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Here We Go Again

Chapter Text

If there had ever been a time when Michael had been happier, it was when Alex was still alive. Ever since his death, Michael had found happiness and purpose in raising their daughter, making sure Amanda didn’t want for anything. And he had been mostly successful in that. Amanda was a happy, rebellious, artistic, well-adjusted teenager. Everything he did was for her. He had worked overtime as a financial adviser so he could afford to buy her the fancy photography equipment she needed to achieve her goals. He took time off so he wouldn’t be an absentee father.

Then they downsized. Then they moved into a neighborhood where, miraculously, his best friend from college, Craig Cahn, lived. Then his life became a special kind of fitness hell. His exercise habits were pretty much nonexistent and suddenly he was flying off treadmills, voluntarily getting up early to run until he was bent over a trash can dry heaving, running through the park, and doing hill climbs, all for Craig. Not to say that he didn’t like hanging out with Craig, but man that guy was a demon! What happened after college? This was the same guy who filled his body with the worst kind of junk food the human mind could comprehend. If he had been in college these days, he would definitely have been the sort of person to stuff a duck inside a chicken and stuff that inside a turkey and wrap that in bacon. And now he was running laps around everyone and lifting weights that would make Michael fear for his life.

Then they went on the camping trip and Michael was finally able to get Craig to let his hair down (so to speak) and relax for a weekend. It was one of the most amazing weekends he could remember. They jumped from the top of a waterfall, Craig cooked and it was amazing, and then they lay together. He still remembered the feeling of Craig going down on him, making him wet and hot with lust, driving him mad until he came. He remembered the feeling of Craig as he entered him, slowly, sensually, a decade long stretch of abstinence finally come to an end with his bro, his best friend, becoming his lover.

Amanda spent the months before she left for college making fun of that time he went camping and came home covered in hickeys. Craig had taken some perverse pleasure in marking him. It probably had something to do with the fact that he found the sounds he made hugely arousing. Of course, Craig had returned home with just as many, so it was only fair.

About couple weeks after Amanda started college, Craig invited Michael to move in with him so that he didn’t have to deal with empty nest syndrome. His girls quickly got used to Michael’s presence in the home.

One morning in mid-October, Michael launched himself out of bed and ran to the master bathroom vomiting his guts out. He sat there for several minutes, hunched over the toilet waiting for his stomach to settle. He felt Craig gather his hair up and hold it for him as he bent over the toilet and retched again.

“Thanks, bro,” he rasped when he finally felt like he was done.

“No problem,” Craig said, kissing his head and rubbing soothing circles on his back. “You should take the day off.”

“I can’t, I need to—” he began he went to the sink to wash his mouth out and get the taste of vomit out of his mouth. He looked down at the digital clock. 6:23. He had about an hour and a half to get ready.

“Bro,” Craig interrupted, taking his arms in his hands and rubbing up and down, “you’re not a single dad anymore. You got me. You can afford to call in sick. I got you.”

Michael finished rinsing his mouth and sighed. He’s right, he thought as he leaned back against Craig’s chest, feeling and treasuring his bro, his boyfriend, as he wrapped his arms around him.


It was around noon when Michael woke up again, feeling completely fine. His stomach growled audibly. Scratch that, he thought, I’m starving. He got out of bed and threw on a binder and a shirt. For some bizarre reason, he was craving seafood. Mussels, specifically. And tuna. I hate tuna, he thought. Actually I hate seafood in general, why do I want tuna?

Tossing it up to his body playing tricks on him, he texted Craig. Do you know how to make mussels?

About 15 minutes later Craig replied, Why? You not happy with mine? ;)

Michael rolled his eyes. Ha ha, very funny.

I do my best, Craig texted. But yeah, I do. I love mussels. Why?

I’m feeling seafood tonight, Michael said. What about tuna?

Bro are you okay? Craig asked. You hate seafood.

I don’t hate seafood, he replied. I just like selectively. About twice a decade.

Are you sure you wouldn’t rather have soup or something a little lighter, bro?

No, I’m definitely craving seafood for some reason.

Okay bro, if you say so, Craig said. I gotta get back to work, take it easy today, okay?

Dude, I’m the king of taking it easy, Michael replied. He got up, walked to the kitchen, made himself a sandwich and walked into the living room and popped the first disc of Firefly. It’s a good day for Firefly, he thought.


A few hours later, Michael looked at the clock. 3:30. The girls would get off from school soon. He texted Craig that he would pick them up, changed out of his pajama pants, and headed out the door. The school was packed by the time he got there, the line of cars full of parents picking up their kids winding through the parking lot. Finally he got to the front of the school and the twins piled into the back seat.

“How was school, today?” he asked.

“Boring,” Hazel said.

“Not all boring,” Briar objected. “We learned about bees! We’re going on a field trip to a honeybee farm in a couple weeks.”

“That’s exciting,” he said. “Make sure to con the workers there into giving you free honey.”

“You got it, Mike!” Hazel said, grinning. He could already see the wheels turning in her evil little mind.

They stopped at the pharmacy on the way home to pick up some milk. The twins stayed in because the store was boring. They did, however, request chocolate ice cream. Which worked just as well for Michael, since as soon as he got the groceries in the basket, he made his way over to the over the counter section.

It’s not likely… he thought. I’m 39, though, so it’s not impossible. And my period was supposed to start a few days ago. His hands shook as he grabbed three pregnancy test kits and put them in the basket.

Chapter Text

Craig arrived home that night with all the materials he needed to make the seafood dinner that he would love and his bro was, apparently, craving. He walked toward the kitchen to see his girls working on homework. From the look on their faces, it was math. Hazel was glaring at it like if she could set it on fire with just her mind, she would. Briar was working away without any problem at all. He smiled, set the groceries on the counter, put River in the high chair, then attacked his girls. They shrieked as he tickled them mercilessly.

“How was school?” he asked, kissing their heads.

“We’re going to a bee farm!” Briar said and shoved a permission slip in his hand

“Mike said we should con the farmers there into giving us free honey,” Hazel whispered conspiratorially.

Craig chuckled nervously, not quite sure whether to be worried or encourage them. Michael walked into the room and picked up River and bounced her up and down, smiling.

“Are you corrupting my girls, bro?” he asked.

“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” Michael said.

“They said that you told them to con the farmers into giving them free honey,” he said.

“And the art of getting free food will serve them well in life,” his bro said practically. “I’m teaching them life skills to fight the capitalist machine. Like sewing, but more rewarding.” He blew a raspberry into River’s stomach, making her laugh.

“Bro, I’m trying to scold you, stop being cute with my baby.”

“Awww, he thinks I’m cute,” Michael cooed at River. “Your dad tries to act tough but he’s just a big ‘ole softie.”

Craig chuckled and kissed his bro on the cheek. “How you feeling?” He selectively ignored his twins groan with distaste.

“I’m fine, bro, really,” Michael said. “I’ll go to work tomorrow and say it was just a stomach bug.”

Craig didn’t look convinced but he shrugged and walked over to the counter to get dinner ready. He wasn’t sure what was going on, but as long as his bro said he was okay, he’d live with it. Of course, usually Michael hated the smell of seafood, much less the taste, but even if he wasn’t into it, Craig would get a nice dinner out of it.

The next morning, just like the first Michael flew out of the bed and made a beeline for the toilet. Craig woke, a bit groggy, and a little more worried this morning than he had been yesterday. Michael insisted he was fine, but he was throwing up again. He got up and just like the previous morning, walked into the bathroom to pull his bro’s hair up out of the way. He knelt behind him and rubbed his back gently.

When he was done and back in bed, Craig decided to forego his morning workout to make some soup for Michael’s… whatever this was. A freak flu or cold or something. Whatever it was, he was determined to help his bro get better. And chicken soup definitely had some kind of healing powers.

Just then he heard River begin to cry and he washed his hands off and went to take care of her. She’s probably hungry, he thought. He grabbed River and began bouncing her up and down gently as he made his way back to the kitchen and got out her favorite food, banana. He marveled at how quiet and peaceful it was this morning, just him and River, his baby girl. Some people might have expected a baby to save his marriage more than a year before, but in reality his relationship with Smashley was over for a long time before they divorced. It was only after they separated that she realized that she was pregnant.

That was an interesting time, he thought. Newly divorced, expecting a new child, platonically supporting his ex through her pregnancy. It was a weird time for everyone involved. When River was born, everyone was surprised again that Craig was given primary custody. It was for the best, though. Smashley was a good woman, but she wasn’t cut out to be a fulltime mom and they knew it. It was one of the main reasons why they split. She just didn’t want to be a mother.

When she was done eating he went back to preparing the soup. It was Saturday, so he didn’t have to worry about getting his girls up in time, though there was soccer practice at noon. Once the chicken was done, he added stock the stock. By the time Hazel and Briar were up and watching cartoons, the soup was bubbling, full of onions, carrots, and celery.

He turned down the heat and headed out to the living room with his kids with a bowl of cereal and strawberries. They were watching Spongebob Squarepants. He sat down on the recliner and his kids turned to stare at him. “What?” he asked.

“What did you make and why are you eating cereal?” Hazel asked.

“What, I’m not allowed to eat cereal?” he asked.

“You never eat cereal,” Briar said. “And you were in the kitchen for like, an hour. And we can smell food.”

“My bro’s sick,” he said. “I made soup.”

Hazel groaned. “Dad, why do you call him bro? He sleeps in your bed for crying out loud!”

“Because he’s my bro, Hazel,” he said.

“But isn’t he your boyfriend?” Briar asked.

“Yeah he is,” he replied. “And he’s my bro. He’ll always be my bro.”

“That makes no sense,” they cried.

“Good,” he grinned.

Once again, Michael woke up around noon feeling a lot better than he had in the morning. A worrying sign, he thought. He rolled out of bed and went to get dressed when he saw a sticky note on his dresser. “Bro, I made chicken soup for you. Took the girls to soccer practice. Call me if you need anything.”

He smiled down at the note, but got dressed before he could start feeling nauseous again and headed out to the kitchen to get a bowl of the soup. He was honestly dreading what would come next, but everything was better if you had food in your belly.

Thank God my bro can cook, he thought as he warmed up the soup in the microwave. Bless that man.

Chapter Text

Craig returned to the house a couple hours later, grateful that he wasn’t the coach for the soccer team. He’d gotten in a decent run while his twins were at practice and he was ready for some food. He breathed in through his nose and smelled the telltale sign that River needed a new diaper. At least she doesn’t have a twin, he thought. But still, I can’t wait for her to figure out how to use the bathroom.

“We’re home,” he announced as they walked through the doors. Hazel and Briar ran through the house to the back door and left the house as quickly as they had entered. He smiled. At least they didn’t slam the door this time. He went to River’s room where he set her down on the changing table and efficiently changed her diaper, disposing of it in the trash can. He set her down in her play pen and hoped that she would go to sleep. It was about time for her nap. He washed up in the bathroom and went looking for his bro.

He wasn’t in the living room, though there was evidence that he had eaten there, if the bowl was any sign. He wasn’t in the workout room in the basement. Or the laundry room. Maybe he’s sleeping again. He went upstairs to their room. As soon as he opened the door he heard crying from the bathroom. He rushed in to find Michael collapsed on the floor with his head in his hands.

“Michael!” he cried, crashing to the floor in front of him, his heart racing. “Bro, what is it? What’s wrong?” He took his head in his hands. Michael kept crying, though he did lower his hands from his face as he tried to compose himself. Craig tried not to, but his mind was already racing through possible diagnoses that could cause his boyfriend to enter such a state.

Michael eventually sniffed and the crying stopped. He didn’t say anything, but he stood up and pointed at the sink. Craig stood up and looked at where he was pointing. In the sink were three different pregnancy tests. All positive. His stomach dropped. “You’re—“

“I-I’m pre-pregnant,” Michael stammered, sniffling, still trying to get ahold of himself. Craig reached out and took his face in his hands again, wiping the tears away with his thumbs.

“Why are you sad?” he asked. “This is a good thing, right?” His mind raced. Did he not want another child? What would it be?

“I’m n-not sad,” he said, getting a bit more control of himself. “I’m fucking scared!”

“What are you scared of, bro?” Craig whispered. “You’ve done this before, right? With Amanda. She turned out well.”

“Yeah, when I was 21. I’m 39, now!” he cried. “You hear about all the things that could go wrong when people get pregnant later in life,” he said, a bit calmer now. “Like, you’re more likely to have complications, or the baby is more likely to be born with a birth defect, or Down Syndrome. I’m just scared that something will go wrong, Craig… but I don’t want to get an abortion either, cause I really love the idea of having your child.”

Craig’s heart swelled and he took Michael in his arms and felt him shake as he sobbed again. “We’ll figure it out,” he said. “Whatever you want to do, I’ll support you 100%, bro. We’ll find a way.”

Michael settled down a bit and stood back to look up at Craig in the eyes. “I believe you,” he said.

Craig kissed him. He could taste the tears that had flowed down his face. “I love you, Michael. You know that, right?”

Michael kissed him back, full of need and desperation. “I love you too, Craig.”

Craig smiled against his lips and said, “You know, the girls are outside. We might have little bit of time to ourselves.”

Michael grinned and deepened the kiss. “Do we now?” he whispered, “I like the way you think, bro.”



“Bro,” Craig whispered. His hands roamed over the expanse of Michael’s back. He bit his lip and Michael made that mewling sound that went straight to his cock. He reached down to cup Michael’s ass, strong and firm from months of running and working out. Michael moaned as Craig squeezed gently and slid his body up along Craig’s. Craig broke contact and ripped Michael’s shirt off over his head. He stopped, looking down at his body. Gently, tenderly he took off his binder, like he had done dozens of times since they’d gone camping in the woods. Michael didn’t move to cover his chest as much as he had those first few times. Craig looked down into his eyes and cupped his face between his hands.

“You’re so beautiful,” Craig whispered.

Michael blushed, and took his shirt and ripped it off his body. He ran his hands over his bro’s sculpted chest, taking in the strength and power of his body. “Hurry up and get me on the bed.”

Craig reached down and unbuckled his lover’s belt and knelt, shoving his pants down revealing Michael’s boxers, already damp. He nuzzled his face in it, breathing in the scent of pine and Michael’s arousal. He ran his hands up his lover’s thighs as he teased him mercilessly. Above him, Michael moaned. He looked up to his face, flushed and flustered. Craig grinned and said, “Might want to make yourself comfortable. I’m gonna make you see stars, bro.”

Michael moaned and began backing up toward the bed until the back of his legs hit it and he fell back onto it. Craig, still grinning leaned up and began leaving light, sensual kisses along the hem of his boxers. He reached up with one hand and began teasing one of his nipples. Michael gasped.

“You okay, bro?” he asked. “Was that bad?”

“No, I’m fine,” Michael answered, in short breaths. “Just a little sensitive.”

“‘Sensitive’ you say?” Craig began teasing the nipple in his hand and Michael whined. Craig rose up slowly and took the nipple into his mouth, sucking on the “sensitive” flesh, teasing it with his tongue. His other hand makes its way to the other side of his chest and begins to tease it.

“I—ahh,” Michael gasped. “hate you.”

Craig let the nipple fall out of his mouth and looked up into his bro’s face. “Do you want me to stop?” he asked.

“Don’t you dare,” Michael moaned. His hands were roaming over Craig’s chiseled body, lingering over every hill and crevice

Craig kissed him deeply while massaging his chest, teasing them with his thumbs. He broke contact and whispered into Michael’s ear, “I told you I was gonna make you see stars, baby.”

He felt his lover shiver beneath him, writhing under his ministrations. He grinned against his skin and began kissing the delicate, exposed skin as Michael arched his back, rubbing his sex against Craig’s thigh. “So impatient,” he whispered, sucking gently on his lover’s neck. He could feel Michael’s pulse racing. He felt him place a hand to the back of his head, silent encouragement to bite, suck, mark him as his lover. Well, silent aside from the debauched moaning and whining.

“Why—” he moaned brokenly. “Why are you still wearing pants?”

It was true, Craig’s cock was straining painfully at the restriction his pants forced on it. Craig leaned up, got off the bed, and unbuttoned his pants, making a show for his lover. Michael’s hand disappeared under his boxers as he laid eyes on Craig’s clothed erection. Craig resumed his position over him, and ran his length over Michael’s damp sex. He moaned into the crook of his neck and reached one hand down under his lover’s boxers.

His bro was wet, he realized with a satisfied grin. He got his fingers wet in his bro’s juices and inserted two of them into his leaking hole. Michael writhed under him. “Deeper, damn you,” he hissed.

Craig chuckled and ran his thumb over his clit, eliciting a debauched moan. “Are you not enjoying yourself, baby?” he teased. “What do you want, bro? Tell me what you want.”

Michael glared at his lover. “Just get inside me,” he whined. “I need you to fuck me, bro!”

Craig groaned and took down Michael’s boxers entirely, revealing his wet hole, his fingers still inside him. “In a minute, love,” he whispered. “I want to taste you, first.” He leaned down and licked Michael’s sex with one broad, sensual stroke. Michael suppressed a particularly loud groan and reached down with his hand and gripped Craig’s hair and pulled, trying to get him to go deeper into him. This was his favorite part, aside from the main part. Michael desperately pulling his hair as he went down on him, hopelessly aroused, moaning beneath him. He pulled himself off, panting. “I don’t think I’ll ever get enough of you doing that to me,” he said.

“You’re one to talk,” Michael replied. Craig lowered his head back down and continued licking and fingering him, working him with slow deliberate strokes.

“Craig, bro, I’m close,” Michael moaned.

Craig pulled his fingers and a tongue out of his boyfriend and finally freed his cock from his boxers. He spread some of his boyfriends juices over his cock. When he was good and slick he leaned over his lover, lining his cock up to his hole and sunk into that tight, wet heat. He kissed him and moaned softly into Michael’s mouth. Michael grinned against his lips and flipped them over. Craig gasped with surprise and looked up in amazement that his boyfriend had gotten the upper hand on him. Michael smirked down at him triumphantly.

“It’s my turn to make you see stars, my love,” he said lowly. He began to ride him, achingly slow, getting used to Craig’s cock inside him. Craig gripped his thighs and groaned with pleasure.

“Faster, bro, before the girls come back in,” he said.

“I should go faster?” Michael asked, deliberately slowing down. “What did I keep telling you while you were making me lose my mind?”

Craig gripped his lover’s hips and thrust up into him. Michael threw back his head, riding his lover’s cock faster. Craig wished he could take a picture of his face. Just his face, knowing that he was feeling such pleasure and ecstasy and knowing that it was his doing, knowing that no one else got to see him like this, the privilege of seeing him come undone.

“Bro, babe, I’m close,” Michael whined.

“Me, too,” Craig said. He rolled his hips upward and fucked him faster. Moments later, Michael cried out his release, riding him through his climax and collapsed against him, completely unable to keep himself up any longer. Craig rolled them over to the side and groaned loudly, releasing his seed into deep into his bro’s hole.

Michael laughed softly between breaths, stroking a hand through Craig’s hair, now plastered to his face. “Mmm… that was amazing.”

Craig was feeling a little short of breath himself. “You are amazing, bro,” he said.

Michael’s already flustered face reddened as he blushed. “You know,” he said between breaths, “this is probably why I ended up pregnant in the first place.”

Craig grinned, a bit smugly. “I think I can live with that blame,” he said. “Maybe we should do it more often.”

“If this pregnancy is anything like my last one we probably will,” Michael mused. “I was horny as hell when I was having Amanda. Though aside from that, I really didn’t have any trouble.”

“Being horny all the time gave you trouble, bro?” Craig grinned.

Michael rolled his eyes. “Being horny while Alex and I were at work and having to wait until I got home gave me trouble.”

Craig chuckled. Michael hit him. Which made him laugh harder. Michael pouted. “Jerk.”

“I’m sorry,” Craig said, still grinning like a loon.

“You’re not sorry, bro,” Michael glared playfully at him. “You’re just looking forward to having lots of sex cause I’ll probably be really horny.”

“Okay, you caught me bro,” he said. He rolled over and placed a hand over his bro’s stomach. “But seriously, I love you so much. And I can’t wait to meet our beautiful child.”

Michael smiled and laid a hand over Craig’s. “Our child. I like the sound of that.”

Chapter Text

They managed to make an appointment with Michael’s ob-gyn, Dr. Whittaker for the following Thursday. In the next couple days, Craig was a bundle of excitement. He spent some time upstairs, trying to decide whether he should have the new child sleep in River’s room with her or whether they should convert the spare room into a second nursery. Michael thought that it was a bit early to be planning anything until they knew how far along he was, but he honestly loved how ecstatic the idea of having another child made his bro. He remembered his first interaction with Joseph and how he had joked that anyone with more than 2 kids had to be crazy. Now he worried whether he might be crazy himself. They had Amanda, who was in college. They had the twins, who were in elementary school. River would be 2 by the time he gave birth, she’d be starting to walk and talk and everything.

He hoped that it was a boy, honestly. They had 4 girls already. And he loved all of them (especially Amanda, but who could blame him? He raised her himself), but he honestly was curious as to what it would be like to have a son (whether he was born that way or came out later in life). He could imagine Craig teaching him how to play sports the way he taught his daughters how to play softball (he only knew the basics about soccer, which was enough to kick the ball around with the girls). He saw himself and Amanda teaching him to be a rebellious rascal.

They hadn’t told the kids yet. It was still too soon. That said, nearly everyone who saw Craig knew that he was even more happy and boisterous than he usually was. It was infectious, really. His personal apprehension at being pregnant again was mitigated somewhat by his bro’s enthusiasm. He honestly could not have asked for a better partner to have another child with. He knew, of course, that there were lots of people who had children later in life and were completely fine. But he had lived so long with the message that pregnancy was dangerous later in life that he couldn’t shake the feeling that something was going to go wrong. It was a huge help that Craig’s boundless optimism and enthusiasm for the situation was so predominant.

By the time the day of the ob-gyn appointment arrived, Michael was a lot steadier and calmer than he had been when he first received the positive result. Craig went with him, of course. For moral support. The official test echoed the over-the-counter tests and Michael’s doctor, Dr. Whittaker, did a general health assessment to determine the risk of complication during the pregnancy. Michael, it turned out, was about 4 or 5 weeks pregnant.

“You seem much healthier than the last time you scheduled a visit with us,” she remarked. “I’m generally optimistic about your prognosis.”

“So there’s no risk?” Michael asked.

“Well there’s always some risk,” she said. “but I would say that your risk is largely minimal.”

“See, dude?” Craig beamed. “All that running and working out is paying off.”

“Your workout regimen should be scaled back, however,” Dr. Whittaker said. “Don’t overdo it.”

“How much are we talking, here?” Craig asked.

“30 minutes of moderate exercise at least 4 days a week is ideal,” she said. “Avoid heavy lifting. Avoid overheating while working out and saunas, hot tubs, and the like. Yoga sessions for pregnant people would be an excellent option.”

They asked some a few more questions, when around the baby would be born, when they could find out the sex, dieting suggestions to help ensure Michael’s health. When they were done, she handed them a schedule that had visits twice a month every month for the first 6 months and then every week for the last 3 months. As they left the office, Michael felt more optimistic about the situation than he had in days. He was actually a little excited to be pregnant again.

2 weeks after the ob-gyn visit, Michael decided the worst part about being pregnant, aside from the whole throwing up every morning thing, was that he had to limit his intake of caffeine. Which was sort of okay so far, since he hadn’t started feeling tired all the time, but he really hated not being able to drink coffee when he woke up in the morning so he could go into the world without hating literally everyone. The first time Craig said early in the morning that water was better for you anyway, Michael glared groggy, sleepy daggers at him over a mug of said water.

Pregnancy sucks, he thought, sitting at his work desk bitterly wishing he could go get some fucking coffee. He was just tired. All. The. Time. Amanda didn’t give me this much trouble, he tried to telepathically communicate to their little hybrid bro growing in his uterus. Please have mercy on me.

When he was pregnant with Amanda he hadn’t actually been that tired for most of the pregnancy. Just the last month or so. Which was hell, but that was expected. These days, the only way he woke up was by running to the bathroom early in the morning.

He sighed and got back to work. And by work, he meant thinking up baby names for the baby because it was a slow day at the firm and he had finished all the busy work he had for the day. On the sheet of paper in front of him he had a column for boy names and one for girl names. The list of boy names was longer. Bryce. Dakota. Jeremy. Jordan. Aiden. Liam. Julian. Samuel. Landon. Adrian. Brayden. Bryson. Easton. Nolan. Hayden. Leo. Jayce. Chase (the potential for puns would be amazing). Elias. Evan. Asher. Malcolm. Simon. Cameron. Mark. Hunter. Mason. Grayson.

I should really go to human services and tell them that I’m pregnant so no one will be surprised by my frequent need to pee or see my doctor, he thought. That’ll burn, like 30 minutes of my time if I’m lucky. He looked at the clock. 2:30. Maybe I can just leave early to pick up the kids and go home. Yeah, that sounds like a plan.

