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Sam and Ryan get a call from Alex

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players only. backdated to late November 2015.

When the phone starts ringing Sam lets it go, his pillow pulled over his head, hoping Ryan will pick up, but when it keeps ringing he figures Ryan's out for his morning run or yoga or something sporty and grabs the handset from the nightstand, sneaking it under the pillow and against his ear. "'lo?"

"Hey, man." Alex slumps back in the suite's leather club chair, and kicks his feet up on the coffee table. If the hotel wants to sue him for scuff marks, he figures he'll let them; he's too tired just now to care. "Did I wake you?"

"Yeah," Sam nods, voice still thick with sleep, but he's already pushing up to sit against the headboard. "But it's okay. I should be getting up."

"All right. I won't keep you long," Alex promises, checking his watch for the time. As if it matters, christ – everything to him right now is pretty much only babies and not-babies, with nothing in between. "I just wanted to pass you the good news. Luke and I are fathers now." And damn, it still sounds like complete nonsense when he says that.

"The babies came?" Of course they did but Sam still has to check. "When?"

Alex scrubs a hand over his face. "Two days ago. I'm going to post the news in my journal – just for Citadel, you know – but Luke and I wanted to call our close friends and tell them first."

"That's fantastic," Sam says, all smiles now. "A boy and a girl like you were expecting?"

"Yeah. Kaja Elin, and Rhys Niklas. She's a little older and a little bigger, but people tell me that should all even out around puberty," Alex says, and he isn't even aware of just how sappy his own smile is. "Can I send you pictures, or would that just be too much? I know all babies used to look the same to me."

"You'd better send me pictures," Sam warns with a laugh. "Ryan'll kill me if I didn't get some. And send the weights and all that stuff." He smiles. Dads. Fuck. "How's Luke doing?"

"He's good. A proud papa. Just exhausted to the bone." Back on his feet, Alex begins searching through the bureau for any likely-looking scraps of paper; surely they must have written down the birth information somewhere. "He's amazing with the babies. Completely a natural."

"Which is weird, since he's an only," Sam points out with a soft laugh. "You're the one who should be the natural."

Alex snorts. "Nah, I'm still scared I'm going to do something wrong and break them. One of the nurses told me that the babies can sense that, and so I make them nervous." He rolls his eyes.

"The nurses or the babies?" Sam teases, grinning.

It takes Alex a second – shit, he is tired – and then he laughs. "Both," he tells Sam, flopping back on the bed. "I'm pretty sure I make them all nervous."

Sam laughs. "How long are you guys there?" he asks, trying to figure out whether it's better to send them something now or when they're back in the States.

"Um, we're not sure." Alex blinks a couple times, then tries to focus on the ceiling. "The babies are still in the hospital. You know, the newborn intensive care unit. The docs told us it could be a week, could be two, they don't know yet." Not that he's worried, or anything.

"But everything's okay, yeah?" Sam asks with a slight frown, suddenly concerned.

"They think so. Probably. Some of the kids in there..." Shutting his eyes, Alex now attempts to muster some form of Zen. Sam's boy would likely know how... "Seriously, man. I didn't even know that humans could be so fucked up and yet still survive after birth. You know?" He shudders, his new familiarity with the NICU weighing on him. "We're so fucking lucky. Our kids'll get to live full lives. Eventually."

Sam nods, quiet for a moment. "Is there anything we can do for you guys?"

"Yeah." Alex huffs a soft laugh. "Babysit."

"We'll be glad to – once you're home," Sam says, assuming it's true. "Do you have one of those cot things you take to people's houses? So the babies can sleep wherever they are?"

"Ummm, yes?" Alex replies uncertainly. "Probably. And if we don't have it now, I'm sure we will soon. We've got nurseries set up in our Carmel place and also in our new house on Shawnigan Lake." He gives an exaggerated sigh. "Honestly, Sam? It's like baby clothing grenades hit us. Sheer fucking chaos. Hats with teddy bear ears. Ruffly things. And, like, the most cheerful alligators you ever fucking saw. I've got to tell you, I really don't understand the marketing behind the whole 'friendly carnivore' gig."

