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Five to Seven Years Early or Two Weeks Late

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“You’re home, right?” Paxton heard Devi say through the phone. 

“Yeah, I thought you were supposed to be on a plane right now? Not that I mind, you did leave your bra here yesterday so come pick it up,” he said, opening the curtain and seeing that her Mom’s car was in front of his apartment. His neighbor’s Christmas lights were blinking even though it was the middle of the day. 

Devi got out of the driver’s door and hung up as he opened his own front door to let her in.

“Flight was delayed until tomorrow because of bad weather in Jersey,” Devi said, coming in and giving him a quick kiss before heading to his beat up couch. “I didn’t leave my bra though, that must be some other girl’s bra.” 

Paxton rolled his eyes and walked over to the couch, lifting a light purple bra with lace and padding up by the strap and waving it in front of her. “You’re the only girl that comes over so it’s definitely yours. I definitely remember taking it off of you last night.”

“Oh.” Devi scrunched up her nose and took the bra from him delicately. “Okay yeah that is mine.” She put it in her purse as Paxton went towards his little kitchen. “Wait, I’m the only girl who comes over here?”

Paxton cringed. He didn’t mean to let that detail out. It made him look pathetic.

“You want some water? Diet Coke? A beer?” He looked in the fridge and hoped she’d forget the other thing.

“I’ll have a beer, no wait, no, water.”

He grabbed two waters and handed her one but he didn’t sit down himself. Just stood looking at her. Devi was wearing this halter top that he was sure if she’d worn in high school her mom wouldn’t have let her out of the house. And she wasn’t wearing a bra. That was nice. He stared for a minute before he heard her say something. 

“What?” he asked, focusing back on her face. A slow, small smile spread across her face. It made him gulp because she really shouldn’t look at people with that kind of fire. 

“I’m the only girl? Seriously?” She didn’t believe him. 

He rubbed at the back of his neck and looked down, willing himself not to blush. 

“I don’t have time, with graduation last month and I’m doing all those grad school applications and working and besides, this year you’ve come home a lot so I can just wait for you to get here if I need the itch scratched.” But it wasn’t the sex he was thinking about, though he really enjoyed that. It was the way he almost fell asleep in her lap while she was running her fingers through his hair while they watched the tenth season premiere of Ted Lasso. Better to keep trying to change the subject. 

“Did you know there’s a physical therapy school in the middle of nowhere Texas that’s rated like number 4 in the top schools that are affordable and legit list?” he asked.

“I did not know that. Is it close to Baylor? I just heard back from them.” Devi held out her arms like a gameshow assistant.

“That’s the fourth law school you’ve been accepted to, right?” He offered his hand for a high five and she took it. 

“Yes it is. But I wanted to talk to you about where you might be going,” she said, slowly, like she was embarrassed to even say it. Her cheeks flushed a little. 

“It’s gonna be really awkward when all the people you’ve been dating at school show up to your graduation and you tell them you wanted to go where your high school ex boyfriend is going to grad school.” He was messing with her but he knew she was seeing people besides him. He knew when she came home and they got together like this it was just casual. Just for fun. But he wasn’t seeing people because he only wanted to see her. Not like he was gonna tell her that though. 

Devi shook her head and sighed. “You make me sound like I’ve got throngs of people at my door every night dying to get me off and tell me I’m the smartest person they’ve ever met.”

“You’re the smartest person I’ve ever met and I’m always dying to get you off so sorry if I assume everyone else just falls under your spell like that.”

Devi pressed her lips together and gulped. He was probably too forward. SLOW DOWN, he thought to himself. The flirting got too real for her, back off, back to aloof and fun and not serious. 

“Remember at Thanksgiving when I came over?” she said, standing up in front of him and reaching for his hand, threading her fingers with his. 

He looked in her eyes and smirked, then tilted his head to the kitchen counter. “Over there, you broke my salt and pepper shakers.” 

Devi laughed. “I forgot about that. I remember though that you were so surprised I’d come over. You were a bit unprepared.” 

“I was surprised but I’ll never turn down a chance to hang out with you,” he said, using his free hand to tuck some hair behind her ear. 

“You were unprepared though.” She said it like he was supposed to be getting something else from the statement and he frowned. 

“What?” 

