Disclaimer: Not mine, not mine, did I say not mine?
Ashley Hammond/Astro Yellow: The epilogue of DD is up now. And the prologue to my next story. :P
Melissa: You figured out where babies come from all by yourself? Lucky... my parents explained it to me when I was too little to know what all the words meant and when I figured it out, it kinda scarred me for life. :P Yup, boys. I've given them too many girls.
Mae: Thanks. I hope the ending is as good as the rest of it.
Jenny: Yeah, Andros is very blatant. I think I sent Marieke a pic of me, but it's an awful one... And you cannot let our story die!
Ashley shifted sleepily, half-dozing as she leaned against Andros. He had one arm wrapped around her waist in a protective embrace. In his other arm, he cradled a newborn baby boy not yet two hours old, still waiting for a name.
"Ash?" he muttered in her ear, careful not to either startle the child in his arms or wake the one fast asleep in the crib only an arm's length away.
"Hmm?" she mumbled lazily, shifting closer to him.
Andros smiled, tempted to just let her drift off, knowing that she'd certainly earned the rest. He didn't say anymore, and thought Ashley had fallen back into sleep, but a moment later, her eyes were open and alert.
"He needs a name," Andros explained quietly, glancing from the son he held in his arms to the one sleeping a few feet away. "They both do."
"Give him to me," Ashley said, reaching to lift the precious little boy out of his arms. Andros carefully let go, making certain that Ashley had a firm grip on the baby before moving his arms away.
Ashley smiled down at her son, rocking him back and forth in her arms. He stared up at her, his brown eyes wide. His small hands clenched every now and then, his fingers curling up into a tiny fist.
"They're so perfect," she marveled, her thumb stroking the perfect little fingers of the baby in her arms. "But... none of the names we chose seem to fit, do they?"
Andros shook his head, wondering just what Ashley had been thinking in suggesting the name 'Bert' and what he had been thinking in considering it. There had been dozens of other names, but not one seemed right for their children.
The baby that had been sleeping contentedly just a moment before squalled loudly. Ashley jumped as the sudden wail cut through the air, sighing quietly as she handed the peaceful baby to Andros, motioning for him to hand her the fussing one.
"What's wrong?" she murmured, rocking him back and forth, his cries growing louder as opposed to softer. "Shh... Mommy's here... Shh..."
The little boy refused to quiet, wailing continuously, his small, chubby arms flailing in the air. Ashley sighed, groaning as his cries set off his brother. Andros mimicked her motions, rocking the baby in his arms back and forth, an expression of enormous relief spreading across his face as it appeared to have some effect.
"He's hungry," Ashley realized suddenly, her mind drifting back nearly four years to when Tawny had been an infant. "I think they both are."
Andros shifted, reaching across her for the bottle they'd prepared for just such an occasion. He settled back against the fluffy pillows of Ashley's hospital bed, coaxing the baby in his arms to drink with some difficulty, not missing the fact that she'd had a much easier time convincing the other baby to nurse.
Ashley laughed quietly at the expression on his face. "You're doing fine," she assured him quietly. "He just doesn't like the bottle, that's all."
"Trade?" he asked hopefully as the baby in his arms squirmed. "Or is he all right?"
"He's doing all right now," Ashley said, gesturing at the baby, who had finally latched onto the bottle. "But I'll trade you in a minute."
"Why is yours being good?" Andros complained good-naturedly, groaning as the baby twisted his head away from the bottle.
Ashley laughed quietly, cradling the baby with one arm to brush her fingers across her other son's head for a moment. "He is being good," she said with a grin. "This is how babies talk."
Andros grinned back. "Then I think he's trying to tell us that he wants to nurse from his mommy."
"I think so too." Ashley shifted the baby in her arms down into her lap, lifting the other baby out of Andros's arms and into her own. To Andros's relief, his other son had no objections to being bottle fed and he relaxed, leaning back against the pillows again as Ashley pillowed her head on his shoulder.
"Does that hurt?" Andros asked suddenly, somewhat shyly.
Ashley glanced at him in surprise. "Nursing the baby, you mean?"
He nodded, blushing. Ashley smiled, nuzzling her face into his shoulder, her eyes drooping shut.
"The only part of having a baby that hurts is actually having a baby," she told him, grinning inwardly as she heard him chuckle softly. "But breast-feeding doesn't hurt... well, it's not supposed to, anyway."
Andros grinned, twisting to kiss the top of her head. "Tawny had sharp teeth, you mean?"
"Yeah," Ashley said, wincing slightly. "But no, this doesn't hurt. It's supposed to be good for the baby."
"So... we just don't like this one?" Andros asked innocently, gesturing down to the baby in his arms. Ashley laughed, swatting at his arm.
"Silly," she said. "We like him better for being the good one and taking a turn drinking from the bottle."
"We really should name him," Andros reminded her.
"Baby One and Baby Two?" Ashley suggested, managing to keep her face straight only for an instant.
"Umm... what about Adrian?" she asked once she calmed down.
"For which one?"
"That one," Ashley said, nodding towards the baby still suckling the bottle contentedly. "This one doesn't look like an Adrian."
Andros laughed, although he had to admit that he agreed. "So... what does he look like?"
"You choose," Ashley told him, lightly caressing her son's cheeks. "He's so cute!"
Andros nodded his agreement, a moment later suggesting hesitantly, "Aeron?"
"Aeron," Ashley repeated, smiling. "Aeron and Adrian."
"Like it?" he asked tentatively, rewarded with her bright smile.
"I love it," she said, tucking her head under his shoulder yet again as she began to rock Aeron to sleep. "I love you."
"I love you too," he whispered in her ear, sighing quietly as there was a knock at the door. "Come in."
"Hey," Cassie said, poking her head into the room. "Oh, they're adorable."
Ashley grinned tiredly. "Aren't they?"
"I'll come back later, Ash," she assured her. "You look exhausted... but if you've got the energy, someone wants to see you."
"Mommy!" Tawny darted around Cassie's legs, scrambling up onto the bed. Andros laughed quietly, careful not to wake Aeron or startle Adrian. He offered her a hand up, pulling his daughter up to sit on his legs.
"Hey, Tawny," Ashley whispered.
"I'll leave you alone now," Cassie said softly, backing away. "Congratulations, you guys."
"Thanks," Ashley said as Cassie left the room.
"Are these my brothers?" Tawny demanded, poking curiously at Adrian.
"Don't do that," Ashley said quickly. "And yes, they are."
"They have names?"
"This one is Adrian," Andros said softly, gesturing to the boy in his arms. "And the one your mommy is holding is Aeron."
Tawny made a face. "He's stinky."
Ashley laughed. "His diaper's not even dirty yet."
"He's still stinky."
Andros rolled his eyes, taking Aeron from Ashley and settling him in his crib. Tawny crawled into Ashley's lap, curling up against her mother's body. Andros smiled as he watched Ashley stroke her hair, rocking her back and forth as if she was still a baby herself. He caught Ashley's eye and she smiled happily at him, her eyes sparkling with a light he was going to make certain never left her.
Author's Note: Well, I think this is the first time the story didn't become a long, pointless ramble. That's definitely progress... I hope you had as much fun reading this story as I did writing it. (Thanks again to AH/AY for the plot.) There will eventually be a sequel, but not for awhile, probably April or May. I put up the prologue to my next story, if you're interested in seeing what else my twisted mind can come up with. That's about it... please review!