[identity profile] annabeth.livejournal.com in [community profile] osgood_asitgets

There's a strange sort of synchronicity to it, that as soon as Carey is settled into his crib, Chris runs a bath for the two of them.

The bubble bath, which smells lightly of wildflowers, is because Chris likes it. The rubber duckie, though ostensibly for Carey, is sitting on the porcelain corner of the tub—for Helm.

Because Chris knows that Helm will think it's funny, and probably try to splash water in Chris's face with the rubber duckie. And as long as Helm doesn't start singing, they should be fine.

Chris tests the temperature of the water, then squirts the bubble bath just beneath the flow of water, watching as the bubbles spring up and fill the tub. He closes his eyes and imagines being in a field full of flowers, and pauses for just a moment to relish the feelings that well up in him.

How many times has he said I love you to Helm? And why hasn't he said it more often? Chris wonders if maybe it's because he resents his boyfriend a little for not loving his own son more.

But that's stupid. Helm is still young and he wasn't prepared for this complication. He hadn't gone into it planning to be a father someday; hadn't picked out wallpaper and cribs and clothes and toys months in advance in anticipation.

Chris thinks of Jenna, of their baby growing in her belly, and the acute sense of loss and sorrow that follows the thought makes his stomach cramp. This time, there will be no trips to the store with her to buy baby things. No cooing over her belly at the baby within.

No holding her at night with his palm curved around her pregnant stomach.

Chris thinks that maybe, just maybe, if Helm had had that experience—the expectation, or even being in the delivery room—he might have fallen in love with Carey the way that Chris had done with both Mackenzie and Sydney.

He opens his eyes and tries to shake off the melancholy, running his hand under the water to make sure it's still not too hot, and then he turns off the faucets.

He's about to turn and call for Helm, when he feels a hand in the middle of his bare back. And then Helm's lips, soft and sure against the shell of his ear, drawing little pictures on Chris's skin with his tongue.

"Chris," Helm whispers, but he draws out the syllable into one long exhalation. Chris reaches up, closing his eyes again, and places his palm over Helm's hand where it's pressed against the bone of his shoulder.

"Dare," he replies. It's quiet throughout the house now, the baby is sound asleep, the water is turned off, and the only sound in the bathroom for several moments is their breathing and the tiny crackle of the bubbles from the bubble bath popping.

And then Helm steps around Chris, and the air goes even more silent because he forgets to breathe.

No matter how often he sees Helm nude, he still never quite acclimates himself to it; can never quite remember how damn beautiful he is, with a faint golden glimmer on his skin and the ruddy flush he gets every time he's bared to Chris's greedy eyes.

Because, without fail, no matter how many times they've been naked around each other—and that includes locker room showers—Helm still retains a thread of shyness.

Red still tints his cheeks, sprawls down over his chest like a splash of warm fall sunlight.

Chris climbs into the tub, spreading his legs apart and holding out an arm. "C'mere," he says, because as much as he wants to just sit and stare and memorise every cut of muscle, every line and hollow, he knows it will make Helm increasingly uncomfortable.

Helm spills some of the bubbly water onto the floor when he gets in, and it takes some wriggling and arranging, but eventually Helm is settled between his thighs, his bare back snug against Chris's chest.

Chris threads his arms through Helm's and smoothes his palms down over Helm's chest, flicking at his nipples on the way down, and allows them to come to rest over Helm's hipbones.

Helm leans his head back, resting it on Chris's shoulder but with his face tilted slightly towards Chris, his breath hot against Chris's neck and underneath his jaw.

Chris shuts his eyes and slides down just a tad, Helm's back growing damp with perspiration against Chris's chest. The water is pretty hot, but the baby's asleep and they have nowhere to be, so Chris just sighs and enjoys the warm weight of Helm's body against him.

"Chris," Helm murmurs, reaching down into the water and twining their fingers together.

Chris is hardening behind Helm, his cock taking an interest, stiffening and pressing up against Helm's ass.

Chris smiles a little, thinking he knows what Helm's going to say—something about how even Chris is insatiable?—but Helm surprises him.

"I'm getting used to it, you know," his boyfriend whispers. This calm bath, the atmosphere around them, lends itself to whispers. "The baby, the formula and diapers everywhere, the baby things. Kind of like having a dog, you know?"

Chris is about to protest that a baby's not a dog, but Helm cuddles up even closer and continues.

"Thank you," he says. "For helping me out."

Chris wants to tell him it's no trouble, but babies are a lot of work and he's been stuck in the role of daddy for far too long already.

When he speaks, he's pretty sure the vibrations from his voice rumble through Helm's chest.

"This is our baby," he says softly. He wonders if Helm will get the significance.

His next words don't really answer that question conclusively for Chris, but they do make something squeeze around his heart like a rubber band.

