Did I update fast enough?
TWO WEEKS LATER
"No, not that one, the other one."
"No, the one with the thing."
"This one has the thing!"
"The other thing," Addison hisses, shifting their son in her arms. "For her hands."
Derek rummages through the bag again, coming up with a lilac onesie with soft little covers for her hands; Addison nods in approval and he starts through arduous process of dressing his daughter in it.
It takes everything thing she has not to go over and help; he's painfully careful, which means he's also slow.
"Derek," Addison says. "We're going home today."
"I know that."
"Not at the rate you're dressing her."
"She so -" he pauses for a moment, placing his hands over her tiny ears like she might be offended. "Small."
"Great things come in small packages," Mark says sagely, emerging from the bathroom, dabbing at a large wet spot on his shirt. "With large quantities of spit-up."
"Sorry about that." Addison mutters.
"It's fine," Mark replies breezily. "I'm used to it by now."
Derek's finally gotten the onesie on, added socks, a cap, and is now swaddling the baby in an adorable knit blanket she's not sure she'd trust around an infant.
"Bizzy," Addison says by way of explanation. "She wants homecoming pictures."
"She won't be getting any if you guys don't hurry up," Amelia says, stomping into the room. "I've got the car in front, so whenever you're ready."
They all pause for a moment, admiring the babies all strapped into their carseats in identical outfits. They stare back, Amelia snaps a quick picture on her phone, which breaks the reverie, and they're off.
She steps behind the wheelchair the hospital has coerced Addison into, wheeling her down the corridor behind Derek and Amelia, who are carrying the twins.
The nurses coo over the babies, blowing kisses, and they look slightly relieved to see the back of Addison, a fact that doesn't escape her notice.
"You'd think I was some kind of Nazi." she grumbles.
"Oh, you were worse," she says cheerfully. "Doctors make the worst patients, and all that."
"I barely feel like a doctor." she says as they approach the doors of the hospital. Outside, Mark is helping Derek with the several million straps attached to the seats. "You haven't even let me see the hospital yet."
"You gave birth, had major surgery, lost half your blood volume and were out for two days," she says firmly. "Renovations are the least of your worries."
"I hope it stays that way." she says, hoisting herself out of the wheelchair, grinning at Derek. "Let's go home."
It's quiet in the car when they pull up to the house, so quiet that he can hear the engine ticking. He turns to look at Addison, who's turned in her seat to look at the twins, sleeping angelically in the back.
His voice is thick when he manages to get it to work. "I love you."
She smiles quizzically at him, leaning over to kiss his cheek. "I'd love you more of you told me I'm not seeing what I'm seeing."
"Oh, you're definitely seeing it." he groans. "I'm so sorry."
"Why are you sorry?" she asks, sliding out of the car, wincing slightly as she hits the ground. "Archer's the one who should be sorry."
There's a large banner stretched above the front door, Welcome Home Michael and Annabethemblazoned on it in dripping red letters. The effect is horrific, like blood dripping down the white fabric he recognises as one of Addison's beloved insanely-high-thread-count sheets.
Archer is standing below it, Amy by his side, both of them grinning maniacally, waving cameras.
Addison's frowns, squinting slightly in the bright sun. "Wasn't Amelia just at the hospital before us?"
"The driving better not be hereditary," she warns, scooping their daughter out of the car. "You hear that sweetie? No driving like daddy. No driving drunk...no driving till you're sixteen, actually. And no drinking, ever. Oh my god, Derek, -"
"Jesus, Addison, let's just get them in the house first."
But- "That goes for you too." he whispers to Michael for good measure when Addison's out of earshot. "Okay?"
There were late nights in college. Med school was worse, night bleeding into day before she realised it, internship was the next level, coffee fuelled and jittery, residency was one exhausting day tripping on the heels of the one before.
But she has never been as bone-deep, all-consumingly tired as she is now.
Even her hair hurts.
She says as much to Derek, who is flopped across the end of their bed, one hazy blue eye staring at her as she nurses Michael, head resting against the headboard.