Sam laughs. "Don't ask me," he says, tucking his phone between his ear and shoulder as he makes his way to the dressers and pulls out a pair of pajama pants. "I'm only really good for toys and things kids don't actually need."

"Oh, yeah. Man things. God help my little girl." Alex chuckles and scrubs his hand over his eyes. "I've got to go. Luke made me promise I'd try to get some sleep before I head back to the hospital. Tell Ryan hey for me, and I'll send you those pictures."

"You do that and let us know when you figure out what your plans are," Sam says, pulling the pants on. "And tell Luke congratulations. We're really happy for you guys."

"Thanks. Thanks a lot, man. We'll talk soon," Alex replies, before tossing his phone to the floor and twisting the bedspread around himself. Sleep. Right.

Yawning, phone still in hand, Sam heads downstairs and sets the coffeemaker to brew before stepping out onto the back deck and checking the beach for any sight of Ryan.

His timing is good. Ryan has finished his run, and now he's pushing himself through a grueling set of side planks. The sand is torture on his elbow after a while, but the work does great things for his obliques.

Ryan's down on the shore in front of their place and Sam's got an excellent view of him finishing his workout. He even has time to grab a mug of coffee and stands, watching, elbows on the deck railing as Ryan stretches, his form and every muscle fucking perfect.

Getting to his feet, Ryan brushes sand off his legs and snags his t-shirt from where he threw it aside. A blur of movement in his peripheral vision and he glances up – the brilliant smile that follows is pure delight at the sight of his husband. No one else ever gets gifted with that particular smile.

Fuck, he's gorgeous. Sam waves, motioning for Ryan to come on up.

Ryan jogs up the wood stairwell to the deck. "Hey. Good morning," he says, and deliberately takes a step back, because he knows otherwise his instincts will have him jump Sam in a second. "How'd you sleep?"

"Good." Sam grins. "Alex called. The babies came."

"The babies?" Ryan stares at Sam like he's not certain he heard right. Then he gives his lover a crooked grin. "Damn," he murmurs, brushing past Sam and stepping into the kitchen to build his post-workout smoothie. "That... That's crazy. I mean, just trying to picture Alex and Luke holding newborns. You know?"

Sam laughs. "Alex sounded pretty overwhelmed," he agrees, wrapping his arms around Ryan and kissing the back of his neck.

"Good." It'd be tough to say whether Ryan sounds more teasing or more resentful. He laughs softly. "It's supposed to be hard for everyone, right? And he's a bloke who never even wanted kids, so he'd better not get off easy."

Sam laughs again. "It doesn't sound like they are. Apparently the babies are in intensive care for the next few weeks. They're healthy, just early I guess."

"Oh, shit." Ryan looks over his shoulder, meeting Sam's eyes. "Fucking intensive care? Are they worried about permanent damage, or anything like that?" He may be ticked off at Alex on principle, but he'd never wish a drop of harm on the man's children. "Can we help?"

"I don't think so," Sam says, moving away to top up his mug. "Alex made it sound like it's pretty normal. And he said we could babysit when they're back in the States."

Ryan snickers, surprised. "Babysit? Is he completely mental?" He piles chopped fruit into the blender, then adds a handful of fresh herbs. "I don't know how to take care of an infant. Maybe Luke can veto his stupid ass."

"I told him we would," Sam says, pouring his coffee. More than a little confused. "I thought you'd want to." He leans back against the counter. "It's not like they'd leave them with us for days or anything and wouldn't it be practice for when we have our own?"

The noise of the whirring blender fills the room for long moments, and Ryan uses the time to breathe away his defensive posture. He tries to, anyway. Leaning back against the counter, he takes a sip of his smoothie, then quietly asks, "We're not really thinking that way still, are we?"

Stunned, Sam just stares at Ryan for a moment. "I thought we were," he says finally. "You're not?"

With his gaze fixed on the floor, Ryan slowly shakes his head. This is something he has avoided admitting, even to himself. "I don't think so. I can't see it anymore."

"Why not?" Sam asks, his throat tight, his voice thick. He'd thought they had a plan...

Ryan sighs. "Sam, it doesn't fit. Kids? They wouldn't fit into our life together." He frowns then adds, "That's probably always been the case. It's just that it took me a bit to see the reality."