"I love you," Darren breathes. He nudges at Chris's neck with his nose. He opens his mouth and presses a damp kiss to the flesh there.

Chris wraps his arms around Helm's tummy till they meet in the middle, folding his hands together, and hugging him especially close.

"I love you too," Chris says, and that's how they sit, in silence, until the water begins to cool and their bath is interrupted by the wail of a baby that probably needs a bottle and a diaper change.


Now that the baby's awake and clearly needs something, they have to get out of the bath, which is an exercise in finding the humour in a situation—whacked elbows, knees into thighs, and almost getting Helmer's elbow to the face—all to the concert of the baby howling for someone to come and care for it.

Helm dries off faster and Chris is impressed that he doesn't hang back, looking uncomfortable and waiting for Chris, but that he pulls up his sweatpants low on his hips and leaves the bathroom—in the direction of the spare room.

Chris does trust Helm, but he also knows how new he is at this, so he yanks on his own pajama pants quickly and follows Helm.

He is impressed, though, when moments later the baby quiets.

When he gets into the room, Helm has successfully lifted Carey out of the crib and is cuddling him, one hand supporting his head just like it should be, and the most amazing expression on his face.

Chris almost tiptoes backwards out of the room, kind of feeling like he's not only an intruder on this scene, but that perhaps this is Helmer's problem: Chris is always there to be the training wheels, so his boyfriend never quite learns to fall in love with his son the way that Chris has.

But Helm has an uncanny knack for knowing when Chris is nearby. He says, in a whisper,

"Hey, look, he's not crying any more."

Chris feels a huge smile split his face. Helm sounds absolutely smitten all of a sudden—just like he should be. And even though it has the potential to make Chris feel inadequate, he realises with a tiny pang that Carey settled right into his daddy's arms and stopped wailing.

"I still think he's probably hungry," Chris murmurs back, not wanting to upset the child.

"Yeah," Helm says. He wrinkles his nose, but there's no derision there this time, just a mild distaste as he continues, "and I'm pretty sure he needs a diaper change."

Chris notices Helm's very specific word choice—not, "he's wet", but "he needs a diaper change"—and Chris wonders if Helm is going to hand off the baby and stand back while Chris does the dirty work.

He's all about prepared to either do exactly that, or tell Helmer that he needs to do it himself eventually, when Helm rocks the baby a little in his arms and then moves across the room and carefully lays him down on the changing table.

In just as soft a tone as before, Helm says,

"Can you pass me a fresh diaper?"

Chris smiles secretively and passes over a diaper.

Helm unsnaps the onesie Carey is wearing and pushes it up over his plump little belly, then unsticks the tape on the diaper.

He takes a deep breath as if preparing for a big hit on the ice, and unfolds the diaper. He places a washcloth over Carey, then makes a noise that pretty accurately indicates, oh my God, that's gross—which Chris can't really blame him for—and then he tears a wipe from the plastic container and sets to cleaning the baby.

It may be Helm's first poopy diaper, but he handles it like a champ, tossing the diaper and the wipes in the pail and then powdering Carey before slipping him into a new diaper.

The look of satisfaction and pride on Helm's face is really a thing of beauty to behold. Chris would clap, except Carey's fighting to keep his eyes open.

"Hey, Dare," Chris says. "I know he's going back to sleep, but I also know he needs to eat again—we should bring him into the kitchen and give him a bottle before putting him back down."

"I know," Darren says softly. He pats the baby gently, then snaps his onesie again and lifts him gently into his arms, Carey's head coming to rest on his shoulder, with Helm's hand cupping the back of it.

Chris walks out of the room, giving Helm a couple of moments alone with his son.

And then Helm finds him in the kitchen, warming up the formula, which they've luckily managed to do thus far without setting the curtains on fire—okay, that's pretty hard to do considering they still haven't bought new curtains—or scalding themselves, each other, or the baby.

When the bottle's ready, Chris tests it, then gives it to Helm, who sits down in one of the chairs at the kitchen table and repositions the baby in the crook of his arm.

He holds the bottle to Carey's mouth and Carey opens his eyes and stares unfocusedly at Helm, but begins to suck at the nipple of the bottle.

Chris stands back, leaning against the counter, and watches Helm as he quietly and patiently feeds Carey until the baby spits the nipple out and fusses.

The bottle's not empty, but Carey's clearly done eating for now.

"He is awfully cute, isn't he?" Helm says with a sense of wonder. Chris wants to make victory arms—at last, success!

Then again, he has a feeling Carey's cuteness quotient is going to go down once Helm burps him and the baby will likely spit up on him. Still. It is a very promising beginning.


