So, I keep getting sick, and they have no idea way. I get RA pain -which I supposedly was not diagnosed with- and my lungs keep dying. So! I have no idea whats wrong with me. And school+sick=notime. But, a lot of your awesome messages and reviews really spurred me into writing. I couldn't reply to you guys because I forgot my password for ff. . I had this planned but never got around to writing it. I'm sorry it's short. But, I think you'll like the plot moving forwardness. Finally, the next milestone. The chapters are going to really jump a lot from here, I think. Like, time wise. Anyway, thanks for everyone still reading this epic failure on my part. I promise if (when) I right a CR2 fic it will be not so drawn out and suckish. And no… I'm totally not plotting that already without having seen the movie. *shifty eyes*.

Chapter 23:

College students with families really have a hard time. And by families, I don't mean my children. No, they had learned when Mommy put on Daddy's singing, it was time to be quite unless they needed something. I don't know how 6 months old babies caught on to that, but I wasn't complaining. No, by families, I meant my sister-in-law and her boyfriend.

Between endless phone calls from Riley and sporadic visits from Nicky, I was getting barely any studying done. Especially when Riley made his way into the tabloids: McCartney traveling with girlfriend? No, it wasn't Nicky in the pictures. It was his bassist's sister who was traveling with them, playing personal assistant for Riley's band.

I had just finished a long study session for one of my upcoming finals, and wanted nothing more than to snuggle up with Shane and sleep. Instead, I came home to Nicky pacing my living room, gesturing wildly, while Shane sat on the couch looking bored to death. The definitive smell of something having burned filled the air as well.

"Finally!" Nicky huffed as I walked into the apartment.

"Excuse me?" I asked, slightly taken back by her tone.

"Where've you been so late on a Tuesday night?" she demanded.

I ignored her and walked into the kitchen. "Babe, is dinner in the microwave or oven?" I asked Shane over my shoulder.

"Seriously, where were you?" Nicky asked again.

"The trash can. Nicky distracted me and I forget to turn off the oven to just keep it warm and ended up burning it," he huffed, glaring at his sister.

"Well, it's still early enough to order Chinese? Our study group was going to order some because it was late and they were hungry, but I had to get home. I'm so tired and I missed you and the babies all day," I sighed.

Shane stood up to grab the phone and started dialing. "The usual?" he asked me. I nodded. "You want anything, Nicky?"

"An answer," she shot back. "And Sweet and Sour chicken."

"Okay, this is not about me being out at a study session all night, Nicky, so don't even start. This is about Riley -Lord knows why this time- but ever since you found out about Becky being on tour with him you've been coming over here to bad mouth her, and question Riley's intentions with her, etc. And then once the magazine article about them ran you've been badmouthing Riley, claiming he's lying to you, etc. So what is it this time, Nicky, please, tell me, so I can tell you're wrong and go snuggle with my husband."

Shane turned to me as he hung up the phone. "Watch a movie or you want me to read to you?" he asked. Since my last trimester, I'd begun reading a lot more. But lately found myself too tired to keep my eyes open long enough to read.

"I don't care," I replied honestly. "Anyway, Nicky?"

"She answered his phone," she huffed. "I called him and she answered."

"Did you ask why she answered?" I asked.

"She said he was in the bathroom and didn't want me to think he was ignoring me. But I know she only did it to remind me that she sees him all the time and I don't. That he's with her all the time!" she relayed.

"Nicky, prior to Becky appearing, you were ignoring Riley again, out with a different guy every week, and he was calling me to make sure you weren't going back on your end of the deal. That there was nothing serious on your end. You're only pulling this crap because you're jealous!"

"Because my boyfriend-" she started.

"He's not your boyfriend," Shane pointed out. "You didn't want to be tied down to him yet."

I continued where he left off. "Therefore, you have no reason to be jealous. In fact you're just getting a dose of your own medicine. He's doing to you what you do to him," I pointed out.

"Oh my god, you're so right!" Nicky exclaimed. "He's just using her to make me jealous so I fold and tell him I want to be exclusive with him! Ha, he thinks he's so smart!" With a satisfied smirk, she took out her phone and went to sit on the couch.

"My sister is an idiot," Shane sighed.

"Agreed. What's your reason, cause I have many," I replied.

"Riley's using Becky as a distraction from Nicky. He's not hooking up with her at all. She's dating Ri's drummer, which her brother doesn't know about, making Riley her cover," he replied.

"All of which you know and I know, but she doesn't know," I chuckled.