Devi took a deep breath, she put her free hand on his chest and picked at some piece of lint he couldn’t see before looking back up at him with an awkward smile. “I’m pregnant.” 

“What?” His eyes were wide and throat was dry and his heart might have stopped. But the oddest thing was the part where he got butterflies like the first time he’d kissed her in front of her house junior year. After she fell in that guy’s pool, what was that guy’s name? He couldn’t remember. Or blocked it out after that event shortly after where she tried to date both of them and he broke his arm. 

“Yeah, I took a test on Christmas day and uhhhh yeah,” she said, biting her lip, like she thought he might get mad. 

“Merry Christmas,” he said to himself, and she laughed. It made him feel better. Hearing her laugh meant it wasn’t dire. Was it? “Oh god, is your mom gonna come over here and kill me?”

“I’m feeling fine, thank you for asking,” she said, slightly annoyed. He cringed and put his hand on her waist. Her waist. He couldn't stop himself from glancing at her stomach.

“Sorry! How are you feeling like physically? Mentally? Do you want to sit down? Do you need some crackers or pickles or a cheeseburger?” He started to fret and then he remembered that she was about to graduate and he just graduated and they were both looking at law school and grad school and oh. “Can I get you anything? An abortion? A cake? What do you want to do?”

She softened and took his face in her hands. “How about a cake?”

“From the place with the ganache that causes the same face as when you-” 

“Yeah, they make wedding cakes, right?” Devi said, giving him a timid smile. 

“You wanna get married?” He tried to say more but his mouth felt stuck and his stomach was doing that butterfly thing again. “If it’s just to save your mother from killing me, it’s okay, I can handle it. You don’t have to-” 

“Paxton,” she cut him off. “She’s not coming to kill you. I already told her. Besides, what good are you to me dead? As somebody with a dead dad, gotta let you know that’s not the ideal plan for our kid.” 

Her dad. Oh god. Was she just mentioning her dad in the same breath as talking about Paxton being a dad? Did she say “our kid?” 

“You should sit down, you’re looking a little pale,” Devi said, concerned. Pushing him gently into the armchair next to the couch. But he pulled her to him, so she was perched on his lap, leaning into him. She brushed some hair out of his face and Paxton felt a surge of affection, no, it wasn’t just affection. It was never just plain old affection with Devi. He loved her. He had since he was 16. God, he was a moron. 

“I’m sorry,” he said. “Are you sure? You want to get married? You want to have a baby with me? Right now?”

“Well, if we had planned better I think I’d prefer the timing in five to seven years but yeah, I wanna do it now. I’m obviously pro choice and abortion is healthcare, I have a tshirt, I’ve been to a march, but uh, I’m a little embarrassed that it didn’t even cross my mind. My first thought was,” she paused and looked away, whatever she was about to say she was hesitant. 

“I wanna marry you, I’ll do it tomorrow if you want, tell me your first thought,” Paxton said, squeezing his arm around her a little tighter. 

She looked down and smiled, tucking her head under his chin. 

“Finally, an excuse to see you every day.” 

Paxton closed his eyes and sighed. This was so much better than last night when they were watching TV. 

“And I thought what a great dad you’ll be. If anything, I’m absolutely terrified of how I’m gonna turn out as a mom. But if you’re with me, I don’t think I can fuck that up too much, right?” Her voice was quiet. Again, she was nervous. 

“We can do this and you’re gonna be so fucking good at it. If there were a competition, you’d win it. Definitely. You’re the only person I’ve even imagined having kids with.” 

She sat up and looked at him with tears in her eyes. “Okay so wanna get married? Wanna move to New Jersey until I finish school?”

“God, yes.” 

“Really no hesitation on your part, that’s a good look.”

“I do what I can,” he kissed her. “My mom is gonna flip her shit, like in a good way. But wait did you say you already told your mom? And she’s not coming to kill me?”

“She cracked a smile before she remembered to be worried about it. She’s losing her edge in her old age.” 

“Guess that’s more than one Christmas miracle,” he said, leaning in to kiss her again, but he stopped. “Wait, you’ve known about this for three days? You were here yesterday and you didn’t say anything?”

“It took some effort to get the courage to ask you to marry me, cut me some slack!” She pushed on his shoulder but leaned in to kiss him.

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