Craig got home later that night to find no one home. There was evidence of the twins. Their backpacks were on the kitchen table, homework looked done. But they were nowhere to be found. Finally he heard laughing outside from the back yard and he went out to find his bro and tiny bros running around kicking a soccer ball in the dark with the porch lights on. Michael was carrying River around strapped to his chest, going a little more slowly than his girls so he wouldn’t exert himself. Craig just watched them play for a while. He could get used to seeing his bro and tiny bros running around together. It was a beautiful thing.

Eventually one of them looked up and shouted, “Dad’s home!” They ran up to him and he knelt and grabbed them in one big hug, kissing their heads.

“Hey tiny bros,” he said. “How was school, today?”

“Briar ate a bug at recess,” Hazel said. “It was awesome!”

“Nuh-uh!” she protested. “Hazel ate a bug and she’s trying to pin it on me!”

“Hazel…” Craig said. “What have I told you about impersonating your sister?”

“That it was impulsive and rude?” she asked.

“Yes exactly,” Craig replied. “Except the exact phrase I used was, ‘don't.'”

“I’m so proud of you,” Michael said. “Of your dad, not you Hazel. Don’t impersonate your sister.”

Craig let them go and stood up to kiss his bro. “How are you feeling, bro? How was work?”

Michael sighed into the kiss. “It was boring. I’m tired. I miss coffee. I looked up some baby names.”

“Oh yeah, bro?” he asked, grinning. “Gimme a minute to change and get started on dinner. I wanna hear what you got.”

Craig changed out of his business suit. Michael got out the paper with his list of names and read them aloud as he helped Craig cook dinner. And by help, he mostly just chopped vegetables to throw into the spaghetti. Craig listened and occasionally commented on ones he liked (not surprisingly, he liked any and all nature names). When he was done, Craig produced his list of names and they compared notes.

“Craig, bro, babe, I’m not calling my child Forrest,” Michael insisted.

“What’s wrong with Forrest?” Craig asked. “Forests are awesome!”

“Until you get lost in one,” Michael countered, chopping some mushrooms.

“Whatever, bro. Nature is cool. Nature names are cool,” Craig said. “And may I remind you of how we started dating in the first place?”

“I’m not saying I disagree with you, just not with Forrest,” Michael replied. “And if you ask me, that’s all the more reason to not name our child that. Who wants to be named after the place where their parents first had sex? That would scar them.”

“Bro, I think we need a third opinion.”

“YOU’RE PREGNANT????” Amanda said calmly over the video chat thing. “Skype” the twins had called it. “POPS, I DEMAND TO KNOW WHY I WASN’T THE FIRST TO KNOW!!! Or, you know, at least the second. But why am I JUST NOW hearing about this?”

“Well…” Michael said, “I was nervous about the whole thing so I didn’t want to tell you/make a general announcement until we were a few months along.”

“I can respect that,” Amanda replied. “How far are you along, anyway?”

“The doctor figures I’m about 6-7 weeks pregnant,” he said.

Amanda nodded. “Yeah, I can see why you didn’t want to say anything. So what do you need my opinion on? I’m not giving up my room for the new kid.”
“No worries Manda Panda,” Michael said. “We already moved all your stuff back to the old house.”

“Wait, really?” she said. “Then hell yeah the kid can have my room! I’ll have loud, obnoxious parties all summer and adopt, like 6 dogs!”

“Nope, sorry kiddo,” Craig said. “We’re converting the spare room into another nursery. Briar and Hazel will room together.”

“Well, as long as I get my own space, I’m happy,” she said. “What’s the question, now that we’ve gotten off topic?”

“If the kid turns out to be a boy,” Michael said, “Craig wants to name him Forrest.”

“No.” Amanda said. “My little brother will not be named Forrest.”

“What do you two have against Forrest?” Craig demanded.

“It’s kind of a boring name. No offense, Craig” Amanda said.

“Thanks, Manda Panda,” Michael said.

“We have to name him something nature themed,” Craig said. “I got a whole thing going with my kids.”

“Craig, I hate to break it to you,” Michael said, “but most nature names are feminine names.”


“So even though I’m all for breaking the gender binary,” he explained, “I also know what it’s like to be misgendered and I don’t want that for my kids, bro.”

Craig thought for a moment. “I get where you’re coming from, bro,” he said. “I didn’t think about that.”

Michael laid a hand on his. “We have plenty of time to figure out a name, bro,” he said. “We’ll figure it out.”

Chapter Text

A couple weeks later, Michael and Craig walked into the ob-gyn office for the regular checkup. They still hadn’t settled on a name, but they agreed to hold off any more discussion on that until they knew the child’s sex. They’d be looking for a heartbeat this time around since the baby hadn’t been cooperating the past couple weeks. Michael was nervous/excited. It was a bit disconcerting to have been to the doctor every other week for checkups. It was understandable, considering that he was “of advanced childbearing age.” There was greater risk than the average pregnancy, but his doctor assured him that he there was nothing to suggest that there was anything to be concerned about. Still, he’d be lying if he said it wasn’t a little stressful.

It also didn’t help that this pregnancy was a bit rougher than his last pregnancy with Amanda. He was more nauseous, more tired, more sensitive to nearly everything. His eating and sleeping habits had completely flipped. He fell asleep at work almost constantly. It would have been really bad if he hadn’t gone to human resources and let them know that he was pregnant.

They took the measurements, took the blood pressure, and all the other things. Eventually, it came time for Dr. Whittaker to check for the heart beats. Michael was grateful to have a doctor as experienced as her. He felt the device move around on his stomach, the doctor monitoring the screen as she had done the past two appointments. Suddenly she raised an eyebrow and removed the device from his abdomen. Michael had to suppress the sudden panic that rose at the sight.

“What? What is it?” he asked.

“Nothing to be concerned about,” she said putting the equipment away. “There is something that I would like to check, however, and I would like to do an ultrasound.”

Michael consented and they moved them to a room where they could perform the ultrasound and Michael lied down on the bed. He let them smear the gel on his abdomen and set up the ultrasound computer. He tried not to be nervous, but he hadn’t gotten an ultrasound this early in his last pregnancy. Hell the first time he’d even seen an ultrasound machine was when they found out that they were having a girl named Amanda rather than a boy named Adam (Alex liked A names). Craig squeezed his hand reassuringly, though he could tell that he was a bit nervous about what this all meant, too.

Finally the doctor was ready to perform the actual ultrasound. Michael found himself holding his breath as she moved the head over his abdomen and studied the screen.

“Michael,” she said without taking her eyes off the screen. “Remember to breathe.”

He breathed. “Does it affect the picture quality or something?”

“No, but breathing deeply will help you relax,” she replied. “Trust me. I’m the doctor.”

Michael took a few short breaths. It was a few minutes later that she seemed to find what she was looking for and she hit a few buttons. When she was done she left the room with the promise that she would be right back.

“She certainly likes to keep her patients in suspense,” Craig said. “How are you holding up, bro?”

“Oh, you know,” Michael said nervously. “This didn’t happen last time I was pregnant. I’m worried.”

“Don’t be,” Craig said. “She said nothing was wrong.”

“How can you be sure, though?” he asked.

“Because I’m here. I got you, bro.”

It was a ridiculous sentiment, but it made Michael smile nonetheless. He squeezed Craig’s hand in thanks and Craig returned it as he kissed his hand.

Dr. Whittaker returned a minute later with a couple copies of the ultrasound picture. She handed one to Craig and Michael.

“Michael, the reason why I had an ultrasound performed today was because I believed I detected two heartbeats,” she said. “I was right.”

Michael was stunned into silence. “You’re having twins, Michael,” she said, smiling. “Congratulations.”

Craig was the first to recover. “Twins? Again?”

Dr. Whittaker nodded. “Yes. People who become pregnant past the age of 35 are statistically more likely to have twins due to the body releasing to eggs during ovulation.”

“So they’re not identical?” Michael asked.

“It’s impossible to say at this point,” she said. “This ultrasound is earlier than usual since there was more than one heartbeat. We’ll be able to tell near the end of the first trimester.”

“Is there any additional risk?” Michael asked.

“Yes, but because your overall health is very good, I expect that your risk is still minimal,” she replied warmly.

Michael was still in shock as they left the office, but he had to admit that it was equally exciting, pleasing, and panic inducing to know that he was having twins. Craig, fortunately, interrupted his reverie before he could wander too far down the rabbit hole.

“So if we end up having twin boys,” Craig said. “Does that mean we can call one of them Forrest?”

Michael rolled his eyes and chuckled, in spite of himself. “No bro,” he said. “I’m still not naming one of my sons, if we have 2, Forrest.”

“Oh well, it was worth a shot,” he replied light heartedly. “You know what we should do, bro? We should get lunch to celebrate!”

“Bro, we have to go to work at some point,” Michael said.

“Do we?” Craig asked, spinning Michael around to face him and wrapping his arms around him, letting his hands rest on his waist. “I run my own business. I can always tell them I’m not coming in. You can call in and tell them you’re working from home today.”

“And do what, bro?” he replied. “Go home, have lunch, have sex until someone has to get up and get the girls from school?”

Craig smiled. “I was thinking we could go get lunch, see a movie, walk around town,” he mused. “You know, the kind of date we never seem to have time for. So what do you say, Mr. St Claire? Will you let me spoil you for a day?”

Michael smiled. “You know, Mr. Cahn, I like the way you think.”

Craig rubbed their noses together. “And maybe if we have time after that, we can go home and have sex.”

“I really like the way you think, bro.”

As it turned out, they didn’t have time for sex. Not just yet anyway. They were in Craig’s minivan outside their school waiting for them to be released. River was sleeping in her car seat. The twins knew, of course, that something was up with Michael, but he and Craig had decided to hold off on telling them for the moment. They also knew that it couldn’t be that bad because their dad was practically walking on air, something he hadn’t done since the two of them had started dating. Now, of course, it was even worse. Craig could hardly contain himself. It was actually an infectious kind of joy and Michael couldn’t help but feel his heart warm every time their eyes met and he saw the mix of excitement, love, and elation that danced in his bro’s eyes. Especially since Michael himself was a bit nervous, a bit terrified, and a bit ecstatic to be having twins.

“I should talk to Smashley sometime,” he mused out loud to himself.

“Why’s that, bro?” Craig asked.

“She’s been through the whole twin pregnancy thing,” Michael said. “Maybe she can give me a heads up on what to expect.”

“You can always ask her when we drop the girls off at her place next weekend,” Craig suggested. “Speaking of which, do you think we should tell the girls?”

“What now?” Michael asked.

“Sure, why not? We’ve told Amanda already.”

“She’s 18, though. What if—”

“Bro, this isn’t the first time they’ve expected a new sibling,” Craig said. “They’ll be fine, I promise.” He took his hand.

Michael took a deep breath and tried to relax. Finding out that he was pregnant this late in life was scary enough. Finding out he was having twins was even scarier. If only there was a way to make himself calm down and destress. Dr. Whittaker insisted that he would be fine, that his risk was minimal. He needed something to distract himself.

“I don’t suppose you still have the twins’ cribs, do you?” he asked.

“Well, I have one of them,” he replied. “Don’t have their bassinets, though. Wasn’t really expecting to have another set of twins, honestly. Or any more kids, really.”

“I know what you mean,” he said. “We should probably try to get as much as we can before I reach my third trimester and all I’ll want to do is eat and sleep.”

Craig nodded. “Do you mind if I tell my family?”

“Of course you can,” he said immediately. “Your family is awesome. Are they coming for Thanksgiving?”

“You know it, bro,” he said grinning. “Mom told me that I was hosting as soon as I mentioned that we were together.”

“What, she just told you that everyone was going to come to our house for Thanksgiving?” he asked.

“Bro, this is my mom,” Craig laughed. “You remember her, right?”

Michael thought back to the times he had gone to Craig’s house for Thanksgiving when they were in college because they were closer and he couldn’t afford the plane tickets to Florida to see his folks and whenever he had visited them to escape his family. He remembered her chasing a preacher off her property with a broom in one hand and a fire poker in the other when he had “suggested” that she ought to discipline her oldest daughter for being a lesbian. She had then turned around and offered her daughter some lemonade and apple pie. “I remember,” he said fondly. “She threatened to kidnap me if my parents refused to call me Michael.”

Craig squeezed his hand. “Don’t worry,” he said. “She hasn’t changed a bit.”

They finally made it to the front of the line. Hazel and Briar ran out of the school and jumped into the car like they had just robbed a bank. They drove home, chatting about their days at school, Craig and Michael strategically leaving out the part about them going to the movies without them. Hazel complained that long division made no sense and that their teacher was just trying to make their lives difficult by not letting them use calculators. Briar bragged about how her team had won the dodgeball game during gym. As soon as they were in the house, Craig announced that they had news for them. He set River down on the floor and she ran off to find something to play with as he took Michael’s hand.

“Are you getting married?” Briar asked, her eyes lighting up. “Can I be the flower girl?”

“Why do you get to be the flower girl?” Hazel demanded. “That’s not fair!”

Craig put his hand to the back of his neck and chuckled. “So much for the big announcement,” he said.

Michael grinned. “I know, right? They totally stole our thunder.”

“Wait, if you’re getting married, where’s the ring?” Hazel asked. “Dad, you forgot the ring!”

“Kids, we’re not getting married,” Michael said.

“Yet,” Craig amended. Michael blushed a little.

“I’m pregnant,” he said. “We’re having twins.”

The twins were quiet for a while. “Aren’t you a guy, though?” Hazel asked. “Isn’t that… impossible?”

“I’ve told you that I have a female body before, right?” Michael asked. The twins’ eyes widened and they shook their heads. “No I know for sure that we’ve had this conversation.”

“Nope,” they said in unison.

“Huh,” he said intelligently. “Well, the short version is that I was raised a girl because the doctor announced that I was a girl when I was born. But I always felt like I was a boy. So when I went off to college I started calling myself Michael and your dad became my roommate.”

“So you’re like Mr. Bloodmarch,” Briar said.

“How did you know about Damien?” he asked, a little shocked that they knew about their neighbor but him.

“He told us once when he was babysitting us,” she said.

“Besides,” Hazel said. “Everyone knows about him. Are you having boys or girls?”

“We don’t know yet,” Craig answered. “The doctor told us today that we’re having twins.”

“Can you ask the doctor to make at least one of them a boy?” Hazel asked.

Michael laughed in spite of himself. “I’m afraid it doesn’t work like that, Hazel.”

“But I want a brother,” she said. “When will you find out?”

“It won’t be for another few months, I’m afraid,” he replied. “You’ll just have to wait. You can get started on your homework in the meantime.”

Hazel groaned and dragged her backpack along the floor to the kitchen table dramatically. “Waiting sucks,” she declared.

“Dad?” Briar asked. “Will we have to share our room with the new babies?”

“No baby,” he said, ruffling her hair. “We’re converting the spare bedroom for them.”

She smiled. “Good!” she declared and ran off to get her homework done.

“Well that was interesting,” Craig said.

“Was that how they reacted when Smashley was having River?” Michael asked.

“Well, we were in the middle of a divorce at the time,” Craig said. “So, no not really. It was more stressful, really.”

“I can imagine,” he replied. Craig kissed his temple.

“Wanna help me with dinner?” he asked. Michael nodded and followed him to the kitchen, feeling legitimately excited to be pregnant again for the first time. I can’t wait to tell the rest of the family, he thought.

Chapter Text

Thanksgiving Day had arrived. Craig’s family was coming over later that day. All of them. Craig said that they wanted to offer their in person congratulations on their expecting another set of twins. Michael suspected that they were also going to extend their good humored, yet heartfelt condolences. So all five of his siblings were coming in from across the country with their families along with Craig’s parents. Smashley, was apparently seeing someone and spending the day with them, for which Michael was immensely grateful. He really wasn’t in the mood for awkward conversations with the ex during the holidays, even if she did have advice for him.

That being said, he was currently watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade with the girls as far away from the kitchen as he could get. Joseph insisted that karma didn’t exist, but today Michael was convinced of it because why else would a pregnant person wake up on Thanksgiving day excited to eat only to have his nausea triggered by whatever was cooking. Craig hadn’t actually started cooking the turkeys yet (he was just stuffing them), but Amanda had woken up early to get the World Famous St. Claire Green Bean Casserole cooked before the double oven was taken over by the turkeys. It was one of his favorite parts of Thanksgiving, and this year it turned his stomach.

You’re going to have to learn how to like green bean casserole eventually, kids, he projected to his children. You’re not allowed to be my biological offspring and not like it, but love seafood. At least he had been awake enough yesterday to make the corn pudding, which came with no side effects at all.

“What is that?” Briar asked, pointing at the TV. He realized that he had dozed off a bit and opened his eyes. One of the floats was… strange. It was a giant, yellow… was it a rabbit? It had a lightning bolt shaped tail and red cheeks and large, expressive eyes that looked vaguely like a Japanese cartoon.

“I seriously need to improve your knowledge of nerd culture,” Amanda said. Behind her Craig wiped his hands staring bemused at the screen.

“This is nerd culture?” he asked.

“You two were what, teenagers in the 90s and you don’t know what a Pikachu is?” she asked shocked.

“I think it’s cute,” Hazel said. “Look at its cheeks.”

“If you say so,” Craig said. “The turkeys are in the oven, so if anyone needs to bake something, you’ll have to wait 4-5 hours.”

“I should be fine as long as there’s time to reheat the corn pudding before the meal actually starts,” Michael said, closing his eyes again. He seemed more tired today than most days, though there was still lots of time before the family started arriving.

Craig walked over and sat down next to him and Michael laid his head on his shoulder. “How’re our little hybrid bros?”

“I’m convinced they’re males,” he murmured.

Craig chuckled. “Why’s that?”

“Yeah, Pops, how would you know?” Amanda demanded.

“Because you didn’t give me nearly as much trouble,” he said.

“Maybe the doctor was wrong about you having twins and you’re having triplets!” Hazel said excitedly.

Michael’s eyes flew open. “Don’t even joke about that,” he said.

“Why? What’s wrong with triplets?” Briar demanded.

“Nothing,” Michael said. “I just don’t want to tempt fate into giving us four babies in the same house when we’re already about to have three. Just think about all the diapers!”

He felt Craig make a face. “Yeah, please, no tempting fate.”

“But what if they were triplet boys?” Hazel asked.

“Boys and girls are just as messy at that stage in life,” Michael said. “They just tend to be dressed differently for some reason.”

A few hours after the turkeys were put in the oven, the family started to arrive. First were Craig’s parents carrying a couple homemade pumpkin pies. Michael had to physically stop Amanda from absconding with them by braving his pregnancy nausea to take the pies to the kitchen himself and suggesting that she get to know Craig’s parents better. They were so small, it was almost shocking to think that Craig was their child with his broad shoulders and muscled body. But when Craig’s mother embraced him, he could feel the muscular sinews of her arms, just like when he was in college.

“Michael,” she said warmly. “It’s so good to see you again.”

“It’s good to see you again, too, Mrs. Cahn,” he replied smiling.

“Honey, you’re dating my son,” she said, “Call me Courtney, I insist.”

“Okay, I will. Courtney, this is my daughter, Amanda.”

Courtney hugged Amanda fiercely and took her face in her hands. Amanda looked vaguely like a deer in headlights. Michael’s parents weren’t very physical, certainly not the sort to hug people they just met. She hugged and high-fived her dad, but that was different.

“You seem like a bright girl,” she said. “Welcome to the family. Call me Grandma.”

Craig’s father, Bryce, was just as warm and the twins ran to jump into his arms and he picked them up with ease. Okay, maybe it makes complete sense for Craig to be buff. Michael thought.

Amanda began telling her new grandparents about herself, her photography, how her first semester in college had gone, and how she and her roommate had snuck a rabbit into their dorm room and named her Carla. Courtney remarked how much she reminded her of Michael and Craig in their college days and produced Craig’s worst nightmare. A photo album.

While Amanda was laughing hysterically at the embarrassing and extensive photographic evidence of her new family’s antics, more of said family with more food for the dinner. Craig’s huge gaggle of a family trickled in a little bit at a time. One of them brought in creamy mashed potatoes. Another brought in a pan of cornbread. One brought a cranberry jelly with pineapple, walnuts, and apple bits. Someone else brought in caramelized butternut squash. The last sibling to walk through the doors apparently couldn’t cook and had various tubs of ice cream and a few bottles of vodka.

“So there is someone other than me with a tendency to burn things in the kitchen,” Michael said, feeling satisfied.

“Yeah, they can’t cook, but they mix a mean drink,” Craig admitted.

“I expect you to drink mine for me,” Michael said.

“Don’t worry Pops, I got your back, I’ll take one for the team!” Amanda shouted from the living room.

“As long as you live in the same house as me,” Michael replied, “I won’t give you permission to drink until you’re of age.”

“This from the same person who roomed with my son,” Bryce said.


FINALLY the food was done and everyone lined up to help themselves to the various foods assembled. The small army of cousins ran to the front of the line and piled their plates high with food. When Michael had his food he camped out in the living room with Courtney, who was on an ottoman right in front of the tv waiting for “the damn game to start.” Amanda joined him, having decided that her new grandma was her new favorite person.

“Careful, don’t get in her way when the game starts,” Hazel warned.

“But grandma is so sweet,” Amanda protested.

“You know nothing, Amanda,” one of the cousins replied.

They were right. As soon as the game started, Courtney was shouting at the TV like the players could actually hear her critiquing them. Still, Michael was pretty sure their neighbors could definitely hear her. She also didn’t just shout. She cursed. Like a sailor. Michael hoped someone was covering River’s ears so that she didn’t grow up knowing how to drop f-bombs or something.

“This happens every year?” Michael asked after she shouted “What the fuck did they teach you in high school football? Fucking ballet?!?!” at the TV.

“She’s… passionate about the Detroit Lions,” Craig admitted.

“Passionate?” he asked. “I’m concerned about our little hybrid bros will come out cursing.”

Aside from that, the dinner passed more or less uneventfully. Old debates were rehashed and Amanda chose which sides she would take. Michael met Craig’s older siblings at last. All the moms wanted to know exactly when the babies were due, when he had known, and how the pregnancy had gone so far. It was so different from Michael’s family (his mother still called him Michelle). But Craig’s family just accepted him from the moment he came home with him for the first time in college. Courtney had declared that he was part of the family and that was that.

During one commercial break (the Lions were losing) Courtney got off her ottoman and addressed her family like an empress addressing her court. “I believe all of you owe me something.”

Every adult in the room except for Craig and Michael got out their wallets and took out $20 and one by one delivered it to the family matriarch. Craig looked at the nearest relative and asked, “What exactly is going on?” It was his brother Greg.

“We all took bets on if/when you two would end up with each other,” he explained. “Mom was the only one who insisted that you two would end up together before she died. Everyone else thought that it was pretty clear that neither of you were interested in the other, especially after you each started dating different people.”

“All of you bet against us?” Michael asked.

“Well, yes. I mean, we all thought that you two would end up together once,” he said a bit defensively. “But after college was over and you were both happily dating someone else, we figured it wouldn’t happen.”

“I always knew that it would happen,” Courtney boasted. “I know my boys better than they know themselves.”

“I’d disagree, but she’s right,” Craig admitted. “Do we get a cut since we actually made sure you won?”

“I’ll make you a set of baby clothes,” she said. “Mama’s going clubbing.”

Amanda snorted gracefully. “Happy Thanksgiving, fam.”

Chapter Text

Craig woke up the next morning feeling completely lazy and sluggish. He always felt this way the day after Thanksgiving, but today was different. Michael’s arms were around him, for one, his head nestled into the crook of his neck. Second, he felt content. Michael and Amanda were integrated into his family seamlessly. Amanda interacted with his mother like she had been in the family for years. Michael was reintegrated like he had never left their lives in the first place.

He rolled over and looked at the clock. 9:30. His eyes widened. He had slept in! On accident! That never happened. At the very least his kids would have woken him up to feed them on the odd occasion that he did sleep in. He was about to get up and out of bed when he felt Michael stir.

“Mmm… don’t go,” he mumbled. “Warm…”

“It’s 9:30, bro,” he whispered.


“Gotta get up, bro,” he said.

“Brooo, it’s the day after Thanksgiving,” he murmured. “Relax.” He kissed his bro’s neck lazily.

Craig relented and wrapped his arms back around his bro. “I got you, bro.”

Michael nuzzled his face and snuggled closer to him. “Feels good, bro.”

How did I become this lucky? He wondered. He kissed his bro’s cheek and went back to sleep.

As the spare room had not yet been repurposed into the second nursery, Amanda woke up that morning around 11:30 to discover her grandmother was 1) still there and 2) cooking breakfast consisting of biscuits and eggs.

“Morning, Gramms,” she said, stifling a yawn. She made her way over to the coffee pot. “Have I ever told you that you’re my favorite grandmother?”

