"Is she sleeping?" Meredith asked softly as Derek came into their bedroom.
"Out like a light." He smiled down at Meredith, lying so beautifully in the center of the bed, their little boy snuggled in her arms. Sitting down on the edge of the bed, he caressed her cheek before slipping under the covers beside her. "Did he eat okay?"
Smiling down at the baby, she nodded. "You ate pretty good, didn't you Michael?"
Derek scooted over in bed, a little afraid to ask Meredith to move over. The pregnancy hormones still had her all over the place. Instead he was perfectly content to sit close between her and the edge of the bed. It was safer.
"So my M's are good?"
The question earned him the most adorable frown from Meredith. "Your M's?"
"Meredith and Michael."
"Don't use that again."
Laughing, Derek leaned over to brush his hand over Michael's fuzzy head. Unlike his sister, who had had a full head of hair at birth, Michael was still mostly bald, but the fuzz promised dark hair. His finger then came down to Michael's hand, free from the blanket he was half swaddled in. The baby gripped his finger tightly and Derek smiled.
He caught Meredith's smile when he looked up at her. His heart melted a little, and he gave Michael a finger from the other hand so he was free to wrap an arm around Meredith and cuddle her closer.
"I love you, you know," he told her.
"I know," she sighed. "I love you too."
"So Katherine told me that today Michael peed on Mommy," he said conversationally.
"Katherine is a chatterbox."
Derek laughed. Meredith was definitely right about that one. "But is it true?" he pressed.
Meredith scowled. "Maybe I have more experience changing little girls. Apparently boys are different."
"Apparently? Did you skip anatomy that day, Mer? Because if you did, it would be my pleasure to give you a hands-on crash course," he teased, with a saucy wink.
He could tell she was hiding laughter, when she seriously said, "No sex for five weeks."
"Five weeks exactly. Did you know that's 35 days? Or 840 hours, if you prefer. 50400 minutes. Umm, lots of seconds . . . Yeah, can't do that in my head." His math skills weren't quite as polished as they had been twenty years ago.
Meredith raised an eyebrow. "I'm impressed. Can you believe our baby is a week old today?"
Michael opened his blue eyes before Derek could respond, and Meredith was instantly occupied by cooing to him about how perfect he was.
"Don't call my son beautiful," he said, only half-serious.
"He is beautiful though."
"Not as beautiful as you." He kissed her sweet lips softly. "So is it my turn yet?"
Innocent eyes looked up at him. "For what?"
He wasn't fooled for a second. "You know what I want."
"I want to hold . . ."
She interrupted him. "The answer is no."
"He's my son too."
Her eyes flashed, and he could feel the lecture coming. He schooled his expression so he wouldn't laugh. She didn't scare him, and he actually enjoyed getting her to yell at him sometimes.
"Were you in labor for eight hours?"
"Did you have a hairy man put his hands up your ass because your actual doctor was on vacation two weeks before your due date?"
He knew any words would lead to laughter, so instead he shook his head.
"Did you shove a seven pound person out of a very, very small hole?"
"No," he said meekly.
"Then you don't get to hold the baby."
"Oh come on, Mer." She shook her head resolutely, and snuggled Michael closer. "Baby hog."
She stuck her tongue out at him, and he moved as if to bite it off. Giggling, she pulled away. "You'll get your turn," she conceded.
Kissing her head, he pulled her closer, perfectly content to watch her holding the baby. He found himself staring down at her. Her beautiful face of which he had memorized every detail, the way Michael fit so perfectly in her arms, her body, still clinging to some baby fat around her waist and hips. She hated it, but he found it cute. Everything about her was cute.
His eyes drifted from Meredith to the wall beside the bed. That was Meredith's wall. It was covered with framed snapshots in neat little rows, all pictures that meant something to her. Throughout the rest of the house, in the rooms open to guests, were the professional photos, but these were Meredith's. He found himself staring at the pictures he had all but memorized, chronicling their life for the past four years.
It began with one of him and Meredith, the first time they had been dating; when the biggest problem had been that he was her boss. They were eating breakfast at Meredith's old house, and their carefree faces were almost foreign to Derek. Sure they were happy now, but the easygoing sprit would never be captured again.