"You are! Just admit it!" Nicky yelled. After a pause, she continued. "I don't believe you. You're just trying to manipulate me."

The doorbell rang and Shane jumped up from the kitchen table to get it. "Food!" he exclaimed happily as he opened the door.

"You are breaking our agreement! Maybe I should start seeing someone so religiously!" After a short pause she added, "Other than you, Riley!"

I groaned and leaned against Shane's hip as he placed our food on the table. "If she wakes up the babies, she's so on baby duty all night." He chuckled as he sat down.

"I know we've been through this a thousand times, but you don't regret being with only me before we got married, do you?"

"Sometimes I wonder if I would have found someone else just as perfect for me if we had gone our own ways at one point, but then I realize that they wouldn't be perfect because I'd probably compare them to you all the time. And I think we would have wasted a lot of time like those two. And we wouldn't have our beautiful babies," I answered honestly. Shane simply leaned over and kissed me before continuing to eat. "What about you? You ever wish you tested the waters a little more first?"

"I tested the waters before I met you and I found a shark who tried to kill me," he replied seriously before stuffing a piece of chicken in his mouth.

"Point taken," I giggled.

Shane was quiet for a few moments before he spoke, startling me slightly. Despite the argument occurring in our living room, a comfortable silence had hung between us. "You know, sometimes, especially after we had the twins, I think about what it would have been like if she had been pregnant back then. What my life would be like now. Would I have been as good of a father? Would we still be together? Would my career be half as strong as it is now? Would I be happy?"

I chuckled as I placed my hand on his. "You would have been an amazing father regardless. You saw what your father was like and you would never have been like that. And the fact that the last thing you thought about was your happiness just proves that you would have done whatever you had to if that's how life played out."

"I'm glad the only children I have are with you," he whispered, lifting my hand to kiss it.

"The only children you ever have better be with only me," I teased leaning in to kiss him.

The yelling in the background had stopped and a scoffed soon followed the silence as Nicky entered the kitchen. "Are you two ever not cutesy anymore?"

"Are we not allowed to be happily married?" Shane asked. Nicky had a comment on the tip of her tongue but Shane cut her off. "Don't even, Nicole."

"So, Riley claims he's just friends with Becky and isn't going to stop hanging out with her because I'm jealous, though I wouldn't admit to being jealous-" Nicky began.

"You don't have to admit to it. It's obvious," Shane interjected.

"Shut up! Anyway. He says that as long as we aren't exclusively together, he feels no guilt about being friends with a girl that makes me feel insecure. I mean, she doesn't make me insecure, because I'm so much better, but they're relationship worries me. Why am I holding myself back for someone who's practically going steady with another girl?" she continued.

"Because you love him and the only reason you're 'holding yourself back' is because you don't want to be in a serious relationship with him, nor someone who won't understand you and Riley," I answered.

Growing tired of the Nicky-Riley drama, I turned to Shane. "Did Nate call at all? Caitlyn told me at lunch that they should be hearing from their lawyer today."

"Mhm," he answered with a mouthful. He swallowed and continued, "He said that the first hearing is set for two weeks from tomorrow and things look good. The moment she sees 'Uncle Nate' her eyes light up, and Children's Services have seen that."

"That's good news. Caitlyn hasn't been herself lately from all of this," I sighed.

"You don't think she's…" Shane trailed off.

"She's on her period at the moment, Shane. I don't think she's pregnant," I laughed.

"Could've done without that tidbit," he shuddered.

"Speaking of pregnant," Nicky started, causing Shane to drop his fork. "How's Stas?"

Shane glared at her while clutching his chest. "Never. Start. A sentence. Like that. Again," he growled.

"She's good. Ready to burst. She's got a few weeks left, but the doctor's thin she's going to deliver early. The baby's fully developed already and starting to kick extra hard," I answered with a smile.

Shane laughed. "Jason got kicked in the back the other day when Stas rolled over and her stomach was against his back."

We continued to talk about the current goings on of our lives and our friends' while we ate. I finished first and excused myself. I was in the process of getting undressed when I heard the front door close and Shane pad into our bedroom.

"I cannot wait until you're done with exams and you have a few weeks off," he said softly, his eyes roaming my barely covered body.

Cranky and irritable, I snapped back, "Why, are you feeling neglected?" He sighed but said nothing back as he wrapped his arms around me from behind. "I'm sorry, that was wrong for me to say."

"You're stressed," he replied kissing my neck. It felt really good and I felt myself leaning back against him. "And I want to release some of that stress. But you're too tired, so I can't."

"Mmm," I sighed. "I would love to have sex with you right now…" I groaned.