“No you can’t have a biscuit yet,” she said from the stove, “but they’ll be ready soon. And don’t call me Gramms. I’m not that old, yet.”


“You’re joking, right?”


“Do you want to die?”

“What can I call you, then?” she asked. Sitting down as she waited for her coffee to finish.


“Everyone calls you Grandma!” she protested.

“Exactly. It’s easier to keep track of,” she said shortly.

“I got it! ‘Gramma!’” she exclaimed, jumping out of her chair.

“That’ll work, dear,” she put the eggs in a bowl.


Amanda looked over at the clock. 11:00 “Where’s Craig? Shouldn’t he be coming back from some intense workout and drinking kombucha?”

“What the hell is kombucha?” Courtney asked turning around at last.

“I have no idea, but it’s all the rage with health nuts these days,” Amanda said.

“Kid, you wanna know the secrets to a long, healthy life?” Courtney said, pointing the spatula at her. “Drink water. Eat bacon. Swear like hell. Basically, if it makes you happy and doesn’t hurt other people, do it. Life’s too short to be unhappy.”

“Whoa, Gramma. My mind is blown.”

Courtney laughed. “My boy needed to let his hair down and relax,” she said pouring some coffee for herself and Amanda. “So I snuck some melatonin into his water last night.”

“You spiked your son’s drink?” Amanda said, her eyes so wide they seemed they might fall out of her head.

Courtney gave her a conspiratorial wink. “Our little secret.”

“Teach me your ways, wise one.” Amanda said reverently.

“Haven’t you been paying attention? That’s exactly what I’m doing.”

Craig stirred again from his sleep feeling more rested than he had in a long time. He rolled ever and looked at the clock. Shit it’s noon! He stretched and got up out of bed. Michael was still sleeping, or maybe he was just dozing peacefully. He wandered down to the kitchen. Someone’s cooking. Who’s still here?

“Morning sleepy head,” his mother said. There were homemade biscuits, a bowl full of scrambled eggs, bacon, and a bowl of chopped cantaloupe. Amanda, the girls, and his parents were all seated at the table waiting for him.

“Go get your boyfriend,” his mother said. “Or the food will get cold.”

He turned around, still not quite sure he wasn’t dreaming, but there was food on the table that he didn’t make so he wasn’t going to argue. He went back to their room. Michael was still in bed, hugging one of his pillows. He smiled. His bro was cute when he was sleeping. He went over and sat on the bed. Michael groaned in his sleep.

“Rise and shine, bro,” he said. “There’s food downstairs.”

“What kind offood?” he mumbled.

“Eggs, bacon, cantaloupe, biscuits,” he listed. “She said to eat before it gets cold.”

Michael stirred reluctantly at the promise of food. “Good ‘m starving.”

Eventually they stumbled back out to the dining room where Courtney placed a tall glass of water in front of Michael. Michael glowered at it before drinking it. Craig piled his plate for him with food from the various bowls on the table.

“I’m surprised you can eat eggs,” Courtney commented. “I remember when I was pregnant with Craig, I couldn’t stand them.”

“I haven’t had much trouble with smells this time around,” Michael said. “When I was pregnant with Amanda, I felt like every little smell sent me to the toilet to vomit my guts out. This time, my taste has changed. I’m eating more fish than I’ve ever had in my life.”

“Lucky,” she commented. “Fish was the thing that I was most sensitive to.”

“Hey I don’t mind,” Craig said. “Fish is good for you.”

“All I care is that I can eat it without losing it afterwards,” Michael said, taking a bite out of his biscuit.

“Silver lining, Popsicle. Like you always told me,” Amanda said cheerfully. “Your boyfriend makes a mean salmon.”

“High praise,” Craig grinned.

“So dad,” Hazel said, growing bored with the whole conversation. “Are we going shopping today?”

“It’s Black Friday, are you crazy?” he replied. “Everyone’s going shopping today, we might get in a brawl during the shopping trip.”

“Sounds cool!” she replied. “When do we go?”

The mall was literally a nut house. They couldn’t even find a parking spot. Of course, the only reason they were there in the first place wasn’t to get Christmas gifts for the kids. Michael wanted to browse for baby stuff. Onesies, clothes, toys and such. And what better time to get expensive baby supplies than the day when everything was on sale?

“Remind me why we can’t just reuse some baby clothes when River’s done using them?” Craig asked.

“We will, but it’s fun to go shopping, bro,” Michael replied. “Besides, how much of Hazel and Briar’s clothes did you keep?’

“Yeah, sure, fair point. On any day but Black Friday,” Craig said.

“Just think of it as a broventure!” Michael said cheerfully as they walked through the mall doors.

“Dad, please don’t call it that,” Amanda said, rolling her eyes.

It was a post-apocalyptic scene which awaited them. Hundreds of people milling about shoving each other aside to get through to the stores. Craig and Michael wove through the crowds and eventually they got to the baby store. It was surprisingly calm compared to other shops in the mall. Michael made a beeline for the baby clothes section where he began inspecting different themed clothes with baby animals, like dogs and cats and elephants and lions and giraffes. One yellow onesie even had a capybara, in River’s size, no less! Craig immediately added it to the pile of things to buy (Amanda’s arms).

“Can we stop at Dead, Goth, and Beyond after this?” Amanda asked.

“Why? You want a t-shirt?” Michael asked, inspecting a green shirt with strawberries on it. He put it back.

“Shirts, wallet chains, make up, accessories,” she listed off. “You know, basic girl stuff.”

“I will buy you a single item,” Michael said.


“Why a single item?” Craig asked.

“I need to know what to go shopping for later for Christmas,” he replied.


They eventually left the store with their bags of baby clothes in varying sizes and one wallet chain. Craig looked at the bags he was carrying and wondered what had happened to just using River’s old clothes. Not that he was complaining, really. The clothes were cute. He just wondered why they ended up buying so much. The good news was that he had some ideas of what to get his girls for Christmas. Thankfully they were athletic girls and into fairly inexpensive sports.

“Why did we buy so many different sizes of clothes, dad?” Amanda said.

“Because babies grow quickly and even though I’m only 10 weeks pregnant, baby supplies are expensive and best to start getting them early,” Michael replied.

“How many babies are you expecting to have though?” she asked.

“All babies use a shocking amount of diapers and eat a shocking amount of food,” he said matter-of-factly. “And I’m having two.”

“It’s true,” Craig said. “Even when Hazel and Briar were babies it was mind blowing how much stuff Smashley and I went through just to keep them clothed and fed.”

“I used to be so glad I’d never had twins,” Michael said. “I’m definitely not looking forward to getting up in the middle of the night to take care of them.”

“Yeah, dude,” Craig said. “I never thought I’d sleep again when they were born. But it was worth it.”

Chapter Text

‘Twas a week before Christmas, and all through the cul-de-sac, kids were off school and their parents tried to hit the sack. Maple Bay, Maine was sitting tight under a foot of snow and counting. Coincidentally, it was also the day that was supposed to be the last day of school before Christmas break, so the kids of the neighborhood were celebrating an extra day of break by building snowmen on the cul-de-sac itself. Lucien and Ernest had paired up with their respective fathers in building snow forts and had declared war against each other.

Thankfully, Amanda had gotten home from her finals a few days before the big storm hit and had instigated guerilla warfare against both parties and somehow roped Craig into it. Michael watched proudly as his girls and bros ran around throwing snowballs at unsuspecting victims. He was helping River build tiny snowmen. And by helping, he would help her make snowballs, stack them, and then River would knock them down.

Brian and his daughter, Daisy, eventually made their own snow fort (which was, of course, bigger than the other two). He threw bigger snowballs, too. Mat Sella brewed copious amounts of hot chocolate and handed out mugs to parents when they took breaks from their kids’ antics. Carmensita went and teamed up with Brian and Daisy. Joseph, Mary, and their kids built snowmen in their yard with somewhat terrifying faces. Robert wandered around sabotaging all the teams in what had become a four way war between the neighborhood.

Sometime in the early afternoon, Michael went back inside with River and lay down for a nap. He was pregnant, after all, and not generally up for constant activity the way his kids or bro were. He was just about to fall asleep when he felt… something like gas rumble in his stomach. His eyes flew open and his hands went to his abdomen. His babies were kicking. A lot. Another set of athletes, he thought with amusement.

He was suddenly wide awake and he rushed outside to see Craig messing around in the snow with the twins.

“Craig,” he shouted. Craig looked up and Michael gestured him over to the door. Craig walked over. He was about to ask what was wrong, but he saw Michael’s excited face. It was a good thing.

“What’s up, bro?” he asked.

Michael didn’t say anything but took his hand and placed it on his abdomen. The babies were still kicking around, thankfully. He watched Craig’s eyes widen and he knelt on the ground and pressed his ear to his bro’s stomach, closed his eyes, and listened. Michael looked down at his bro and cradled his head. Craig looked up and said, “That’s… incredible, bro. You’re incredible.”

Across the way, some of the other dads started looking over with a bit of concern at Craig kneeling in front of Michael. Hugo was the first on the scene.

“Umm… sorry to interrupt, don’t mean to be rude,” he said, “but is everything okay here?”

“Oh, yeah, we’re fine,” Michael said blushing. Totally from the cold, not from embarrassment. That would be silly. “Craig’s just, um, you know, feeling the babies kick.”

Hugo’s eyes widened. “The babies? You’re pregnant?”

Craig stood up and grinned, taking Michael’s hand in his. “Yeah, dude, we’re unexpectedly expecting.”

Hugo smiled and shook their hands. “Congratulations,” he said. “I mean it. I’m happy for both of you.”

Hugo wandered off and Michael looked up at Craig and smiled. “I guess we’re announcing it to the neighborhood, now?”

Craig kissed his forehead. “I mean, if you want to, bro,” he replied. “It’s your choice.”

“Michael kissed Craig’s freezing lips. “I absolutely want to announce to the whole world that I’m having our little hybrid bros.”

“I love you so much,” Craig said. “Our little hybrid bros are going to be beautiful.”

They made the rounds, telling each dad on the cul-de-sac the news. Damien actually jumped up and down excitedly and invited him over for tea one day soon to discuss the baby. Joseph and Mary congratulated them. Joseph offered cookies and Mary jokingly offered wine. Brian gave them both a hug and offered to build a crib for them if River wasn’t out of hers by the time the baby arrived. Robert was legitimately stunned but offered his (only a bit awkward) congratulations. Mat was the most surprised and offered them free Right Said Banana Bread once the coffee shop was back open.

They finally got back inside the house where it was warm and started a fire in the fireplace. Amanda and the girls were already in there continuing where they left off with Warehouse 13. She had gotten all the Cahns hooked on the show and it was something she was quite proud of. They sat in the warm comfort of their home, the tree festive and bright, drinking hot chocolate with marshmallows. Craig was constantly leaning down to place his ear to Michael’s stomach to see if the baby was active. Michael laughed at him occasionally, suggesting that he could let Craig know if the baby was moving around. Eventually they settled in, with Michael resting his head on Craig’s lap.

Christmas Eve was a day of celebration. At the Cahn household, it was a day of rest. Michael persuaded Craig to take it easy. All the shopping was done, the gifts were all wrapped and put away to mysteriously appear Christmas morning. Snow was still on the ground and the girls reveled playing snowy games with other kids in the cul-de-sac while Amanda took pictures.

It was admittedly strange to spend Christmas in a state where it wasn’t 70 or 80 degrees. And a white Christmas, at that. Of course, Michael’s family always insisted on going to church for the Christmas Eve service, something which Michael didn’t necessarily get anything out of, but he humored his family. This year, he was with Craig, who though friends with Joseph, didn’t feel particularly inclined to attend church, especially if the people there were going to give his family looks just because of his relationship with Michael.

I guess it’s time for some new Christmas traditions, Michael thought.

Eventually the kids came back inside to find Michael and Craig reading a recipe on making ginger bread. Fairly successfully, too.

“What’s all this, dad?” Briar said jumping up on a stool to look at what they were doing.

“My bro had this idea that we should make gingerbread houses,” Craig said, kneading the dough so the ingredients would be evenly spread throughout. “We’re almost done with the dough, you wanna help us with the icing?”

“Yes!” she cried.

“Can we eat the icing?” Hazel asked.

“Good job, Hazel,” Michael said, pointing a wooden spoon at her. “Asking important questions. Eventually. We need the icing to stick the walls and stuff together.”

Michael and the twins collectively hovered over one of those electric mixers. Between the three of them they managed to get enough of the mixture into the pastry bag. Then they settled on the couch to watch Nightmare Before Christmas while the dough cooled in the fridge. About halfway through the movie, the oven dinged signaling that the gingerbread was done. The five of them piled into the kitchen to assemble the houses. Amanda was put in charge of the icing since she was an artist and had a steady hand.

Unfortunately, they had to wait 8 hours to actually decorate the houses, which provided the perfect opportunity for trip to the grocery store candy decorations and a Christmas movie marathon, which also included various Christmas episodes from TV shows they liked.

Finally, the 8 hours were up and they were able to actually get to the fun part of the gingerbread house project. Hazel and Briar raced to the island and excitedly started putting candies on the gingerbread house. It was a magical moment. Hazel and Briar put gumdrops, red hots, peppermints, and caramel candy on the house. Briar took chocolate truffles and put them around the house like a fence. Amanda found a way to use leftover icing to glue candy canes outside the house to imitate trees. Craig covertly set up a camera to video tape the whole thing.

“Pops, dude, why aren’t you doing yours?” Amanda asked looking up and into the camera.

“We have two?” Michael asked.

“Yeah, we had enough dough so I made two to see if the kids could make a better house than the oldies,” she replied. River cooed and giggled, playing with Arnold. “And River.”

Sure enough, there was another gingerbread house behind the kids on the counter. There was also more than enough candy for two gingerbread houses. Craig arranged red and green gumdrops along the edges of the rooftop while Michael made cut York Peppermint patties into squares and made roof tiles out of them. He promptly ate the edges.

“Hey bro, leave some for me,” Craig said.

Michael didn’t say anything, but he put one of the edges in between his teeth and winked at him. Craig grinned and leaned in to kiss him full on the lips, snatching the candy out of his boyfriend’s mouth.

“Tasty,” he said.

“This is why I put that one behind us,” Amanda said loudly. “So they can at least be out of our sight while they’re being gross.”

“Good thinking, sis,” Hazel said. “Saved our butts with that.”

“Wanna make out on the couch when we’re done?” Michael asked.

“I’d love to, bro,” Craig said, smirking. River began kicking and fussing.

The girls chorused their distaste and Amanda took River. “See? Even River doesn’t need to see that.”

Eventually they finished, but were unable to come to a conclusion about who won their little impromptu competition. So Amanda took pictures and posted them on Facebook for people to vote for their favorite. When she was done, the twins were sent off to bed so that Santa could come around while they were asleep. River was put to bed as well. Amanda, Michael, and Craig stayed up a while longer and watched It’s a Wonderful Life.

It really is, Michael thought as he leaned in to lay his head on Craig’s shoulder.

Chapter Text

Christmas morning came. Amanda had helped take the presents out and set them under the tree after the movie was done. Early Christmas morning, Michael and Craig were still sleeping when Hazel and Briar burst through the door and jumped on the bed shouting that Santa had been there. Michael groaned despite himself and pulled a pillow over his head. 7:30 was too early for Christmas.

The twins dragged them out of bed, practically, and Michael was obliged to wake Amanda up and get River so they could get started opening presents. Craig was setting up the video camera so he could capture this year’s Christmas. Hazel and Briar, too impatient to actually wait for their dad to figure out the camera, started collecting their presents into piles, shaking them gently, trying to guess what they could be. Amanda put on some coffee because it was too early in the morning for this.

Finally Craig managed to get the camera working. The first Christmas with the Cahns and the St. Claires.

“Can we open our presents now, dad?” Hazel asked practically dancing on the floor with glee.

“Yes, you can open your presents, tiny bros,” he said.

Immediately they tore into their presents with glee and gusto. They held up each of their gifts enthusiastically for the camera to see. Amanda also got down once she had some coffee in her and helped River open her presents before getting to hers. Michael sat his butt on a couch since getting on and off the floor was starting to get awkward and it was too early for him to calculate how to stand. Amanda brought him her present, which turned out to be paternity clothes and a framed picture of the two of them being goofy. The twins got him a shirt that said, “I aim to misbehave” and Jayne Cobb’s hat, which he proceeded to wear immediately and pose for pictures.

Then the twins got to his present, which was big and heavy. They opened it excitedly and revealed the entire Harry Potter book series. The twins were a bit surprised, but having no idea what Harry Potter was, they were politely grateful. Michael chuckled.

“Trust me, you’ll love it,” he said. Amanda was excited on their behalf, since it was the only book series she had ever voluntarily read. That is, until she opened his gift to her. A camera lens coffee mug. She immediately chugged the rest of her coffee and ran back to the kitchen to pour some into her new mug.

Craig brought over his present and sat down on the couch. It was a Tetris LED desk lamp. Amanda thought it was lame but Michael actually jumped up and put it on the end table so he could fiddle with it. Craig opened his presents, including #1 Dad shirts from his girls and a heartrate wristband from Amanda. When he got to Michael’s gift, he opened it and grinned that toothy grin.

“Bro!” he said, taking out a neatly folded black apron that said, “Kiss the Cook,” and a chef hat. He walked over and sat down next to him and kissed him. “I’m never taking this off.”

Michael grinned mischievously. “I think I can live with that.”

“Kids in the room, Pops,” Amanda shouted across the room.

“Close your eyes, I’m gonna kiss the other father of my children,” he replied, kissing him again amidst a chorus of groans. “Merry Christmas, bro.”

Craig smiled into the kiss. Then he got up, took off his shirt and put the apron and chef’s hat on. “Merry Christmas, bro.”

“Kill me now,” Amanda said, covering the twins’ eyes.

Michael was really enjoying his present to Craig. He still wasn’t wearing a shirt, but he was wearing the apron and the chef hat as he was working on the turkey. Even better, from his position skinning and chopping potatoes to be mashed later he could see Craig’s beautiful back and the knot that was tied just above his ass. It took most of Michael’s pregnancy addled brain’s concentration to avoid inadvertently cutting himself.

“Why are we having turkey again?” Amanda asked. “Not that I mind, I love it, but don’t people usually have ham at Christmas?”

“Ham makes me vomit,” Michael said. “It’s really frustrating.”

“Was it like this when you had me?” she asked.

“Not at all,” he answered. “My pregnancy with you was practically blissful compared to this one. I’m more hormonal, my entire palate has changed, half the stuff I used to like makes me sick now, half the time I’m exhausted and the other half I’m up at night, I go to the bathroom all the time, my emotions can be volatile, and my chest hurts, like, all the time.”

“You’re exaggerating, right?” she asked.

“He’s not,” Craig said from the stove. “Last week he had a breakdown because he couldn’t find his car keys. Made me late for work. A couple weeks ago he was craving peach yogurt and pickles. And I’m pretty sure all the water in his body is actually just pee now. And he hates any and all Chinese food.”

“Daaa—” Craig looked at her sharply. “I mean, shoot,” she amended. “Is this what I have to look forward to?”

“Only if you choose to become pregnant,” he replied.

“Are there any positives?” she asked.

Craig snickered. “None that you want to know about.”

“Why, what is—” she stopped, then blushed fiercely and fled the kitchen. “I need to erase this conversation from my short term memory!” Michael and Craig’s laughter chased after her.

Later, when the turkey was in the oven and the potatoes were boiling, Michael left the kitchen so Amanda could work on green bean casserole “If we’re having turkey, we might as well go all out!” Michael remembered her saying. He saw Briar and Hazel reading the first Harry Potter book together with River playing with one of her presents between them. They were maybe a third of the way through the book at this point.

“Having fun?” he asked.

“Shhh!” they said without looking up.

“And here I thought you weren’t impressed with my gift to you,” he joked. “I was about to take it back.”

“Do it and you die,” Hazel said, glaring at him over the book.

Michael just laughed and went back to fiddling with his Tetris lamp. I wonder where I can put this? he thought to himself. I could take it to work and it would double as a distraction when the job is slow, or I could put on the nightstand in our room, that would be fun. Or maybe I could put it in the study.

His reverie was interrupted by the girls pausing in the story. “Do you think Harry will be a Gryffindor or a Slytherin?” Briar asked her twin.

“Slytherin,” Hazel said immediately. “It sounds cooler and he’d be more powerful.”

“Really? I was thinking Gryffindor,” Briar replied. “I mean, a giant guy bigger than Daisy’s dad shows up, knocks down a door in the middle of the night, and Harry’s not the least bit fazed? He’s definitely a Gryffindor.”

“I guess. I’d rather be a Slytherin, personally,” Hazel said.

“I’d want to be a Ravenclaw,” Briar replied.

“Why a Ravenclaw?” she asked.

“They’re smart and witty and they sound cool,” she said.

Michael smiled to himself, savoring the sweet taste of vindication. It was the most satisfying Christmas feeling in the world, introducing two kids who had no interest in anything geek related to read Harry Potter. The feeling was cut short, however, by the urgent need to pee. Again.

The only thing you’re getting for your first Christmas is diapers, he communicated with the babies. We’ll see how you like it then.

When he got back the twins had finished arguing about the Hogwarts houses and were now rehashing how Harry ended up in Gryffindor. Hazel was bitter about it while Briar was openly gloating at how she’d been right and why it was clear that she would be a Ravenclaw.

My work here is done, Michael thought to himself. He stifled a yawn. Maybe just a quick power nap, since my good deed for the year is complete.

Michael awoke from his apparent sleep some hours later by Craig announcing that dinner was ready. He looked down in confusion. When did a blanket get on me? How long was I asleep? Why is it dark outside?

Craig sat down next to him, wearing an actual shirt but still had the chef’s hat on his head. “Come on, bro, you hungry?”

He stretched out, trying to will his body into wakefulness and movement of some sort. It was no use. His body didn’t want to move. But the food smelled good and he was hungry. He pouted at his bro. Craig attempted a scowl. Unsuccessfully.

“No, I’m not carrying you to the table,” he said. Michael didn’t say anything, but kept pouting. “Stop that,” Craig insisted. “I’m immune to your charms.” Michael decided to try a different tactic. Guilt.

“You know it’s your own fault that I’m in this situation,” he said. “The least you could do is help your poor, helpless, pregnant bro to the table.”

“There’s nothing in the world I’d rather have than kids with you,” Craig said. “So nice try.”

Michael felt it coming. The emotions. The tears. “Aww bro,” he sniffed. “That’s so sweet.” Great now the waterworks are here.

Craig dried the tears with a finger. “Come on, bro, don’t cry,” he whispered.

“I’m sorry, I’m just so happy,” Michael said. “I’m fine.”

“Okay, bro, come on.” Craig said as he consented to pick up Michael and carry him bridal style to the dining room. “You’re lucky you’re cute.”

“For now anyway,” Michael said. “In a few months I’ll be huge and fat and gross.”

“And I’ll love you just the same, bro,” he replied.

“Oh God it’s happening again.”

“I mean it,” Craig said, setting him down on the floor in front of the table.

“Why’s my dad crying?” Amanda asked. “Never mind it’s probably gross.”

Michael picked up a napkin and dabbed at his eyes. “Yeah, you’d think so, but it was actually really sweet.”

“That’s just grown up talk for ‘gross,’” Briar said.

“Ouch, harsh kid,” Craig said, sharpening the knife to carve the turkey. “At least I’m still cool, though, right?”

“Dad,” Hazel said. “You kinda stopped being cool when you started making kissy faces with Papa.”

“Okay, no food for you,” Craig said. “Merry Christmas, Hazel. Good night.”

“Wait, I didn’t mean it, you’re the coolest dad in the world, cooler than Mat!”

“Hang on what did you call me?” Michael asked.

Hazel averted her eyes, embarrassed to have let that slip. “Well… Briar and I were talking that it feels weird to call you Michael since, you know, you’re living with us and you two are having a kid and you’re with dad but it’d be confusing to say dad all the time.”

“Are you mad?” Briar asked.

“No of course, not,” Michael said, tearing up again. “Dang it, kids, you can be sweet when you want to be. Merry Christmas.”

“Merry Christmas, Papa.”

Chapter Text

A couple weeks later Craig, Michael, and Amanda were walking into the doctor’s office for the regular ultra sound. It had been a while since the last ultrasound, which had been about a week after Thanksgiving and showed nothing of import aside from that the twins were developing well for this stage of his pregnancy. Amanda had all but demanded to come with them when she heard that she would still be in town for this ultrasound. Truthfully, Michael would have had her come along anyway. He would have been surprised if she had been okay just staying home. Especially since the rest of the kids in the neighborhood were all back in school.

They walked through the doors to the office and went through the now familiar routine of getting ready for the ultrasound. Michael marveled at how big he had gotten in so short a time as they spread the gel over his stomach. It was still sometimes surreal knowing that he was having twins.