"Hey, Drapes," Chris says, twisting the phone cord around his fingers. Carey is strapped into the baby seat on the kitchen table, looking around with curiosity, although how much he can see, Chris doesn't know. He doesn't really remember, from the time his girls were infants, how long it took before he was sure that they could actually see him clearly.

"What's up?" Drapes asks, and Chris can hear the T.V. in the background. He considers asking what show or movie he's just interrupted, but instead he tries to remember the purpose of his call.

"I finally talked Helmer into moving the baby's crib into the bedroom. We had it set up in the spare room because Helm wasn't comfortable around the baby yet, but I think it's time. Plus, I'm pretty sure Abby's going to ask to stay over at some point, and that's technically his room."

Drapes laughs. "Why do I get the feeling I know where this is going?"

"We-ell," Chris says, drawing out the word, "I mean, I could ask someone else, I guess, but I know how much you work out and what good shape you're in—"

"As much as I can't wait to see what flattery would come out of your mouth next, don't be ridiculous, Oz. All right. You need me to help move the crib, or watch the baby, or what?"

"I know it's probably awfully short notice, but I'd like to move the crib later this afternoon so it'll be in our bedroom by the time the baby needs to go down for the night. Do you think you could help Helmer with the crib?"

"Sure thing," Drapes says. The sound from the T.V. abruptly cuts out. Chris feels a little guilty; he checks the clock on the kitchen wall. It's just after 3 p.m. "I'll probably be over in about half an hour. Unless you want dinner. You want dinner, too? That'll make it more like an hour."

Chris thinks for a minute—but he doesn't really need to think about it for long. "Yeah," he says. "I'm pretty sure Helmer and I would appreciate it."

He twists the phone cord tighter, till it starts to cut off his circulation in his finger, and then he unwinds it. "D'you think Nick's told anyone yet?"

"I haven't heard anything, but you've been to all the same games and practises I have, Oz. Your guess is as good as mine."

Helmer walks into the kitchen and snags a bottle of water from the refrigerator. "Hey, Chris," he says—Helmer has a bad habit of talking to him no matter what he might be doing, even if he's carrying on a conversation with someone else—"should I give him another bottle?"

"Hang on," Chris says to Drapes. He pauses with the phone a little ways from his mouth. "Nah, I just fed him."

"I'll see you in a bit," Drapes says. He hangs up before Chris really has the chance to say good-bye, which is just as well because as he replaces the phone in the cradle, he glances over in time to catch Helm making funny faces at the baby.

Carey is smiling a little. He's still so tiny, but he's waving his fists in the air, and Helm doesn't seem concerned like he used to. Chris is feeling a little bit like the proud parent twice over right now.

He goes over and wraps an arm around Helm's waist, pressing a kiss to the side of his neck. Helm inhales loudly, a tiny, pleased noise escaping. Chris kisses him again, a little higher up, and realises it feels like it's been forever since they've spent any quality time together that didn't involve an infant.

"Chris," Darren breathes, and leans back against him just a little. Chris doesn't have to be able to see his face to know that Helmer's eyes are closed, his lips parted, breathing shallow with a slight flush on his cheeks.

"Tonight," Chris murmurs close to his ear, "tonight I'm gonna kiss you all over."

Helm breathes out, and Chris is pretty sure there's going to be some hot and heavy making out—at least right up until the baby hiccups, frets, and lets out a scream.

Helm goes tense against Chris, then pulls away. "I still hate it when he cries," Helm says, sounding almost as fretful as the baby.

"It's loud and no-one really likes it when they cry," Chris says gently. "But you learn to decipher what each cry means, and then you can better figure out what to do to make the baby stop crying. Like right now, this is his 'I want to be held' cry."

Helm faces him, a look of surprise—and slight confusion—on his face. "You know that, already?"

Chris doesn't retort that he had to learn because Helm wouldn't. He just shrugs. "I had babies before, remember?" It's not really a truthful reply, because every baby sounds a little different and uses its cry to mean different things, but Helm seems satisfied by the evasion anyway.

Chris unbuckles the straps of the baby seat and lifts Carey out of it, resting him against his chest.

Carey falls silent and stuffs his fist into his mouth, his eyes drooping closed.

Chris smiles. "See? What did I tell you?" He doesn't tell Helm that sometimes it isn't this easy; he doesn't mention the fact that a colicky baby—and Carey might be, he's not sure—will sometimes cry for hours, sounding utterly miserable, and nothing really works to quiet it.

Helm hops up onto the table and reaches out a hand, messing up the fluff on the back of Carey's head. "Is he asleep?"

Chris realises he's swaying a little, but he doesn't stop. "Yeah, I think so. I can't put him down, because Drapes is going to be over in a bit to help move the crib, but I am gonna go sit in the rocking chair with him."

