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Best Birthday Yet

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Zen woke up to the sound of crying. His first instinct was to take you into his arms and comfort you, but you weren’t next to him. He rubbed his eyes, but it wasn’t working. He was by himself. Your side was cold.

His thoughts went to the darkest of places, and his heart dropped to the pit of his stomach. Just as his lips formed around your name, he heard your voice.

“Sh, it’s ok, princess. Mommy’s here.”

Zen sat on your shared bed, stunned. Did he hear correctly?

The cries were heard again. “It’s ok. You’re ok. Mommy’s right here, and we don’t want to wake up Daddy, do we?” You giggled and cooed. “That it, sweetheart. It’s ok. You’re ok.” Your footsteps drew closer and closer, and then you appeared in the doorway, pacing and rocking baby back and forth.

Zen rubbed his eyes again. Why were you holding a baby? Mommy? Daddy? He was a father?

Sure, Zen had thought of it sometimes. More often than he’d like to admit. But, he did not remember having a baby with you. He’d remember that.

“Zen?”

You sighed. “I’m so sorry we waked you.” You giggled and sat on the bed. “Go back to sleep. I’ve got her.”

Zen blinked. Her? He looked down, and he couldn’t contain the soft gasp that escaped. She was beautiful. Less than a year old. Chubby and stubby. With white hair already growing. Her pale skin so soft and smooth. And her eyes, not like his ruby red eyes, but a pale grey, so full of curiosity and sleepiness.

He laughed and held out his arms. “Let me see her.”

You smiled. “I should’ve known.” You gave your child to him. “You’re attentive as a husband and a father.”

All the air was knocked out of his lungs. Husband and a father? Did he die and go straight to heaven? His parents still haven’t gotten back to him, and he promised himself and you that he’d propose as soon as he had a better relationship with them. You and he married and with child? It was too good to be true.

Still, he laughed and said, “I’ve got to take care of my girls,” still breathless. He traced patterns on his daughter’s skin. When she yawned, he swore his heart swelled and grew twice its size. He kissed her forehead gently, letting his lips linger on her delicate skin. “I love you.”

“Zen!”

He woke up with a gasp. Sweat covered his entire body, and he was shaking like a leaf in a hurricane.

“Zen, it’s ok. I’m here. I’m right here.” You pushed his hair back and looked at him. “Zen, it’s ok. We’re ok.”

Your boyfriend’s eyes were frantic, darting around and taking everything in.

“Deep breaths, Zen.” You guided his hand so that it rests on your chest. “Follow me.” You breathed in deeply, and Zen tried to follow suit. In a few cycles, he was breathing at the same pace as you. His shaking had stopped, too.

You smiled. “There we go.” You held his face in your hands. “You’re ok.”

He laughed and covered one of your hands with his own. “Thank you.”

“Of course.” You rubbed his cheeks and asked, “Are you alright?”

“Yeah, of course.” Zen kissed your palm and laughed. “Why wouldn’t I be?”

“Well, from the looks of it,” you brushed back his sweat-soaked hair, “you had a psychic dream. Usually, those aren’t the best for you.”

Zen blinked. He stared at your left hand. No rings in sight. He listened closely, but he couldn’t hear a baby’s cries, just your breathing and his. He beamed so brightly. “I did, actually.” He laughed and imagined a ring on your finger and beautiful baby girl in your arms. “But, this time, I think that’s the best dream I had in a while.”

You tilted your head. “Really?” You nodded. “That’s great! Anything worth sharing?”

Zen hummed. “Don’t worry, my queen, you’ll figure it out soon enough.” He kissed your forehead. “Let’s go back to sleep.”

You sighed. “Ok.”

Zen helped you get back under the covers and wrapped you in his arms.

You left a lingering kiss on his lips and whispered, “Happy birthday, Zenny.”

He laughed and kissed you again. “Best birthday already.”