“I think I may apply to just work from home until I’ve had these kids,” Michael said. “It would make my entire life so much easier if I could stop falling asleep at work.”

“Don’t you think you’d get a bit stir crazy?” Craig asked.

“Hey, I can always waddle over to Mat’s coffee shop if I need to get out of the house,” he replied. "Or I could take the car and drive somewhere. Just because I'm pregnant doesn't mean I'm an invalid."

“Waddle?” Amanda snorted. “Pops, what makes you think that you’re going to be waddling?”

“Amanda, your dad is going to be reduced to a giant roly-poly by the time I get close to having these twins,” he said definitively. “Look at me! I’m already bigger than I was at this point in your pregnancy!”

“Trust me dad,” she said. “I’ve already seen more of you today than I ever want to see again.”

“Ouch kid,” he said. “How dare you attack your poor, pregnant father like that?”

“Don’t worry, bro, I’ll avenge you,” Craig said. He grabbed Amanda in a headlock and gave her a nuggie. Amanda yelled and fought but was no match for Craig’s superior strength and he only let go when she promised to be nice to her dad for at least the next hour. At that moment Dr. Whittaker walked into the room so Amanda was released from her captor anyway.

“Have you figured out names for your kids yet?” she asked as she pressed the head of the ultrasound device to his abdomen.

“Not yet, we sort of held off on that until we learned what our kids’ sexes will be,” Michael said.

“Good plan, makes sense,” she said. “Hopefully we’ll be able to figure that out today. If not, you’ll come back in a couple weeks and we’ll find out then.”

“I thought that Forrest would be a good name for a boy,” Craig said, “but I was outvoted on that one.”

“I can’t say that I blame them,” Dr. Whittaker replied.

“He’s got this system where all his kids have nature names,” Michael explained. “The problem is that there aren’t that many male nature names.”

“Ah, that is a problem,” she said. She was quiet for several minutes, occasionally making small noises or taking notes while she studied the babies. When she was done, she sent the pictures off to the printer and left to retrieve them, as per usual. Upon her return she said, “I have good news and bad news.”

Michael’s heart skipped a beat.

“The good news is your babies seem perfectly healthy for this stage in the pregnancy,” she said, grinning wickedly.

The three of them let out a relieved breath. “Please never do that again,” Michael begged.

“I’m sorry,” she said, still grinning. “The bad news is that you’re going to have a hell of a time finding nature names for two boys.” She handed them the ultrasound photos. “Congratulations.”

Again, Michael’s heart skipped another beat. He looked over at Craig and saw his eyes alight with glee and that signature toothy grin of his.

“We’re having boys, bro!” Craig said for the millionth time that day. They were in the kitchen making dinner for the night.

Michael smiled. “Yeah, bro can you believe it?”

“Sorry, I’m just pumped!” Craig chuckled. He was wearing his apron again. He claimed it was an excuse to get him to kiss him. Not that Michael would have begrudged him anyway, but he did like that his bro enjoyed the gift so much.

“No, it’s exciting, isn’t it?” he replied. “We’ve never had boys! Do you think they’ll be different from their sisters?”

“Who, Hazel and Briar or all of them?”

“Well, all of them, but specifically Hazel and Briar.”

“I don’t know, but I hope they have your eyes, bro,” Craig said.

“Aww bro, that’s so sweet,” Michael said, blushing. “I hope they have your smile.”

“Bro…” Craig looked up and smiled at him.

“Yeah that one right there,” he whispered. “The one where your eyes scrunch up. It’s my favorite.”

“If you two are going to start making out,” Amanda hollered from the living room, “make sure you don’t burn the food!”

Craig chuckled and settled for a peck on the lips. “Is Amanda psychic or something, bro?”

“Maybe,” he replied. “Make it up to me later?”

There was a mischievous glint in Craig’s eyes. “Absolutely.”

Craig and Michael were lying in bed later that evening. Most everyone else had already turned it, except for maybe Amanda, who had become a habitual night owl at college. But Michael wasn’t tired. He was horny. He rolled over in the dark and kissed his boyfriend. Craig moaned slightly into the kiss. He deepened the kiss, his tongue entering Craig’s mouth. He broke contact a moment later.

“I want you, bro,” he said, his voice low and laden with desire. He took Craig’s hand and put it between his legs.

“Jesus, you’re so wet,” Craig hissed. He snuck his hand beneath his bro’s pants and stroked his sex slowly. Michael moaned softly. Craig kissed him slowly as he worked his fingers over his bro’s hole. It was agonizing and sensual and Michael couldn’t get enough. He needed more. He reached down and felt the proof of Craig’s arousal, hot and hard and straining against the confines of his boxers. He took it out and began stroking it, teasing the head with every stroke. It was Craig’s turn to moan into his mouth and their pace quickened, their tongues and limbs intertwined in their lovemaking.

Suddenly Michael broke contact and took his hand off Craig’s cock.

“Bro, what you doin’?” Craig asked.

“Just wait,” he replied. He slid down the bed, trailing kisses over his sculpted body until he felt Craig’s groin against his face. He slid the boxers down and lined up his cock with his mouth and slowly took it into his mouth. Craig groaned and bucked his hips, careful not to choke him at this angle. Michael savored the taste of him, the heavy, musky scent, the feeling of the veins of Craig’s cock as his tongue ran over them. He took one of his hands and cupped Craig’s balls, gently playing with them as he went down on him. Craig moaned again and reached down, fisting his hair and pulling slightly, making Michael moan around his cock.

Michael popped off the cock and grinned up at his boyfriend, stroking it. “You good, bro?”

“I’m great, bro, just don’t stop,” he groaned.

Michael went back down and licked him up his member lingering over the sensitive head before taking it in his mouth. He stroked his cock, listening to Craig’s moans. He ran his tongue over the head. He could taste the salty, bitter pre-cum and he moaned around the head of his cock.

“Bro, I’m close,” he heard Craig say over him. He sank back down on his cock and began blowing him faster, moving his hand over Craig’s cock in tandem with his mouth. His other hand went down into his pants and he fingered himself as he sucked his bro’s cock hard. Craig groaned, bucking into Michael’s mouth and he felt his cock pulse as hot streams of cum shot into his mouth. Michael worked him through his orgasm, swallowing his cum eagerly. When he was done, he crawled up and kissed him.

“Bro, you haven’t gotten off yet,” Craig said between pants.

“Well,” he replied kissing him again, “how soon can you be ready again?”

“In a bit, but,” Michael felt the bed shift and felt Craig spreading his legs. He reached up to take Michael’s pants off and stroked his fingers over his opening again, still wet with desire. He spread his juices over his cock. “Let me see if I can find something to do while we wait.”

Michael shivered in anticipation as he felt Craig hovering over him, stroking his thighs lovingly, getting closer to his sex with each stroke. He sighed as he felt his bro kissing and gently biting his inner thigh. Eventually Craig reached his opening and Michael shivered again.

“How are you still so wet, bro?” he asked, moaning with pleasure as he touched him.

He whined and whatever response he might have had went flying out the window as he felt Craig lick him with one long, sensuous stroke. Then Craig’s fingers breached his opening along with his tongue and Michael was overwhelmed with bliss. He arched his back into Craig’s ministrations. They’d done this so many times. Craig already knew where to go to make him feel incredible. There wasn’t any coherent thought, nothing except Craig’s fingers and tongue.

“Bro, I’m close,” he whined.

Craig gave one last lick and withdrew himself from Michael’s vagina.

“Just shut up and fuck me already,” he hissed. “I need you in me, you have no idea, bro!”

Craig just kissed him, grabbing a pillow and lifted his bro’s hips and set the pillow beneath him. Michael settled down and felt his cock line up with his opening and felt Craig slowly push into him. Oh God, he thought. Craig pushed in with slow, shallow thrusts and obscenities poured from Michael’s mouth. It was gentle and sensual and Michael reached up and wrapped his arms around Craig’s neck. Well, as much as his baby bump would allow, anyway. Craig reached down with one hand and teased his clit as he fucked him.

“Hey bro,” Michael said, “I know the doctor said not to be too intense during sex, but can you speed up?”

Craig groaned and increased his pace. “Thank God, I was afraid this’d be too much.”

Michael didn’t answer, just encouraged him to keep going. It felt incredible! Maybe it was the hormones or some chemical thing about his body, but something made sex feel so much better since he was pregnant. He moaned more loudly than he meant, and a hand flew to cover his mouth.

Craig laughed and kept going. “Bro,” he said, rocking his hips into him, eliciting another moan. “You’re gonna wake the girls.”

“It’s your own damn fault,” he mumbled past his hand. His head tilted back as he felt Craig rock back into him, going exactly where he knew it would make him feel amazing. He arched his back a bit as he felt his orgasm building. His hands went back to Craig’s broad shoulders. He held on to him and bit his shoulder to keep from moaning as he felt Craig rock into him. Craig moaned in response and rolled his hips sensuously. Michael arched into him and his mouth made its way to Craig’s neck as he began to suck and kiss as he felt Craig’s thrusts inside him.

Craig tore away and brought his lips crashing down on his as he kissed him, careful about the baby bump. Michael moaned into his mouth as Craig’s tongue entered his mouth and he tasted himself on his tongue. He could feel his climax building.

“Craig, babe, I’m close,” he whined. Craig increased the pace of his thrusts, careful not to go too deeply. Michael moaned as he felt him thrusting, his fingers still teasing his clit. He came with a cry, waves of pleasure wracking through his body as he clung to his boyfriend. He was vaguely aware of Craig thrusting into him. He tightened around Craig’s cock and felt it pulse as he came a second time inside him. Michael let go and his arms fell to his sides and Craig collapsed next to him, hot and panting and sweaty. Michael rolled over and saw his chest rising and falling in the dark. He didn’t say anything, just slid up next to him and rested his head on his shoulder and laid a hand on his chest. Craig took his hand in his and wrapped his other arm around him, pulling him closer.

“I love you,” Michael heard him whisper as he came back down from his orgasm. He tried to murmur a reply, but he was already, finally, drifting off to sleep in Craig’s arms.

Chapter Text

Michael was resting. It seemed to be all he did these days sometimes. His twins just drained him more than Amanda ever had. Which was understandable, since there were two babies in his womb instead of just one.

Craig was working late at the office, taking care of some last minute business before his athletic leisurewear company released a new line of products. Which meant that Michael was put in charge of dinner. But he was tired. Which meant either pizza or Chinese. And that was how they ended up eating Meat Lovers Pizza with buffalo wings on the couch watching competitive cooking shows.

"This is why I like you, Papa," Hazel said around a mouthful of pizza. "Dad never let us have pizza until you moved in."

"Thanks Hazel, I think," he replied. "Your dad just wants you to be healthy. Though I've always believed in a balance between healthy food and junk."

"Oh really? Always?" Briar asked.

"What's that supposed to mean?" he demanded.

"Dad told us about the pizza tacos and how you ate burritos every meal," Hazel said grinning wickedly.

That traitor, he thought. Well two can play at that game.

"Girls," he said, "have I ever told you about the time I caught your dad drinking an entire jar of marinara sauce? Or about his college nickname, Kegstand Craig?"

Their eyes widened in equal mixture of horror and fascination, trying to imagine their dad, Craig "Crazy Health Nut" Cahn as Kegstand Craig, drinker of disgusting drinks and eater of whole pizzas at a time. They listened with rapt attention as their Papa told them thrilling tales of Craig's unhealthy habits before they had been a twinkle in his eye. The cooking show went forgotten. They wanted every detail and Michael was happy to provide all the ones which were age appropriate.

Craig eventually walked through the door around 9:30 and groaned as he kicked off his shoes. The twins ran up to him and jumped/tackled him. Despite his weariness he smiled and knelt down and hugged them. Then he picked them up and slung them over his shoulders and walked into the living room as they shrieked with laughter.

"Hey bro," he grinned. "The girls still up or have they gone to bed?"

Michael shook his head. "Just River."

"We're over here, dad!" Briar cried.

Craig turned around. "Are you guys messing with me?"

Hazel began hitting his back. "Come on dad, let us down!"

Craig chuckled and put his kids down on the floor. "How were your days?"

"Great," Hazel said. "Papa got us pizza and wings!"

Craig looked at Michael and raised an eyebrow.

"Hey bro," Michael said, "I can be pregnant or I can be productive. I can't do both."

Craig chuckled. "It's fine, bro." He kissed him on the forehead. "How you feeling?"

"My feet hurt," he said. "I think they're starting to swell."

"Let me eat something and I'll see if I can help with that."

Craig returned with a plate of pizza and the remaining wings, much to the twins' amazement. He was just getting relaxed when the twins popped the question.

"Dad," said Briar, "is it true that you used to drink whole jars of marinara sauce?"

Craig glared at Michael who shrugged innocently. "No," he replied indignantly, "No I didn't. I drank one jar of marinara sauce one time."

"Papa said you were also the one to begin eating pizzacos when you were in college, not him," Hazel said.

"Slander and lies," he said around a mouthful of pizza. "He started that. I tried to stop him but he insisted. It was a horrible sight."

"Too late, dude," Michael responded. "I've already told them every disgusting detail about Kegstand Craig."

Thus began a night of rehashing their college adventures until 10:30 rolled around and the twins had exceeded their weekend bedtime. Michael and Craig tucked them in, reading them a chapter of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Around the end of the chapter, Michael felt his twins moving around and Hazel and Briar excitedly put their ears to his baby bump and listened with wonder.

"Is that what it sounds like to have twins inside you?" Hazel asked.

"Apparently," Michael said.

"What does it feel like?" asked Briar.

"It feels kinda like I'm gassy," he replied.

"Really?" Craig said grinning. "That's... so not as cool as I thought it would be."

Suddenly Hazel looked sad. It was a somewhat bizarre expression on her naturally charming, devious face.

"What's wrong Hazel?" Craig asked.

"It's silly," she said quietly, sitting down cross legged on her bed.

"I promise I won't laugh," he said, sitting down at the foot of her bed.

"Umm... Will these twins... replace us? Since they're your twins with dad and we're not?" she asked sheepishly.

Craig reached over and stroked her hair. "Oh, sweet girl, no no," he said. He slid up the bed to her and hugged her and kissed her on the head. "No one could ever replace my girls, I promise. And I'll love my boys, too, but I'll always love you."

Hazel hid her face in Craig's neck. Michael could tell she was crying softly. Maybe she acts tougher than Briar because she feels more strongly than her, he thought. He looked over at Briar from his position on her bed and saw that she was wiping away tears as well. He scooted up to her and wrapped an arm around her. "Do you feel the same, sweet pea?"

She didn't say anything but she nodded. He rubbed her back soothing her worries away. "Don't worry," he said. "You're my girls, too, and no one's going to replace you. Not even your brothers, once they're here."

Michael and Craig stayed with them until they settled down enough to go to sleep. They went to their bedroom and Michael laid down on the bed and took off his reading glasses while Craig got a bottle of lotion.

"And you just happen to have a bottle of lotion because...?" Michael asked.

"Because I do pregnancy research at the office in my spare time," Craig said as he spread the lotion over his hands.

He sat down on the bed and set his bro's feet in his lap. Michael moaned softly as Craig's hands gently massaged his aching feet. They had been doing prenatal yoga sessions together recently so Michael could try to keep in shape while he was pregnant. He joked constantly that this whole thing was Craig's fault.

But this was the first time Craig had massaged his feet and Michael would be lying if he said it didn't feel good. Not in a "I'm totally turned on right now" feel good, but a "God that's so much better" feel good. Relief, contentment. And there was something oddly intimate about having Craig touching his feet and relieving his swelling ankles with his hands.

"You know, bro," Michael ground out, "I may need you to do this on a regular basis."

"Bro, I will totally massage your feet whenever you need it," he replied. Michael couldn't help but feel a bit guilty. Craig was still so busy, did so much for his family, and here he was barefoot and pregnant and taking advantage.

"What's up bro?" Craig asked.

"It's nothing," he said.

"Nothing? Really, bro?" Craig asked, setting one foot aside and picking up the other. "Because you look like something's bothering you."

Michael sighed. "It's just... you do so much and you're so busy and I just wish I could do more."

Craig didn't say anything. Just kept rubbing his foot.

"And the whole reason we ended up together was because we went camping because you needed to take a break from everything and I was trying to help you relax and now you're busier than ever and I'm taking advantage of your amazing foot rubbing abilities."

"Bro," Craig said, stopping his rubbing foot and met his eyes. "I don't want you to blame yourself for having a rough pregnancy."

"But I want to do more, but I'm always tired and I never have any energy for anything and you're busier than ever!" He sniffed and tried to fight the tears he felt coming. He hated crying. Unfortunately he cried at the drop of a hat these days.

Craig took his face in his hands. "Bro, babe, it's all right. It's been busy lately, but it's always like this around this time of year. It's not your fault. You hear me, bro? It's not your fault."

Michael nodded and gave a sound that was half laugh and half sob. Craig smiled and pressed their foreheads together. "I promise, I'll take it easy this weekend. Give the kids some chores or something. I'll even eat ice cream."

Michael closed his eyes and smiled. "That sounds nice," he murmured.

Craig kissed his forehead. "Now, while we're on the subject of taking it easy, it's almost midnight and I'm tired."

Michael chuckled. "One of the few perks of being pregnant is that the clothes are great for sleeping in," he said as he got under the comforter.

"Lucky," Craig muttered, finally getting out of his work suit and slipping on some pajama bottoms and all but collapsed onto the bed.

“Bro, the lights are still on,” Michael pointed out. As much as he wanted to get up, he was nice and comfortable here and he didn’t want to get up. At all. Craig groaned and rolled over. He clapped his hands twice. The lights blinked out. He got under the covers and rolled back over to fall asleep.

"Wait..." he said. “WHAT?! How long have they done that?!"

Craig smugly ignored him as he fell asleep grinning.

Chapter Text

It was late January, which meant two things for Maple Bay, Maine. First, it was cold as shit and people walked around looking twice as large as they actually were. Second, Michael’s birthday, February 2nd, was coming up. He was turning 40 and Craig had spent the past couple weeks planning a big party/baby shower for the occasion. It was a good thing all their friends lived in the cul-de-sac. Amanda would miss it, but there was no avoiding that. Her college was just too far away, even for a weekend trip.

Despite what his bro said, Craig knew that he was having trouble sleeping. In fact, he was sure that it was one of the reasons why Michael would volunteer to get up in the middle of the night when River was crying. Working from home as he was, he was able to get work done, but he also fell asleep more often. Every now and then he had to go into the office for meetings or other business, but for the most part he stayed at home. The doctor insisted that he was fine and this was a natural part of pregnancy, but Craig still found himself wishing he could help.

It got to the point that he was looking up pregnancy pillows while he was at work. He got up and raised his desk to a standing position so he could stretch his legs while he looked these things up. Some were tiny, and while it would be convenient, size wasn’t so much an issue when they had a king-size bed. Some were huge, and he had a feeling that his bro would need it the closer he got to his due date. It would make cuddling more difficult, but if it meant that he could sleep better and not wake up sore, that was okay. He eventually settled on a U-shaped memory foam pillow that could support Michael’s stomach and back simultaneously, which would be more convenient than trying to arrange about a dozen pillows and hoping they didn’t fall off the bed or something. He just hoped that it would arrive in time.

He knew what Amanda was planning, though that would have to wait until she got back from college. It was a personal project that he was convinced Michael would love. Briar and Hazel had gone out with Smashley last weekend to get their gifts, which mostly consisted of sports themed baby clothes. They were convinced that their brothers would be athletic like them and were determined to make it a reality. Briar had apparently asked her mom if they sold Hogwarts House themed onesies and if it was too early to start guessing which Hogwarts Houses they would be in. Smashley, knowing that they were reading Harry Potter but not much about it, just smiled and nodded.

River would be turning 2 about a month after Michael. She was making small sentences now. He was “Dada,” Michael was “Papa,” Hazel and Briar were too complicated for her. For some bizarre reason, Smashley couldn’t get River to call her, “Mama.” Instead, she was “Smag.” She also knew “Arnold,” “capy,” “s’ghetti” (spaghetti), “food,” “tired,” about a couple dozen other words and Craig’s personal favorite, “potty.” They had started potty training her, and while it was slow going, Craig was looking forward to not changing diapers as often… until the twins were born anyway. Then their home would be buried in diapers. Fortunately Briar and Hazel were old enough to help out so Craig and Michael wouldn’t be completely on their own.

Suddenly his secretary entered the room to inform him that his next meeting was in 20 minutes. He lowered his standing desk and looked at the clock. He still had a few hours before he could leave the office. He sighed, straightened his tie, and flipped through the calendar on his desk to June, which was circled in blue marker. The twins would be born sometime by mid-June at the latest. They were almost halfway through the pregnancy. The suspense is killing me, he thought. Though Michael probably has it even worse. He took a deep breath and walked out of the room. “So remind me what this meeting is about.”

Michael was sitting in the Coffee Spoon working on a project since he had gotten bored at home. And by working, he was mostly staring at a screen drinking decaf trying to string two thoughts together long enough to make some headway on his project. His client, thankfully, was understanding and accepting of his predicament. At least Mat can make a decent cup of coffee even if it’s decaf, he thought. Though he wasn’t convinced that not being able to drink coffee was worth making fewer trips to the bathroom, he complied with the doctor’s advice. Dr. Whittaker was adamant that he avoid all caffeinated drinks to keep his heart rate down as well as his babies’. That didn’t mean that he had to like it.

He looked up at the clock and saw that it was a quarter after 3 and decided that he would call it a day. He hadn’t gotten as much done as he had hoped, but it was an acceptable amount of work for a Monday. He put his laptop in his bag and slung it over his shoulder as he eased himself out of his chair. Mat saw him heading towards the door and went to help him.

“Thanks, Mat,” he said.

“No problem, buddy,” he replied. “Hey before I forget, I got something for you. Come on.”

Michael paused before the door and followed Mat behind the counter to his office. It was kind of bizarre to think that even a coffee shop had an office, but he figured that even Mat had to deal with the tedious paperwork of running a business, as cool as he was. The office was about what he expected. A bit disheveled, a little chaotic, and smelling like a mix between coffee beans and that uniquely office smell. Mat rummaged through one of the piles of paper on his desk and held up a CD. Michael took it. It was labeled, “Prego Playlist No. 1.”

“I figured being… you know, pregnant would be a bit stressful at this time of life,” Mat explained. “And some people find music relaxing and then I figured that this might be good once the kids can hear things and I figured you’d want something good for them to listen to so they have good taste or something when they’re born and now I’m rambling again, aren’t I?”

Michael wiped a tear from his eye and smiled at his friend. “Thank you, I’ll listen to it as soon as I get home,” he said.

Mat returned the smile. “No problem, dude.” They made their way back to the front of the store. “Just don’t do what we did the last time I recommended you music.”

Michael laughed. “I thought we vowed never to speak of it again.”

“Oh yeah,” he said. “Anyway, I hope you like it.”

“I’ll let you know as soon as I’m done listening to it,” he promised. Mat held the door open for him and he started walking home. Briskly. It was cold as shit and while his body felt like a hot box at times, that didn’t mean that the blistering cold was at all welcome. Thankfully, his laziness had given him the good sense to drive to the coffee shop instead of walking like he might have done otherwise. It would save time and with luck he would get a good parking spot to pick up the girls from school.

Michael sat next to Hazel at the kitchen table helping her with her math homework. Unfortunately, their math class had gotten to fractions, which was frankly headache inducing. Of course that might just be the pregnancy, he thought. Regardless, even as a financial adviser he knew something of fractions, so it was relatively simple. Within a half hour, Hazel finished her homework and made a mad dash from the table. Michael chuckled and followed her. He got to the living room and River, who was playing with Briar on the floor, cried “Papa!” and got up and ran over to him. Michael smiled and squat down as much as he was able to and picked her up and blew a raspberry in her cheek. She giggled.

“You having fun?” he asked.

“Yes,” she said sheepishly. Then she whispered, “I need to potty.”

“You do?” he whispered back. She nodded. “Yes!”

“Let’s go then,” he said. He set her on the floor and she grabbed his finger and they headed towards the bathroom. When she was done she grabbed what seemed to be half the roll of toilet paper and Michael entered negotiations for more modest amounts. As soon as they were done washing their hands, River climbed down the step stool and ran over to the toilet and grabbed the end of the toilet paper and held it over her head as she ran off shrieking with laughter. Michael was able to break off the trail before she got too far, but it did nothing to dampen her spirits. She waved it around and loved it. Briar handed her an old toilet paper roll to her and she held it up to her eye looking around shouting, “Aaar!”

At that moment Craig walked into the room from work. River ran over to him and held her arms up. “Daddy!” she shouted. He bent down and picked her up and kissed her cheek. She held up the toilet paper roll to his eye and he looked through it, sounding excited and amazed at her marvelous discovery. Michael’s heart melted at the sight.