Helm gives him a crooked smile. "Okay, babe," he says. He swings his feet and leans back on his elbows, and dammit, but he looks so adorable and hot all at the same time that Chris just wants to put the baby down and tackle him.

He doesn't, though. He plays the responsible adult (instead of the horny and impatient teenager lurking inside him) and arranges himself and Carey in the rocking chair.

He considers rocking it back and forth, but Carey is so content, drooling a little on his t-shirt, that Chris just strokes circles over the tiny back and tries to be quiet and still, so as not to wake him.

He can hear Helmer in the kitchen, in and out of the fridge, humming to himself as he gets plates out of the cupboard. Chris grins. Helmer can make a plain sandwich—as long as it doesn't involve a stove, microwave, or (for that matter) a can-opener—and even if he eats now, he'll still devour whatever Julie sends over.

Chris thinks sometimes Julie's right to worry about whether they're eating enough, because Helm eats constantly and never seems to be full.

But Helm also never complains if their dinner is inedible—which happens more often than either of them would like—and he never whines that he's hungry, even if it does mean that sometimes they show up for a game and Chris has to keep guard as Helm snitches food before they're technically supposed to eat it.

Carey snuffles in his sleep and shifts a little, tiny feet pushing against Chris's chest for a moment; Chris thinks of the little baby in his arms and figures, oh shit, we really are going to have to learn to cook eventually.

Maybe Drapes will babysit while they go for cooking lessons? Maybe they can bring Carey to Drapes's and Julie can try and teach him and Helm how to cook like she does?

He has a feeling they're hopeless, but the kid can't grow up eating only take-out, fast-food, and food out of a can, so. Chris's eyelids hover half-way between open and closed. A problem for another time...

He's shaken from his doze by a hand on his knee. Drapes is standing over him, laughing silently. In a hushed tone, he says,

"You look so domestic. And I'm impressed that that baby is still asleep, having to put up with you all the time."

"Hey," Chris protests softly. "I used to be quite domestic."

"Yeah, but it's more amusing watching you and Helm try to move around each other like a couple. I mean—"

"I know what you mean," Chris says darkly. He has a feeling Drapes wants to make a crack about them being like a 'married couple' but Chris doesn't think he can hear those words spoken in derision. So he and Helm can't get married; so what? It's not like their relationship is any less valid or any less lasting.

But there's one thing that Drapes is right about: in the months they've been living together, they've learned how to navigate in and out of each other's personal space; they've come to understand when it's okay and even encouraged to step into that space and touch the other, and when it's not—they both have their moods.

They've really come to understand each other in that wordless way that you do when you've been with the same person for a long time. Except, in their case, Chris is impressed how quickly they've found this routine with each other, when it actually hasn't been that long.

It's painful to think about, but Chris knows that it took him and Jenna much longer to learn each other's habits, to find a groove that worked once they were married and saw each other day in and day out. And maybe that's because she wasn't his chosen sex—or maybe it's because, with Helmer, Chris has already spent so much time around him in the locker room (and vice versa) that they didn't really need as much of an adjustment period.

Drapes drops down onto the couch across from Chris. Chris doesn't mention that Drapes's thigh is currently covering a come-stain.

"So, Ozzie," Drapes says. "You know Helmer's eating a sandwich? Did you tell him I was bringing dinner?"

"I probably forgot, but it's okay. He'll still eat anyway."

"So, when do you want me to help Helmer move the crib?" Drapes slings one arm over the back of the couch and rests his head on it.

"How about now?" Chris says, feeling a little bit of evil glee over making Drapes get up right after he sat down.

Drapes rolls his eyes. "Fine, but you're a slavedriver, you know that?"

"I'm sure," Chris says sarcastically. His best friend waves a hand at him in a dismissive gesture, but he gets up from the couch.

Helmer steps into the room, his half-eaten sandwich in one hand and his bottle of water in the other. He eyes Drapes, then gives Chris a dirty look.

"Can't I at least finish my sandwich first?"

It's Chris's turn to roll his eyes. "Dare," he says patiently, "I know you can finish that in two bites. But once you're done, Drapes is going to help you move the crib while I hold the baby."

Helm scowls, but he takes a huge bite and actually polishes off his sandwich in one bite. Chris smothers a grin. His boyfriend is not only predictable, but competitive. Then again, that's part of what makes him such an excellent hockey player: his willingness to compete, and his drive to be the best at what he does, no matter what his role is.

Helm sucks down some of his water, then sets it down on the coffee table and trots after Drapes towards the spare room.

Drapes and Helm manage to move the crib, but Chris winces each time they bang it into a piece of furniture or into the door frame; then again, judging from the water bottle sweating on the coffee table and staining the wood, Chris gets the impression that Helmer isn't going to notice—or care—about nicks in the furniture.