"I don't get why they wouldn't," Sam says, shaking his head. He'd never seen himself as a dad until Ryan came along and wanted a family and now... fuck. "Lots of people have kids in our position. Hell, our friends just had them."

Setting his nearly full glass aside, Ryan slides onto one of the barstools at the breakfast counter. "Is this...? Are you unhappy that I told you this?"

"Of course I'm unhappy," Sam says, his voice raised despite his best efforts. "You've always wanted kids, ever since we met. That was the whole plan. Get married, come out, have kids."

Ryan stiffens, his shoulders hunching at the bite in Sam's tone. "I'm sorry," he says softly. "I always thought that..." He swallows, and attempts to reorder his thoughts. "Perhaps it's time we, I don't know. Reevaluate the plan."

"Why? What's changed?" Sam asks, feeling like this came out of nowhere.

"I've changed, I guess," Ryan replies. Because, I don't actually believe you'll ever really be ready to come out doesn't seem like a particularly constructive statement, to his mind. "We're solid like we are, just the two of us. I don't need anyone but you."

Fuck. Sam doesn't know what to say. His mind's whirling and he feels sick to his stomach and really, right now, he wants to be anywhere but here so he can figure out how he really feels about this. How he can deal with mourning something he hadn't even realized he could lose.

Watching his husband, Ryan gnaws gently on his bottom lip. Usually he feels like he's gotten pretty good at reading the nuances of Sam's expressions; but he's just not certain right now. Shock, sure. Pain also? "I should grab a shower," he says after a long silence, and pads barefoot up the stairs.

Sam doesn't follow Ryan like he usually would when they've been at odds. Instead, he dumps his coffee, grabs a beer from the fridge and a hoodie from the front closet and settles in a chair on the back deck. His feet are freezing but he doesn't give a shit. This whole time that Alex and Luke have been expecting the babies, he's been picturing himself with their own. A daughter usually, strangely enough. And he can't help wondering if Ryan really changed his mind all on his own or if he's fucked up in some way that's made Ryan change his mind. Decide that Sam wouldn't make a good father after all.

Typically Ryan zips in and out of the shower in less than five minutes. That way he can take his time and thoroughly prep his ass for his Sir, and feel fairly ready for whatever – ha – comes. But today he lingers in the luxe master bathroom, letting the hot spray pound down on his shoulders. He feels like dirt. The wounded look he spied in Sam's eyes – it kills him to know that he put it there. It occurs to him now that he should have been anticipating Alex and Luke's announcement, should have already been set with a cheerful response, one free of any traces of bitterness or resentment. But really, how could he have prepared? He even surprised himself with his reaction.

Shaking his head over these thoughts, he pulls on jeans and a faded t-shirt and goes in search of his husband.

Sam doesn't move from the back deck. His feet are numb at this point but that's fine by him: they match the rest of him. He digs at the label on the beer bottle with his nail, trying to see if he can remove it in one piece, focusing on anything but the anger and hurt and confusion he feels. He never would have thought he and Ryan would have swapped positions on this.

"Hey, love," Ryan says, taking a seat on the lounger next to him. He leans forward, rubbing his hands together, trying to think of something which might chip at the stony silence between them. "I'm going to cook breakfast. Picked up some fresh sausages at the market yesterday. So... Do you want your eggs over extra hard, or just hard?"

Sam shakes his head. "I'm not hungry. You go ahead and eat."

Nodding, Ryan swallows hard and sits back, stuffing a cushion behind his head and stretching out on the lounger. "You're not hungry," he murmurs. "Now I know for sure that I fucked up."

"You didn't fuck up," Sam says, blowing out a breath. "But the whole time Alex's sister's been pregnant, I've been thinking about when it would be our turn." He pauses, glancing over at Ryan before looking back out at the water. "I even had dreams of us and our kid."

"Really?" A grin quirks on Ryan's face at the thought. "What were we – we all doing?"

"Having a picnic in the park with her sitting on a blanket between us... us swinging her between us, you know, like you see parents doing," Sam says softly, shrugging a little. "Most of the baby ones are just you or me holding her or him and us being stupidly mesmerized by this new little person..." he trails off, his chest going tight, moisture stinging his eyes.