Craig came over to him and gave a quick peck. “How was your day?”

“Not as productive as I would have liked, but what can you do?” he replied. “I wasn’t as tired today as I have been, though, so that’s a good sign.”

“Good, I’m glad, bro,” he said. “Hungry?”

“Food!” River confirmed. “I want s’ghetti!”

“Spaghetti it is,” Craig replied.

“Dad, River always wants spaghetti,” Hazel said.

“And when you were her age, you always cheerios and Briar wanted bananas,” Craig replied.

“Amanda asked for orange slices all the time,” Michael said. “It was the only time in her life when I knew her to like fruits and veggies.”

“Well, we have chicken in the fridge,” Michael said. “We can give River some leftovers from the other night and figure something out with that stuff.” He got out some food and Craig started chopping an onion.

“We always have chicken, too,” Briar complained.

“Kids, if you keep complaining then I’ll make brussel sprouts and that’ll be your dinner,” Craig said over his shoulder.

“No! Sorry! We’ll be good,” Hazel pleaded.

“Actually brussel sprouts sound pretty good right about now,” Michael said.

“You want sprouts, bro? I’ll make sprouts,” Craig replied.

“NOOOOOOO!!!!” the girls cried, reaching up towards the sky as they sunk down on the floor and signifying their dramatic death scene. Craig casually stepped over them to get the fridge. River clapped her hands.

“Maybe they should sign up for theater,” Michael said from where he was feeding River/making sure she didn’t send the bowl of spaghetti to the floor.

“Don’t tempt the universe, bro,” Craig warned. “Life is busy enough without my girls getting involved with theater. My brother was in theater during high school. When they were getting ready for a show, we barely saw him.”

“Somehow I think that they’ll be too busy with their sports to get involved in theater, bro,” he said.

“Lucky for us,” Craig replied.

Chapter Text

February 1st was here and Michael woke up feeling like shit. His body just hurt. It was a bit disappointing, because he had felt fine at his appointment with Dr. Whittaker the day before. Good blood pressure, good weight, no concerns to speak of outside of normal pregnancy symptoms. His twins had even been active during the appointment, which she was pleased to see. The problem was that he could never tell whether he was going to have a rough day or a great one, whether he was going to be able to get shit done or if he was going to lay around the house all day hobbling around like an old man. Today, he felt bloated and huge and his back was aching and his joints were sore. At least he wasn’t getting sick anymore. That had gotten old as soon as it started.

He groaned as he rolled over to look at the clock. It wasn’t even six, but he was wide awake as if he had actually slept a wink the previous night. Even Craig was still asleep, though he would wake relatively soon. He was imminently glad that he had had the good sense to get some extra work done yesterday as soon as he was done with his appointment. He had been looking forward to having someone get the bed out of the spare bedroom so they could move some baby furniture into it in the near future.

He groaned again, as he got up, gingerly setting his feet on the floor. Thank God Craig has carpets, not hardwood floors, he thought. He seemed to cry at every little thing lately. He wouldn’t be surprised if cold floors in the morning would trigger it as well. He got up and waddled over to the bathroom, grateful that he did not, in fact, cry when his feet touched the cold tile floor. He waddled over to the bath, which was large enough for two people (not that he and Craig ever shared a bath) which meant that it was the perfect size for his ballooned body.

He bent to turn on the hot water and as soon as he was satisfied that it wasn’t too hot, climbed into the bath and leaned back to relax and luxuriate in the tub. A few minutes later, Craig walked blearily into the bathroom, awoken by the sound of running water.

“Can’t sleep?” he asked.

Michael began to cry. Goddammit, he thought. “I d-don’t know w-why,” he sobbed. “I j-just want some f-fucking sleep!” He began to sob some more, babbling about not knowing why he was crying or why he couldn’t sleep or about his being full of aches and pains and he tried, desperately, to get control of himself and stop. To no avail. He just kept crying. He looked up with bleary eyes and realized that his bro was not there anymore. Which just made him cry even more. He managed to gain some semblance of control when he heard footsteps returning. Craig walked into the bathroom with a mug in his hand. He handed him the tea, without any word and Michael accepted it gratefully. He inhaled the scent of the tea. It smelled like lemons. Lemon balm tea. He sipped it gratefully. It was supposed to be calming and help with insomnia. He didn’t know if that was actually true or if he was experiencing a placebo, but he felt better almost immediately.

“Thank you,” he whispered.

“No problem, bro,” Craig replied. He knelt down beside the bathtub and turned the water off. He grabbed a sponge and wet it in the water and squeezed some body wash onto it. He made Michael lean forward a bit so he could reach back and wash his back, rubbing soothing circles on his back. Michael hummed appreciatively as he drank his tea.
He woke up in bed rested and a bit disoriented. He rolled over and looked at the clock. It was nearly 10! But he didn’t feel as tired. He still felt bloated and sore, but it was less of a problem than it had been earlier when he was ready to bite someone’s head off if they looked at him funny and they cry himself into an emotional puddle for feeling guilty about it. It didn’t stop him from groaning as he got up, though.

He waddled his way downstairs to hear faint music and the sound of running water from the sink. And something smelled simply wonderful. Who could still be here? he thought. He made his way to the kitchen and saw Craig juicing some vegetables, sweaty like he had only just finished working out.

“Morning, bro,” Craig said, smiling.

“Dude, what are you still doing here?” he asked. “I mean, not that I’m not glad to see you, but don’t you have to work?”

“The perks of being the boss is that I can just take some time off if I want to take care of my bro,” he said, drinking his freshly juiced vegetable mix. “Also River’s sick.”

Michael raised his eyebrows. “She is? What’s wrong? Did you call the doctor? Did you—”

“Bro,” he interrupted. “She’s fine. That’s just the official story. It’s just what I told the office.”

“Oh.” He sniffed. Oh God not again. “Don’t worry me like that, dude.”

Craig set his juice down and wrapped his arms around Michael gently. “I’m sorry. I keep forgetting your emotions have gone haywire.”

“Fucking sucks,” he said, sniffing. “Thanks for earlier.”

“No problem, bro,” he said, kissing his forehead. “You hungry? I made brunch.”

“What’s for brunch?” he asked, sniffing. “I’m starving.”

“That’s sausage and lentil stew and it’s not brunch,” Craig replied. Michael looked over and saw that the crockpot was on. The smells wafting from the pot were enticing. They just made him hungrier.

“So what’s for brunch?” he asked. Craig’s arms slipped from around him and revealed an egg casserole with ham, cheese, and spinach keeping warm in the oven. He took it out and used a fork to hold up a bite for him. Michael opened his mouth and accepted the food. Christ, he thought, closing his eyes.

“Good, bro?” Craig said. Michael nodded enthusiastically.

They ate brunch and then spent the day watching various television shows while Craig rubbed his feet. Michael cried every time something remotely happy or sad happened or even stressful happened. Craig took all in stride, teasing him lightheartedly and getting him water.

“Gotta hydrate, bro,” he said, grinning.

“Yeah, yeah,” Michael replied, accepting the water. “I can’t imagine how Smashley did this. It’s so much more uncomfortable than having one child.”

“Was Amanda that different before she was born?” Craig asked.

“My pregnancy with Amanda was a walk in the park,” he said, reminiscing on what it was like. “I didn’t have much morning sickness, I wasn’t tired until the end, I wasn’t that sore. The only thing that she gave me more of was sensitivity to smells. Aside from that it wasn’t so bad.”

“Smashley said the same thing when she had River,” Craig said. “She was always asking for fruit.”

“That must have helped with getting into shape,” Michael replied.

“Do you have any idea how difficult it is to find watermelon during the winter in Maine? Or pineapple? Or strawberries?” Craig asked. “At least your cravings are for food readily available here.”

“Speaking of food,” Michael segued. “I’m hungry again. Tell me the stew is ready.”

Craig sighed jokingly and left to stir the pot. He returned with another serving of the egg casserole which he had kept warm in the oven. “Give it another couple hours, bro, and it’ll be ready.”

Later when Craig went off to pick up the girls from school he set his empty plate aside and settled down for a nap.
Craig returned from picking up the girls a while later. As they walked up the stairs to the door he told them, “Your papa is tired today, so if you’re going to play a game after your homework is done, please try to be quiet.”

“Why is Papa tired?” River asked.

“He’s not sleeping well,” he said holding River up as he struggled with the key.

“Is Papa sick?” she asked.

“No, he’s got babies inside him,” he replied.

“What’s a babies?”

“A baby is like you, tiny bro,” he explained. “But smaller.” The twins rolled their eyes at the nickname he had for all of them. It was River’s favorite word, now.

“Bwo!” she said, clapping her hands. Craig smiled with pride. She began squirming to be let down and he let her run into the living room. The TV was running through the title screen of the show they had been watching when he had left to get the girls. He followed her in and she turned around and held a finger to her lips.

“Papa’s sleeping,” she whispered.

“Okay, let’s be quiet and let him get some rest,” he replied.

He snuck away to check the stew. There was still some time on the oven timer but it would be ready soon. He got out some croutons to put in the soup to add texture for when it was ready and then went into the dining room to see if the twins needed any help with homework. As luck would have it, they didn’t have any math homework for once. Their teacher had been having them write everything out during class, and was particularly fond of long division, something Craig had abandoned as soon as he had gotten his first calculator.

“So why’s papa tired?” Briar asked.

“He hasn’t been sleeping well lately,” Craig explained. “The boys make his back hurt and it’s harder for him to deal with.”

“Why’s that?” Hazel asked.

“He’s not as young as he used to be,” Craig said. “So being pregnant is harder on his body than it would have been earlier in his life.”

“And because he’s having twins it’s even harder?” Briar asked.

“I imagine it is,” he replied. “The important thing to do now is to let him rest if he’s asleep and be understanding if he’s not in a good mood. Try not to take it personally if he snaps at you. You think you can do that?”

“Sure dad. So…” she said looking around and making sure Michael hadn’t miraculously awakened, “has the package arrived yet? For tomorrow?”

“Yup,” Craig said grinning. “It arrived yesterday at the office. We just have to find a way to get him out of the house so we can sneak it in.”

“Papa said the other day that Damien had invited him over for tea tomorrow,” Hazel mentioned.

“He did?” he asked, grinning. “Perfect! When did that happen?”

“We were at dinner?” Briar said. “You were feeding River? Papa said it, like 3 times? You were making those funny faces?”

“I don’t make funny faces,” he said indignantly.

“Go check Michael’s phone,” Hazel replied. “He’s got evidence.”

Craig chuckled and said, “Whatever, tiny bros. Finish your homework and we’ll have dinner.”
Michael, it turned out, woke up just in time for dinner, the scent of stew and the sounds of his girls laughing and shushing each other coaxing him out of his comfy stupor. River was playing with Arnold and one of her other toys on the floor. He stretched slowly, rousing himself from one of the most satisfying naps of his life. And to think that this is technically my second nap of the day, he thought, gratefully. He slowly got up, squat down to pick up River, and waddled his way to the dining room where the girls were putting their homework away and setting the table for dinner.

“Morning Papa!” Briar said.

Michael smiled thinly at his daughter. “Very funny,” he said dryly. He put River in her high seat and sat down, put on his reading glasses, and picked up a newspaper while he waited for the food. Thank goodness I haven’t had any blurry vision yet, he thought to himself.

“Are you excited for your birthday tomorrow, Papa?” Hazel asked.

“As excited as I can be,” he said. “I’m turning 40. No one’s really excited to turn 40.”

“But why?” she asked. “It’s not like you’re just becoming old. You’ve been old for a long time!”

Michael let the front of the paper fall so he could glare across the table at his bro’s oldest daughter. “Remember those Christmas and birthday presents you were expecting to receive ever again?” he replied.

“What about them?” she asked.

“Forget about them,” he said.


“Too late, you’re now the least favorite child,” he declared.

“I think you’re still young and awesome, Papa,” Briar said sweetly.

“Thank you, love. All your presents, Hazel, will now go to Briar,” he said, kissing Briar’s cheek. She immediately wiped it on her shoulder. Just then Craig appeared with bowls of stew which he placed in front of the twins.

“Dad, Papa says that I’m never getting any presents again!” Hazel whined.

“Why’s that?” Craig asked looking at his bro.

Michael kept reading the newspaper as he answered. “She said that it wasn’t like I was only just becoming old and decrepit because I’ve been that way for a long time.”

“Oh.” Craig went back to the kitchen to retrieve more stew for himself and his bro. River had requested a banana, and seemed to be happy with that.

“That’s it? ‘Oh’?” she demanded.

“Yeah,” Craig said. “If my bro says you’re not getting any more presents then you’ll just have to butter him up until you make up for it.”

“That’s not fair!” she protested.

“And it’s not nice to make fun of people about things that are out of their control,” he replied.

Hazel looked downcast. “I’m sorry, Papa,” she said sheepishly.

“Apology accepted,” he replied, folding his newspaper. “Now if you clean your room like I’ve been asking you to do for the past 2 weeks, we’ll be even.”

“Alright,” Hazel whined, poking dejectedly at her stew.

“And no getting Briar to do it for you while you pretend to be her,” he said. “Because she won’t be helping you.”

“I won’t?” she asked, her eyes lighting up in excitement.

“Nope,” he replied. “You get a free pass this time.”

“Yes!” she cheered. Hazel just groaned in defeat.

Michael took his first bite of the stew. He hummed in approval and saw Craig smile in satisfaction out of the corner of his eye. Victory tastes like sausage and lentils, he thought.

Chapter Text

Craig woke up the next morning to find Michael, blessedly, still asleep, curled up around a pillow next to him with another pillow supporting his growing abdomen. He had debated just giving him the pregnancy pillow when it arrived, but he wanted it to be a surprise for his birthday. Maybe that was selfish of him, especially since his bro was already having trouble sleeping at night. At least River was beginning to sleep through the night more often now.

I wish I could do it for him, he thought to himself. No sooner had the thought crossed his mind than he knew how his bro would react if he actually said that. He would give him that wry smile, that playful, teasing glint would twinkle in his eyes before he would chastise him for wanting to do everything and tell him to relax and put his feet up. He smiled to himself. Old habits are hard to break, he thought, staring at his peaceful face. It was so different now than it was when they were in college. More mature, less round. His voice was deeper, too, from the T injections he had started after they graduated and he grew facial and chest hair, which he was particularly proud of.

Suddenly the alarm clock rang (Michael had convinced him to change it to the radio or something since the annoying beeping sound grated on his ears). It just so happened to be one of those clocks you could put your smartphone on and it would play music. So the “alarm” was actually one of his fitness tracks. Michael grimaced and buried his face in his pillow in an effort to escape. Craig groaned himself and rolled over to silence the alarm. At least it was Friday. And it was the day of the baby shower. Craig smiled to himself at the thought, and got out of bed to get the girls ready for school.
Craig’s up to something, Michael thought. He had gotten up shortly after him and when he had failed to head out the door to go to work, it was curious. His bro insisted that he was “working from home,” but something was up. He seemed excited. His leg was bouncing up and down almost constantly when he was sitting down, even after he had worked out and he seemed particularly interested in his plans to get afternoon tea with Damien. Like he was looking forward to getting him out of the house. He also wondered if Damien was in on whatever what going on, since he had been gently insistent on having afternoon tea today, his birthday.

Michael got some work done, since he was completely out of it yesterday. Whatever he had planned, he wasn’t going to let him get even more behind on his work than he was already. He still needed to finish this last project before he could officially ask for maternity leave. Technically he could take off the time already, but he wanted to finish this instead of foisting it off to someone else. Plus, considering how he felt lately and how much longer the pregnancy would take, he was looking forward to not having to worry about work.

He also got a call from Amanda when she had a free period so she could wish him happy birthday. She talked about how her classes were going, which professors were interesting, which were boring, the latest drama around school and such. It was good to hear from her, he just wished that she was actually around, but it just wasn’t possible. And truthfully, school was hard enough without making treks across the country for weekend trips.

Finally, 2:00 rolled around and he wrapped up his business and changed into some fresh paternity clothes and walked over to Damien’s house, quietly satisfied that he was actually able to manage a walk today. Damien greeted him at the door and escorted him into the parlor. Damien gracefully poured some herbal tea, which smelled faintly of ginger and cloves. Perfect for a winter’s day.

“I apologize in advance,” Damien said as he handed him his cup. “It’s a little weaker than normal.”

“I’m sure my doctor will be thrilled to hear that,” Michael replied, raising the cup to his lips. It tasted amazing, as usual. “She’s insisted that I only drink herbal tea and only sparingly. Were doctor’s always this picky about drinks?”

Damien laughed. “I’m afraid I don’t know,” he admitted. “I had Lucien many years ago and they didn’t seem all that concerned about it then.”

“I know what you mean,” Michael replied. “I swear when I was pregnant with Amanda they weren’t as picky about it all. If only there was a caffeine for pregnant people,” Michael said wistfully.

They traded stories about their respective pregnancies. Challenges and struggles they’d been through as part of the experience. Damien, it turned out, had been forced to abandon his vegetarian diet because he couldn’t stand half the food he was used to eating after he got pregnant. Michael told him about how he normally hated seafood but once he became pregnant, he couldn’t get enough of it. Suddenly food he’d never considered eating before, like tuna, salmon, and catfish were regulars at the dinner table.

“I kind of hope that I keep liking seafood after all this is over,” he admitted. “It’s actually pretty good.”

“Is your lover a good cook, then?” Damien asked.

Michael blushed to hear Craig referred to in that way. He actually started to cry again. Damn it, he thought. “He’s been so supportive,” he said, sniffing. Damien gracefully got up and sat down next to him and produced a handkerchief for him. He accepted it gratefully and dabbed at his eyes. “He’s been there every step of the way and he’s so excited to have more kids. I couldn’t ask for a better partner to have kids with again.” He cried softly and Damien held his hand gently until he was done.

“What about Hazel and Briar? Are they excited?” Damien asked.

Michael smiled. “Yes they’re ecstatic to have more siblings,” he said. “They’re already looking forward to teaching River how to play softball. Since they’re about to have two more siblings, they’re trying to plan an entire team. Though that would mean either me or Amanda having another child.”

“You’re not looking to have another child after these two?” Damien asked sarcastically. “Why ever not?”

“Ha ha,” Michael said dryly. “Sounds like my family after I had Amanda. ‘When are you planning to have another child’? Like I’m not currently sitting on the hospital bed and literally just finished giving birth a few hours ago.”

Damien laughed. “Do they know?”

Michael shook his head. “They don’t even know about Craig,” he said. “They’d only call me by my birth name and ask if I was finally through pretending to be a man.”

Damien grimaced. “My apologies. I didn’t mean to bring up unpleasant topics.”

“It’s all right,” Michael said. “What’s important is that I have a family and community that accepts me as I am.”

Damien refilled their cups. “To loving families and cherished friends.”

Michael smiled and clicked their cups together. “Cheers.”

Later that afternoon, Damien escorted Michael back to Craig’s home. As soon as Michael opened the door and walked into the living room he noticed the lights were off. Which was strange, considering Craig and the twins should be home by now. He turned on the lights.


Michael nearly jumped out of his skin. Everyone from the neighborhood was there, even Mary and Robert. The kids were off playing somewhere else (Carmensita was making a killing). Up over the mantle there was a banner that read, “They’re boys!” and beneath it there was a smaller Happy Birthday banner. There were decorations everywhere and gifts wrapped in baby themed wrapping paper. Craig walked up to him with a party hat, grinning widely.

“Happy birthday, bro,” he said kissing his cheek.

“This is… all this is for me?” he replied, dumbfounded.

“This, bro, is your birthday party/baby shower,” he said. He slipped an arm around his shoulders. “And yes, it’s all for you.”

Michael was touched, so of course he started to cry again. “Dammit,” he whispered. “Thank you.”

Craig kissed his forehead. Michael was wiping away his tears with his hand. “Ugh, where’s one of Damien’s handkerchiefs when you need one?” he asked playfully.

“Right here, dear friend,” came a voice from behind them. Michael turned around and accepted it gratefully. Then he glared at him.

“You were in on this whole thing,” he accused.

Damien grinned and gave a flourishing bow. “Of course I was,” he said. “Everyone was in on it.”

“Enough of that,” Craig said. “You’re here! Time to blow out the candles!”

You got a cake?” Michael asked.

“Hey, I can be festive, bro,” Craig replied. In the living room was a cake chocolate cake on top of a fold out table, decorated with two baby boys and the Trans pride flag in the background next to the gay pride flag. Beneath 40 lit candles, anyway. Everyone sang the obligatory birthday song and Michael dried his eyes right before he blew the candles out. Then the games began.

People guessed how big the babies were going to be, what his biggest food craving had been, took bets on whether the babies were going to be boys, girls, or a mix (there was an actual pool for that bet, which Robert was facilitating), what they would name the kids (they still hadn’t settled on names), among other things. They decorated sets of white onesies (Michael was genuinely scared of what Robert and Mary would put on theirs) and held a competition for who was the best. Robert, it turned out, was pretty decent at it. There were little ghosts all over it and it was actually kinda cute. Mary put cats on hers. The most interesting one, by far, was Hugo’s which showcased a baby in masked wrestler costume. Damien, though, drew seahorses on his, a symbolic representation of Michael being a transgender dad. He won, naturally.

Then people brought in gifts of baby items, clothes, toys, accessories, and such. Brian, true to his word, provided a beautiful hand carved baby crib for the babies for when they had outgrown their bassinets. It was made from dark wood and was decorated in flowery ornamentation. Michael actually hugged him in thanks, which Brian returned a bit bashfully. Everyone else’s gifts were a little more reasonable. Mat gave another mixed tape and a set of music themed onesies with guitars on them. Hugo gave a collection of Dr. Seuss books. Joseph and Mary gave sailor’s onesies, the irony of giving him anything ocean themed did not escape Michael. Or Craig, for that matter. Mary also provided a collection of rattling baby toys. Robert gave a set of toys. One was a bear dressed like a vampire. The other was a werewolf, which was also dressed as a vampire, strangely enough. “To protect them from the cryptids,” he claimed.

A few hours of socializing later and everyone meandered back to their various homes on the cul-de-sac. Michael was happy, but drained. There hadn’t been much opportunity to get together with the other neighbors in the cul-de-sac, but God he forgot how exhausting it was to socialize with people, even if they were his friends. The only thing that would have made it better was if Amanda had been there with him. But he reminded himself that he was glad she was in school and he was proud of her.

Craig sat down next to him on the couch. “Did you have fun?” he asked.

Michael smiled. “Yeah, bro. I did. It was a real rager,” he replied.

Craig pressed his forehead against his. “I’m glad, and not just because I planned it all,” he replied. He got up and took his hand. “Now come on, it’s time for my present.”

Michael’s eyes glinted with excitement and followed him up the stairs eagerly hand-in-hand. As soon as they were in the room, Michael wrapped his arms around Craig’s neck and kissed him, Craig returned the kiss readily. He bit his lip and Michael gasped, letting Craig’s tongue in his mouth. He sighed as Craig took control, his tongue exploring the familiar layout of Michael’s mouth, tangling and dancing with his own.

Suddenly Craig broke contact and Michael struggled to catch his breath. He looked up into Craig’s eyes. They were dark with arousal. “As much as I look forward to what’s coming next,” he said huskily, “this isn’t the present I was talking about.”

Michael looked up in confusion and Craig nodded towards the bed. He turned around and looked at the bed. On it was a humongous, U-shaped pillow. Michael looked up at Craig and rushed over to the bed and felt the pillow. It was memory foam. He laid down eagerly and wrapped his body around the pillow.

“Oh God. Oh. God,” he said blissfully. “This pillow is my new boyfriend. It’s not you, bro, it’s me. Me and this pillow.”

He heard Craig chuckle and the sound of clothing hitting the floor. “I suppose I should be jealous,” he said. “But I know for a fact, that you’ll never moan for that pillow the way you do for me.” He felt Craig get on the bed behind him. He felt Craig’s strong hand slip between his thigh and the pillow, slipping up towards the apex of his thighs. He moaned as he felt Craig tease his sex through his sweatpants.

Craig leaned in to whisper into his ear. “You’ll never beg that pillow to get inside you while it drives you up the wall the way you do for me.” He kissed him just below the ear, and Michael moaned. He angled his head and exposed his neck for Craig. Craig eagerly descended upon his neck and sucked at the delicate flesh there and Michael keened. Craig came off suddenly. “As glad as I am that you like your gift,” Craig said. “Do you mind if we put it aside for now?”

Michael kicked the pillow to the floor and laid down on the bed, bringing Craig’s mouth down on his. His hands roamed over his body. His arms, his chest, his back. He felt the muscles as Craig’s hands explored the familiar, yet changing landscape of his body. He gasped as a hand brushed his chest and Craig grinned against his mouth. He squirmed under him as he tried, awkwardly, to take his shirt off. Craig chuckled wickedly.