Chris thinks fondly of the beautiful new crib and resigns himself to scuffs and marks on it now. Oh well.

Unfortunately, all the noise wakes Carey, who screams right next to Chris's ear, pretty much giving him an instant headache.

"Shhh," he murmurs, using his feet to push against the floor and set the chair rocking. He shifts the baby so that Carey is in the crook of his arm, and Carey's tiny face is red and screwed up tightly as he howls.

"It's all right, baby, it's just noise," Chris tells him, but the rocking doesn't help and talking to him isn't helping either.

He can almost hear, over the sound of Carey's cries, Helm and Drapes in conversation.

But he doesn't need to make out Helm's words to know his boyfriend is probably complaining to Drapes about how much Carey seems to cry.

Although... Carey does cry a lot. He seems to be in distress more than he's happy or content, and he sleeps for only an hour or two during the nights before waking them both up, even though some of those times he's not wet and he's not hungry—he's just crying.

"Come on now," Chris soothes. "Let's go back to sleep, huh? I know how tired you must be."

Carey cries louder. Chris feels the headache spread fingers of pain through not only his entire head, but down the back of his neck.

He continues to rock in the chair, hoping for a miracle.

But it's still a failure of epic proportions, so he gets up and begins to pace the living room, bouncing Carey a little in his arms, trying to quiet him.

Sydney was a little fussy as an infant, but still, it was nothing like this.

Eventually, Chris walks into the bedroom, where Helm and Drapes are shoving the crib—with some effort—into the only extra available space in the room.

There's just—for a split second—a burst of heat in Chris's belly as he drinks in the sight of Drapes's straining shoulder muscles, his bulging biceps. And he immediately feels guilty because, of course, he's with Helmer now—other guys shouldn't even be on his radar any more, though he can remember, through the cloud of guilt, how much of a whore he'd been before.

The baby's cries suddenly seem like an echo of his own failures—of the fact that he's suddenly not sure if he can make a monogamous relationship work.

What if he falls to temptation, even if it's only once, and sleeps with someone else? Like when Helmer's visiting his parents, or during a road game if they're not rooming together?

Chris forces himself to stare at his boyfriend, to catalogue every beautiful part of his body, to remind himself of how much he loves Helm.

And then he takes a bracing breath and says, "Hey, I'm gonna take Carey for a drive to see if it will quiet him down."

Helm looks far too relieved by this idea, and Drapes pushes on the corner of the crib, jamming it into the space, and dusts off his hands.

"All done," he says. "I'm gonna take off, Oz. I need to be home to take care of my own kids."

Chris would wave, but his hands are full, so he settles for nodding.

Drapes brushes past him on the way out of the room, and Chris can feel the faintest twitch in his cock from the contact.

He follows Drapes, who snags his jacket from the arm of the couch and slips into it.

Drapes is wearing those Underarmour pants, and Chris has to keep his eyes on the back of his best friend's neck to keep from staring at his ass.

Drapes pulls out of the driveway and Chris straps Carey into the car seat and then gets in the driver's seat.

He turns the key.

It takes thirteen circles around the block before Carey nods off, and Chris is swallowed whole by relief. His head is pounding, his ears are ringing, and he's incredibly bored of the same scenery over and over.

He drives home, and then very carefully removes Carey from his car seat and carries him into the house.

Helm is on the couch, legs sprawled, crotch on obscene display. He has a bag of chips next to him and is contentedly watching T.V. Chris is torn between arousal and annoyance that Helm seems to happy, especially since he didn't have to deal with the crying baby.

He mumbles a greeting to Helm and tries not to disturb Carey by running into the bedroom and putting him down.

The blessed, beautiful silence lasts only moments.

Carey opens his clear blue eyes—which remind Chris of Nick's eyes, sucks to be him—and starts to cry again. Chris puts his head in his hands.

But Helm comes up behind him, his hand skimming over Chris's back as he steps around him and reaches into the crib, stroking the baby's hair.

"I think he's wet this time," Helm says, and cradles the baby and picks him up out of the crib.

Chris meets Helm's eyes—also blue, but luckily not quite the same shade as Nick's—and says,

"I'm gonna lie down, if that's okay." He looks longingly over to the bed.

"Yeah," Helm says with a little smile. "I got it."

Chris throws himself onto the bed facefirst and buries his head in the pillow, arms going underneath it, almost smothering himself—and he's currently practically making out with Helm's pillow.

Which he did on purpose.

From the spare room—Abby will still have to deal with the changing table if he comes to visit—he can hear Carey go quiet, then little baby coos as Helm finishes up changing him.

Helm brings Carey back into the room—Chris counts his steps and listens as Helm slowly lowers the baby into the crib—and then Helm climbs onto the bed next to him.