Then the pictures of Katherine began. Her as a newborn, a little older, with Derek, with Meredith, the three of them at Christmas; this went on and on. His eyes settled on his favorite baby picture of her for the longest; her in the bathtub, just grinning at the camera, or more likely Meredith behind the camera. It was a picture that made her growing up bittersweet. Sometimes he wished she was that little again.
Another precious one was Meredith holding Katherine at about the same age she had been in the bathtub. Derek had taken the picture with her unaware, but it couldn't have been posed more beautifully. Meredith was wearing a soft robe, cradling the baby a little higher than usual, and just gazing down at her.
The point when he and Meredith began a couple was evident. More pictures were of the three of them and some of him and Meredith alone. Mixed in was one of Bailey's five interns at Joe's the night after they had officially become residents. The pictures weren't quite as frequent after that point, but the most important memories were captured.
There was their wedding day. Izzie must have snapped that picture at the reception. Meredith, absolutely glowing in her white dress, was on his lap laughing at something he had said, his expression awed as he looked at his beautiful bride. There was a picture of them sailing on their honeymoon, one of the rare moments they had actually been wearing clothes.
Katherine was holding a baby doll, coloring a picture, riding a tricycle, having four birthdays. A couple more mischievous pictures featured her coloring on the wall and in front of the mirror in Meredith's heels, smearing lipstick all over her face. Meredith and Derek were in scrubs, the three of them were out to dinner, Katherine was with Christina and Burke's son, their godson. His eyes finally landed on what he had thought to be the most recent picture; him, Meredith, and Katherine on the beach in California. Meredith's baby bump was clearly visible and Katherine still had her Mickey Mouse ears on. She had refused to take them off for days after an afternoon in Disneyland.
But there were two new additions. Meredith must have just put them up that day while she was home with the kids. The first was Michael, the same picture they had put on his birth announcements, typical baby-laying-on-a-blanket picture. But the second Derek hadn't seen printed yet, though he had taken it. Katherine was sitting on a hospital bed, holding her new brother for the first time. Meredith had passed up the one of her grinning into the camera for the one where she was looking down at him, absolutely enthralled. Katherine's curls were hardly combed and Michael's face was still red and wrinkled, but to Derek, two children couldn't possibly be anymore beautiful.
"He's going to get big so fast," Meredith said softly, following his gaze to the wall.
"It does seem like just yesterday that Katherine was this little." He ran a hand over her hair, and kissed her cheek. "He'll be going to college to tomorrow, and you won't even let me hold him," he teased.
Meredith's clutched Michael closer. "He's not going to college anytime soon. How can you even say that?"
Laughing at her reaction, he kissed her again. "We do have a lot to get through before then."
"I won't have room on my wall."
The wall was filling pretty fast, though there was certainly quite a ways to go. "I think we'll make it through elementary school. Unless we have a couple more of these." He gestured to Michael.
"We had a baby seven days ago, and he wants more. Typical." Meredith giggled to herself before sighing. "I suppose you can hold him now."
Derek shook his head. "I'll give you five more minutes. I like watching you hold him."
Seeming more than pleased with this, Meredith turned Michael so she could talk to him, supporting his head with two hands, and resting his body on her bent legs. Derek got a flash of her in the tub with Katherine in a similar way. Had it really been four years ago?
Suddenly, the door to their room slammed open, startling Michael, and causing Meredith and Derek to swing their head in that direction. Katherine was standing in the doorway in pink pajamas, tears streaking her face.
"Katherine, what's wrong?" Derek asked.
She ran over to the bed, and climbed up on Meredith's side. Derek found himself with Michael finally in his arms, as Meredith pulled Katherine into a hug.
"Now she lets me hold the baby," he muttered.
Meredith raised an eyebrow with a smirk, before turning to Katherine. "What's the matter, sweetheart?"
"I had a scary dream."
Pulling Katherine up a little, Meredith wiped the tears from her cheeks. "What made it scary?"
Katherine frowned deeply. "I don't 'member."
"Well, just remember that the dream wasn't real. You're safe here with mommy and daddy," Meredith soothed.
"And Michael," Katherine added brightly, hardly upset.
"And Michael," Meredith agreed, holding Katherine against her chest for a moment longer. Derek leaned over and ran his hand through his daughter's hair. It curled beautifully, almost the same shade as his, though it had the tendency to shine reddish when the light hit it in a certain way.