"But you're too tired," he finished with a small smile. "At this rate you won't have to worry about getting pregnant until after school again."

I made a small humph noise as I turned around in his arms. "There's always the summer," I teased.

"Now that makes it sound like you want another baby…" he teased back.

"I'm getting nostalgic. I have been. Seeing Stas so pregnant and Jason so… serious yet more frazzled than I've ever seen him makes me think of when I was pregnant with the twins. I don't want another baby right now, but part of me kinda misses the whole, being pregnant part," I answered.

"You hated being pregnant," he argued.

I shrugged. "Not really. I was a little miserable, but compared to birthing, I'll take pregnancy," I laughed.

"Okay, enough talk of you being pregnant before I see to that happening again very soon," he replied, letting go of me and heading to his side of the bed.

"Do you want another baby?" I asked curiously as I made my way to my own side. I climbed in while watching him undress.

"When the twins are like a year old, yeah, I wouldn't mind," he answered pulling down the blankets. He took my hands in his and assured me, "But I know that's not what you want. You want to wait and by no means am I going to pressure you."

"Good. But we can lots of practice in on the off season," I replied leaning over to kiss him.

He chuckled. "Meaning trying-for-a-baby-season or school-season?"

"Both," I groaned, snuggling down into my pillows.

"You still want me to read?" he asked, picking up my book of his nightstand. I shrugged, moving to cuddle into his side. He kissed the top of my head and began reading to me. Soon, I was asleep, not registering anything but his gentle voice lulling me.

I yawned as I stood in line at the café on campus. Early morning classes didn't usually bother me from being up with the twins, but lately I couldn't seem to get enough sleep. Today in particular I was so tired I forgot my normal traveling mug of coffee on the counter next to the babies' formula mix.

"Hey, you're Mitchie, right?" I heard a guy's voice from behind me. I turned my head to find an extremely attractive blonde guy.

"I'm sorry, do I know you?" I asked.

He chuckled. "I'm Quinton. I think I'm in your Music Composition class? It's in 20 minutes?" he offered.

"Oh! Sorry, I'm barely ever awake in that class. But it's nice to meet you," I smiled. I was next in line and turned to order my coffee. I reached into my purse to retrieve my wallet only to find it not there. I had taken it out to give Shane our insurance card for the twins check up that morning. I had a class so I wouldn't be able to go. "Oh, crap. Never mind, I'm sorry, I forgot my wallet," I apologized to the barista.

"I got it," Quinton offered, ordering his own coffee and paying.

"Um, thank you. I can't seem to remember anything today!" I chuckled. "First I forgot my coffee, now I forgot my wallet."

"Well, let's not chance you forgetting where class is. Shall we?" he asked gestured towards our class. I chuckled and headed off towards class with him. "So, that final project… I am not all comfortable with turning it in," he admitted.

"I'm good with the basics, but I tend to need my best friend and her husband to help me with the harder stuff. I'm determined to not going running to Nate or Cait for help unless I absolutely need it," I replied.

"Well, maybe we can help each other? What time do you usually eat lunch today?" he asked.

I mentally ran through my schedule for the day. "Well, I have another class right after this one, so usually after that. So about 12-12:15. Why?"

"I was wondering if you wanted to maybe go over some stuff over lunch?" he suggested.

"Sounds good. It's a nice day, why don't we eat outside?" I suggested. It was surprising weather for the middle of April, already up in the 50s. I wanted to enjoy the rare day while it lasted.

"Excellent. By the big oak tree?" he asked. I nodded as we entered the classroom. I smiled at him once more before heading to my usual seat.

I couldn't eat lunch, as I didn't have my wallet, but realized I wasn't all that hungry anyway as I sat down at the table. Perhaps it was the notion of the school's food that did that though, as was slightly hungry until passing the cafeteria.

Quinton sat down, immediately offering to buy me lunch,. I dismissed him, assuring him I wasn't hungry and that I'd had a big breakfast, which I had. Shane made pancakes while I fed the twins. Instead, I started looking over his project while he ate.

"This is good so far. It reminds me of my friend Peggy's style," I commented. "But I think you go from slow to fast with no transition. It's not like the beat steadily builds or almost stops before it hits. You have a steady rhythm and then the next note there's so much more going on."

"So, should I increase the beat or let the beat drop?" he asked, leaning over the table.

I looked up slightly startled to find him so close. I stuttered for a moment but was saved from my embarrassment by Caitlyn, who sat down next to me groaning. "Hey, Cait," I spoke up quickly. "Quinton, this is my friend Caitlyn I mentioned. Cait, this is Quinton from my Music Composition class."