"So-" he starts, the word stretching into a yawn. He could have been saying anything; so what?"-rry." he finishes. "I didn't think I could be this exhausted. I mean," he gestures to Annabeth, sleeping between her outstretched legs and his chest with her arms flung wide. "How can two tiny people be so demanding?"
"They're your kids."
"She looks like you." he points out. "And she's the screamer."
"True." she shudders. She may be tiny, but she has a pair of lungs that have woken up everyone in the house. Repeatedly.
She watches Derek run his fingers through her reddish curls, making them stand straight up. She opens her eyes, waving a fist languidly, and he backs off, hands raised.
"She's not a bomb, Derek." she chuckles.
"You're not the one walking her up and down the hall for two hours straight." he whispers. "Well, you're also the one with staples -"
"What did I tell you about talking about the staples?" she winces. "Here, take him. He's done. I'll walk her-"
"No way." he drops a kiss on her head, carefully sets Michael in his bassinet, and picks up Annabeth, who is making a noise like a kitten. This noise turns into a full-throated shriek in about three seconds flat.
"Look, one hand." he grins, and she can't help but smile at the sight of him in an ancient Columbia t-shirt, sweats, hair sticking up and falling in his eyes, a red-faced baby in the crook of his arm.
She wouldn't mind if this lasted forever.
FOUR MONTHS LATER
"It feels like it's been this way forever." Amy grumbles, yet another half full bottle tipping down the sink, which is full of dishes. He knows they need to be put in the dishwasher, the bottles need sterilising, there's a truly awe-inspiring mountain of laundry that needs doing, and a million other things.
Except nothing feels as good as the cool wood oloc the table against his cheek as he lays his head on it, still ringing from Annabeth's wails.
"You don't even live here anymore." he points out. "Shut up."
"I moved out yesterday," she counters. "God, I'd forgotten what it feels like to actually sleep at night."
"Me too." Addison says, ambling into the room with Michael, snuggling contentedly. He's a simple, sweet little boy; all he wants is to be held. Tummy rubs are the highlights of his day.
Annabeth, on the other hand, at almost five months, is...willful. She smiles at her mother from the rocker in the corner, gumming a teddy bear. She wants to be held...for about three seconds. Then she wants to be rocked. Or walked. Or put in her swing. The problem is, they can't always tell which it is.
"Look at that," Addison sighs, sounding relieved. "She's smiling."
"Gas." his mother says. She flew out to 'see the babies' for the second time a week ago. Hasn't left yet.
Addison alternates between saying it's better than Bizzy, who hasn't shown up again after a fleeting visit when the twins were a week old, and glaring at him like it's his fault.
"She's smiling." Addison says firmly.
"All right, dear." his mother responds in the accommodating voice he knows infuriates his wife.
She bends in front of the rocker, cooing. "I bet you want to spend some time with Grandma, don't you?"
Annabeth eyes her speculatively, her mouth full of bear. He should probably pull it out; Addison throws it in the wash practically every day, but it's not exactly sanitary.
"I mean, I'm a neonatal surgeon."Addison is grousing while his mother unbuckles Annabeth. "It's not gas."
"It's not gas." he agrees dutifully, readying himself to get up as his mother gets to her feet and Annabeth opens her mouth.
"Did you hear that?" his mother crows excitedly. "She laughed. Didn't you, baby? Oh, you're just the smartest thing..."
"It wasn't gas." Addison says, looking inordinately pleased with herself.
"You need to get out of the house more." Amy says, shaking her head. "Your brain is rotting."
TWO MONTHS LATER
"Michael usually takes seven ounces in the morning, around six thirty," she says, scribbling on a pad of paper. "Beth usually likes six. But she doesn't need to know that, right? I mean, we'll feed them before we go in. And then one of the frozen fruit things in the freezer, she'll have to defrost those, they're into apple lately, do you think she'll do it right? I mean, it can't be cold...Derek."