"I'm sorry," he says earnestly, in that way that only Helm can ever manage. Chris is helpless against it. "I love you." Helm curls up next to him, his arm landing softly but heavily across Chris's back.

"I think it's naptime for all three of us," Chris mumbles into the pillow, already half-asleep.

"We can heat up dinner when we wake up," Helm says, yawning half-way through his sentence. "I put it in the fridge."

"Fabulous," Chris says. And then he falls off the cliff of wakefulness into unconsciousness.


Chris doesn't know how long they nap, but he wakes naturally, instead of abruptly being dragged out of sleep by the cry of a newborn.

And, in fact, as soon as he shifts, he discovers that Helm is pressed against him like a second skin, his cock needy and hard against Chris's side, his warm breath falling in even intervals against the side of his neck.

Chris mumbles to himself, not really words, just noises as he fully wakes up. The baby, for once, isn't crying but he isn't asleep either. He's cooing to himself, and Chris thinks maybe he's happier being in the same room with them.

Chris very carefully extricates himself from Helm's arms and swings his legs over the side of the bed, rubbing his eyes and yawning. His breath almost kills him, so he pads into the bathroom and scrubs at his teeth and the inside of his mouth—and reminds himself that this is why coffee is a bad idea, especially just before one goes to sleep.

He scratches his bare belly just above the little trail of hair that disappears into the vee of his groin, then stretches his arms over his head and yawns again.

He relieves himself and washes his hands, then stares into the mirror for a second or two. Even after that impromptu and uninterrupted nap, the skin under his eyes looks bruised.

He wipes at them, but it does no good, not that he really expected it would.

He shrugs. He wanders back into the bedroom, where Helm has sprawled on his back and his eyes are slitted open.

"Hi," he says, voice hoarse from sleeping. He smiles, a little crooked curve of his lips that Chris wants to place a kiss against. In fact, he wants to kiss Helm until his mouth softens and opens under his, allowing his tongue entry.

"Hey," he says. Helm yawns too, then unabashedly scratches his balls. Chris almost snorts with laughter—they are a couple of guys, that much is not in doubt. No matter the fact that they're in a gay relationship with each other.

Helm visibly works up the energy to climb from the warm mattress, walking past Chris into the bathroom. He hears water splashing, then Helm calls,

"You know, you could flush once in awhile."

Chris feels his cheeks heat. Shit, he did forget again, didn't he? Helmer's always complaining about that. Chris wonders what his deal is with that, anyway.

The toilet flushes and Helm trots back into the room, and without intending to, they both wind up staring down into the crib at the baby.

Carey's asleep again, drooling down onto his duckling mattress pad, his fist curled up in front of his face, just in front of his damp, rosy lips.

He's breathing softly, contentedly, and his blanket's half kicked off, which Helm reaches down before Chris can, and lifts it to the baby's chin and tucks it around him again.

Chris feels as if, in this moment, they are the two happy parents looking at their newborn. He can almost, for a split second, pretend that this is what it would be like if he were with Jenna and their newborn; or what it had been like the last time, his beautiful wife glowing next to him as they both looked in wonder and amazement at Sydney after she'd just been born.

It makes his chest go tight and painful. It's not that he doesn't love Helm, or even that he wants that back, not exactly. But part of him wishes this were his baby, that he wasn't just the interim daddy because Helm hadn't known what to do when Carey arrived those few weeks ago.

He puts an arm around Helm, and his boyfriend lays his head on Chris's shoulder, and they both regard Carey. And again, Chris is reminded of what this might be like if he'd never been caught in his bed with Nick, Jenna's gasp still echoing in his mind, even after all this time.

He'd be standing here with Jenna, knowing that the baby in the crib was a part of him, and part of her, a miracle that they'd made together.

He'd probably kiss her neck, then glide the press of his lips up under her jaw, up to her mouth, where she'd turn into him, and they would kiss like newlyweds. Kiss like they had that one time at Disneyland, or the way they did at night when there was nothing and no-one around.

Helm blows out a breath. "It's not that bad," he murmurs, and Chris can feel the vibrations of his words tremble in his arm where it rests against Helm's spine.

"No," Chris begins, but Helm lifts his head, faces Chris as best he can being held in place by Chris's arm.

"That's not what I meant. It's not so bad, having a baby, but..." Helm drops a soft, whispery kiss against his lips. "It's just as much your baby now. You don't have to look so sad."

"I'm not sad," Chris protests, but Helm gives him a sympathetic look.

"You've got those eyes," Helm points out. "Those sad eyes you get when a goal goes in, or when we lose a game, or like you did when you came to my house the first time."

Chris is surprised; he hadn't realised Helm had been paying that much attention to him. Helm goes on, a touch of shyness now.