"Right, the married one," Quinton nodded.

"Actually, both my best friends are married," I chuckled. Caitlyn looked between Quinton and I for a moment, a knowing look slowly growing on her face.

"So, is this a lunch date?" she asked curiously.

Quinton opened his mouth but I answered absently, "We were working on our final projects. Here, maybe you can help," I pushed the sheet music towards her. "We were just discussing if he should build the beat or let it drop before he gets to all of this going on."

Caitlyn nodded, her knowing smile never faltering as she looked over the music. Quinton began asking me questions about myself, and with each one, Caitlyn's smile grew, slowly turning into a smirk.

I was just about to answer what my favorite band was when I heard the sound of stroller wheels. My face lit up seeing Shane pushing the twins towards our table. "Speak of the devil," I smiled. "Well, 1/3 of them." Caitlyn was now trying her hardest not to laugh.

"Hey," Shane greeted as he stopped the stroller next to me.

"Hi, babies," I cooed at them. Cecelia made a sound that sounded vaguely like dada while Justin gurgled happily.

"What about me?" Shane pouted. "I even brought you food!" I chuckled and stood up to kiss him. Caitlyn let out a snort I paid no mind to. "Hey, Cait! I brought you some food, too. Nate's worried you aren't eating right." Caitlyn couldn't answer from her barely contained laughter.

"How'd their appointment go?" I asked.

"They're perfectly fine. Cecelia is close to saying her first word. Justin is gesturing to things he wants, which is a little advanced, but he's not as verbal as his sister. The Dr. said that it's normal for twins to be behind on their language skills and suggested some things to help Justin start making more noise and closer to speaking," Shane relayed, sitting next to Quinton, but on the edge facing the babies.

I reached for Justin while Shane picked up Cecelia. "Hey there, Handsome. You miss Mommy today?" I asked.

"Y-you have kids?" Quinton stuttered. "I didn't realize you had a boyfriend."

My eyebrows furrowed as Caitlyn's laughter started escaping more. "I'm Mitchie's husband, Shane," he introduced. "This little angel is our daughter Cecelia, that's our son Justin." Cecelia whimpered as Shane shifted her so Quinton could look at her. "Oh, yeah, and Cecelia doesn't like strangers anymore," Shane added. "She started screaming when the nurse picked her up to weigh her."

"Aww, Angel," I spoke softly, rubbing her little back across the table. "And I'm sorry, Quinton, I didn't think you'd want to hear about my twins. Apparently I never shut up about them, so I make a conscious effort not to talk about them."

"N-not a problem. You know what, I have another class, I'll see you next class," he stammered before taking off.

"Oh my god!" Caitlyn finally burst, laughing hysterically. "Mitchie! He thought this was a lunch date!" she gasped.

"It was not. He wanted to work on our projects," I defended.

"No, he thought it was a date. If you had seen his face when I sat down… and then when you kissed Shane… oh… my god!" she continued to laugh.

"You didn't realize a guy was asking you out?" Shane asked.

"I'm married! I don't notice these things anymore!" I defended.

"You really didn't know?" he asked again.

I reached over and grabbed his hand. "I promise. He's so not my type anyway. Oh my god!" I gasped, suddenly realizing why he'd been leaning closer to me early. "God, I'm an idiot sometimes."

"Don't worry, he's a bigger one. How anyone misses this rock amazes me," Caitlyn offered, tapping my wedding rings. "And his music composing sucks."

I nodded in agreement. "That the project you've been bugging Nate with?" Shane asked smirking.

"Yeah," I smiled. "He's much better at piano composition than you are, hun."

"I'd be going to Nate for help over me, too, trust me," he chuckled. "You have anymore classes or…?" he asked.

"Nope. I was going to go the library because I have a study group tonight at 6 but… I'm so exhausted I don't want to go," I sighed.

"Well , then why don't we go home and you can take a much needed nap?" Shane offered.

"What about your car?" Caitlyn asked.

"Shane dropped me off this morning because he had to take the twins to the doctor's," I answered, already gathering my things.

"Well, I have a class to get to soon. I'll see you two tomorrow night for dinner," Caitlyn replied, heading off to class.

"Who's hosting dinner again?" Shane asked, grabbing my bag and books since I was pushing the carriage.

I glared at him. "I've been telling you this for the last 2 weeks. We are!" I huffed.

In an effort to stay close, every two weeks the 5 of us in Massachusetts got together for dinner at someone's apartment. Occasionally, Nate would be up from Pennsylvania to visit his wife. This week was at ours. Could my husband remember that? Not at all.