“It’s ah—not funny,” he hissed. Craig just laughed and kissed his pouting lip. Michael finally managed to get his shirt off and he tossed it to the floor. “You’re terrible, bro.” Craig rolled his over and settled in behind him, taking his cloth bra off and tossing it aside as he settled behind him.

“I may be terrible,” he replied, whispering in his ear. “But I have the most handsome man in the world in my bed.” Craig’s hand creeped below his pants and teased with his clit and he gasped. “And he’s the father of my children and every day I wake up and somehow he’s even more handsome to me than he was before.” Craig resumed kissing and sucking his skin just below his ear.

Michael’s emotional state went haywire. He was touched and it was amazing and he was sobbing, but Craig was also driving him up the wall. His other hand reached around him to fondle his chest and he was about to lose it.

“So I might be terrible,” he whispered again. “But I am the luckiest bro in the world.” He felt Craig’s fingers actually enter him now while his thumb kept teasing his clit and he whined. Craig hummed in delight and kept fucking him with his fingers. He felt Craig’s hard cock pressing into his back. He couldn’t focus on anything. He was being fucked with Craig’s fingers, his other hand was teasing his nipple, his mouth was sucking on his neck knowing full well that his hair would hide any marks that formed and that he actually loved it. His breathing hitched. He could feel his climax coming.

“Bro—I,” he managed. He couldn’t think, couldn’t speak. Craig just fucked him even more with his fingers and his mouth came off him long enough to whisper, “Come for me, bro.”

His cry was captured by Craig’s mouth as his orgasm swept through him. Michael bit his lover’s lip as he came around his fingers and into his pants. He gasped for breath as he came back down to earth, just lying there for a while. He giggled. Giggled. “Christ,” he gasped. “Damn.”

Craig grinned down at him. “You can just call me Craig, bro,” he replied and laughed at Michael’s half laugh half groan sound. A moment later, Michael realized that Craig was still hard and he got excited. They weren’t done. He reached down and awkwardly shoved his soaked sweats off his body and kicked them to the floor, moaning as he realized that Craig’s fingers were still inside him. He looked at him over his shoulder. Craig grinned wickedly and deliberately removed his fingers from inside him as slowly as possible, careful not to touch his clit. He raised his hand up to his mouth and took his fingers, covered in his come into his mouth and began to suck on them.

“Shit, bro,” Michael whispered. “That’s fucking hot.”

Craig grinned and leaned in to kiss him and he moaned as he tasted himself on Craig’s tongue. It was intense, driven by Craig’s yet unsatisfied need. And Michael was feeling himself become aroused again.

“Craig, bro, you need to get inside me. Now,” he gasped, staring into his lust glazed eyes. Craig didn’t even argue. He just moaned as he tore his boxers off and lifted Michael’s thigh with one hand and angled his cock so he could line it up with Michael’s wet hole. He wet himself on the juices still there and slowly thrust himself into his tight heat. Michael tilted his head back and moaned and Craig met him with an open mouthed kiss. Craig assumed a slow, lazy rhythm, angling his shallow thrusts towards the area that caused Michael to melt against him and lowered a hand to tease his clit again and Michael moaned.

Michael reached up behind him to grab Craig’s hair and bring him down for another, heated kiss. “A little to the left, bro,” he said.

Craig adjusted himself and Michael moaned loudly. “Fuuuuck—Christ!” he cried. “God, that feels so good, babe. Keep going!” He kept babbling, alternating between begging Craig to keep going and leaking obscenities. This man knew everything that would make him feel amazing. His head was a fog of lust and pheromones. With every thrust of Craig’s thick cock into his body, his head just got even worse.

“Craig,” he whined. “Craig, bro.”

Craig’s free arm wrapped around his shoulders. “I got you, bro,” he whispered into his ear. He began thrusting faster into Michael’s hole. It was all he could do to reach behind him with his hand, grabbing Craig’s ass and encouraging him in his fucking. He sobbed with every thrust.

“You. Are. The. Most. Amazing. Man.” Craig whispered into his ear. He made a thrust into Michael for every word. “You. Deserve. The. World.”

Michael began to sob with every thrust into his body. His breath quickened and he felt his second orgasm approaching. He whispered into Craig’s ear. “Bro, I’m close.”

Craig quickened his pace again. It wasn’t long before his orgasm swept through his body, as intense as the first and he was vaguely aware of Craig’s pulsing cock inside him, releasing his seed inside him. It was a few more minutes before he came back and he became aware of Craig peppering his head with kisses. He felt sated. He rolled over to rest on his back and Craig moved over before he too collapsed onto the bed breathing heavily. He settled in to drift off to sleep.

“Don’t fall asleep, now, bro,” Craig joked. “Sleepiness is weakness of character, ask anyone.”

Michael grinned. “It is not!” he said.

“You’re acting parent,” Craig said. “You know what happens when you fall asleep?”

“Hazel steals all our personalities and takes over?” he asked.

“That’s right!” he replied.

“And we can’t stop it.”

“Oh well,” Craig said. “I guess that’s where the analogy ends.”

Michael rolled over to look rest his head on his shoulder and closed his eyes and Craig kissed his forehead. “Happy birthday, bro,” he said. “Did you enjoy your present?”

“Which?” he asked, smiling broadly. “The pillow or having you fuck my brains out?”

Craig laughed. “Both.”

“You know what you’re about on the latter, I’ll give you that,” Michael said, dancing his fingers across his lover’s skin. “As to the former… do you mind getting it so I can find out?”

Craig sighed, grinning. “Work, work, work.” He rolled over and got up. Michael watched his muscular ass move as walked around the bed to retrieve the pregnancy pillow from the floor. He turned around and grinned at him. “See something you like, bro?”

Michael smiled. “If you turned around I could see it again.”

Craig walked over and deposited the pillow on the bed and turned around slowly. Michael reached over and smacked him on the ass before he hugged the pillow to his body so that it supported his baby bump. Craig chuckled. “Happy birthday, bro. It’s all for you.”

“Thank you, bro,” he replied, feeling sleep creeping up on him. “I love you. I’ma lucky man.”

The lights went out before he felt a hand brush away his hair plastered to his face with sweat. “I love you, too, bro.”

Chapter Text

A week and a half later, Craig and Michael were standing in the locker room of the local gym, having just finished their prenatal yoga class. It was an incredible and intimate experience, but no matter flexible they got or how enjoyable the session was, Michael was determined to spend as little time in the locker room as possible.

“I’m so fat,” Michael complained.

“You’re not—” Craig began.

“Craig if you say I’m not fat I swear to God I will slug you,” he warned.

“—ugly. You’re not ugly,” he finished.

“Nice save, bro,” he replied. He groaned as he reached to massage an aching area of his back. “God I wish I could jump in the hot tub. I feel like a whale!”

“Yeah, but you’re my whale, bro,” Craig said. “And we can steal Brian’s hot tub when the bros are born and he’s away fishing or something.”

Michael glared at him. “Did you just call me a whale?!” he demanded. Craig turned to grin at him and made some awful impersonation of a whale that sounded suspiciously like it was from Finding Nemo. Michael tried, valiantly, to keep the glare on his face. Then Craig made the noise again. He dissolved into a fit of laughter that lasted the entire time that they were getting dressed. Craig passed him a bottle of one of his protein shakes, adapted to be more suited to pregnancy. It still tasted great, though, and that was the important thing.

They left the gym and Craig looked at him in surprise. “Bro, are you wearing my clothes?” he asked.

Michael looked down at himself. Sure enough, he was wearing one of Craig’s sweatpants from his leisurewear company, one of his shirts, and one of his hoodies. All of them taken from Craig’s dresser before they went to the gym.

“Maaaybe?” he said sheepishly. He looked up at Craig. His eyes held a mix of amusement and desire. His hand traveled down the length of his back and rested briefly on his ass. Michael blushed furiously, desperately hoping that no one was watching.

“Okay, fine yes. I forgot to do laundry yesterday so I borrowed your clothes. Happy?”

Don’t look down don’t look down maintain eye contact, Michael, he thought to himself. The last thing he needed was to see a tent forming in Craig’s pants while they were still in public. He did, however, file the information that Craig thought it was hot for him to wear his clothes. That would prove useful.

Craig still had that look in his eyes. “I am. Very happy.”

“Well, in that case I should tell you that your wardrobe is really comfortable,” Michael replied, his face still red as he waddled quickly to the car and climbed in. I’m never going to hear the end of this, he lamented.

Michael was still wearing Craig’s clothes some hours later. Craig had taken a cold shower as soon as they got home, which gave him some measure of satisfaction. They had been too busy trying to plan for his twins to do anything about it today. Thankfully Hazel and Briar were happy to take care of River while they were getting the room ready.

The immediate problem was how to move the bed. As strong as Craig was, he couldn’t move a queen size mattress on his own. Michael was in no shape to help him due to his condition. He wasn’t about to risk his boys lifting loads he knew he couldn’t handle. If only I could use telekinesis, he thought. Maybe I could be useful, then. Eventually Craig just texted a couple of the other dads in the cul-de-sac to see if one of them was able to come help him out. Brian came over to help him out. Between the two of them the bed was taken care of in short order.

“What color should we paint this room?” he asked when the room had been successfully emptied of furniture. He and the girls were gathered in the room.

“Pink, pink, pink!” Briar crowed. “It’ll be so pretty and they’ll love it!”

“As much as I’m all for dismantling the idea that colors have genders,” Michael said, “I can’t stand pink.”

“Why not?!” she demanded. “Pink is a great color! It’s bright and happy—”

“It gives you a headache,” Hazel interjected.

“Shut up, Hazel, you know you like it, too!” Briar fired back.

“Do not!” she denied. “You just like it because Tommy at school wears it all the time.” Briar gasped and shoved her sister.

“Do not!” she protested. “Take that back!”

“Tommy and Briar, sitting in a tree,” Hazel teased. “K-I-S-S-I-N-G!”

Briar shoved her again. Hazel glared at her and shoved her back and before Michael could blink they were wrangling each other, pulling hair, and shouting at each other.

“Hazel! Briar!” Michael snapped at them as he separated them. “What’s gotten into you?”

“She started it!” they shouted. Michael sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose. “Hazel, you go to your room, Briar, you stay here.”

He looked up to see Craig standing in the doorway with a stern look on his face. Hazel just rushed past him and slammed the door to her room. Michael walked over to him. “How much of that did you catch?” he whispered.

“I heard the part about Briar liking pink, some kid named Tommy, and then they started fighting,” he said. “By the time I got up here you’d broken it up. You want me to talk to Hazel? Divide and conquer and all that?”

Michael took a deep breath and nodded. “Sounds good.”

Craig turned around and headed for the twins’ bedroom to begin bargaining with Hazel through her locked door (which they technically had a key for, but only for emergencies or something). Michael closed the door and looked at Briar, who was crying as she attempted to braid her hair. She seemed distraught, though, so she wasn’t really doing a good job. Michael sat down carefully.

“Come on, let me help,” he said quietly. Briar didn’t say anything but she sat down in front of him and handed him her brush. He started undoing the messy job she’d done already.

“So,” he began. “What’s going on between you and Hazel?”

“It’s nothing,” she mumbled.

“So you two just happened to start fighting today over some guy who wears pink?” he asked.

Briar was quiet for a while as Michael brushed her hair gently. It was beautiful, black, lustrous hair. It was soft and smooth as it ran over his hands, nothing at all like his sisters’ hair. Theirs was thick and prone to breaking brushes. Michael still marveled that he had never really gone through that many hair brushes in raising Amanda. Craig’s home wasn’t that different.

“Hazel likes Tommy,” she said. Michael didn’t say anything. He just kept brushing her hair. “He does wear pink a lot. It’s those shirts with wrestlers on them or something stupid like that. But Tommy doesn’t like her.”

“Why not?” he asked.

“I don’t know,” she said. She was quiet for a while. Michael started doing a waterfall braid in her hair. “My friend Reyna, though, you remember her, right Papa?”

Michael wracked his brain. He was literally the worst at remembering friends’ names for Amanda. He hadn’t gotten any better with his girls. “Was she the one who broke the vase at the slumber party that one time?”

Briar snorted. “Papa, that was you,” she said. “Reyna is the one who got you with the water balloons.”

The light bulb turned on. “She’s the one who filled the balloons with colored water that day I was wearing a white shirt and my nice khaki pants!”

Briar chuckled again. “Yup, that’s her.”

“I liked her,” he said. “That was a good prank.”

“It was great!” she agreed. “Anyway, she told Hazel that she heard that Tommy liked me instead. Because I’m cool, apparently.”


“Right? But the problem is that he thinks I’m cool because of all the stuff Hazel pins on me,” she explained. “So he actually does like Hazel,” she said. “But he doesn’t believe her when she says that she’s the one doing all those things. So then she stopped pretending to be me and now he thinks she’s doing it for the attention.”

“Oh God.” Is this my destiny, he thought. To be forever subjected to twin drama? You two better not get into anything like this, he directed towards his boys.

“So Hazel’s upset because he rejected her but we’re the only ones who know that she was lying,” she said.

Michael whistled. “How long has this been going on?” he asked.

“About 2 weeks,” she said. “We actually got into a fight at school over it.” Michael thought back. He could remember Hazel being a bit more barbed recently. They’d spoken to her about it, but now they seem to have gotten to the bottom of it.

“Does it make it wrong for me to hit her for being mean to me over this?” she asked, interrupting his reverie.

Michael thought for a moment. Jesus, why can’t kids ever ask easy questions? Like, can I please have more vegetables? Why kids, I thought you’d never ask! Of course you can have more vegetables!

“Well…” he said slowly. “No. It doesn’t. Hazel is definitely wrong to take this all out on you. But it doesn’t make it right, either.”

“So what should I do?” she asked.

“Well, since I’m done with your hair, you should help your dear Papa up off the floor,” he said. Briar groaned but she was grinning when she got up and helped him up. Michael huffed and rested one hand on his stomach as he adjusted. “Normally, I would say that you should apologize, but in this case I would be okay with you not wanting to.”

Just then he heard a knock on the door. “Hey, Michael, you guys done?”

“Yeah, we’re done, you can come in,” he replied. Craig opened the door and walked in with an oddly demure Hazel. If she told him the same story Briar had, he imagined Craig would have chastised her strongly.

“Hazel,” Craig said sternly. “Do you have something to say to your sister?”

Hazel mumbled something.

“Can’t hear you, Hazel,” Craig said.

“I’m sorry I pretend to be you, Briar,” she said. “And I’m sorry for taking out my anger on you.”

“Apology accepted,” Briar said.

“So, Michael,” Craig whispered, coming to stand by him. “What do you think Hazel’s punishment should be?”

“We’re punishing her?” he asked. He wasn’t sure he was prepared for this.

“Well yeah. Briar told you about what happened, right?” Craig asked. Michael nodded. “This whole thing with that Tommy kid sucks, but what she did was definitely wrong, don’t you think?”

Michael thought for a moment. The only thing that Hazel really enjoyed doing was sports. She watched shows with them and played games with them, but the thing she really loved was sports. Unfortunately, he wondered whether Craig would be on board with pulling her out of soccer.

“Would you be open to pulling her out of soccer?” he asked.

As expected, Craig’s eyebrows rose. “You want to pull her out of soccer, bro? Isn’t that… excessive?”

“This whole situation is excessive,” he replied. “Would just grounding her be sufficient? She’d still get to go to all the stuff she likes going to.”

“Bro, would you take away Amanda’s camera’s or her photography?” Craig asked.

Michael crossed his arms. “Yes,” he said immediately. “I did it on numerous occasions. I hated it, but sometimes it was the only way to get through to her. Especially if she didn’t get it the first 100 times. How many times, exactly, have you told Hazel not to impersonate Briar?”

Craig was silent for a moment. “Easily 100 times,” he admitted. “Fine, I trust you. I trust your judgment.”

“Hazel,” Michael said. “We’ve talked about it. Since you’ve been told many times not to imitate your sister and it’s gotten to the point where we are now, we’ve decided to pull you from soccer.”

“WHAT!!!” she demanded. “That’s not fair!”

“No it’s not fair,” Craig said. “It’s also not fair to pin Briar with all the stuff you do because it’s convenient.”

“You can’t do this to me!” she shouted at them. “I hate you!” She ran out of the room and down the stairs. The barbed words hit their mark, on both of them. Craig was stunned. It hurt Michael, too. But probably not as much as it did his bro. He took his hand in his, trying to comfort him. Briar was still there, shocked as well.

“Daddy,” she said. “You aren’t really taking her out of soccer, are you?”

Craig’s voice was surprisingly even when he spoke. “Hazel needs to learn that there are consequences for her actions. Being part of a team is a privilege. If you wrong the people on that team, even if you didn’t mean to, that privilege can be taken away. Do you understand?”

Briar nodded, hesitantly. “I’m gonna play with River,” she said, then went to follow Hazel downstairs. When they were alone, he felt Craig exhale.

“Bro, did we do the right thing?” Craig asked.

“I think so,” he replied. He squeezed his hand.

Craig let go and left the room. He headed towards their room and closed the door behind him. Michael hesitated for a moment before he softly followed him into the room. Craig was sitting on the edge of the bed with his head in his hands. He was crying. Michael walked over and sat down next to him. He took wrapped one arm around his bro and rubbed comforting circles into his back.

“She said she hates me,” he said, brokenly. Michael didn’t say anything, but he took his boyfriend’s face and held him as he sobbed.

“I know,” he whispered, tears in his eyes as well. “I’m sorry.”

“I know she doesn’t mean it,” he said, “but God it still hurts.”

“I know,” he whispered again. He kissed Craig’s temple. “I’ve got you, bro. Take as long as you need.”

Chapter Text

Hazel was still brooding a week later. Actually, she became defiant. Refusing to do her homework unless one of them was there to make sure she’d done it. She refused to clean up after herself or eat at all unless she was really hungry. Michael had let her go hungry the first few times until she realized that refusing food was not going to sway him, especially after she had spilled hot soup on herself trying to reach the microwave. After that she just went to Michael to ask for food and he would either get up and reheat some food from that night or tell her to ask her father.

Not that she had apologized. Briar had tried on a couple occasions to get her parents to revoke their punishment so that Hazel would break out of her funk. Craig was tempted, but Michael assured him that she would get over it eventually. Amanda had behaved the same way once over something he couldn’t remember and had said the same things. It had been two weeks before she had come around again. No matter what happened between them, he was still her father. She’d come around eventually.

Still, Craig was a little down in the dumps himself. It didn’t help that he and Smashley had to leave for a week-long business trip in San Francisco. He delayed it for as long as he could, but eventually Michael told him to just go before he was in his third trimester and he was physically incapable of doing anything but eating, sleeping, and going to the bathroom without help. She had said goodbye before she had gone off to school that day, but she had still yet to apologize for what she said to him. And while Craig was still able to go about his business, Michael knew that it still hurt. Hopefully he would be able to get through to her in the week his bro was going to be gone.

They were quiet on the way to the airport. Craig had told him the details of the trip, but to be honest, Michael only followed some of it. He was a financial adviser. He could balance budgets and review stocks and give advice on investments and retirement funds and stuff like that. He knew next to nothing about sales and advertising and manufacturing and everything that Craig’s business did. Craig was good at his business, though, and Michael was proud of him and what he was able to accomplish.

“I’ll miss you,” he said as they stood embracing in the airport. He was crying a bit at the thought of Craig leaving for a whole week. It wasn’t his first business trip, but it was the first while he was pregnant. He would have to go to the doctor alone. Take care of the kids alone. Sleep in his bed alone. He had gotten used to Craig’s presence.

“I’ll miss you, too, bro,” Craig replied. “Don’t overexert yourself. Make sure the girls get their homework done. There’s plenty of leftovers in the fridge—”

“Thanks, superdad,” Michael interrupted. “I will, don’t worry.”

Craig gave a humorless chuckle. “Just… if she comes around while I’m gone, let me know,” he said as he pulled back. There were tears in his eyes. Michael rested a hand on his cheek.

“I will, I promise. Let me know when you land,” he replied.

Craig leaned down to kiss him gently on the mouth. “I love you, bro,” he whispered.

“I love you, too.”

They broke contact and Craig took his suitcase and began to cross the lobby to get in line. River began fussing around and Craig turned back around.

“Dada!” she cried. Craig scooped her up and left butterfly kisses on her cheek, making her giggle.

“You be good, tiny bro,” he said. Michael could tell he was trying to hold it together. He was trying to hold it together himself as he watched Craig hug River gently against his chest. After a few minutes, Craig handed her back to him and turned around to head back into line. He turned around again.

“I forgot to mention,” he said. “I asked my parents to come by and help you out while I’m gone. They should get there this afternoon.”

Michael’s mind raced with a mixture of relief and disbelief. He could, theoretically, take care of the kids on his own, but God was it going to be good to have some adults around to help him out. Especially grandparents, parenting pros.

“How did you forget to mention that?” he demanded. “Thank God!”

Craig just grinned. “Have fun,” he said. He turned around a walked away to get in line. Michael turned around and walked out of the building. If he watched him go, he would just start crying again and he really needed to avoid doing that until he got home. He waddled as fast as he could out of the building and got in the car.

Sure enough, as soon as he got home he noticed their car in the driveway. Considering they weren’t at the door, he assumed that they’d found the spare key. He walked up the porch with some difficulty. Great, he thought. Now I can’t even get up the stairs. With some effort and a lot of dependency on the railing, he managed to make it up the stairs and onto the threshold. He got into the house and leaned back against the door to catch his breath.

“Michael, there you are!” It was Courtney. She hastened over to him and helped him over to the living room. “You shouldn’t be on your feet, dear. Not at this time in the pregnancy.”

“I had to get Craig to the airport,” he said. “But thank you.”

Courtney helped ease Michael down onto the couch and scooted the ottoman over to him so he could put his feet up. He couldn’t help but lean back against the couch.

“Thank God Craig had the sense to call you,” he groaned.

“God knows neither of you is the sort to ask someone to help you out,” she replied. “I suspect he wouldn’t have if it weren’t for the fact that he can’t be in two places at once.”

“Guilty,” he replied.

“Now,” she said, standing up. “You hungry?”

“Starving,” he said. Bryce brought in a bowl of leftovers and gave it to him before he sat down in the recliner next to the couch to read his newspaper.

“Now son,” she said. “How have you been holding up?”

Michael told them all about how his second trimester had been going, how he’d had a few good days but overall still exhausted and sore. How he and Craig had been going to prenatal yoga classes to stay in shape but unless he was doing yoga with him, he could hardly walk anywhere without having to stop and take a rest every five minutes. He was extremely glad that he wasn’t having issues with his vision but he was nearly always hungry and never seemed to be able to get comfortable.

“I feel like I’m the size of a cow,” he said, sniffing. “They said that it would get easier during the second trimester, but I really just want to give birth so this will all be over.”

“I can’t imagine,” Courtney replied. “I was pregnant six times and some of them were rough but I never had to have two at once.”

“This is probably the universe’s way of punishing me for telling Joseph that anyone who voluntarily had more than two kids had to be insane,” he said. “Though that was before I knew he had four.”

Bryce chuckled from safely behind his newspaper. Courtney changed the subject. “Have you and Craig decided on names, yet?”

Michael wiped his eyes. “Not yet, but the list has been narrowed down,” he said. “Mostly because it turns out that nature themed names for boys are much harder to find than they are for girls..”

She rolled her eyes. “That boy,” she said. “Where he got this obsession with nature names is beyond me.”

“You mean you didn’t tell him that you wanted to be able to draw a landscape of your grandkids names?” Michael asked, teasing. “Why not? Who doesn’t want that?”

“Normal fucking people, you doofus,” she replied.

Michael gasped and placed his hands protectively over his stomach. “Hey, they’re supposed to be able to hear you now, you know,” he said, laughing. “They’re gonna come out of me cursing like sailors if you keep that up.”

Courtney laughed. “I would pay money to watch that happen.”

They talked for a while about whether Michael had a plan for the birth, which he did, but because he was 40 years old and having twins, the doctors were leaning towards a C-section. They talked about their converting the spare room into the new room for the twins. Which inevitably led to the fight between Hazel and Briar and the dramatic declaration of hatred. Courtney didn’t say anything, just nodded solemnly. There was no profanity, no sharp wit. Even Bryce closed his newspaper and set his hand in a steeple over his chest.

“Hazel’s been sulking ever since,” Michael said. He could feel the tears in his eyes forming again. “I want to think that we did the right thing, but it always sucked when Amanda did it.”

“It always sucks whenever anyone does it,” Courtney replied. “But the first time is always the worst.”

“I would just like to get through to her before Craig gets back from his trip,” he said.

“Well, I haven’t had a moody preteen in years,” Bryce chimed in, “but maybe we can figure something out. We’re grandparents, after all.”