"Huh?" he splutters. He's been sorting through a stack of little clothes, trying to match up the elfin socks. Why don't they just make the damn things all the same color, he muses. That way if you lose one - where the hell do they go, anyway - you can put any socks on your baby and it won't matter if they aren't the same pair.
"I'm writing a list." she explains, rolling her eyes. "For the nanny? You know, since I'm going into work from tomorrow?"
Right. He's been going in since they were a month old, taking off early, only five days a week, but Addison's been home for six months. And it's starting to show - she's stir crazy.
Although, truth be told, he's not entirely convinced she should be - her blood pressure is still slightly higher than its hold he, Annabeth is recovering from a minor bout of wheezing that Arizona is still reluctant to call asthma and is sure she will outgrow, and Michael, poor soul, doesn't seem to particularly like being held by anyone other than his parents.
The nanny is an agency-find, highly recommended, with a slight British accent, fortyish, no-nonsense, capable, named Eleanor. He trusts her more than he trusts himself. Addison is convinced she's a dunce.
"It's only for a few hours each day." she frets. "I'll be home at one on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays-"
"And I'll be home on Tuesday and Thursday," he recites. "There's milk in the fridge. You've pureed enough fruit to feed a baby army. Sleep and feeding schedules are on the fridge. Along with that list of meds and the phone numbers of every damn person in the hospital."
"Our hospital." she says smugly. "Don't you laugh at me, Derek Shepherd, it's not like you won't be calling the poor woman every thirty minutes to talk to them."
She emphasises the word talk, a smirk playing at her lips. Last week, she was called in for an emergency surgery; he called the hapless babysitter every twenty minutes on the dot to see their faces. The twins thought it was hilarious, babbling at him through the screen. The babysitter, not so much. Addison thinks it's excellent blackmail material.
"Wrote down that she might want to put a leash on Beth," he says wryly as she wobbles past, little hands smacking the floor. Learning to crawl is her latest discovery, and she's delighted with it.
So is her brother, and while he isn't in any hurry to try it himself, he shrieks with laughter when she crawls back over to him and belly-flops.
They're all sitting on a spread mat on the living room floor, strewn with toys and sippy cups and small clothes, the papers he was working on, journals Addison was catching up on. They've been here for hours, it's past any sort of reasonable bedtime, but he can sense they're both reluctant to end the evening.
"Sometimes I think I could do this for the rest of my life." she says softly, scooping Beth up and kissing her rosy eczema cheeks, making her squeal. "Maybe just a few more weeks?" she asks just as he says "And sometimes you missed surgery so much you watch your old tapes."
"Better than cartoons," she laughs. "Right, love?" Michael smiles at them both. He's a sunny little boy, with a predilection for surgical tapes. It seems to calm him.
Nothing can calm Annabeth, who is now squirming to be set loose, immediately crawling off the mat and seizing a sheafof papers.
"No, Beth," he yelps. "Insurance papers don't taste nice."
She howls in protest when he takes them away, little feet kicking. Her voice is taking on that slightly hysterical edge it dies when she's tired, and he realises they've kept them up too long.
"I almost miss them when they're asleep." he says ruefully as Addison swoops up Michael, who's getting teary as his sister cries.
"They're like angels when they're sleeping." she says wondrously as he's leaning against the doorway of the nursery a half hour later, after baths and stories. She leans into him, soft and warm, and he presses his fingers into her shoulders, wound tight. She sighs in relief, and he kisses her lightly, turning her head.
"How about another one?" he whispers suggestively, and she laughs.
"Now who's the crazy one?"
"Admit it," he teases. "You want one."
"I do," she concedes. "Just...not now."
"Yeah." he agrees. "This is pretty perfect."
And to think it almost didn't happen at all.
And that, my lovely readers, is the end of this loooong fic.
I'm kinda in love with this AU, it's my hapoy place where I make all the things we were denied happen. So in love that I'm doing a sequel...if you want one.
So please, review one last time and let me know!
And thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for coming along for this insanely long, sometimes- crazy, angsty, fluffy ride.