"Mommy?" Meredith shifted Katherine so her voice wasn't muffled. "I'm glad your belly doesn't have a bump anymore."
Derek burst out laughing, turning it into a hacking cough when Meredith glared at him.
"I'm glad too, Katherine. I can hold you better, and we have Michael," Meredith said quite seriously, given Katherine's comment.
"Yes, I like Michael." Katherine crawled out of Meredith's arms to pat her little brother's head. "He needs hair though."
Derek chuckled. "He'll get hair soon, princess. Babies don't usually have hair."
"But I had hair when I was a baby. Didn't I, mommy? In that picture I are a baby and I have hair." She pointed to the wall. "See, daddy, see? Babies have hair." The words poured from her mouth almost faster than Derek could understand.
"I guess you were a special baby," Derek told her.
"I are special. Michael too." Katherine bounced up and down slightly in excitement.
Meredith grabbed Katherine back into her arms to physically calm her. "Alright, it's far too late for you to be so excited. Calm down."
Evidence of her true exhaustion, Katherine relaxed into Meredith's arms, her thumb going straight to her mouth.
"Love you, mommy and daddy and Michael," she mumbled around her thumb, her eyelids fluttering closed after only a couple minutes.
"She shouldn't suck her thumb," Meredith said quietly, gently tugging the hand out of Katherine's mouth. Katherine opened her eyes briefly, blinked, and resettled, the thumb right back in her mouth.
"It'll be fine, Mer."
Meredith sighed. "Not worth the fight." She smiled affectionately down at Katherine. "And it's so cute."
They sat in silence, the children gradually falling asleep. Derek was basking in the feeling of his ever-growing family around him, and he sensed Meredith felt the same way. It was so nice to have a moment a peaceful quiet, something that didn't often happen with two small children and a bossy wife. Although the silence was nice, he would never trade his life for it. He loved the screaming, the yelling, the teasing, the tantrums. Or a least he loved the people who produced those noises. And the kisses, hugs, and love they gave him.
"I think she's asleep," Meredith finally said. "I'll take her to bed."
His hand flew to her thigh. "Don't you move. I'll get it."
"I'm not pregnant anymore. I can carry her."
"I know, but I can still spoil you. Besides, you have to get up when Michael wakes up." He had learned during the past few days they had had Michael at home, that however much he may want to help with him, there were some things he just couldn't do. Nighttime feedings was one of these things. Apparently breasts were a requirement.
Derek stood up and walked around the bed, the two of them trading sleeping children with practiced ease. Cradling Katherine carefully, Derek brought her to her bedroom, laying her in the princess bed and covering her.
"Goodnight, my little princess. I love you." He kissed her soft cheek, closing the door partway as he left the room.
Back in his own room, he found his exhausted wife dozing lightly, still holding the baby she had hardly let out of her arms since his birth. Derek gently lifted him from her arms, and brought him to the bassinette. Standing in front of it, Derek held his newest child for a minute, taking in his features for the hundredth time. Michael was the perfect combination of him and Meredith, and was absolutely gorgeous for it. Finally, he settled Michael down in the bassinette, swaddling him more securely in his blue blanket.
"I love you, baby boy. See you in a couple hours."
Climbing into bed, he reached carefully over Meredith to turn off the bedside lamp. Stretching out beside her, he reached out to gather her into his arms, snuggling her close, and causing her to stir slightly.
"Derek?" Her eyes shone even in the darkness.
"It's me, love. Go back to sleep."
Meredith sighed quietly. "I love you."
"I love you." He wrapped his arms tighter around her, rubbing her back and stroking her hair.
As they fell asleep nestled together, knowing Michael would be waking them soon, Derek felt truly happy. He wasn't content, he wasn't satisfied, he was happy. Genuinely happy. There truly was nothing more that could his life better. He really did have it all. A job he enjoyed, great friends, a wife he loved more than life itself, two perfect children.
What more could he want?
So this story is finally over. Tear. But actually it's not that sad because I still have lots of plans for these characters. Keep an eye out for the still untitled sequel that will be posted soonish. I'll also be doing some oneshots eventually, but probably not until midsummer when I'm bored.
Please take advantage of your last opportunity to review this story.
Hope you enjoyed the ride, I know I did!