Well, damn. Ryan feels the air go out of him like he's a balloon stuck with a pin. He can't handle hurting Sam, whatever the issue. Even this issue. "A picnic in the park, eh? What about... What about a picnic in a vineyard?" he asks, smiling a little. "Because I could totally swing that."

Sam glances over at Ryan. Beyond confused at this point. "But you said you didn't want kids."

Biting at his bottom lip, Ryan shrugs a little. "I don't think I realized that you actually did want them," he says softly, his gaze flickering up for a brief moment. "Like, I knew you'd love them like crazy if we ever had any. But I didn't know that you wanted them aside from me wanting them for us. Does that make sense?"

Sam nods. "I didn't. Not originally," he admits. "You know how I felt about being a dad, whether I could be a good one or not, but you had such faith in me and the more used to the idea I got, the more I accepted it and wanted it and when Alex started talking about him and Luke trying to have a family, it just ramped things up. I started really thinking about us having a kid and what that would look like and it's not something I want to miss out on."

Sitting up, Ryan clasps his hands loosely between his knees. "You don't have to come out," he says eventually, hoping he's not about to trigger a landmine. "I mean, I don't see why you'd have to. We keep a private life already. That won't change."

"Why wouldn't I come out?" Sam asks, back to being confused as hell.

Ryan blinks. "What?" he asks stupidly, staring at his husband. "You...? Wait. Shit." Abruptly he climbs to his feet and sets to pacing along the length of the ironwood railing. "You wouldn't come out because of what it would do to your career. What would happen to the kind of roles you get offered. And the thing is, I realized you don't have to go through that, anyway."

It's not what Sam meant but fuck it. "How? We're not going to be able to hide a kid from the paps," he points out, even though it's not the point at all.

"But..." Ryan drags his fingers through his hair. "We hide my collar from the world. Your ownership. If people see me carrying a baby around all the time, then yeah, some of them will speculate the kid is yours. But they speculate already, and they never know for sure. Who cares?"

Sam rubs his hands over his face, his mind whirling with the whole discussion. "Okay, but what if I want to come out?" he asks. "What if I want to be able to give my husband a kiss or hold his hand in public?"

It's like Ryan's knees just give out. He drops back down to the lounger, still watching Sam. "That's your choice to make. Of course." When he speaks again, his voice is barely above a whisper. "Sam, it would completely change your career. Everything."

Sam shifts so he's facing Ryan, reaching out for his hands. "I know it would," he says. "But Jim won't care and all the smaller roles I've been doing won't either, and look at Luke, he's doing really well. It either won't be an issue or it won't matter. We don't need the money and I know I can get enough work to keep me busy. I just might not be doing huge blockbusters or playing the heartthrob," he adds with a smile. "So unless it matters to you what kind of work I'm doing and it's okay if it does, this is something I want to do and you're right, it probably won't be something I'll go announcing from the rooftops. It'll just happen. You, me, out, holding hands, and they can write whatever the fuck they want."

It's a long moment before Ryan can swallow around the lump in his throat, and then he tries to blink back moisture from his eyes as well. "No, it doesn't matter to me what kind of roles you take," he murmurs, his eyes glinting. "You'll still be my heartthrob." The words may be corny, but the sentiment runs deep and true.

"Good, because that's all that matters to me," Sam says, his smile deepening before he leans in for a kiss.

The tight fist around Ryan's heart eases in an instant. He licks out at Sam's bottom lip. "And our kid will be happy, whatever you do," he tells his lover. "Because you were already a gigantic blue action star."

Sam laughs. "True – and don't forget a terminator," he says, amused, before getting more serious again. "We should start planning. Talk about what we really want to do. Adoption? Surrogacy? It's going to take time no matter what so we should start moving on that – if you're sure now and I haven't just talked you back into something you don't really want."

Ryan squeezes Sam's hands. "Let's... Let's talk about that later," he suggests. He already has enough emotional upheaval to deal with, after the last turbulent hour. "How about I cook us breakfast now?"

Sam wants to push. He feels better when things are settled. But he knows enough not to and instead simply nods, "Yeah, that sounds good."