Sting doesn’t think much about having kids until Natsu and Gray adopt the twins.
“Uncle Sting!” Jyoti stands at the top of the playground equipment, grinning down at him and holding out her arms. “Catch!” He yelps, moving toward her hurriedly and scooping her up under the arms as she leaps down fearlessly toward him.
“That was dangerous, little bit,” he chides, holding her tightly against him. She smiles, planting a sticky kiss onto his cheek before squirming out of his grasp and running after her sister. Eira has half buried herself in sand and is piling it on her legs, fascinated by the way it falls.
“How are they always sticky?” Sting asks Natsu, who is leaning against the slide and smiling fondly at his daughters. They look nothing like him or Gray – both dark-haired and dark-skinned – but Jyoti’s mischievous grin is all Natsu.
“Magic,” Natsu replies, laughing and shaking his head. He has glitter in his hair, courtesy of their earlier crafts, and something dark is smudged on his chin. Sting sighs, rubbing his own face, which he’s sure is filthy too. “Everything they do makes them dirty.”
Eira shouts and Natsu immediately moves across the playground, crouching down between the twins and speaking to them gently. Jyoti looks contrite and hugs Natsu around the neck.
“They’re a lot of work," Rogue murmurs, coming up behind Sting and hugging him around the waist. Sting hums in agreement, leaning back and kissing his husband on the cheek.
Later, Jyoti insists that Uncle Sting read to them, so he ends up on the floor of their bedroom, curled up in the reading corner with both girls snuggled up on his lap. They’re both bathed and their hair smells like mangoes, and they yawn and cuddle against him as he reads.
I’ll love you forever
I’ll like you for always
As long as I’m living
My baby you’ll be
“Do you ever think about having kids?” he asks Rogue on their drive home. Rogue doesn’t answer at first, just flicks the windshield wipers on against the rain and leans his head back against the headrest.
“Sometimes,” he says after a moment. The rain makes gentle patterns on the window and Sting traces them with his fingertip, thinking about the way that Eira kissed his cheek goodnight, how Jyoti told him she loved him. He’s amazed how someone so little can be so full of love. “Have you?”
“Not... before,” Sting admits. “But...”
He doesn’t finish his sentence, but when they get home Rogue pulls him into the bedroom and pushes him onto the bed, then kisses him like it’s their first time. Sting moans and pants into his mouth as hands explore his body, gentle touches on his throat, his hips, his thighs. When they come it’s together, crying out each other’s names and holding each other tight.
Afterward they cuddle, Sting’s head pillowed on Rogue’s chest, listening to his heartbeat. The circle of Rogue’s arms is safe and tender and feels like home, but Sting can’t stop thinking about the soft smile on Gray’s lips when he helped Jyoti into her pajamas, or the way Natsu’s eyes lit up when Eira called him “Daddy”.
“Do you want to have a baby?” Rogue asks softly, and something in Sting’s heart vibrates in a way it never has before. Jyoti and Eira had been two weeks old when Gray and Natsu had adopted them, and Sting had marveled at the softness of their hair and the way their tiny hands had curled around his fingers. It felt like something that he hadn’t known was missing had fallen into place.
“I think so,” he replies, bringing Rogue’s hand to his lips and kissing his fingers one by one. “You’re my home, but... I feel like I want a family with you.”
“Me too,” Rogue whispers quietly, and Sting’s stomach does a funny sort of twist. “I want a family with you, too.”
They think about it for a few more months because it’s important and life changing and they want to be sure. During that time Sting pesters Natsu and Gray with question after question, and spends lots of his time babysitting the twins. They’re three now and full of energy, and Natsu and Gray are more than happy to let Sting watch them.
“How did you know you wanted kids?” he asks Gray one afternoon while they’re making lunch. Eira is standing unsteadily on a chair next to them, ‘helping’ with arranging the cheese on a plate. Gray absently moves the sharp knives away from her and hands her a spoon instead.
“It just kind of happened,” Gray admits, peeling an orange and handing a few slices to Eira. She grabs them eagerly and shoves them in her mouth, licking the sticky juice off her fingers. Sting marvels at the way that Gray grabs a cloth and wipes her face without even thinking, without breaking eye contact or interrupting the conversation. “Natsu’s always wanted kids and I just... one day it felt right.”
“Hm,” Sting replies, picking up Eira as she reaches up to him. She wraps her arms around his neck and he kisses her hair, shifting her onto his hip as they move out into the backyard.
That night as he and Rogue are cuddling on the couch, half-watching some terrible show on Netflix, he says, “I want to do it. Have a kid, I mean.”
Rogue turns to him and smiles, then pulls Sting down on top of him and kisses him until they’re both breathless.
They research lots of options and decide to have a surrogate. Yukino is thrilled when they ask her, crying and hugging them both. They have a party together and she can’t stop asking them about their plans, their future, what things are going to be like.
Sting is frustrated by the process – it takes forever to get all the legal stuff out of the way. They sign paper after paper after paper, and so does Yukino, and when they finally get everything in order it takes several tries for her to actually become pregnant.
A year after they make the decision to become parents, Yukino calls them in happy tears and sends them the picture of the pregnancy test. Sting can’t breathe and he and Rogue spend the night thinking of names and planning a nursery and phoning Gray and Natsu to tell them the news.
“What about Ciana?” Sting asks as they walk through the aisles at the store, picking out a stroller and a carseat and a million things that Sting had never considered before. “Or Kiran?”