That afternoon, the girls got home from the bus and burst inside the house shouting for their grandparents. They ran into the living room where Bryce laughed and scooped them up in his traditional hug in greeting. Their backpacks flew to the floor as he swung them around. He set them down on the ground.

“Wait, what are you doing here?” Hazel asked. “I mean, it’s not our birthday or anything. Not that I’m not happy to see you, you know.”

“Your dad asked us if we could help out Michael around the house while he’s out on his business trip,” Courtney replied.

Hazel looked confused. “Dad’s on a business trip?” she asked. “When is he coming back? Why didn’t he tell us?”

“We told you several times, Hazel,” Michael said testily. “You always said you heard us.”

Hazel averted her eyes sheepishly but didn’t respond. Michael sighed.

“He’s coming back in a week,” he said.

“Do you think he’ll change his mind in a week?” she asked.

“No, not really,” he said.

“Why not?!” she demanded.

“Because,” he said looking her dead in the eyes. “It was my idea. I’m the one you need to convince.”

“But it’s not fair!” she shouted. “Tell him, Briar! Tell him it’s not fair!”

Briar looked like a deer in headlights, looking furtively between the adults in the room and her sister.

Poor kid, he thought. No one should have to be in her position.

“I…” she said. Hazel glared at her and she shrank back.

“I hate you all!” Hazel shrieked. She stomped off and ran up the stairs, making sure her stomps were as hard as she could muster. Briar collapsed against the couch and sighed. Michael cringed as he heard the door slam but he got up with some difficulty and walked over to Briar and put his hand on her shoulder. Courtney, meanwhile, followed her angsty granddaughter up the stairs.

“You okay, champ?” he asked.

“Yeah, it’s just…” she said. “Sometimes I just want to scream at her. Is that bad?”

“No, baby,” he said. “It’s normal to be frustrated with family sometimes. As long as you don’t take out those frustrations on them. It’s never okay to hurt the people you love.”

“Then why did you take her out of soccer?” she asked. “Isn’t that kind of hurting her?”

Michael thought for a moment. Damn it, why can’t kids ask easy questions?

He was saved by Bryce, who knelt down in front of her. “Briar, how did Hazel pretending to be you make you feel?”

“Bad,” she replied. “She always blamed me for everything that would get her into trouble.”

“And how many times did your parents tell her not to do that?” he responded.

“A lot,” she said. “Like, all the time. She never listened.”

“Exactly,” he said. “Hazel may not like being punished, but you don’t like taking the blame for what she does. Your parents don’t like getting calls from the school because you got in trouble for what she did. She didn’t listen, and now she has to live with the consequences. Do you understand?”

Briar sniffed but she nodded her head. Bryce smiled. “Good, now what do you say to some ice cream?”

Briar’s eyes widened and she smiled. “Before dinner? But won’t dad be upset?”

“Well,” Bryce said, straightening up to a standing position. “Don’t tell him. A little bit of ice cream when you’re sad never hurt anyone. Unless you’re lactose intolerant, I suppose.”

Briar giggled and followed him to the kitchen where he produced a half gallon container of chocolate ice cream. He put one finger to the side of his nose.

“Our little secret,” he whispered conspiratorially.

Briar laughed. “You got it, grandpa.”

Chapter Text

Whatever Courtney said to Hazel, it seemed to have done the trick. They returned downstairs with Hazel seeming sufficiently chastised. She stared at the floor as her family sat at the dining room table.

“I’m sorry for saying that I hate you,” she said. “I don’t really. I was just angry. And I’m sorry for pretending to be you, Briar.”

“Apology accepted, Hazel,” Michael replied.

“Now,” Courtney began. “What do you all want for dinner?”

“S’ghetti!” River shouted. “S’getti, s’ghetti, s’ghetti!”

“Spaghetti,” Briar replied slowly. “She always wants spaghetti. And bananas.”

Michael chuckled. “We’re working on River pronouncing B and P sounds. It’s a bit slow going. And we have some leftover spaghetti in the fridge.”

“Craig had trouble with H and K sounds when he was her age,” Courtney replied.

The grandparents got started on dinner just as the phone began to ring. Michael got up with a groan and waddled over to it.

“Hey bro!” Craig said from the other end.

“Bro! Hey how was the flight?” he replied, ignoring the groans and chuckles from the rest of his family.

“Cramped, as usual,” he said. “We got waylaid in New York. Our flight was cancelled so we actually just got rebooked. We’re scheduled to arrive in San Francisco late tonight.”

“Aw bro,” he replied. “That sucks.”

“Yeah, but the good news is that the airline upgraded us to first class for the inconvenience. It’ll be a late night, but maybe I’ll get some sleep on the flight.”

“Ooh lucky,” he said. “Enjoy some champagne and that first class food for me.”

“You got it bro,” Craig replied. “How are the girls?”

“They’re good. Now that you mention it,” he said, looking pointedly at Hazel, “Hazel has something she would like to say to you.”

Hazel gulped and took the phone from Michael’s hand. “Hey, dad. How’s it going?”

Michael wandered away so as not to eavesdrop on the conversation. It’s finally over, he thought. Thank God for grandparents. I should get them a fruit basket. Or some whiskey. Courtney would appreciate some whiskey.
“I love you, Hazel,” Craig said. I don’t know what mom or dad or Michael did, but thank God, he thought.

“I love you, too, dad,” she said from the other end. “See you in a week!”

“See you in a week, tiny bro,” he said. He grinned at Hazel’s groan before she hung up. He turned around and walked back over to where Smashley was guarding their carryon bags. Her laptop was out, letting their contacts in California know that they were going to get in late due to flight problems.

“How are the girls?” she asked as he sat down.

“They’re good,” he said. “Hazel seems to be accepting of her situation, if still not happy about it.”

“That’s good to hear,” she said, looking up. “Are you okay?”

Craig released a breath. He was anxious, though he had been trying to hide it from her. Not that he had ever succeeded in that endeavor before, but that had never stopped him from trying. Besides, it was totally normal for dads to have irrational worries about their kids when they were out of town. It was totally normal for expecting dads to be worried about their pregnant partner when they were out of town. No matter what Michael said, no matter that he had practically kicked Craig in the ass to go on the business trip sooner rather than later, no matter that he knew that this meeting was unavoidable, he still felt guilty about leaving Michael alone.

“Dude, bro,” Smashely said, interrupting his reverie. “Michael is going to be fine. The girls are going to be fine. The house is not going to burn down. You called your parents. Grandparents are the universe’s gift to expecting parents.”

“Funny, Michael said the same thing,” he said. “Something about getting this thing out of the way before the third trimester.”

“Craig,” she said, leveling him with her business partner I’ve got no time for your bullshit stare. “Michael is 40. He’s having twins. I was nearly 30 when I was pregnant with Hazel and Briar and the third trimester was a bitch. That third trimester is going to hit him like a 18 wheeler.”

“Exactly!” he said. “That’s why I’m worried. I should be there for him, but instead I’m here on business, going all the way out to San Francisco.”

“As much as it might seem terrible right now,” she said. “Michael is still okay because he’s in the second trimester. The worst is still ahead. Don’t beat yourself up over it. It’s just a week and we’ll be back in Maine.”

Craig breathed took a deep breath. He felt a little better. “Yeah, okay. Let’s just get this trip over with.”

Smashley thumped him on the back companionably. “That’s the spirit!” she said. “Just try to be friendly to the people we’re meeting instead of scaring them off with your protective dad/partner instincts. This deal could be a huge help to our business.”

It was an hour before their flight to San Francisco started boarding and since they had been upgraded to first class, they were among those who boarded first. It took another hour before the plane was actually ready to take off. By the time they arrived in San Francisco, it was nearly midnight and Craig and Smashley were exhausted. They lasted just long enough to get their luggage (which had thankfully been on their plane) and get in the cab to their hotel before they collapsed on the beds. Craig was just conscious enough to send Michael a text before he took his suit off and collapsed into bed on what was perhaps one of the longest days of his life.
Craig walked into back into his home at the end of the week, eager to see his family again. He wrestled with the lock before the door finally opened and he stepped inside, dropping his bag to the ground and setting his suitcase aside.

“I’m home,” he called. Silence. Then he noticed that the lights were all off, except some dim lights upstairs and another in the living room.

That’s strange, he thought. It was still light out outside. Why is it so dark in here? He frowned and his heart began to race. The living room was empty, but the tv was playing. He didn’t recognize the program. The kitchen was empty too. He raced upstairs. The staircase was longer and darker but he finally reached the top of the stairs and went to open the door to his room. It was locked. He banged on the door.

“Michael! Bro, you okay? Say something!” he shouted. Silence. Nothing but silence. He kicked the door down. What he found inside chilled his blood. A skeleton and near it, two crows. One of them looked at him.

“Why weren’t you here for us?” it said in a child’s voice. A boy’s voice.

Craig turned around and raced out of the room, the crows cawing after him. He ran into the nursery. “River!” he shouted. Another crow, but this one didn’t say anything. It just cried, the way River cried when she was lonely in the middle of the night. He raced out of that room and burst into the twins’ room and there were two more crows over two more skeletons.

“You were supposed to protect us,” they said in Briar and Hazel’s voices.

Then the one over Hazel’s bed flew straight at him. “I hate you!” it shouted.

Craig woke up in a cold sweat and gasped for breath. Smashley was standing over the bed with the lamp on shaking him. He rolled over and began crying into his pillow like a broken child. Smashley didn’t say anything. She just sat next to him and put a comforting hand on his shoulder. It was a rare thing for Craig to have nightmares, but not something she’d never seen before. Eventually his breathing steadied and he rolled over and sat up. She got up and handed him a bottle of water.

“Do you want to talk about it?” she asked. Craig was quiet for a while as he thought back on the dream. He glanced at the clock. It was nearly 6:00. Almost 6 hours until their first meeting. They could spare the time. He told her what happened, about the skeletons of Michael and their children, about the crows that spoke with their voices, and about Hazel’s crow, the one that finally woke him up from the dream.

“They’re all alright, Craig,” she said. “The girls are off at school by now. Michael and your parents are probably having a blast playing poker or painting the nursery or something. They’re going to be fine.”

Craig nodded and downed the rest of his water. “We should try and get some sleep,” he said and lay back down on the bed. Smashley silently agreed and clicked the lamp back off and lay back on her bed.

The rest of the night passed more or less peacefully. If Craig had any more dreams, he didn’t remember them. When he awoke from his sleep, he was immediately glad that their initial meeting wasn’t until noon. He also did something he almost never did when he woke up. He decided to forgo his morning workout in favor of coffee and a large breakfast. Lots of coffee. They went to a local café near their hotel and stayed there until they felt marginally functional. He called Michael who was teasingly proud of him for “taking it easy for once.” Smashley grabbed the phone and put on speaker so they could both have their fun with Craig. He went along with it good naturedly.

By time Craig had finished the second cup of coffee, he was feeling better and more optimistic about the whole trip. It was going to be okay.

Chapter Text

A week later, Craig walked down the escalator in the airport and spotted Michael and his mom waiting for him in the lobby. He smiled widely and headed straight for them. As soon as he got there, he embraced his lover gently and kissed his forehead. Then he looked down and got a good look at Michael. He grinned.

“Bro, are you growing a beard?” he asked. Michael, sure enough, had a layer of scruffy facial hair growing. He ran his hand over his face to feel the scratchy bristles forming on his face. Michael, it turned out, was one of those weird people who had brown hair but ginger facial hair. Craig kind of liked it.

“I finally decided that shaving every day was just too much effort,” he replied. “What do you think?”

Craig ran a thumb over his face, feeling its new texture. “I like this look on you, bro,” he said. “Though I’m not sure it works with your hair length.”

“Yeah, I was thinking of cutting it or growing it out,” he replied. “Depends on how lazy I actually am.”

“When you two are finished fondling each other in public,” his mom said. “We could always get back to the house. Unless the flight left you completely rejuvenated, son?”

Craig hefted his bag onto his shoulder. “Lead the way, fearless leader,” he said. He took Michael’s hand and laced their fingers together as they walked out of the airport. Michael squeezed his hand gently.

“I missed you, bro,” he said.

“I missed you, too, bro,” Craig replied.

“By the way, maybe you should try telling your sons to settle down,” he said. “They’ve been going almost nonstop today.”

“I’ll get right on that,” he replied, his heart swelling with pride. “As soon as they’re born, I’ll tell them to leave you alone.”

“You know Dr. Whittaker says that they can probably hear us,” he said. “The girls have been taking turns reading them Harry Potter at night before bed. Your mom refused to stop swearing though whenever there was a basketball game.”

“That sounds like her,” he chuckled. “So I guess it’s my turn tonight, right?”

“You got it, dude,” he said. Then he groaned audibly. Craig looked down at him in panic, but Michael dismissed it immediately.

“Remember how I said your sons have been acting up all day?” he asked. “Yeah, they’ve been really active all day.”

Craig laid his hand on his boyfriend’s stomach. Sure enough, he could feel the babies inside moving around. He immediately began guessing what kind of sports they would be part of. Football, baseball, maybe wrestling. He’d be proud of them no matter what, of course, but he couldn’t help but look forward to going to their games just like he coached his girls’ softball games. Football was the thing everyone always thought of first, of course, but there was huge risk for concussions. His mom would love it, of course, but he would be a ball of nerves. His personal favorite sport was baseball/softball (totally not because his girls played softball).

“I know that this is kinda uncomfortable for you, bro,” he said. “But I’m never going to not be amazed by this.”

“Don’t encourage them, bro,” he said, rolling his eyes, though his mouth twitched into a smile. Craig looked up at him, at his bro’s scruffy ginger beard on his smiling face. He straightened.

“Sure, bro,” he said. “Let’s go home so I can talk to them without people looking at me like I’m crazy.”
By the time they got home, the girls were in bed. It was late, after all, and they didn’t get to skip school just because their dad was coming home from a business trip. That didn’t stop Craig, however, from checking in on them while they slept. He opened their door softly and he gently sat down on Hazel’s bed. She didn’t stir. He leaned down and gently kissed her temple. He got up and did the same with Briar and quietly left the room to let them sleep. There would be time for catching up in the morning.

He happened to look down the stairs as he was heading to his room to unpack and noticed Michael struggling with the stairs. He went down to help him up. It was a slow effort.

“You know,” Michael ground out when they were about half way up the stairs. “You should install one of those electric chair things that go along staircases. Just so my life will be a little easier.”

“Come on, bro,” he said, chuckling. “You don’t need a mobile chair.”

“Says you, dude,” he replied. “You’re not the one carrying twins. Upward movement is a struggle. Your mom had to help me up the stairs to the front porch almost all the time when you were gone.”

“Shit, really?” Craig replied. “Sorry, Michael. I didn’t know.”

“It’s fine, really,” he said. “See, we just have a couple more steps.”

When they finally got to the top of the stairs, Michael immediately took a huge breath and waddled over to their bedroom to sit on the edge of the bed to catch his breath. Craig went over and sat down, relishing the feeling of his own bed, his own home, next to his boyfriend. Right where he was supposed to be. Michael moved to take his shirt off and tossed it to one side of the room. He reached back and took his bra off to fling that in the same general direction as his shirt. Immediately he lay back on the bed.

“Jesus Christ that feels better,” he whispered.

“Are bras that uncomfortable, bro?” Craig asked. “It can’t be much worse than wearing a binder.”

“Binders don’t really get that bad until you’ve been wearing them for a few hours,” Michael said. “Bras are just uncomfortable in general. Imagine me, with my sensitive breasts, wearing a pair of stiff clothes with wire in it so they can be supported properly. It gets really uncomfortable really fast. And that was before I got pregnant.”

“I didn’t realize…” Craig admitted. “It made you happy to wear them, so I never questioned it.”

“Don’t worry about it, dude,” Michael said. “It’s just the average struggle of a body like mine.”

“Have you ever wanted to, you know, have chest surgery?” Craig asked.

Michael thought about it for a while. “I’ve wondered what it would be like,” he admitted. “But at the same time, I have the ironic situation of being FTM, but also having really sensitive breasts. Thankfully, I’ve never really experienced gender dysphoria like lots of other transgender people do, so I happen to be more or less comfortable with my body the way it is. Aside from the general discomfort of being pregnant, anyway.”

Craig leaned back and propped his head up on his hand as he looked down at his bro. “I think you look more handsome than ever, bro.”

Michael blushed, his beard not yet big enough to completely conceal his face. “Come on bro,” he said. “Surely I looked a bit better when I was in college.”

Craig reached over and turned Michael’s head over to look at him. “I remember the first time I met you.”

“Freshman year,” Michael said, smiling. “Good times.”

Craig chuckled, reminiscing. “You were my lab partner for that freshman physics class,” he said. “I remember thinking, ‘there’s no way I’ll ever be able to work with this dude. He’s too hot!’”

Michael just looked at him and listened to his story. Craig continued, playing with Michael’s hair as he spoke. “But then you turned out to be the coolest person I’d ever met and I was afraid that if I ever said anything, if I ever made a move, you’d run away because you were That Dude and there was no way you’d go for someone like me.

There were so many times I looked at you and wanted to, but I could never get up the courage because I was afraid of losing what we had. And now, you’re here with me. I don’t regret anything that happened, because I have three beautiful girls, but used to dream of what my life could be like with you in it.”

“Is it everything you hoped?” Michael asked, staring up into Craig’s warm, brown eyes. Craig stared back down at him, into those beautiful forest green eyes. He could drown in those eyes.

“No,” he said. “It’s so much more than I ever hoped it would be.”

Michael reached over and pulled Craig’s head down to kiss him. Craig laughed as his bro’s bristly beard scratched his skin and he returned the kiss eagerly, sighing contentedly into the kiss. Michael separated them and breathed.

“Let’s go to bed, bro,” he said.

Craig grinned. “With pleasure.”
Michael moaned. He moaned like a starving man sitting down to an extravagant feast. A week of forced abstinence coming to an sudden, welcome end with Craig's mouth between his legs and his tongue teasing his opening, licking, lapping at him like a man dying of thirst. If he ever got tired of Craig eating him out, it was the day he’d die. The way he never even hesitated to go down between his legs licking and fingering his opening, groaning and moaning against him. Michael wrapped his legs around his head, trying to get him deeper inside him. Craig moaned again and Michael felt his tongue teasing his clit. He couldn’t actually see his face from behind his swelling stomach, but God it felt good.

Craig came off him and breathed deeply, rising up on his knees to look down at him. His face was wet with his juices and his fingers still thrust in and out of him while his thumb rubbed his clit. He grinned down and him and Michael thought that his heart might stop.

“Christ, bro, you taste amazing. You have no idea how much I missed this,” he whispered. Michael couldn’t speak. He squirmed beneath him as Craig’s fingers fucked him open. Craig grinned smugly and leaned down to suckle on one of his nipples. Michael gasped and moaned as Craig toyed with his breast. Craig popped off with a grin and withdrew his fingers from his opening. Michael whined at the loss until he saw Craig’s mischievous grin. He held his fingers drenched in his juices up to his mouth.

“Open up, bro,” he whispered. Michael obeyed moaned as he tasted himself on Craig’s fingers. His tongue wrapped around the digits as they moved around in his mouth. Craig’s mouth went to his other breast and Michael moaned around his fingers. His hands wandered over his lover’s muscular arms and his head as he suckled his breast. Craig moaned around his nipple before he popped off and knelt in front of him. He palmed his clothed erection, and Michael’s mouth watered at the outline of Craig’s thick cock. Craig slowly unbuttoned his pants.

“I need your help with a problem, bro,” he said, unzipping his pants. His pants slowly slid down his thighs and he kicked them to the floor. “I can’t stop thinking about your pretty mouth on my big dick. It makes me soooo hard…” He stroked his cock slowly. Michael got up on his hands and knees and took the head of Craig’s cock into his mouth. He licked the head sensuously and grinned as Craig moaned. His hips bucked against his mouth and he opened up to take more of Craig’s thick cock into his mouth, his tongue tracing over the veins as he sucked him.

He looked up at Craig’s face. His head was thrown back and his eyes were closed as he bucked his hips into Michael’s mouth. He took Craig’s cock down to the root and felt smug as Craig cursed when he swallowed the head of his cock. He popped off and grinned up at his boyfriend, pumping his cock lazily with one hand.

“You good, bro?” he asked.

Craig looked down at him, his face flushed and grinned down at him. “The things you do with your mouth should be illegal, bro,” he said, his chest heaving.

Michael smirked. “You’re one to talk,” he replied. “I thought for sure I was going to cum when you were between my legs.”

Craig stroked his cheek with his thumb. “I’ll have to rectify that, then. Turn around.”

Michael awkwardly turned around and braced himself when he felt the Craig’s fingers rubbing against his opening.

“Shit bro,” he whispered. “You’re still so wet for me.”

He bucked back against his hand. “Jesus, just get inside me already,” he whined. “I need you, bro.”

Craig ignored his pleas. “You look so good like this, bro,” he said. He kept rubbing his opening, a couple of his fingers breaching him while another teased his clit. Michael lowered himself onto his elbows and moaned into a pillow as he rocked back against his lover.

“You good, bro?” Craig asked. He could practically hear the shit eating grin that was surely on his lover’s face. Michael scowled.

“Yeah, as soon as you fuck me, Craig,” he complained.

“But I am fucking you, bro,” he replied, thrusting in with his fingers again for emphasis. “And you seem to be doing so well, too.”

“Smart aaasssaahhhhh, ooohhh fuck,” he cried as Craig directed his fingers to a place inside him that made him lose all thought. He shoved his face back down into the pillow as he moaned. Suddenly Craig withdrew his hand from his opening and pressed the head of his cock against his opening. Michael hissed as his boyfriend’s cock breached him, sliding into his tight heat. When he was finally fully seated inside him, he Craig’s arms wrap around him as he leaned down to whisper into his ear.

“You good, Mike?” he asked. He stroked his stomach and his thighs as Michael breathed deeply.

“Yeah,” he said finally. “Apparently a week without sex is long enough to get used to not having it.”

Craig chuckled. “Good to know I was missed,” he said. Michael felt him grip his hips and pull out of him slowly before rocking back into him. It wasn’t really a fast pace, but it was deeply satisfying and it felt amazing to feel Craig rocking into him. He groaned into his pillow. This was actually his favorite position when he was pregnant before. It took less maneuvering around the baby bump.

He gasped as one of Craig’s hands snuck around his waist to tease his clit again. That’s when Craig began to thrust. He pulled himself out of his hole and thrust back in. Michael moaned as he felt Craig’s cock sliding in and out of him, angling toward the place inside him that made him see stars. He turned his head to the side and looked at Craig through his peripheral vision.

Craig leaned down to kiss his the back of his head. “Fuck, dude,” he whispered, increasing the speed of his thrusts. Michael groaned and pushed back against him. “A week without and you feel fucking amazing.”

He slowed himself and delivered a few sharp thrusts and Michael came with a cry, burying his face in the pillow as he felt himself come around Craig’s cock. He was vaguely aware of Craig fucking him through his orgasm from the foggy high of his climax. It felt amazing. He gasped for breath as Craig fucked him faster. It was overwhelming. He let the front of his body collapse as Craig kept fucking him. His thrusts were growing erratic.

“Christ, fuck,” Craig swore. His pace quickened again and Michael felt his cock begin to pulse. “Ooohh shit dude,” he moaned as he came inside his lover.

Michael whined as Craig pulled his softened cock out of him and collapsed next to him. He carefully rolled over to rest on his side and grabbed his body pillow to wrap his legs around. He sighed contentedly as he caught his breath. Craig breathed hard next to him.

“Sorry,” he said. “I meant to last longer than that. But damn, that was great.”

“Don’t be sorry,” he replied. “I’m just happy to have finally gotten off. You have no idea how miserable I was while you were gone.”

Craig’s eyes narrowed and he grinned. “Did you do anything about it?”

Michael hit him with a pillow. “Of course, you pervert,” he joked. “But it wasn’t the same without you.”

Craig laughed and hit him back. “Well, maybe you can tell me about it later.”

“Later?” he asked, grinning.

“Yeah, you didn’t think this was going to be it, did you?” he asked, grinning suggestively at him.

Michael smiled and hummed with anticipation. “I was hoping it wouldn’t, but you have work in the morning, right?”

“Dude, I’ve been gone for a week,” he replied. “I think I’ve earned the right, as the boss of my own business, to take a day off after a good, successful business trip to spend a day in bed with my boyfriend.”

“An entire day?” he asked. “I’ll hold you to that promise, old man. Think you can keep up?”

“Bro, just for that I’m gonna work you so much tomorrow you’ll be begging me to have mercy,” he grinned, the devilish gleam in his eyes making Michael shiver. He bit his lip.

“Well, then,” he said. “Sounds like we’ve got a busy day tomorrow. Better get a good night’s sleep.” He clapped and the lights went out. Craig rolled over to face him in the dark.

“I love you,” he heard him say.

“I love you, too,” he replied.

