

Gil raised a skeptical eyebrow, but since Seth still had his head buried in linens there wasn’t much point.

“She’s just mine now, is she?”

Seth turned his head just slightly and waved a little turn-wrist dismissal in Gil’s general direction. “They both are. They are entirely yours now, I am tagging out, this is your baton hand-off, please go enjoy dad-hood without me.”

Gil closed out the blueprint and started shutting down the rest of his memos and open projects. Work time was clearly over for the moment.

“You know I’d be more likely to believe you if Sid hadn’t messaged me about your, and I’m quoting this ‘overbearing and embarrassingly repetitive list of childcare instructions,’ right?” he asked. “Pretty sure she has things covered for a little bit. I think they’re making a fort.”

Seth flopped onto his back, frustration writ large in stiff movements. There was a rather impressive bruise spreading over his cheekbone.

“Did you know there’s a tire swing at the park now?”

“Is that what hit your face?” Gil asked, already edging out from behind his desk and making his way to the bed. “Do you want that looked at, by the way? I can get you an ice pack or some omni-gel—”

“No, no, I’m fine.” Seth scowled, then winced, then pushed Gil’s hands away impatiently, fingers and thumbs encircling his wrists. “Seriously, it was just a bad angle, I got worse just walking around last time we were on Voeld.”

“Not on your face you didn’t,” Gil said, but he let Seth move his hands. The swelling really wasn’t terrible, up close. Just awkward and blooming faintly purple. He started rubbing Seth’s leg instead, kneading up his thigh and down around his calf with motions more habit than conscious effort. The knee injury was history these days, but the look of utter bliss on Seth’s face was usually more than enough reward for the effort.

This time though, his visible irritation merely dimmed to ‘faintly pissed.’

“Stop with the bootlicking,” he said. “You sent me off to wrangle your children by myself for nine hours, a leg massage is not going to make up for that.”

“Oh yeah?” Gil grinned at him. “So budge up and give me your feet then.”

Seth managed to hold his sullen look for a record six seconds before he shifted up the bed and plopped his feet into Gil’s lap.

“This isn’t surrender,” he said.

“Uh huh.” Gil dragged his thumbs along Seth’s arches and tugged on his toes.

“I’m still—nnnhm, yes, that—still...”

“Still learning when to shut up and enjoy the moment?” Gil offered. He dug into Seth’s ankles and watched his whole frame go loose, arms limp and eyelids half-lowered.

Seth flapped one arm at him—yeah, yeah, show-off—and closed his eyes as Gil worked his way up one calf and dragged his hands back down with just the right amount of pressure. Then he started in on Seth’s heel and the ball of his foot, prodding at the sole and stroking lightly over his instep. For a while the only sounds were Seth’s half-moaned-sighs, the whir of the fans and the faint murmur of conversation from the other room.

“I love you,” Seth said as Gil started on his other leg. “Have I told you that yet today?”

“I think you made a similar claim over breakfast,” Gil said. “Though maybe I should make sure: does this mean you’re not leaving me to take care of the kids while you lead a life of epic adventure on the other side of the cluster?”

A smile twitched at Seth’s lips.

“You’re certainly making some compelling arguments,” he allowed. “I don’t know though, I might need more convincing.”

“I can do that,” Gil assured him. He kneaded at Seth’s calf. “Tell me what happened to your face.”

“Stupidity, that’s what. And poor reflexes.” Seth rolled his eyes. “Dian reprogrammed one of the playspace Assemblers and tried to ride it. It conked me pretty good when I caught him.” Seth pressed his fingers to his forehead, then his chest, a gesture they’d both picked up from the angaran parents in the playgroups: stars give me strength. Then he sighed. “He’s currently banned from unsupervised time with PeeBee, by the way. At least until I have a chance to talk to her.”

“How big a fit did he pitch when you delivered that news?”

“Total limp noodle pout. Just dropped. I had to carry him most of the way back.”

Gil snorted. “I’m surprised you carried him at all. I wouldn’t have.”

“Oh, by then I was in full-on retreat. The archon had nothing on Ilesha T’loran’s glower. You’ve met her, right? Niria’s mom? Former commando of the Citadel Fleet?”

Gil grinned. “You’re telling me an asari matron ran off the great human pathfinder by glaring?

“Hey, this pathfinder values his skin,” Seth shot back. “I’m good, but my biotics and hers are like—like comparing an A-61 Mantis engine to the ark drive cores. Just—no contest. Pretty sure she could kill me with a twitch of her pinky.”

“And we wouldn’t want that.” Gil smoothed his hands over Seth’s ankle and rolled the joint gently. “I’m guessing Meri was the reason you feared for you life?”

Seth sighed, part relaxation, part exasperation. “She taught half the other kids there how to shift their weight to keep the swing going longer and longer. Then she stood up, and of course some of the others tried that too—”

Shit. “How many broken bones—” Gil started, but Seth waved him off, still talking.

“—and to cut an excruciatingly long story short, turians are not gifted with exceptional balance, biotics do not mix well with gravity-based playground equipment, and we are quite probably on the shit list of every parent on this planet now.”

“Especially if Ilesha has her way.” Gil noted.

