"… I would give Santana as long as she wanted, but I hoped it wouldn't be too long before she decided. I wanted to start forever with her as soon as possible."
I hear the final words of her story – our story – as I move down the hallway towards her and her audience. I'd heard the rest of it, of course; I'd listened through every bit of it, one section of it every night for two weeks so far. Our lives were so deeply interwoven that it would have been impossible to tell it all at once. It would have been sad, really, if she could answer the question "how did you two meet?" in a single night. There was still more to it, still so much more to it, and Brittany had told me at the start that she worried by the time she finished, she'd be asked to start again. "It'll take me years to explain us, San!" she'd told me, and I'd smiled and rolled my eyes and mentioned that when she was actually asked, she could just say "we met when we were four and it was love at first sight." But she insisted that her audience needed to hear it all at least once, even if she wouldn't remember later.
I step into the room, watching as Brittany explains that she's done for tonight, but she'll pick up where she left off tomorrow. She says it so sweetly that I smile in response, even though she isn't aware I'm there yet. Unobserved, I can watch her as she smiles, hands fussing and hair escaping its messy ponytail. She's so fucking beautiful, even all these years later, and I can feel my heart slamming in my breast even though we've been married for almost five years now. Four years, eight months, and eleven days, in fact, I think to myself, and I chuckle quietly. It catches Brittany's attention and she lifts her head to face me, her smile warm and loving. It always had been for me.
"How long has she been awake?" I ask, crossing to my wife so that I could peer down into the face of our daughter. She's nursing still, but sleepily now, our beautiful Gabrielle, a surprisingly serene baby for being only two weeks and one day old. You'd think she wasn't actually biologically from me, even though she'd come from one of my eggs. Of course, she'd grown inside Brittany, so maybe her nicer mommy's sweet blood had worked its magic on her and managed to cancel out the bitch genes she'd received from me. Not that I didn't fully expect her to be a fucking demon when she could walk and talk, but for now, she wasn't all that fussy. She doesn't quite sleep through the night yet, but Brittany doesn't mind. She is an extraordinarily gifted mother who seemed to know what Gabby needed even before she starts crying. It never fails to warm me up when I have them both near me- my beautiful family, the one I almost hadn't had because I'd been such a dumbass kid.
"Not long," she replies with a soft smile as she continues staring down at our baby. Gabby peers up at her with dark, solemn eyes, her mouth sucking sluggishly, one small hand pressed to Brittany's breast. The first time I'd witnessed Britt nursing her, I'd gone all sappy and started crying. Brittany had only beckoned me closer, ordered me to get into the hospital bed with them. I'd climbed up behind her and she'd scooted back to sit between my legs, leaning into me as Gabby eagerly ate her first meal. I'd run my hand down the baby's fine hair, scare of touching, fucking terrified of breaking her. I thought of all the fear I'd had of parenting, of being like my parents, of her growing up to hate me because I couldn't be what she needed. "I'll love you no matter who you are, Gabrielle Susan Lopez." In that moment, I'd decided I would be so much goddamned better than the assholes who'd failed to raise me. My kid would have the best fucking parents money would offer. And she totally wasn't getting a boob job when she was sixteen. Just sayin'.
Now, though, I smirk deliberately at Brittany when she looks back up at me, my chin lifting in the baby's direction. "I walk into a room to find some chick sucking my wife's tit and I can't even be pissed," I say, and she giggles as I expected her to. My smirk fades into a soft smile – something that always happens around Brittany, something that always had, I just couldn't help it – and motion for her to budge over. She shifts on the huge arm chair and I shift onto it so she sits between my legs again, my arms around her so that I could trace my fingers delicately over Gabby's dark hair. My other hand finds Brittany's, tangling our fingers.
To think I'd almost ruined this. The thought has been a fresh one in my mind since I'd first started listening to Brittany tell our story over the baby monitor beside our bed. To think I'd been such an arrogant little douche as a teenager. Well, I'd been fucking terrified. I tried to give myself that much of an out at least, but the rest of it had been me being a stubborn jackass. Still, there had been a lot of good in Brittany's story, too. Probably because she liked to think the best of everything, but whatever. She loves me, I love her. We have a beautiful daughter now. I remind myself that it's all that matters.