Chapter Text

Michael sighed as he felt Craig’s callused hands rubbing soothing, gentle circles over his lower back. It helped ever so slightly with the pain in his back, though Michael also just appreciated having Craig’s hands on him. Having the pregnancy pillow helped too, obviously, but unfortunately, he couldn’t lay in bed all day. Or so Craig claimed. Michael would probably spend at least half the day in bed once the girls were sent off to school. Or until River wanted something. Whichever came first.

They were in bed, and though it was a Friday morning and they couldn’t exactly take their time waking up, he was silently glad that Craig was taking this little bit of time to help his aching back. His back was almost constantly sore, now. Smashley had warned him that the third trimester felt like it came early with twins and he had been dreading this.

Dear Universe, he prayed. Please make give me a male body in my next life. Or make me infertile. I’m really over this whole pregnancy thing. Thanks in advance.

He opened his eyes slightly and stared at the little calendar on the end table by his bed. March 9. 3 weeks until Amanda came home for spring break. 3 months until his due date. It was slow going.

“I should get the telescope out,” he murmured. “Do some stargazing when Amanda comes back.”

“You have a telescope?” Craig asked.

Michael nodded. “It’s in a box somewhere,” he replied. “Where did we put those again?”

“In the attic, I think,” Craig said as he yawned. “I’ll climb up and look around when I get home from work today.”

Michael hummed in appreciation. Craig had one an attic that was accessible with a ladder, which meant that the entire area was effectively out of his reach. Stairs were enough of a challenge and the bigger he got, the harder they were. Ladders? Forget about it.

The alarm abruptly went off and Michael groaned as he buried his face in the pillow beneath him as Craig’s hands left his body to turn it off. The blissful moment of peace chased away by the rude, abrasive notes coming from the hellish device. He felt the bed shift as Craig got up to do his morning routine before he woke up the girls. Michael sighed and got up as well to get breakfast started. It was a teacher work day, so he figured he could make the girls a nice breakfast of fresh biscuits, scrambled eggs, and sausage.

The biscuits were being laid out on the cooking tray by the time Craig came downstairs with River in tow. He looked around, confused for a moment.

“Where are the girls?” he asked.

“Teacher work day,” Michael explained as he put the biscuits in the oven and closed the door.

“Really?” he asked. “Got any plans for the day?”

“I might take them to see The Last Jedi,” he said. “It’s on at the dollar theater and they’ve been begging to see it now that they’ve seen the other movies.”

“Dude, you’re turning my girls into nerds!” he joked as he set River down in her high chair. “So you want me to take River to daycare on my way to work today?”

“That would be great, thanks,” he replied as he cracked some eggs in the skillet.

Craig poured some cheerios out in front of River and laughed as she slammed on the high chair and sent some of them flying to the floor in her daily game. She seemed to have gotten tired of bananas now and cheerios were her new favorite food. Cheerios and orange slices. Craig was proud that she was into healthy foods, though Michael knew full well that Amanda had loved fruit as a child and immediately abandoned them in favor of chicken nuggets and fries when she discovered them.

“Hey bro,” Craig said from the table.

“Yeah?” he replied.

“Do you still play saxophone?” he asked.

“Yeah, why?” Michael said. He didn’t play often, but he had joined a little jazz ensemble in college. Between working and being a single father, he had fallen out of practice. And then he got pregnant. Because shockingly, ending a decade long stretch of involuntary abstinence caused his libido to be resurrected and common sense to take a back seat. All in all, he hadn’t played in a long time, but he still knew how. Theoretically.

“I was thinking… since Hazel is out of soccer for the rest of the season, maybe we can replace sports with something else to keep her occupied,” Craig mused.

“Like music,” Michael finished.

“Yeah, like music,” he said.

“Well, it’s been awhile but I can probably find some time to get some practice in or take Hazel to one of Mat’s music nights at his coffee shop,” he replied. “Worst comes to worst, she might get into a boy band or something.”

Craig groaned good naturedly. “Don’t joke about that, bro,” he said. “I’m still holding out hopes that all my girls will be lesbians.”

Michael snorted as he laughed. “Keep dreaming, bro,” he replied. “I’ll see what I can do. She has been a bit antsy lately.”

The rest of the morning was passed in companionable silence as Michael cooked breakfast and Craig read the newspaper while he waited. River was, of course, vocal as she played with her food. She liked to form the cheerios into shapes right before she ate them or throw them at Craig, who would usually retaliate by picking her up to tickle her. Which of course meant that as soon as she was sat back down she would throw food at him again and start over. Michael sat down when the meat was done cooking and watched their antics while the biscuits finished baking. It’s a good life, he thought.
I miss my second trimester, Michael thought as he walked into the doctor’s office a month later for his weekly checkup. Getting up was a struggle. Sitting down was a struggle. Movement was a struggle. Lying down was a struggle. Sleep was a struggle. He struggled with simple things like, tying his shoes. God forbid he drop something on the floor. It might as well be on the other side of the room. He couldn’t reach it either way. The second trimester, usually the easier part of the pregnancy, was cut short by the fact that he wasn’t carrying a single child, but an extra.

My body wasn’t built for this, he thought as he eased himself into a chair. 25 weeks pregnant. 40 pounds heavier than I was at the start of all this. 11-13 weeks to go. God help me. He tried to rub his back as best he could. He wasn’t in pain, exactly, but it was usually sore from the extra pressure.

Some time later he was called into the doctor’s office. He got on the scales. A nurse took his temperature, drew some blood, checked his heart rate, his blood pressure, and measured the rate of his growth before she helped him ease down onto a cushioned chair in the room where he awaited his doctor. She showed up after a few more minutes of waiting.

“Well, Michael,” Dr. Whittaker said. “Your numbers look good, your blood work looks good, you’ve gained about 40 pounds since you started out, so that’s good.”

“I never expected to think that being over 200 pounds would be a good thing again after my first pregnancy,” he joked.

“Sense of humor is good,” she noted with a grin. “Keep that, it’ll help you cope with the stress of preparing for the labor.”

“I’ll try to keep that in mind,” he said with a tired grin.

Dr. Whittaker sat down in front of him. “How are you feeling, Michael?”

“Well, the pregnancy pillow has helped with the sleeping, but I’m starting to toss and turn again,” he said. Dr. Whittaker nodded at that. “My back always seems sore, I can’t walk up the stairs without a push up, and I’m kinda tired of people asking if I’m ready to give birth because I’m ready for the pregnancy to be over, but scared of the actual labor.”

“That’s all normal, shitty third trimester experiences,” she said reassuringly. “I’m not going to make you have bed rest, you seem healthy enough where it seems unnecessary. But I am going to take you off whatever regimen your partner has you on currently. Yoga, isn’t it?”

Michael nodded and she continued. “All right, if you haven’t cancelled your couple’s yoga sessions, do so,” she said firmly. “Also, if you still feel up to having sex, don’t do anything too intense. Have him be gentle and don’t overexert yourself.”

Michael nodded. His sex drive was actually beginning to drop. Craig had been back for about a week and a half, but their sex life was already beginning to diminish. He was just so tired all the time.

“A little bit,” he admitted. “But mostly it’s just having to go to the bathroom at any given moment.”

“Make sure to drink plenty of water,” she added. “As lousy as having to go to the bathroom all the time is, it will help with the constipation.

“When you get home today, I want you to get your hospital bag packed. You have two more months to go, but it’s best to keep it ready, just in case. You might start feeling some contractions soon, but it’s just your body practicing for the real deal, so try not to feel too alarmed when they happen. Any questions?”

“Yeah,” he said. “You wouldn’t happen to have a time machine that I can use to skip to the end of this pregnancy, do you?”

Dr. Whittaker grinned. “No, unfortunately. Call me if you start to feel anything more than mild discomfort, if the contractions last a while or they’re frequent, or if you start to feel full or pressure on your pelvis.”

Michael nodded and groaned as Dr. Whittaker helped him up and walked him to the front of the building.

“I’ll see you next week,” she said.
Michael had no sooner sat his preggo ass down than some inconsiderate asshole decided to ring the damn doorbell. He leaned back against the cushions of the couch and let his head fall back as he cried. It was just for a moment before he was able to prop himself up on an arm and get some momentum going to waddle down the hallway to the front door.

It had better be Damien, he thought. Or Mat. I’m not really interested in talking to anyone else right now.

When he finally managed to get to the door and open it, his jaw dropped to the floor. His heartrate sped up and despite every bone in his body being tired and achy from his pregnancy, adrenaline began to course through him as his brain went into fight-or-flight mode.

“Surprise!” They shouted. They. Mr. and Mrs. St. Claire. His parents.
Craig can you come home? he texted his partner. He was hiding in the kitchen. His parents thought he was getting drinks, and he was milking his pregnant body for all it was worth. He took his time getting them their stuff and was trying to collect himself.

What’s up? Came his reply almost immediately. Over his shoulder his parents were blessedly quiet, assuming that he needed time to adjust to the surprise. He had nearly fainted when they showed up.

My parents showed up. From Florida. They’re in the living room.

I’m on my way. Hang in there, Mike.

He would text Damien as well later. Moving to this neighborhood was a gift from the universe in multiple ways. First, reuniting with Craig for the first time in years and entering into a relationship with him. Second, for there to be a fellow FTM trans man as a neighbor. They didn’t do it frequently, but it was helpful to be able to gripe about the struggles of being trans with someone who was in the same situation. For now, he had to endure his family.

He waddled back into the living room where his parents were reclining on the couch. Toys were strewn across the floor from the girls’ antics that they had still not picked up. He could hear his mother critiquing the state of the home. His home. The home they had invited themselves into when they literally showed up unannounced. He was still hoping that this was a terrible nightmare and that he would wake himself up soon.

“Really, Michelle you need to do a better job keeping your home clean,” his mother chided. He bristled at her blatant, stubborn use of his deadname. “If you ever plan on marrying this man, then he deserves better from you.”

He felt his blood begin to boil. His parents were deeply conservative Catholics. Gender roles and conformity were two of their biggest values.

“Sure mom,” he said bitingly. “I’ll get right on that once I’m able to touch my toes again.”

“I’m just saying, Michelle,” she said, defensively. “That if you plan on being a proper mother for his daughters then you should be setting an example on how to be ladylike. And that includes keeping an orderly home. Can his girls even cook yet?”

“They’re 10, mom,” he ground out. Craig couldn’t come home fast enough. “They’re supposed to be doing homework and watching tv and playing outside.”

“Leave her, be Janice,” his father said. “If she wants to ruin her man’s kids, well, that’s between him and her.”

“For the last time,” he said. “I’m not a woman. My name is Michael Nicholas St. Claire. I’m not Michelle.”

His father scoffed and rolled his eyes. His mother raised a hand to massage her temple.

“How long to honestly plan on keeping up this charade, Michelle?” his father demanded. “You’re pregnant, for Lord’s sake! When are you going to accept that God made you to be a woman and just accept that? You can’t be a man and be pregnant.”

“I am a man,” he insisted. “And I am pregnant. Being pregnant does not make me a woman. Crying at the drop of a hat does not make me a woman. Wearing pants from the maternity section and cloth bras for my chest doesn’t make me a woman.”

“That’s ridiculous,” he said, glaring at him. “God don’t make no mistakes. He made you a woman, by God, you’re a woman.”

Michael groaned and got up, putting his drink down on the table. “I think it’s time for you to leave,” he said. “You can find a hotel somewhere in town. Maine’s cold and it won’t warm up for another month or so. I imagine you’re eager to get back to Florida.”

“We’re here to help you, Michelle,” his mother said sweetly. “We’re not going anywhere.”

“You’re not staying here,” he declared. “And we’re not paying for you to stay in a motel for the next 2 months.”

“Enough of this nonsense,” his father said. He put a hand on his shoulder and Michael recoiled from the touch. “We’re your family. Our daughter. Your kids are our grandkids. You’ve kept Amanda out of our lives but we won’t let you keep them out, too because of your selfishness.”

At that moment Craig emerged in the room from the hallway. Somehow they hadn’t noticed him walk into the house. He scowled at Michael’s father as he put himself between them.

“My partner said you’re not welcome here,” he said coldly, folding his arms across his chest. “Will you leave or do I have to call the cops for trespassing in my home?”

The two men sized each other up, posturing in the way men did when they were getting ready for a fight. Testosterone was permeating the room, hanging in the air, waiting for the pin to drop.

Surprisingly, the whole situation was settled by his mother. “Tony, we don’t want to upset Michelle,” she said, laying a hand on her husband’s shoulder. “Think of what it will do to the babies.”

Her words seemed to work and his father relax and stomped towards the door, muttering about godless liberals or some such. His mother looked at her sadly and followed him without saying another word. Craig followed them to the door and watched as they drove away. Only when they were out of sight and there was no sign of them returning did he relax.

“How are you?” he asked, taking his hand.

Michael didn’t answer. The words wouldn’t come. He stared mutely into Craig’s eyes and something unspoken passed between them. Craig drew him into a gentle embrace, his arms wrapping protectively around him. Michael fisted his hands in the front of his shirt and shirt, his hands brushing against the silky fabric of Craig’s suit. He rested his head in the crook of his partner’s neck and let himself be held.

“They’re not your family, Mike,” he said. “We’re your family now. My parents, our children, our friends, we’re your family now. Your relatives don’t have to be part of that if you don’t want them to be.”

Michael let out a shuddering breath and cried against his lover. Craig bent his neck down and rested his cheek against his head. At some point he noticed tears falling on his hair.

“I won’t let them hurt my family,” Craig whispered.

Michael was quiet for some time, just taking a moment to rest in Craig’s strong, gentle, trembling arms.

“Thank you,” he whispered. “I won’t let them hurt you either.”

Chapter Text

“They didn’t.”

Michael sipped his chamomile tea. Damien had come over to keep him company while Craig left to get the girls. He wasn’t dressed in his usual Victorian getup. He was wearing an ordinary polo shirt and khaki pants with his hair tied back in a ponytail. He provided a soothing, stabilizing influence. Or maybe that was the tea. Or both. Michael was still reeling from the sudden… visit from his parents. They still haven’t changed, he thought dejectedly.

“They did,” he said, resting the cup on his stomach. “It was like a car crash. Everything happened in slow motion from the moment I saw them at the door.”

“So uncouth,” Damien muttered. “Showing up unannounced and uninvited, then insulting the host. At least your beau was able to convince them to leave.”

Michael cursed silently as he felt the tears return. Damien gracefully produced a handkerchief and handed it to him. My parents, he thought ruefully. He dabbed at his eyes as he began to sob again. They couldn’t even be bothered to let me know, then they insult my family.

Damien slid over to him and wrapped an arm around his shoulders. He didn’t say anything, didn’t try to console him or tell him it would be okay. Michael knew that, in some part of his logical, analytical brain. He knew that it would be all right. In time. But right now, this entire day felt like it had been complete shit. And it had started out so well, too.

“Do you mind if I ask you something?” he said when he was able to form words again.

“Not at all, Michael,” his friend replied.

“Are your parents…” he trailed off. The rest didn’t need to be said. Damien paused for a moment before he answered.

“I didn’t come out until after I had gotten pregnant with Lucien,” he said thoughtfully. “My boyfriend at the time, well, he didn’t think much of transgender people and he left. My parents, well, I never was able to tell them why he’d left. They always assumed he was a deadbeat who couldn’t commit to raising a child.”

“I’m sorry,” Michael said.

“Thank you,” Damien replied. “But to answer your question, no I never told them, but I think they knew. After the pregnancy was over and I began to fashion myself as I wanted to present myself to the world, they took it in stride. They never asked. Though I did go to their gravestones after each died and tell them that I had changed my name and who I was.”

“I’m sorry they never got the chance to know you as you are now,” Michael replied, wiping another stray tear from his eyes. He huffed. “I swear, I’m ready to have my boys if only so I’ll stop crying at everything.”

Damien laughed good naturedly. They went back to sipping their tea in companionable silence.

“Say,” Damien said. “Have you ever watched a show called Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood?”

Michael looked at him and shook his head. His friend smiled and dashed out of the house and returned a few minutes later with a laptop and a long cable, which he plugged into the tv.

“I’m certain you’ll love this show,” Damien assured him as he set up his equipment. “It’s about two orphans who try to bring their mother back with a magical formula system and then get sucked into the conflict of a dystopian military state.”

“This sounds like a pleasant show,” Michael said.

By the time Craig returned home with the girls, Michael was crying his eyes out watching the end of the fifth episode of the show. Craig looked at him, at his neighbor, then at the screen displaying some kind of anime and walked away to the kitchen.

“Thanks for agreeing to stick around, Damien,” he said. “I owe you one, dude.”

“It was no trouble at all, Craig,” Damien replied, gathering his things. “Let me know if I can be of any more assistance.”

“Thank you for keeping me company, Damien,” Michael added. “We should do this again sometime.”

“Certainly, my friend,” he replied, smiling. “Just let me know when you’re free.”

Craig walked him to the door and the twins sat on either side of Michael. Hazel put her hand to Michael’s stomach and waited to see if the boys inside him would start moving around. Michael took her hand gently and guided it to where they were usually most active. This was a good day. They had been quiet for the most part. Michael was grateful for that at least.

“Did the doctor say anything about when the babies will be here?” Briar asked.

“No,” he replied. “But we figure that they’ll be due around early June sometime.”

“Have you figured out names for them?”

“Almost. You father insists that they have to be nature names, like the rest of his kids,” he said. “Do you have any thoughts, since we’re on the subject?”

“You should name one of them Spartacus,” Hazel said, excitedly, her eyes aglow with mischief. “You know, like that guy in Rome who fought lions and tigers and stuff with his bare hands! That’d be a great name!”

Michael rolled his eyes. “Sure kid,” he said, ruffling her hair. “Right after we name the other one Hannibal after the guy who tried to take over Rome with an army of elephants”

“Yeah, that sounds awesome!” she exclaimed, jumping up on the couch.

“Hazel, get down off the couch,” Craig said, coming back into the room on his way to the kitchen. “Go and get your homework done.”

Hazel climbed down slowly.

“Is dad angry?” Briar asked.

I swear these kids are psychic or something, he thought. Just not with each other for some reason. “Yes,” he replied. “But not at you.”

“What’s he angry about?” she pressed. “Did something happen?”

“Yes, something happened,” he said. “But don’t worry about it. It’s nothing for you to concern yourself with.”

Briar didn’t seem convinced but before she could ask more questions the phone rang. Michael groaned, sat up, and managed to get up and waddle over to the phone receiver. He picked up the phone and his blood went cold as he heard the person on the other end of the phone.

“Is this the Cahn residence?” his father asked.

“How did you get this number?” he demanded. “I know for a fact that you didn’t get it from anyone here.”

“We looked up a phone book, Michelle,” he replied. “You know, those things that people used to own once upon a time before the Internet. Anyway, I wanted to let you know that we’ll be leaving in a couple days. When are your babies due? We expect to be there for you. We have a right to be there.”

“I’m not telling you,” he said, his voice shaking. He felt ashamed. Here he was defending himself from his transphobic parents and he couldn’t even keep his voice even. He felt his lip starting to tremble. Shit not again, he thought.

Craig, like an angel, appeared. “Is it them, bro?” he asked. Michael nodded and Craig scowled. Michael was a bit taken aback by it. He couldn’t remember the last time he had seen Craig look so… frightening. Like he was pumping himself up for a fight. It was a bit wonderful, actually. The thought of Craig being protective over him, even against his parents was oddly satisfying, though a bit embarrassing, as well.

Craig held his hand out, silently asking for the phone. Michael hesitated, but decided to give it to him since he was on the verge of tears. Again. Why can’t my parents just leave me alone? he thought bitterly.

“Listen,” he said. “You showed up here without warning and demanded that my partner let you into our home. You took advantage of the fact that he couldn’t keep you from coming in and insulted him. If you ever show your face around my family again, I’ll file for a restraining order. Have a nice life.” He hung up, slamming the phone down on the receiver. Hazel and Briar jumped from where they were doing homework nearby.

Michael looked down at the phone in amazement and then looked up at his boyfriend. Craig still looked angry, but also somewhat satisfied and tired. Like he was coming down from an adrenaline high.

“Can we talk about this?” he asked. Craig nodded and walked toward the study. Michael followed him, wondering briefly if they should tell the twins not to follow them. They might just follow anyway if they out of curiosity, he mused. He shrugged and left them alone. If they wanted to know about his family drama, he’d tell them. After he told Amanda. I wonder how she’d feel about this, he thought.

Once they were safely ensconced in the study he looked at Craig, who stood with his arms folded across his chest. He was still angry, Michael realized.

“Did you mean that?” he asked. “What you said to them?”

“Absolutely,” he replied. “I don’t care that they’re your parents, they crossed a line.”

“They did,” he admitted slowly. “It was definitely terrifying to realize that they were here today, that they know where we live.”

“But you sound reluctant,” Craig said.

“Yeah,” he admitted. “I’m not really sure how to feel about it.”

“Glad right, bro?” Craig asked. “I mean, your parents have never tried to understand you. I remember, dude. They didn’t think you should be roommates with me because they said you were a woman.”

“Yeah, I remember,” he said. “But it’s still… surreal. Threatening them with a restraining order is sort of a big deal, dude.”

Craig unfolded arms and took Michael’s hands in his. “Hey, if you don’t want to file the restraining order, I’ll support you,” he said. “I won’t agree with it, but I want you to be happy here.”

“It’s just… it’s complicated,” he replied. “I want them out of my life, I want them to go away…”


“But they’re my parents,” he continued. “I still, kinda, love them. They’re infuriating but still.”

“So do you want to file the restraining order if they come back or would you want to hold off on it?” Craig asked.

“I don’t know,” he replied. “That’s the problem.”

Craig looked into his eyes and Michael felt his eyes well with tears again. “Goddammit,” he muttered.

His bro laughed. Michael retaliated by shoving him.

“You ass, stop laughing at me!” he said, tears rolling down his cheeks. He wiped them away with his palms.

“You know bro, you should be drinking water,” his boyfriend said, his smile teasing and his eyes light. “You’re gonna dry up into a shriveled old raisin if you don’t watch yourself.”

Michael replied by shoving him again, but he laughed. “Bro… thanks.”

Craig smiled. “I got you, bro.”

When they left the room they were startled by two pre-pubescent girls falling through the doorway and onto the floor. Immediately the scrambled to their feet and ran out the door before they could be scolded for eavesdropping. Craig stared after them in shock.

“I guess we should have told them not to listen in on us,” he said, rubbing his neck.

“Bro, they’re kids,” Michael said, taking his hand. “Even if we told them not to they would have done it.”

“So do we punish them?”

“Yeah, but nothing too drastic. It’s been a long day. Like no dessert.”

Craig frowned. “But we don’t give them dessert.”

“We don’t?”

Craig narrowed his eyes at him. “I hope we don’t.”

“And you should always have hope, bro,” he said, grinning. “But sometimes you’ll be disappointed.”

“Maybe you’re the one who needs to be punished, then,” he said, his voice low.

Michael blushed fiercely. His face was probably the shade of a ripe tomato. Suddenly Craig let go of his hand and shot up to his sides. He dissolved into fits of laughter as Craig began to tickle him.

“NOOOOOO!!!” he shrieked. “N-no s-stop! You’re g-gonna make m-me pee!”

Michael backed up against the wall and slid down, trying desperately to get away from his torturous lover. Craig, however, was merciless. He knew every spot on his body where he was ticklish (and there were many).

“Say uncle,” Craig demanded.

“Never!” he cried through the laughter. “Death b-before d-dishonor!”

Then, as quickly as the tickle match had started, it ended, with Michael feeling something leak between his legs. He sat up quickly and shoved Craig away as he looked down at his pants. Around the swollen mound of his pregnant abdomen, he could see the fabric darken. He managed to stop himself.

“Bro, I’m- shit, sorry dude,” Craig said.

“Dude, it’s fine,” he said, a bit exasperated. “But could you get me up off the floor so I can go change?”

Craig hurriedly helped him up to his feet. They avoided the dining room where the twins were supposed to be as they walked towards the stairs. River was playing with some toys in the living room and blessedly ignored them as she was engrossed in whatever game she was playing.

“Sorry dude,” Craig said again when they got to the stairs.

“Don’t worry about it, it happens,” he replied. “When I was pregnant with Amanda, there were a few times when I did this because I couldn’t make it to the bathroom in time. I learned to bring spare clothes everywhere I went. I was actually hoping that I’d have a little more time before this started up.”

“Can I help at all?”

“You mind cleaning up the spot?” he asked. “I’m gonna shower before I do anything else.”

Craig smiled apologetically. “Sure, no problem.”

“Stop beating yourself up, bro,” he said, as he started up the stairs. “I’m not mad, I promise.”

Craig still looked apologetic but he nodded. Michael turned and dragged himself up the stairs. As soon as the water hit his back he sighed. Just what the doctor ordered, he thought. With any luck, this would last a while.