“Especially if.” Seth agreed. “I think she might be head of the PTA now too.”

“There’s no head to the PTA, Seth.”

“There is, and you would know that if you ever attended any meetings.”

“I go to the ones on Elaaden. It’s very cooperative.”

“Yeah,” Seth drawled, “that’s definitely what I’d call eight turians, fifteen korgan and a few dozen ex-mercenary humans. ‘Cooperative’ is the always the first word that comes to mind there.”

“It works,” Gil insisted, and Seth just looked at him. Which was nice enough, but any second he was going to bring up the “how early is too early to introduce a firearms proficiency module” debate and they’d talked about that one enough. Gil refocused on the massage, rubbing at Seth’s ankles a little more.

Seth made a face that said he knew exactly what Gil was doing, but instead of saying anything he sat up and grabbed Gil’s hands and pulled him closer.

“What—”

“Just come—up here and—“

Gil let himself be pulled up the bed and pushed and prodded until he lay flat on his back on the blankets. Seth curled into his shoulder and twined their legs together.

“You could’ve just asked, you know,” Gil said.

“Too much effort,” Seth muttered into his chest. “You feel good.”

“I try,” Gil said through his smile. He stroked vaguely at Seth’s back and ran his fingers through the short hair at the nape of Seth’s neck.

“Talk to me?” Seth asked. “Just, adult conversation of any variety. How was your day?”

“Well it didn’t involve any remnant bots or murder-glare asari, so I’m pretty sure I got the better end of our deal.”

“Did you get stuff done?”

“Had a few loud arguments, tweaked some inefficiencies, argued some more. We’re getting there.”

“Good.”

“Taleek wanted to ask if you’d be a test pilot when the prototype’s ready.”

Seth looked up, like maybe he was trying to decide if Gil was serious or not. “What’d you tell him?”

“Up to you. I’m double-checking everyone’s calculations already as it is, but the simulations look good. And there’ll be unmanned runs and safety checks. Honestly I think he’s hoping you’ll crash it. It’s going to be a lot more responsive than the Nomad.”

Seth snorted a laugh that vibrated through Gil’s chest.

“He’s doing the materials checks, right?”

“And fabrication, yeah.”

“Mmm. Voeld or Elaaden. I’ll do it if it’s on Voeld or Elaaden.”

“What, no cliff diving in your future?” Gil teased, and Seth poked him in the ribs until he found the ticklish spot and Gil was forced—forced—to roll on top of him and pin his hands to the bed to avert the attack. And then, of course, he had to kiss the grin off Seth’s face.

It was supposed to be a quick peck on the lips but he ended up lingering, just relaxing into the feel of Seth’s lips against his, and Seth’s warmth underneath him. Long, slow kisses, each one deeper and more heated than the last until he felt like he was falling into them, until his hands were cupping Seth’s face and Seth’s palms were sliding up his thighs.

He pulled back just far enough to meet Seth’s eyes and stayed there for a moment, drinking in the closeness and the hot press of hips and legs and hardening cocks. Even on days they didn’t spend most hours a few miles or more apart, time to just be together was pretty scarce.

Seth ran his fingers along the line of Gil’s belt and shifted underneath him.

“How long do you think we have?” he murmured.

“Not long enough,” Gil answered, and even as he spoke there came a chiming of omnitools and blinking message notifications.

Seth groaned. “They probably want dinner. Do we even have anything ready?”

“I’ll deal with it,” Gil assured him, opening the messages: One email from Sid and a few jumbled texts that probably meant Dian had found a stray datapad. “Sid has range practice with Vetra to get to, but we’ve got leftovers. It’ll be easy. You rest.”

Rest, pfft.” Seth propped himself up on his elbows and rolled his hips a little. “Right. Because resting is totally what I’m going to do if you leave me here right now.”

“You’d rather come spend more time with the spawn?”

“I’d rather have date night,” Seth said. “But since that doesn’t look likely...”

“I’ll see if Jill or Suvi’s available for tomorrow,” Gil said, setting a reminder to make sure he actually did send that message. “For tonight...Bed time’s in two hours?”

“I’ll hold you to that,” Seth said with a smile that implied something more physical than figurative.

Gil grinned. “I hope you do.”

There was a faint crash from the general direction of the kitchen, and they winced in unison. Gil stood to a chorus of Dian’s wails (more panic than pain), Meri’s yelling (almost entirely focused on absolving herself of any possible blame) and Sid’s increasingly high-pitched attempts to get a word in.

“Once more unto the breach,” Seth sighed, hauling himself upright.

“You really can just take a break,” Gil offered again from the door. “They day you had, I probably deserve whatever this is.”

“Nah.” Seth hooked one arm over Gil’s shoulder and leaned into him, steering them both into the hall. “We’re in this together, right?”

“If you say so,” Gil said as they stepped into chaos of the kitchen. Sid had Dian (sobbing out his best, utterly tearless wail) bracketed between her hands on the countertop, three feet away from a toppled step-stool and what looked like the remains of one of Seth’s old model spaceships. Meri was hovering just behind her elbow, shouting something about dad’s gonna be so mad you broke another thing today.

“Trust me,” Seth said. “There’s no place I’d rather be.”