As I came in from class the next afternoon, I found my husband cleaning the bathroom while the twins were in their donut cushions (the pillows to help them sit upright) in the hallway in front of him. "Didn't you just clean the bathroom two days ago?" I asked, dropping my bag by the couch before sitting on the floor with my children.

"We have company coming," he shrugged.

I smiled at him with a raised eyebrow. "We have Caitlyn, Jason, and Stas coming. That's not company. That's family," I argued.

"Either way. I felt like it needed a quick cleaning. I mostly just cleaned the toilet and the sink," he replied, standing up off of the floor. "Oh, and it's just Caitlyn coming over. Jason called after I started the bathroom. Stas hasn't been feeling well and the doctor wants her on bed rest incase the baby comes early. Something about the development so far ahead and a possible C-section next week, I don't know."

"At least her child isn't premature," I said with a thankful smile as I brushed Cecelia's hair back. "They said the baby developed two weeks faster than most."

"Yeah. So, would you be mad if I went into the studio tomorrow? I can take the twins with me if you have homework to do, but Nate wants me to give him basic melodies and lyrics for some songs for the next album."

"Shane, you can go to the studio," I replied, sounding confused. He didn't need my permission to do anything. "You've put your career on the backburner enough since the twins were born. How long are you gonna be there, though? I don't want the twins there for more than 4 hours being watched by a secretary. You know what, go to the studio tomorrow, I'll watch the babies and padlock the door so your sister can't bother me."

Shane started, "Are you sure? I can-"

"Shane, you've gone to the studio to work on other people's music, why would I fight you on going to work on your own? I'm happy to watch the twins if it means you're working on the next album. Finals are next week and then I'm yours until September," I smiled.

"Next album means not as much time with my family… and I thought you were taking summer classes?" he asked, cocking his head to the side.

"I'd rather play with my kids," she shrugged. "Besides, that gives you the summer off to work on your next album."

"But if you're taking the summer off I'd rather…" he trailed off.

"You can't work in the studio and please your wife?" I taunted.

"Keep it up and I'll please you right now before Cait gets here," he shot back pointing a sponge in my direction. I giggled and just smiled at him.

Instead of making dinner, the three of us decided to pig out on pizza. Jason had Anastasia 'eating healthy' and we'd been trying to be supportive of her, eating healthy as well. Caitlyn and I were trying to see who could eat a piece faster just as the phone rang. We were laughing and trying not to choke while Shane answered the phone.

"Sup, Jase?" he greeted. Caitlyn and I froze, feeling guilty for eating pizza all of a sudden. "No way! That's great! I can't imagine she wanted a C-section."

"What do you thinks going on?" Caitlyn whispered to me, though Shane was on the other side of the room.

I shrugged. "Maybe she's gonna stick it out and wait for the baby to come?"

Caitlyn nodded. "Instead of a c-section? Probably. Or, can't they induce labor?"

"Oh yeah… maybe. At least she won't have ugly scars?" I shrugged again.

Shane hung up and grinned at us. "Stas went into labor!"

"Went? Or they induced?" I asked.

"She was having contractions, they went to the doctor to get it checked out, and her water broke in the office," he explained.

"Does she want us there?" Caitlyn asked.

With a straight face, Shane answered, "No." Our faces fell, believing him to be serious. "I can't believe you fell for that," he chuckled. "The hospitals not far from here, so Jason's gonna call when she goes into labor if you two want to wait before rushing over there."

Caitlyn and I shared fidgety looks. We didn't want to stay, we wanted to go. "I guess we could wait a bit…" I agreed sadly.

"Or you can go now, and I'll meet you guys there once I get a baby sitter for the twins," Shane sighed laughing.

Caitlyn and I were half way out of the door before he could blink. I heard a faint chuckle as we closed the door.

It wasn't too many hours later that the new father and 3 of his best friends were huddled around the nursery glass looking at Danika Jasmine Bishop. She was so precious. Jason was glowing with happiness. I'd never seen him so happy. "She's perfect, Jase," Shane whispered.

"She's more than perfect. She's mine. Mine and Stas'," he answered smiling. Though it seemed unlikely so many years ago, to see them now, to ever think Jason, Nate or Shane would make a bad father was a silly thought.

I really do love you guys. Now that Danika is born, happy times seem to be looming. But are they for everyone? And yes, Stas had the baby early, but it wasn't like premature, it was fully developed. Her water broke naturally and the baby wasn't a premie like the twins.