"I did have a crush on Drapes," he whispers, reminding Chris of that long ago conversation when Helm had confessed to it in the first place—it's something they don't talk about, mostly because Chris doesn't want Helm to find out that he'd kissed Drapes. And more.

"But, once I knew you were gay, it was like I couldn't stop looking. And I felt so nervous when I opened the door and you were standing there."

Chris doesn't want—doesn't need—to hear the rest, so he silences Helm by stealing a kiss. And then he tilts his head and urges Helm to open up, which he does.

They kiss, and Chris thinks that maybe this is what it would be like if they kissed at Disneyland, or in the darkness, or like now, over their baby's crib.

Someday they can take their son to Disneyland. Someday they'll have to explain to him why he has two daddies.

But right now, in this moment, none of that matters. Only that Carey does have two daddies, because Helm has allowed him into his life so completely that he finally belongs somewhere again after countless months of feeling like he was drifting.

They keep kissing until Helm twists around until Chris lands on his ass on the bed. Helm pushes him backwards until he's sitting with his legs barely touching the floor, and Helm climbs up onto his lap, his knees pressed against Chris's thighs, his thighs parted across Chris's lap and around his waist.

Chris grips beneath each thigh and drags Helm in even closer, and they make out like the world might collapse in on them at any moment; sloppy, damp kisses that leave Chris's mouth swollen and throbbing in time with his cock, hard and insistent against the seam of his jeans.

Helm's cock is stiff and desperate too, jabbing Chris in the belly where Helm's practically trying to crawl into his skin.

Chris breaks the kiss to breathe, and to say,

"I wanna—I want you in me, Dare. It's been too long already."

Helm's breath hitches with a tiny sound, and his head falls back for a moment as he grinds against Chris's muscled belly, panting and the smooth column of his neck flushed the colour of berries.

Chris can't resist a bite. Helm hisses, but his dick jumps against Chris's body.

"Come on, Dare," Chris pants against Helm's neck. "Inside me. Hurry up."

Helm obliges, shoving Chris down onto the bed, and, after briefly grinding their cocks together one more time, he reaches across Chris's body to the bedside table.

The lube's gotten buried under a pile of junk by now, judging from the precious, anxious moments it takes Helm to come back with it, lending credence to the fact that it really has been too long.

"Oh my God," Darren gasps. "I can't—I can't believe how much I've missed this. Missed you." He drops the lube to the bed and sets about unbuckling, unbuttoning, unzipping, and stripping Chris of his jeans.

As soon as he gets them off one of Chris's legs, he stands up and yanks his shirt over his head, then kicks out of his sweatpants.

Helm's chewing on his lips as he watches Chris, who's trying not to squirm too badly as his cock pulses, flat to his belly, no underwear to divide his naked flesh from Helm's greedy, lustful gaze.

And as soon as Helm gets his underwear off, he's back on the bed, putting one hand on each of Chris's thighs and prying them apart—not that he needs to try very hard, as Chris is just as eager for this as he is.

Helm reaches down and rubs at the pre-come leaking from his slit—an impressive amount, really—and then, with his fingers suitably slippery, he slips his hand down, behind Chris's balls, and right on into Chris's body.

Helm's fingers are slightly cool, but they're wet enough and go in easily, and Chris already knows he's turned on enough that he's relaxing instinctively as he waits for the main course; he cants his hips up, pushing back against Helm's fingers, and when Helm doesn't insert a third fast enough, he reaches down behind him, where his hips are lifted off the bed, and jams his own finger in alongside Helm's.

Helm makes a noise like he's going to come just from the sight and they move together, stretching Chris until he uses his other hand to grab Helm's bicep.

"Enough," he forces out. "I'm ready. Fuck me, Dare, please. Please."

Helm tugs his fingers free and Chris follows suit, then drops back down onto the bed, which makes Helm frown.

"What?" he says breathlessly. "I couldn't stay like that forever."

"Lift up again," Helm says, and his voice already sounds wrecked. Chris doesn't ask why, he just does as commanded; Helm grabs one of the extra pillows and fluffs it up, then stuffs it beneath Chris's ass, causing his legs to fall wider open and expose his hole to Helm's eyes.

In this position, it's easier for Helm as he uncaps the lube and slicks up his cock, nudging the head of it to Chris's entrance, then pausing, biting the corner of his lower lip.

"Ready? Okay?" he asks shyly, and Chris can only growl in his throat in response, a feral, desperate sound.

Helm understands that as consent, and he holds the base of his dick and urges it forward, into Chris's body. Inch by inch, he fills Chris up, the delicious sensation of Helm's bare cock against his inner walls making Chris suck in oxygen too fast. His hips jerk, and his cock pumps pre-come out over his belly, and Helm throws his head back again, beginning to move.