“I still think we’ll know when we meet them,” Rogue says, picking up a set of receiving blankets and studying them. ”Why does everything have animals on it?”
“Because they’re cute,” Sting replies, taking the package from Rogue and tossing it into the cart. He runs his fingers over a pack of shirts – they're so tiny, he can’t imagine anyone ever fitting into them. Will their child be this small? “Everyone likes elephants.”
“I don’t like elephants,” Rogue insists, picking out another set of blankets instead – these ones are solid and dark blue.
“That's because you’re silly,” Sting says, leaning over and kissing Rogue’s cheek. “C'mon, we have to go pick out a crib.”
They go to every single appointment with Yukino. The first time they hear the baby’s heartbeat, Sting’s chest swells with pride and hope and anticipation, and he doesn’t realize he’s crying until Rogue wipes the tears from his cheeks.
“That’s our baby,” Sting says quietly, placing a hand on Yukino's stomach. She’s showing now, and she looks radiant.
“It is,” says Rogue, pulling Sting tight and kissing his head. He pulls Yukino into the hug too, and she’s also teary because pregnancy hormones are a bitch and she cries at everything nowadays. Her and Sting are good company for each other.
They don’t want to find out the baby’s gender, so they skip that part of the ultrasound, but Sting is fascinated by the tiny fingers and toes they can make out on the screen. He can’t stop talking about it even days later.
“They’re so small,” he says to Natsu as he lifts Jyoti up onto his shoulders. She’s getting heavy now, but he refuses to stop carrying her. “How can anything be that small?”
“Don’t you remember these two?” Natsu asks, crouching down and fixing the barrette in Eira’s hair. It’s so long and curly now, unlike Jyoti who insists on a mohawk. At least they’re easy to tell apart now. “They were tiny for a long time, too. Good thing, cause rocking them both to sleep took forever.”
“Aunty Yukino has your baby,” Jyoti says from up on Sting’s shoulders. She runs her fingers through his hair and giggles. “Is the baby a girl?”
“We don’t know, little bit,” Sting says, following Natsu down the path around the pond. Jyoti reaches down and covers Sting’s eyes and he laughs, shaking his head to dislodge her hands. “We’ll find out soon.”
Yukino goes into labor in the middle of winter – three days before Christmas. Sting starts panicking as soon as he gets the call from her, but Rogue tells him to breathe and shoves him into the car. They’d packed everything up in advance, but Sting still asks Rogue if they’ve forgotten something every two minutes until they reach the hospital.
The doctors and nurses are kind and understanding, and they let both Sting and Rogue stay with Yukino the entire time. Sting tries his best to comfort her, holding her hand and bringing her ice and telling her stupid stories, but he knows he can’t take away all of the pain. He wishes he could.
Fourteen agonizing hours later, Yukino sighs in relief. There’s a flurry of movement and then a tiny, tiny bundle is placed into Sting’s arms.
“It’s a girl,” the doctor says, and Sting gazes down at his daughter in amazement.
“She looks like you,” Rogue whispers, wrapping an arm around him. Yukino reaches out and they grab her hand, turning so she can see.
“Thea,” Sting murmurs. She has soft blonde hair and her cheeks are pink, and her fingers are even tinier than Sting could have ever imagined. He runs his finger over her cheek and she makes a soft sound that immediately melts his heart.
“Thea,” Rogue agrees, placing his hand on her head. He leans into Sting and exhales shakily, wrapping his arm around his husband. “She’s beautiful.”
“She is,” Sting says, and all he can see is this tiny, splendid child who weighs next to nothing in his arms. “She’s perfect.”
“Were we ever this tiny?”
Sting doesn't look up at Rogue as he whispers – his gaze is focused entirely on their sleeping daughter. Rogue smiles, leaning down and kissing Sting’s head. Sting’s finger is wrapped in Thea’s tiny hand, palm resting on her stomach, nose nearly touching her hair. She’s asleep – finally – and the look of absolute adoration on Sting’s face nearly melts Rogue’s heart.
“Probably,” he replies, setting down his book and running his fingers through Sting’s soft hair. Sting hasn’t showered in a while because apparently babies are exactly as much work as Natsu and Gray had warned. Thea’s only six days old and Rogue is fairly certain Sting hasn’t slept for a moment of it.
“She’s just so...” Sting trails off, running his thumb over her fingers and smiling in a way that Rogue has never seen before. It’s both gentle and fierce, and Rogue knows it’s because he would tear apart the world to keep Thea safe.
“You should sleep, love,” Rogue murmurs, shuffling down until he's lying on the pillow facing the two of them. He runs his fingers through Thea’s fine, blonde hair – she's going to look just like Sting.
“I know,” Sting says, yawning and rubbing his face. “I don’t want to move her to the crib, though. She’ll wake up if we do.” Rogue hums in agreement. Babies are surprisingly stubborn about sleeping in the places they’re supposed to.
“I’ll stay up,” Rogue murmurs, gesturing at Sting’s pillow. “We can clean up tomorrow.” The room is a disaster – bottles, blankets and clothing littered over every surface – but Rogue, who is normally a perfectionist, doesn’t mind. “We don't have to...”
He trails off because Sting is already asleep, hand still on Thea’s stomach, snoring softly. Rogue’s mouth curves up into a fond smile and he places a hand on Sting’s hip, shuffling closer until the two of them are cradling their daughter between them.
It’s everything they could have ever wanted, and more.