"You're thinking too loud," Brittany murmurs, turning her head so that her lips press to my cheek. "Stop that, you'll keep the baby up." That much is a lie. One look down shows that Gabby is already drifting, her eyes closed and her mouth lax on Brittany's breast. I smile, the pad of my thumb tracing the sweet curve of her soft, round cheek. That tiny mouth sucks reflexively in response, then slows again until she lets go with a sigh and a quiet pop.
"I think she's getting good at ignoring me already," I reply wryly, smirking as I turn my head as well. I catch Brittany's lips with my own, kiss her slowly. A quiet sound of pleasure escapes her before she pulls back, leaning contentedly into me. I adjust her shirt back down over her and then we just sit there with our eyes glued to the baby sleeping peacefully in my wife's arms. So perfect, so perfectly ours. Our family.
"I want her to know, San." She says quietly. "Somewhere in her, I want her to know our story. I want her to hear it all from start to finish so that even if she doesn't remember when she's older, she'll always know deep down how much we love each other. How much we love her." She brings the baby up closer, dips her head to place a soft kiss against her forehead. "Because she's so ours and I'm already so proud of her and so in love with her. I think love at first sight runs in our family."
I smile and kiss her shoulder. How could I have ever thought I could live without her being mine? "We're not letting her get married when she's four," I say dryly and she laughs and sprinkles kisses over my face. It's warm and loving and sweet and so innately Brittany that I can only smile and receive each kiss, kissing back with every one that finds my lips.
"I'm gonna put her in her crib, and them I'm gonna drag you back into our room so we can get our cuddle on and like, actually sleep together for a couple of hours."
"Will you keep your bra off?"
Her quiet giggling comes again as she climbs off of the chair without even jostling the baby, sending a wink over her shoulder. I watch her quietly, watch both of them as Brittany settles Gabrielle into her crib and fusses over her a moment. She sends the mobile spinning, the colorful birds dancing in circles as Songbird plays in gentle chimes from its tiny music box. And I'm thinking, this is my family. This is my everything. How fucking huge is that? But I'm not scared anymore. She had convinced me a long time ago that I deserved her, deserved this. And I had known since I was four that she deserved every single thing she could ever want. My beautiful Brittany, so sweet and perfect and loving.
"Come on, baby," she whispers as she returns to me, drawing me to my feet and into her arms. We wrap around one another, kissing warmly, deeply. Her fingers run through my sleep-mussed hair and mine slip under her shirt to run up the curve of her back. It's not sexual because we were given a strict no-contact order by the doctor until Britts is given the okay (well, it might be a little sexual because my wife is hot and it has been a while, but it's fine, whatever). "Let's go back to our room." But it's always hard for us, leaving her, even though she sleeps like a fucking angel most of the time. So we linger, our eyes skirting to the crib and back until at last we edge out of the room and head for our own.
Mine. Ours. Every dream come true. I think of all the stupid rules I'd set as a kid – this isn't dating, that isn't dating, blah blah – and can't help but roll my eyes at myself. Love is dating, or it should be. Love is fucking everything and if I'd actually been stupid enough to waste it instead of growing some metaphorical balls and asking Britt out senior year, I would have hated myself forever. This is everything I want and need in my life. These two (and probably more kids down the road- Britt's been hinting and I know I'll give in to whatever she wants) make everything worth it.
We climb into bed and I think again of those words.
"You know, Britt, sex isn't dating," I say to her as we're settling beneath the quilt, meeting in the middle as we always do.
"Oh really?" she mumbles.
"Really. And neither is kissing or sex or promises or any of that shit."
"Mhmm. So what are all those things, San?" she asks against my neck and I can feel her smile there pressed into my skin. My own smile slips onto my lips and I kiss the top of her head and pull her close against me.
"They're forever, Britt. When they're us, they're forever."
Thank you for reading.