The pressure is building inside Chris already. He's reaching—reaching—already almost there—

Helm is bruising the underside of his thighs, he's gripping them so tight as he keeps them folded up towards Chris's chest, and Chris wishes he could crane up enough to kiss those lips, which are damp and puffy in the low light.

And Helm's breath is coming fast, erratically, in sharp bursts that sound almost painful. He's burying himself inside Chris as far as he can go, and every third or fourth stroke he manages to ride the crease of Chris's ass deep enough to stroke the head of his dick against Chris's prostate, which makes his body thrill and sing.

"I'm—" He feels like he's never been this hard or this close. Like he's never felt anything like this, and in any second, the sensations will be too much and he'll just explode—and maybe he'll black out, it feels that good.

Which is, of course, the precise moment that the baby starts to scream, loud enough to wake the dead, startling enough to yank Chris right back from the edge of orgasm.

Apparently it does the same thing to Helm because he pulls out too hard and fast and Chris feels a sparkle of pain as he does so, and then Helm falls heavily to the bed, his palm over his eyes. "Fuck, fuck, fuck," Helm says.

Chris kinda feels the same way, to be honest.

It's only going to get worse: Chris gets up, even though his belly is streaked with pre-come and his eyes are still blurry from near-orgasm, and he's about to reach into the crib and pick Carey up when he notices that Carey is a mess.

No wonder the kid's screaming, he's managed to puke all over himself. And he was sleeping, too, and Chris feels a little guilty that he and Helm had probably gotten too boisterous while fucking and woke the poor baby up.

Helm moans from the bed, "What does he want? God, I'm never going to come again."

Chris glances down at his erection, persistent though it is starting to go down, and then gives Helm a dirty look. His boyfriend can't see it, of course, but it's not as if Chris got off, either.

"Hey, daddy," Chris says sarcastically. "He needs a bath. And someone needs to do laundry. Do we have a spare mattress pad for his crib?"

Helm rolls onto his back and Chris takes the opportunity to pull on some pajama pants to the accompaniment of Carey crying.

"Put some clothes on," Chris says, trying not to sound annoyed, but dammit, he is. Not only was their fantastic sex interrupted, but the baby's a mess and Helm's being no help, instead just whining.

Helm gets up, and he does tug on some pajama pants of his own, but he mutters, "Why did we bring the crib in here?" to himself as he does it.

"Because it was better for Carey," Chris snaps, then wishes he could take it back at the crestfallen look on Helm's face.

How, Chris asks himself, did this happen? He can smell the argument brewing, the backdrop a baby covered in puke, the curtains rising on what is about to be quite a show, if Chris doesn't miss his guess.

Fifteen minutes ago, their baby was peacefully asleep, and they were making out like teenagers in the first flush of love.

And now Helm's grabbing a sweatshirt and glaring at him. "This is it, right?" he yells. Carey wails louder. "Now you're just gonna up and leave, right? Leave me with... with..." he's becoming incoherent, gesturing at Carey with his face shading to red.

"I never said that," Chris says softly, but he's pretty sure that Helm can't hear him over the baby and, likely, the pounding of his racing heart.

"I never wanted this," Helm shouts, and tears are starting to glisten at the corners of his eyes. "I never wanted a baby, and you make me take care of it, and I kinda think maybe this is nice, you know? And then..." he gulps down a sob and wipes his nose on his sleeve, looking very young and like he's hurting very, very much.

Chris's heart squeezes painfully in his chest.

"Helmer," he says, louder this time. Carey screeches, ear-piercing and panicky. Pretty soon this argument is going to have to wait and someone is going to have to tend to the baby.

"And then you act like it's the two of us, like we're gonna raise him together." Helm sniffs hard and Chris can hear how wet his sinuses are, even from this distance and with the baby yelling his head off.

"Darren," Chris says sharply, his daddy-voice. Helmer quiets, looking at him mutinously, eyes hard, fringed with tears. "I'm not going anywhere."

Why, Chris asks himself, this sudden panic? Where is it coming from?

But he did snap at Helm, and that wasn't all that well done of him.

"You probably wish you were with her," he says sadly. "Probably wish that that—" he points to the crib and, by extension, the squalling infant within it "—was really your kid, and that you didn't have to put up with me at all. I'm a freak and I suck, and I just—"

Chris realises it's time to end this. The baby needs to be cared for, and as much as he wants to care for Helm and soothe his anxieties and fears, it's going to have to wait. He strides over and yanks Helm into his chest, kissing him hard.

"I don't," he says firmly. "I love you. You, Darren. Now come on, we have to clean up Carey and feed him. And laundry. Okay?"

Helm nods, the tears spilling and streaming down his cheeks. Chris pauses one more second to wipe them away with his thumbs, then turns his attention to the crib.

Time to tackle the problem at hand: bathing Carey and changing out his bedclothes.

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